For all the trouble the internet gets itself into, do you know which word we don't use enough? "Fracas". Here's today's: Ubisoft have deactivated a set of Uplay game keys it deemed "fraudulently obtained," leaving gamers who bought those keys from re-sellers out of pocket and full of ire. A thirty-page forum thread (at the time of writing) over on the Ubi site is full of stories from people affected.
The thread was started by forum user slump3r, who says they acquired the keys from re-seller Kinguin in order to avoid Steam's use of Euro currency in his native Poland, which they "cannot afford on a Polish pay" since the "Euro is 4x the Polish currency, whcih would make me pay for a game like FC4 [...] the equivalent of 200 Eur." The situation is made more complicated because the user is "an expatriate Belgian in Poland" who doesn't speak Polish, and so needs the English-language version of Ubisoft's games which aren't otherwise available within Poland.
If this were just a single case, it would be an unfortunate instance of someone falling between the cracks of digital stores in an international world, but the thread has quickly grown in the past 48 hours with similar stories - at least in the sense that other people also bought from re-sellers and have had their codes de-activated.
This continued until last night when Ubisoft community manager xMiiSTY responded in the thread:
We regularly deactivate keys that were fraudulently obtained and resold. In this case, we are currently investigating the origin of the fraud, and will update customers as soon as we have more information to share. In the meantime, customers should contact the vendor from whom they purchased the key.
Which doesn't sound particularly promising as far as affected users getting a satisfactory resolution. While that makes it tempting to cast blame upon Ubisoft, it doesn't seem to me that they're doing anything wrong - they can sell products under whatever prices they choose, there are often tax or administrative reasons for prices to be offered in non-local currencies, and it would seem unfair that they be obligated to honour keys if they are, as they state, fraudulently obtained by those key re-sellers.
I've asked Ubisoft for comment, but in the meantime I guess consider this a double PSA: when it comes to key re-sellers, buyer beware; and please use the word "fracas" more liberally.