UPDATED! A Valve Index Update: My Steam Support Experience Has Been an Absolute Horror Show (But at Last I am Getting a Replacement Headset!)

I am beyond frustrated. I am very angry,

Almost a month ago, I reported that my Valve Index broke. Since then, I have had a first-hand experience with the horror show that is Steam Support. I had previously read numerous complaints online about how bad it is, but it’s only when you encounter it yourself that you realize that Steam Support for the Valve Index ranks among the worst customer support experiences out there.

First, my Valve Index broke two months after the one-year warranty had expired. I opened a support ticket with Steam Support, and after trying various things to see if I could troubleshoot the problem myself at home (all of which failed), I received the following message:

On further investigation it appears as though your purchase is no longer covered by the Valve Hardware Warranty. That said, we’ll be happy to provide a refurbished replacement as a one time customer service gesture. Refurbished units are provided as-is and without additional warranty coverage. You can let us know if you have any problems, but we may decline to provide additional replacements based on availability and other factors.

Steam will email you a shipping document which includes one pre-paid shipping label, three commercial invoices, two air waybill copies, and one set of FedEx return instructions. You can also access them from the Help Site. It is important that you include all provided shipping documents and RMA instructions with your return in order to receive a replacement. Please review the Index Return Packaging Instructions to ensure no damage occurs while your package is in transit.

Please use the list below to prepare your shipping box:

1. Print the shipping label and place on the exterior of the box.

2. Include the following items inside the box:
• RMA instruction sheet, bar code up.
• Valve Index HMD.
• HMD cable.
• HMD three=way connector (USB/DP/Power) with power adapter.

In general, it takes a few days to evaluate and process the return shipment, but failure to follow these instructions can cause severe processing delays and you may be required to pay additional shipping costs to send any missing items.

Let us know if you don’t see the shipment notification email after waiting a few business days from the time your return package is delivered. We’ll be happy to investigate the shipment status for you then.

(By the way, the link to the “Help Site” in this message wasn’t a link. I have no idea what this “Help Site” was supposed to be, and no way to find it on the Steam website.)

This was a week before I returned to my office, so I waited a week before printing off the pre-paid shipping label, three commercial invoices, two air waybill copies, and one set of FedEx return instructions. This is when my nightmare really started.

I could not locate what was referred to as the “RMA instruction sheet”, with the barcode, and when I went back to my original support ticket, I found that Steam has unilaterally closed it, without any option for me to reopen it.

So I opened a second support ticket with Steam Support, which thus far has been ignored, despite my persistent attempts to get an answer to the question: where is this RMA instruction sheet that I need to enclose in the package I ship back to Steam via FedEx? After four days with no response, I finally begged for help on the r/ValveIndex subReddit community on Reddit, where another user shared with me the following:

It should be included in the same mail as shipping label. It looks like this .I blurred out rma#, barcode and serial#.

Edit:
The mail looked like this. If instruction sheet isn’t included in the mail as an attachement, you should be able to download it via link in the red box.

So, after ZERO response from Steam Support, I can now confirm that I did **NOT RECEIVE*** the RMA instruction sheet with the bar code, which I am supposed to include in the package that I ship back to Steam, It wasn’t part of the email I received with he pre-paid shipping label, the three commercial invoices, the two air waybill copies, and one set of FedEx return instructions. I didn’t receive it as a separate email. And I most certainly did NOT get a “Hello” message from Steam Support, with a link to download the RMA instructions!

I am ready to tear my hair out at the utter lack of customer support from Steam Support. But wait; it gets even worse.

After several days with zero response from Steam Support to my second support ticket (which referred to my first support ticket), today I tried opening a third support ticket, citing the serial number on my Valve Index headset. When I tried to send it, I got the following error message back:

Finally, in desperation, I searched Google for a Steam customer support telephone number, called it, and followed the menu prompts—to get a recorded message informing me that they do not accept phone calls about problems with Valve products, at which point I was disconnected.

So I am told to “contact Steam Support” and Steam won’t let me reopen the original support ticket that THEY UNILATERALLY CLOSED ON ME, they won’t respond to my second support ticket, they won’t let me create a new support ticket for my problem, and furthermore, they don’t give me the option to speak to an actual human being to report my problem and get a response. How the FUCK am I supposed to contact Steam Support if you cut off any possible way for me to contact them?

I immediately called back and selected the operator option, where I was finally able to leave a voicemail complaint expressing my dissatisfaction, along with my original Steam Support ticket number and my telephone number. I have no idea if I will get any response. THIS IS NO WAY TO RUN A COMPANY TO WHICH I PAID OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS TO FOR A HIGH-END VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSET.

I’m now at the point where, despite how happy I had been with my Valve Index VR headset in the short time I used it, I honestly can no longer recommend the product, due to its abysmal levels of customer support, in case something goes wrong. I shouldn’t have to resort to begging for answers from the r/ValveIndex subReddit community that I should be able to get from the company. I shouldn’t have my support ticket closed on me without warning or recourse to reopen it. I should be able to talk on the telephone with a real live human being instead of dealing with the absolute shitshow of online Steam Support.

My options at this point are:

1. Wait and see if I get a response to my second support ticket (which refers to my first support ticket which Steam closed on me);

2. Buy a second Valve Index for parts (some people have reported doing this out of desperation, but given this experience, I don’t feel like I should spend any more money on Valve hardware);

3. Give up, and go shopping for a new PCVR headset like an HTC Vive Pro or a Vive Pro Eye. (There is absolutely no way in hell I am going back to The Meta line of products. That is a hill I am willing to die on.)

Ironically, I still have a working an Oculus Rift headset on my computer at work at the university, so I am not completely cut off from being able to access VR experiences. I can come in during the evenings and on weekends, close my office door, and continue with events and projects on various social VR platforms, such as filming episodes for Season 2 of the Metaverse Newscast with my co-producer, Carlos Austin. I am grateful that I still have that as an option. (This Rift was set up with an Oculus account well before Meta changed the rules so that you had to set up a Facebook account, and I intend to keep it that way. I am DONE with Facebook’s toxic social network!)

I still have to upgrade my desktop PC, which is getting a little long in the tooth, so I might shop around for my next headset, pick one a like, then shop for a new PC using the recommended specs for the potential new headset as a baseline while shopping for the computer. My next headset will not be a Valve Index.

In the meantime, I have my packed-up Valve Index headset and cables sitting in its box in the middle of my living room floor, with all the shipping labels, waybills, FedEx instructions, and a printed-out copy of all the back-and-forth with my Steam Support ticket sitting in a neat pile on top. I can’t ship it back because I don’t have the RMA instruction sheet to include with it, and I cannot get a response from Steam as to access it, so the box sits there. Every time I see it in the middle of my living room carpet, I feel a surge of anger.

Here is my final response to the second Steam Support ticket:

As a virtual reality infliencer who writes a popular blog about social VR, virtual worlds, and the metaverse, who has been unable to receive any acceptable level of customer support for my problem, I have written the following blogpost:

Valve Index Update: Steam Support Is an Absolute Horror Show (DO NOT BUY A VALVE INDEX VR HEADSET!)
https://ryanschultz.com/2022/03/12/valve-index-update-steam-support-is-an-absolute-horror-show-do-not-buy-a-valve-index-vr-headset/

I am EXTREMELY angry.

Given the complete and utter lack of any customer support (including the automatic blocking of me being able to submit another support ticket to get a response, plus ZERO telephone support for Valve hardware), I will no longer recommend the Valve Index to my readers, and I will never purchase another Valve hardware product from Steam ever again.

At this point, I am enraged at this shitshow with Valve and Steam Support. They have lost a formerly loyal customer forever. If you are shopping for a new PCVR headset, and are thinking about the Valve Index, heed my warning: DON’T. If something should happen to it, their customer support is horrible, and you need to factor that into your final purchase decision.

UPDATE March 13th, 2022: I have had a number of people on the various Discord servers I belong to agree with my assessment of Steam Support, and others who have reported good customer service experiences in dealing with RMAs and Steam Support. While I am happy to hear that some people have had no problems in dealing with Steam Support in getting replacements for Valve Index hardware, I am still very angry at the poor support I have received to date, notably the inability to get answers to my questions, since Steam Support has severely restricted the means of communication between customer and the support team, as I have outlined at length in my blogpost above. I should be able to get a simple answer to my simple question, and the fact that Steam Support is structured in such a way as to actively hinder that communication is unacceptable.

It has now been fours days since I posted my request for an answer to my question, and I have received no repsonse.

Steam Support had unilaterally closed my original support ticket and I cannot reopen it.

This second support ticket, has remained unanswered. I finally begged for help on the r/ValveIndex subReddit community on Reddit, where someone finally helped me confirm that I DID NOT RECEIVE AN RMA INSTRUCTION SHEET WITH A BARCODE, which I understand I have to include in the box ehn I ship back my broken Vale Index headset and cables via FedEx.

After several days with zero response from Steam Support to my second support ticket (which referred to my first support ticket), today I tried opening a third support ticket, citing the serial number on my Valve Index headset. When I tried to send it, I got the following error message back (please see attached).

Finally, in desperation, I searched Google for a Steam customer support telephone number, called it, and followed the menu prompts—to get a recorded message informing me that they do not accept phone calls about problems with Valve products, at which point I was disconnected.

So I am told to “contact Steam Support” and Steam won’t let me reopen the original support ticket that THEY UNILATERALLY CLOSED ON ME, they won’t respond to my second support ticket, they won’t let me create a new support ticket for my problem, and furthermore, they don’t give me the option to speak to an actual human being to report my problem and get a response. How the hell am I supposed to contact Steam Support if you cut off any possible way for me to contact you?

I am still very angry at the poor support I have received to date, notably the inability to get answers to my questions, since Steam Support has severely restricted the means of communication between customer and the support team, as I have outlined at length in my blogpost above. I should be able to get a simple answer to my simple question, and the fact that Steam Support is structured in such a way as to actively hinder that communication is unacceptable.

I look forward to your reply.

This is not over. I will post updates as they happen.

UPDATE 11:30 p.m. March 13th, 2022: Eight minutes after my last post, I received the following reply from Steam Support:

Hello,

I apologize for the delay. I’m sorry to hear about the bad experience you’ve had so far. We’re currently experiencing higher volume of tickets than usual.

Looks like it was a humane [sic] mistake from our side. We’re following a different process in this case, since we made a customer service gesture for your expired device. You only need to print the label and send your device to our warehouse.

We apologize for the mistake. 

Once your return is received and processed at our warehouse, which may take a few business days after it arrives, we will ship a replacement and email you the tracking information.

Steam Support
[name withheld]

So today I will be heading down to my local FedEx to send back my Valve Index and cables. Wish me luck!

UPDATE 12:29 p.m. March 13th, 2022: Box sent! Now I wait.

UPDATE March 15th, 2022: I have been informed that support requests close automatically after 14 days of inactivity. So it would appear that that is what happened to my first support ticket, since I had to wait a little over a week to print off the mailing labels, etc., to discover that the RMA instructions were not among the printout. In other words, nobody closed my support ticket; it just “died”.

I really wish that this sort of information was placed somewhere on the Steam Support website. (If it was there, I certainly couldn’t find it.)

UPDATE March 27th, 2022: I have received an email from Steam, and my replacement Valve Index headset and cables should be delivered via FedEx tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

ARGH! My Valve Index Has Died

My adventures in virtual reality have come to a screeching halt.

My Valve Index headset suddenly stopped working (black screen). It might have happened earlier, but I only noticed it today, when making preparations to join up with some other people in VR.

All the other components (base stations, etc.) seem to be fine. I now get a Headset Display Disconnected error when I start up SteamVR, and if I select Reset Headset all the icons show up as per normal. If I select Display VR View I can see SteamVR Home on my flatscreen display, but not in my headset.

I have worked through the online troubleshooting section and nothing fixes it. I get two steady red LED lights on the front on the headset. If I unplug and replug the breakaway cable, sometimes I get the blue LED display back, but when I restart SteamVR it goes back to steady red LEDs. I’ve unplugged and replugged all the cables and nothing fixes it.

Even more irritating is that I have tried and tried to create a system report and attach it to this problem report, but I cannot find the text file it generates in my folders after I save it! I have tried saving the system report to multiple folder locations but when I search for it, it’s gone. Is there some trick to finding this text file on your system?

So I have TWO problems. I am ready to tear my hair out tonight. I’ve been so happy with my Valve Index so far, since I installed it early last year it’s been working flawlessly. Answers to help me fix either problem would be appreciated, thank you! I’ve already submitted a problem report to Steam, but (of course) I can’t attach any system reports! I feel like such a doofus for not even being able to figure that out!

Rig specs attached if that helps. Thanks in advance!

UPDATE Feb. 19th, 10:05 a.m.: Currently digging through the wiki on the Valve Index subreddit on Reddit; I had originally posted my problem there too, but I was informed I should have contacted Steam Support first (which I did), then searched the subreddit for any repeat questions (which I did), search their wiki, and then and only then post. So I deleted my post on Reddit.

I am not getting off to a great start here, folks. I am trying to be zen about this, but you all know how un-zen I can be about things. Some people are unflappable; I am, unfortunately, flappable! 😜 *sigh* Please bear with me while I try to figure out what’s wrong.

There are going to be a few impacts until I can get my Valve Index fixed. The already-long-delayed Season 2 of the Metaverse Newscast project I am working on with my co-producer Carlos Austin will, once again, be delayed, since we record in VR. Sorry!

And, obviously, I won’t be making any in-world visits to any social VR platforms in the near future. However, I will still be writing about them on my blog. And there is certainly no shortage of stories happening out there for me to write about!

Oh, and I finally figured out why I couldn’t find any of the SteamVR System Reports I created; I forgot to double-check in my Windows folder display settings that it was set to “All Files” (I had it set to Image Files only; see image below). D’oh! I’ve already received a response from Steam, and I have in turn responded, attaching the SteamVR System Report they asked for. Fingers crossed!

UPDATED! A Dispute Over Cryptocurrency Leads to Social VR Platform NeosVR Being (Temporarily) Removed from Steam

UPDATE Nov. 5th, 2021: NeosVR is now back up on Steam.

As much as it pains me to write about this story, the tagline of the RyanSchultz.com blog is “News and Views on Social VR, Virtual Worlds, and the Metaverse”, and this definitely is news.

It turns out that, due to a dispute between Valve/Steam and NeosVR over the latter’s cryptocurrencies (Neos Credits or NCR, plus other tokens called KFC and CDFT), the social VR platform has been removed from Steam. The team at NeosVR is currently hard at work to fix the problem, but I have been told that it could take as long as one to two weeks to resolve the situation. In the meantime, Neos is off Steam.

Notice: At the request of the publisher, Neos VR is no longer available for sale on Steam.

You might be forgiven if you were not even aware that NeosVR has an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency called Neos Credits (NCR), for which they have an ongoing Initial Coin Offering (ICO). More details are in their white paper.

Karel Hulec (the co-founder and CEO of Solirax, the Czech company building NeosVR), pinned the following messages to the -credits-ncr channel on the official NeosVR Discord:

We’ll be shortly removing NCR functionality from main Steam Store branch upon request by Valve to make it available again for new downloads on their platform and of course prioritizing our own launcher/updater with builds that support Credits.

We knew from the start NCR is not going to be available on all platforms Neos will be. I hope it will return to Steam builds sometimes down the line when they change the rules again. The ICO has provided a lot of funding for Neos and made it long term sustainable, opened a path for Neos to become a great open source metaverse rivaling some of the most popular ones – it is certainly worth having it in independent builds and on platforms that allow for it.

According to the FAQ list posted to their wiki:

What’s Happening?

We’re disabling NCR/KFC/CDFT functionality on the main Steam build of Neos. This will allow us to continue updating Neos via Steam. You can find the Steam build notes that made this change here.

Does this mean Neos is gone from Steam forever?

No, We’re working with Steam to get Neos re-instated with a build that does not contain NCR/KFC/CDFT. We’ll keep you up to date.

I can’t download Neos from Steam; what can I do?

Download the standalone build.

Can I still use NCR/KFC/CDFT?

Yes, for now we have a standalone build which has NCR/KFC/CDFT enabled (see video below)

In the future, we’ll be looking at other solutions such as our custom launcher, called Neosine.


What this means is: if you are a Patreon supporter of NeosVR (which includes a monthly reward of NCR), and if you use the upcoming Steam version of the NeosVR client, you would still be able to receive your NCR each month, but you won’t be able to access it unless you use the special launcher/client that’s not on Steam. In other words, you will still be getting your NCR, but you won’t be able to send it to users, cash out, or put it into Neos from an outside wallet on Steam builds of the Neos client.

Under this proposed system, NeosVR can stay on Steam (which is good for publicity of the platform, plus many people see being on Steam as a stamp of approval), but a stand-alone version of the NeosVR client with NCR enabled can co-exist.

However, this dispute between Steam and Neos is coming at the WORST possible time for Jason Moore’s MetaMovie production, Alien Rescue, which is on now. Jason basically has to tear up the instructions he sent out to the people who bought tickets. I wrote on the NeosVR Discord:

It’s just really unfortunate timing, as a whole bunch of Neos newbies will be visiting the platform over the next month for Alien Rescue, and Jason Moore is going to have to rewrite his instructions for new users. While the Discord download link is useful some people may not be comfortable navigating a) Discord and b) unzipping the client (it uses, 7zip, right? So they have to find and install an unzipper program, too).

Essentially, it means an extra couple of steps for people to download and install the client software, but it’s a pain in the ass nevertheless! As a rule of thumb, any extra step that inexperienced users have to go through to get onto your platform is a bad thing. NeosVR is going to have to work extra hard after this incident to make it easier for non-computer-geeks to use! (This is admittedly a problem for all social VR platforms, but NeosVR in particular has a rather steep learning curve for its powerful toolset.)

One bright spot amidst the gloom is that cryptocurrency speculators (who perhaps had been previously unaware that NeosVR has crypto) have been busily minting new NCR using Ethereum, since the news broke yesterday! (Please don’t ask me to explain that last sentence; I am still a relative cryptonewbie! All I know is that some people are terribly, terribly excited about this.)


For further information on this issue, I am going to refer you to the wiki page NeosVR set up here with a list of frequently-asked questions (FAQ) about the status of NeosVR on Steam, questions concerning the new launcher, and general information on how this will impact Neos Credits (NCR): Steam Changes.

As well, you can read through the past couple of days of discussion on:

Here’s a quick video of how to download and run the new non-Steam (token-enabled) build:

If you want to learn more about NeosVR, you can visit their website or their wiki, check out their Steam page, join their Discord server, or follow them on social media: FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. And, of course, you can always choose to support the project through their Patreon page (as I do).

The Unreal-Based Social VR Platform Helios Launches in Early Access on Steam

I decided it was time to pay a return visit to the social VR platform called Helios, created by SubLight Games. The game is now available via Steam for US$9.99 under their Early Access program, for tethered PCVR headesets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Valve Index, and the company recently announced via Twitter:

Helios is now available for Early Access purchase for all who wish to join our little Social VR revolution! Everything made through Early Access purchases will go towards making Helios a viable and robust alternative to what is currently on the market!

Helios is unlike most other social VR platforms on the marketplace, in that it is based on the Unreal game engine (most other social VR platforms use Unity). It is also interesting in that it has attracted a significant number of former Sansar users—in some cases, even porting entire worlds from Sansar over to Helios! I think the attraction for former Sansar users is the way that Helios is catering to world builders, in a way that is similar to the early days of Sansar.

I immediately recognized C3rb3rus’ 2077 sci-fi world, which was ported over from Sansar to Helios!

The platform definitely is a creator-centered space, with a small but passionate community of geeks who want to see what they can do, even perhaps push a few boundaries! Here, a group decided to stress-test a free world downloaded from the Unreal Store by dropping hundreds of cheese wheels!

Cheese wheels!
An aerial view of the cheese wheel testing

The Community section on the Helios Steam page offers up some examples of worlds that have been created:

Here’s an early access trailer, showing you some of the features of the platform. I was particularly surprised at the modular avatar support (i.e. dressable avatars)!

For further information about Helios, you can visit their website, join their Discord, or follow them on social media: Twitter and YouTube. SubLight Games also has a Patreon; if you feel like throwing some coin their way, I’m sure they’d appreciate it!