The Get List: Tokyo Catch: Thoughts

In which I feel sort of bad saying how crummy some service I’ve gotten has been, but sort of don’t, too.

When I first discovered Tokyo Catch a few months ago, I was very impressed. While the selection of prizes was small, the games were well-balanced, maybe even a bit biased toward a player with some crane game skill/experience. Plus, their shipments came almost unbelievably fast, even shipped from Japan. And the prizes they had tended to be very good.

Let me start the next part by saying I get annoyed at the constant complaints that crane game apps are rigged. A lot of this is related to the idea that one should win a certain number of times on a free ticket. Or being shocked that items are placed in machines in ways that look really gettable but aren’t. But that’s exactly how crane games operate and make money. It is not really a giveaway (unless you’re quite lucky) and it is certainly not a store. If you want a plush or a toy or a figure at minimum cost, Mandarake and Mercari and Yahoo Japan Auctions and American importers — one of them, at least — can probably get it to you for cheaper. I mean, it’s light gambling with a small skill element. That’s crane game business. But that said, the cranes at Tokyo Catch do seem to have been nerfed somewhat.

Mind you, I’m not even necessarily saying something like crane strength has been intentionally changed — it could even just be employees getting much better at spacing and positioning. This wouldn’t have turned me away from the service, though of course it reduces its initial appeal. But what can’t be denied is that their customer service is really bad.

In the several months I’ve been playing these things online (and spending way too much), I’ve had two instances where Toreba machines froze or otherwise glitched unfairly. Both times I reported it and was refunded, although it probably took a week to a month. In much less time playing Tokyo Catch, I’ve had this happen at least twenty times. Actually, those are just the ones I reported. There have probably been at least ten more that I didn’t report, either because they were from free tickets this last month after I decided not to spend money on the app anymore, or because of — well, the fact that I have never gotten a single refund from Tokyo Catch.

When a machine glitches, there is a report button. But apparently this doesn’t indicate to them which machine has glitched. Of the twenty plus error reports I’ve sent, I’ve heard back less than five times. Each time it was a form letter asking me to dig back through my history to find which machine and send them the ID. But it’s always days or weeks later, and I’m so brain-bustingly busy with work that I’d rather sacrifice a few dollars and give up on an app than spend that much time looking. I replied with that once and they said they could look it up…and then never got back to me.

I started writing this about a week ago and hesitated to put it up, but then someone asked. So I’m publishing it as a review/caution, I guess (see also similar sentiments in their app reviews – wow, has that score gone down!) but also because my last interaction with them was telling. They contacted me through this blog to tell me that they liked it and wanted to give me about five bucks worth of free tokens. I replied with my user name and…they never contacted me back. A couple of weeks later (today) I get the exact same message via Twitter. Kind of says it all, right? I just took it as a sign to put this up.

To be quite honest, I kind of wanted to ask that they instead just refund me for my wasted plays instead, since that’s considerably more than the free gems they were offering. Instead, I just deleted the app!

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