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!

Is PCVR Dead?

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Discord yet? You’re invited to be a part of the first ever cross-worlds discussion group, with over 500 people participating from every social VR platform and virtual world! We discuss, debate and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and the companies building it. Come join us! More details here.


Does the sales success of the Oculus Quest 2 spell doom for tethered VR hardware and software? (Photo by Remy Gieling on Unsplash)

Cix Liv, a VR developer who has a bit of a reputation as a gadfly in the virtual reality industry, made the following bold claim on Twitter yesterday:

Sorry to my VR friends.

I declare PCVR dead.

Prove me wrong.

PCVR is the umbrella term used to refer to tethered VR headsets, which require a high-end desktop computer with a powerful graphics card to run. Examples of PCVR headsets are the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and my beloved Valve Index. Right now, the standalone Oculus Quest 2 is selling like hotcakes, and Facebook has in fact stopped selling the Oculus Rift headset:

It was only a matter of time, really. Facebook announced in April of this year that it would not be sending more Rift S units to retailers—once they sold out, that was it for the Rift S.

“Rift S is still available for sale currently in some channels around the world, but as we announced last year, we plan to stop selling Rift S in 2021,” Facebook told UploadVR at the time. “Generally speaking, as channels sell out of stock, they won’t be replenished.”

So, while you can probably still get your hands on an Rift via resellers (you can still find units on Amazon, for example), its days are clearly numbered.

Is PCVR indeed dead, as Cix asserts? His tweet raised a lot of comments, among them Kent Bye, a thoughtful VR commentator and podcaster of the Voices of VR podcast:

Kent Bye: There’s still lots of things at the frontiers of digital culture still in PCVR< like film festivals (Sundance, Tribeca, Venice and SXSW) happening in the Museum of Other Realities, full-body tracking, LBE [location-based events], live theater in VRChat and NeosVR. It’s an open platform that’ll never really die.

Cix Liv: “Die” is an extreme claim that is lacking nuance. The more expanded nuance would address the specific use cases where it will never die: mocap [motion capture], LBE, emboded docial [platforms] like VRChat. For broad consumer uses, it’s dead [in my opinion).

Kent Bye: I disagree. New communications mediums never fully replace previous mediums. We still have radio, TV, PCs, phones. PCs are ‘open platforms”. Mobile has thermal/power tradeoffs and people will ALWAYS want premium experiences like Half-Life: Alyx, Also, Steam Deck is an open PC.

Thrillseeker actually dropped a 15-minute YouTube video on this very topic today:

The video is engaging and raises lots of good points, but Thrillseeker eventually declares himself for the PCVR-is-not-dead camp, noting that the Oculus Quest 2 can also be used as a PCVR headset. He predicts that PCVR will never die, as Kent did.

Cix Liv eventually got so much blowback that he tweeted:

Please god tell everyone else that in the thread who is lighting me up for saying this.

I am not hating on PC VR because it’s trendy, the numbers so low Devs can’t even make a living now.

The reasons can be debated, but it’s the reality.

Cix argues that the numbers of sales of PCVR hardware and software are now so much lower than standalone VR, that it’s not worth the risk to develop for PCVR. For example, Oculus just announced that Lone Echo 2 would be the last PCVR exclusive that they would be shipping. Steam statistics show that PCVR usage is down. There’s haven’t been any really big PCVR releases in a while, with really nothing to match the hype of Half-Life: Alyx. And PCVR-only social VR platforms have struggled lately, either pivoting to new markets (e.g. Sansar, to live events) or shutting down completely (e.g. the old High Fidelity platform).

So, what do you think? Is PCVR doomed, or it just having a pause? Are standalone VR headsets going to kill tethered VR headsets? Please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, or join in the never-ending, freewheeling discussions and debates taking place among the 500+ users on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server. Thanks!

It’s Time to Upgrade My Home Computer: Anybody Have Any Good Recommendations on What to Buy for the Best VR Experience?

I’ve got my eye on this little number by Acer, which is currently in stock, although I’m wondering if I should upgrade the RAM from 16GB to 32GB…

*sigh*

I’ve held it off as long as I can, but it’s time to face facts: it’s time to upgrade the four-year-old desktop computer I use at home. I bought it in December of 2016, based on the computer specifications at the time for my trusty Oculus Rift, and it still met the minimum specifications when I upgraded my Rift to a Valve Index earlier this year.

But the Vive Facial Tracker that I eagerly bought makes my Intel Core i5-6600 CPU running at 3.30GHz cry, so it now sits sadly in its little box on my computer desk. The final straw was when I kept crashing while in NeosVR today (sans facial tracker) while Joris Weijdom was giving me a guided tour of the interesting, postmodernist immersive theatre work projects he is involved with at the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. After several successive embarrassing crashes, we had to resort to using video chat on Discord!

So yes, it’s time (at least, if I want to continue using NeosVR, which I do). The recommended specs for the Valve Index are brief (and no, I am not aiming for the minimum; I want whatever I buy to last me for at least three years):

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 10, SteamOS, Linux
  • Processor: Dual Core with Hyper-Threading
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 / AMD RX480
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Additional Notes: Available DisplayPort (Version1.2) and USB (2.0+) Port required

Recommended

  • Processor: Quad Core+
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 or better
  • Additional Notes: Available USB (3.0+) Port required for Headset Pass-Through Camera

Fortunately, I already have a computer store picked out (the same place I bought my last PC from, a suitably übergeeky place where all the salespeople can comfortably and confidently sling computer acronyms with the best of them. The shortage of computer chips caused by the current boom in cryptocurrency mining might cause some problems, though; most of the higher-end gaming machines I have my eye on are back ordered, according to my preferred store’s website. I’ll probably drive across town tomorrow and see what they have in stock that meets the recommended PC requirements for my Valve Index. There’s not really a rush; the only platform I am having problems with right now is NeosVR.

But I decided to write this blogpost and ask you, my readers: what Windows PC specs do you recommend for a higher-end virtual reality setup?

If you have any recommendations (or links to helpful resources to help me draw up my shopping list), please leave a comment on this blogpost, drop me a line via the Contact Me page, or ping me on the RyanSchultz.com Discord (or any of the other social VR/virtual worlds Discord servers we might have in common). Thanks!