back to article MtGox to customers: Your call is important to us … NOT!

Bitcoin owners keen to understand just what failed exchange MtGox may be able to do for them remain in the dark, after the outfit set up a call centre that, so far as The Register can tell, seldom picks up the phone. MtGox declared bankruptcy last week, taking more than $US400m worth of Bitcoin with it. Users are …

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  1. Daniel Palmer

    It's good for their Japanese customers that they actually have Japanese people on the phones and not a bunch of Mark's expat mates I guess.. judging from his "I'm sorry all your coin is gone" speech I'm not sure he/they could have dealt with some very pissed off Japanese people ranting down the phone.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tide has turned

    What Gox wants Gox gets God help us all

    1. Stuart 16

      Re: Tide has turned

      Upvote for two Roger Waters references

  3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Hontou ni gomen nasai

    Said over and over and over again.

    Or maybe play one of those dreadful Japanese dirges that are ever so popular in karaoke bars — the ones which feature middle-aged Japanese women in kimonos watching ships depart for Hokkaidou or some such distant place.

    Actually, the CEO should go on TV and publicly cry like the fellow who oversaw the bankruptcy of an old, established insurance company back in the 1990s or so.

  4. Anonymous Coward 101

    When all is said and done, I would like to know how much of this fiasco is due to properties unique Bitcoin itself. One could imagine a similar disaster with ordinary currency; the difference is, a bank that badly run would be shut down by regulators. Is lack of regulation the problem?

    By the way, I note that Bitcoin isn't the only crypto currency that has suffered such a disaster:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/large-dogecoin-christmas-theft-2013-12

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I would say it is down to the way MtGox was run, and lack of regulation thereof, such as insisting on proper accounting practices for the Bitcoin wallets, which would have showed up irregularities much sooner (some suggestions are that they have been losing money through the cracks since 2011).

      As I have suggested in comments elsewhere, the real problem here appears to be lack of proper regulation fo companies that are holding coins on belahf of others. There are a whole bunch of such regulations in most countries for fiat currency, but as yet such rules for Bitcoins are few and far between.

      Note that it is unlikely that any bitcoins have been 'lost' or 'destroyed' in this debacle, it is just that they have been stolen. The block chain itself, which acts as a complete public ledger, will show exactly where the coins are, just not who owns those wallets. Further investigation could conceivably throw up IP address and such, although there is no hard link between a wallet and a given address, given that a Bitcoin wallet itself doesn't physically 'hold' the coins, it is simply the crpytographic keys required to assign them to another wallet.

      1. Spiracle

        As I have suggested in comments elsewhere, the real problem here appears to be lack of proper regulation fo companies that are holding coins on belahf of others. There are a whole bunch of such regulations in most countries for fiat currency, but as yet such rules for Bitcoins are few and far between.

        The one thing that many BTC users/speculators seem to have missed is that an unregulated free market is in practise impossible. The regulation may come either via either bureaucrats or Yuri with the tattooed knuckles applying a baseball bat to the kneecaps, but it has to come from somewhere.

    2. The Jase

      "Is lack of regulation the problem?"

      Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it

      1. JLV Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        >Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it

        On usenet I remember one particularly dumb big-L Libertarian troll on r.a.s.f.w. who ended up arguing that driving on the right side of the road (or the left, for you Brits) should not be regulated or enforced by the government.

        Ditto, from the same loser: no need for building codes. If there is an earthquake and your building collapses, sue your builder. That will get them to pay attention to solid construction.

        A large subset of big-L Libertarians often seems to posit that any issues arising from the initial lack of rules can easily, and somehow cost-effectively, be solved by subsequently suing the aggrieving party.

        Interesting story that MtGox. One could almost imagine that nation-states worried about losing monetary control to cyber-currencies might not be totally sad at this state of affairs (hence the icon).

        1. Charles Manning

          Libertarians != anarchists

          Anarchists don't believe there is a need for any rules. The theory being that you just let people get on with it and they will figure things out as they go. In part they are right: people figure it out by.... making rules.

          Libertarians do, in general, see the need for rules. But they think rules should be constrained to only those needed to prevent one person from harming another and to allow society to function. Libertarians generally do not want business licenses, home ownership associations etc. They are willing to accept the need for law and order. but not "nanny state" laws.

          1. AlexS

            Re: Libertarians != anarchists

            > only those needed to prevent one person from harming another

            Oh and they get to keep their guns without regulation ;). So dumb....

        2. The Jase

          Re: >Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it

          Ah Libertopia!

          When the lawyer is king... But there are no laws so where do you sue? How is it enforced?

          And when Judge "My mate Bill" declares your house actually belongs to me, whatcha gonna do about it?

        3. libertarian john

          Re: >Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it

          "Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it "

          OR one can get insurance and the ones responsible for perhaps "steeling" the money should be held to account in court (common law). Sorry, no need for regulations, we now see a demand from customers for bit coin exchanges to demonstrate that they will look after their money and/or have insurance as backup. These consumer demand backup up by strong insurances is more effective than any regulation.

          Did regulation stop you from getting food poisoning last time you had a take away? Do you believe it is right that others be forced to pay for your "failed" life style choices for examle investing in a dodgy exchange?

          1. The Jase

            Re: >Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it

            "OR one can get insurance"

            Clearly you don't deal with insurance companies.

            Libertarian answers to anything seems to be "free market" "insurance" and "sue"

            "Did regulation stop you from getting food poisoning last time you had a take away"

            yes it did.

          2. JLV Silver badge

            Re: >Libertarians hate regulation... until they need it

            >Did regulation stop you from getting food poisoning last time you had a take away?

            Dude,txs. You're wanting to do away with food safety regulations proves my point about big-L Libertarians.

            Not that I mind more reasonable ones - regulations are only necessary where they protect people from serious harm & should not pursued willy-nilly. I would also like sunset clauses where possible.

            Bet insurance companies would be thrilled covering your unregulated risks.

            ;-)

    3. intrigid

      "One could imagine a similar disaster with ordinary currency; the difference is, a bank that badly run would be shut down by regulators."

      Or it would be bailed out using billions of dollars worth of freshly minted currency.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " the difference is, a bank that badly run would be shut down by regulators. Is lack of regulation the problem?"

      What, like regulators stopped Lehman going to the wall? Or how they stopped RBS and HBOS from taking dodgy lending bets that might otherwise have cost British taxpayers tens of millions of quid? Or how they stopped Northern Rock gambling the bank by lending long term and borrowing short term?

    5. Charles Manning

      Too many crypro currencies

      Part of the percieved value in BC was the apparent scarcity value. The BC number space only has 21 million coins and once those are all mined there are none more.

      That lured in the speculators, particularly the over ideological people. For instance, I saw some person post that BC would be the future of all transactions, therefore all the world's assets would have to be expressed as bitcoins and that mean each bitcoin would become worth 1/(21 million) of the worlds assets - ie. millions of dollars each.

      But now we have at least 8 different crypocurrencies out there. Each vying to express a slice of the world's value. It seems anyone can literally set up a cryptocurrency in mom's basement. It really comes down to whether or not you can find enough numpties to believe you.

      Yes, underlying all currencies - crypto or national - there is trust. At some level they are all pretty much the same. But the difference is that, say, USD have both a track record and a psychological momentum. We get paid in national currencies and we pay rent and buy bread in them. We know how much they are worth (and that they will likely slowly erode due to inflation).

      BC (or any other crypto currency for that matter) is not pegged in value. There is no reason why it should be worth 1c, $1, $10, $1000 or $1M.

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    How is this different?

    This sounds exactly like the experience that I have calling AT&T about my phone account in the US.

  6. Ross K Silver badge
    Devil

    It's A Pity...

    ...I can't embed images here in the comments section.

    Nelson Muntz doing a 'Ha ha!' seems appropriate.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hello French polishers?

    Hello is that mtgox? I believe you have a series of numbers that I wasted a lot of electricity in generating that I value at an obscenely high amount of money for what they are... Any chance of getting it back? </ponzied>

    Don't worry though set your asic miners for litecoin / coinyewest / whatever max keiser is pimping this week and your faces for stunned when the rear end drops out of it again in three months

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Hello French polishers?

      If you bothered to do even the smallest amount of reading on what Bitcoin is and how it works, you would realise that when you call it a 'Ponzi scheme' you are only making a fool of yourself:

      Is Bitcoin a Ponzi scheme?

      1. James O'Shea

        Re: Hello French polishers?

        Yeah. Right. They're not a Ponzi scheme. They're not even a new version of tulip mania. They're _worse_. The tulip bulbs actually existed (well, some tulip bulbs did) and could actually be planted. Ponzi schemes will make money for those who get out early enough. Bitcoin is based on something which does not exist.

        But it's not a Ponzi scheme.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Hello French polishers?

          Bitcoins may, or may not, be a safe investment. They have no more, or less, intrinsic value than a fiat currency (after all, your bank balance is just a number too - try going into your bank and asking for the gold, and see how far you get).

          What it is not, is a Ponzi scheme. Read up on what a Ponzi scheme is, and what Bitcoin is, and you will see that they are not the same thing. Repeating the mantra ad nauseum does not make it any truer.

          Note that I'm by no means advocating sinking all of your money into bitcoins. The whole concept of cryptocurrencies is still in its infancy, and no doubt there are still kinks to be ironed out. Writing the whole thing off as something it is not, however, is disingenious.

          I will repeat myself once more, for the hard of understanding - if you think Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme, you understand neither what Bitcoin is, nor what a Ponzi scheme is, and you need to do some reading up on both subjects.

          1. The Jase

            Re: Hello French polishers?

            " try going into your bank and asking for the gold, and see how far you get"

            My bank doesn't deal in gold. However lots of places do I can go there and trade FIAT currency for gold.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hello French polishers? @Loyal Commenter

            My bank will actually give me (sell me) gold for the money I have there.

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: Hello French polishers? @Loyal Commenter

              My bank will actually give me (sell me) gold for the money I have there.

              Really? I'm pretty sure that if I went into any high street bank and asked to see their gold supply, they would laugh me out of the building.

          3. Charles Manning

            Re: Hello French polishers?

            Trying to put BC on the same footing as a fiat currency is broken. In theory you are right, but for all practical reasons you are wrong.

            Maybe an analogy will help: Two masses attract one another with a mutual gravitational field. It does not matter whether we're talking about planets or electrons, the theory still applies. However, for the electrons, the gravity is so weak, it can be discounted in the presence of other forces.

            Sure all money is "just a number". The difference with the fiat currency is that it has a history and we perform so many transactions in it that we have a vague handle on what it is worth. I know that my pay will buy me x loaves of bread and y % of it will pay my rent. If bread doubled in price tomorrow we'd think something was very wrong.

            At some level, the USD, say, is linked to the value of the US GDP. It is a tiny slice of the US economy. When the value of the US economy goes down, so does the USD. The rate of change is, however, relatively small.

            New fiat currencies cannot just be added at will. They have to be tied to some economy. eg. If someone started up a USquid, also claiming to be a slice of the US economy you would have a problem. Either the one would replace the other, or they would have to split into different regions.

            So, although a fiat currency has no actual tangible value, it is still backed by an economy which does have value.

            BC has nothing to peg it to. It is a slice of nothing. Should a BC be worth $1, $10, or $1M? There really is nothing to say what is a fair price at all.

            Then there is nothing stopping anyone from making up their own crypto-currency (there at least 8 already). What value do they have? Do they dilute BC?

            There's a huge hint that BC has no value: anyone can make up a cryptocurrency in their basement and it is equally valid as BC.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hello French polishers?

        A link to the Bitcoin FAQ, how very independent.

        Give me a P!

        Give me an O!

        Give me an N!

        ...

    2. Spiracle

      Re: Hello French polishers?

      The currency may not technically be a Ponzi scheme but the technologically baked-in anonymity means that it's easy to operate a BitCoin market in a very Ponzi-reminiscent fashion.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Hello French polishers?

        The currency may not technically be a Ponzi scheme but the technologically baked-in anonymity means that it's easy to operate a $commodity market in a very Ponzi-reminiscent fashion.

        Where you can replace $commodity with pretty much anything you like - for instance, cash, shiny beads, bearer bonds, bottle caps, etc.

        The problem here isn't with BitCoin, it was with MtGox. MtGox itself may well have been operating like a Ponzi scheme, that doesn't make BitCoin one, any more than all the stuff with Bernie Madoff a few years ago that caused so much bother makes the US dollar a Ponzi scheme.

  8. John Styles

    Ponzi scheme

    is a Ponzie scheme something cooked up between Fonzie and Potsie? Why didn't they cut Ralph Malph in on the deal - I can see why they wouldn't have invited Ritchie, he was a bit of a prig.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they've lost the private key to to any storage wallets then the bitcoins are lost forever to them. It's been speculated this is indeed what happened and why they shut down and ran rather than face up to being millions in debt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The reason Bitcoin will fail is the reason why people want it to succeed.

      Soldiers are paid in proper currencies, and if you don't accept those currencies at first you will be arrested and if you resist you will be shot.

      That's the fiat part of fiat currencies and is actually what makes them work/worth something

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        FAIL

        ...and this is why the following list of countries with no armed forces also have no monetary system:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_without_armed_forces

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Scottish Power could learn from Mt Gox!

    An hour and more on the phone and then cut-off......a further hour and it takes the guy 45mins to answer my simple question - when will I be a Scottish Power customer ?

    Employees are not even allowed to take complaints any more for the wait time

    So, Vulture South should be very happy with the 10min waits!

  11. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Yet more evidence of malfeasance. Everyone knows *real* call centers are established in India and manned by people trained to an almost acceptable degree in faking local accents who claim to be speaking to you from a suburb of London.

  12. Fatman Silver badge

    Mt Gox going bust

    Wasn't a surprise to me one bit. I knew it was going to happen

    MtGox was noting more than a who gets stuck holding the bag when the shit hit the fan.

    Seriously, anyone holding onto Bitcoins was a mark to be plundered. The 'smart ones' converted Bitcoin into real money and bailed, leaving others holding the bag.

    Not too much unlike holding $Billions in Reichmarks at the end of WWII; they become worthless, and most likely so will Bitcoins. Add that to the laundry list of financial fleecings developed over the centuries. Perhaps this will get its own moniker, like the Ponzi scam.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Mt Gox going bust

      "Perhaps this will get its own moniker, like the Ponzi scam."

      Earth to Fatman: *All* non-backed currencies are a Ponzi scheme.

  13. ItsNotMe
    Happy

    How amusing..I am enjoying this crash & burn immensely.

    I have been crucified by Commentards on other IT related sites, for saying people can lose their money with BC...told it was "impossible"...and for stating that its "value" is subject to the whims of speculators. Told its "value was constant". Right.

    Been called a liar and worse by these idiots. Now who is laughing? Not those folks that had money in Mt. Gox who were ridiculing me.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: How amusing..I am enjoying this crash & burn immensely.

      No-one who owned bitcoin would argue the value was fixed. Anyone holding that patently ridiculous opinion couldn't possibly actually have a "bitcoin position".

      One might expect a little more from one's e-currency exchange than one has been getting of late from the likes of MtGOX. The levels of malfeasance are staggering.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ItsNotMe

      wow, way to triumph over an apocryphal straw man argument, you've really shown them. though I doubt you've seen the end of ridicule.

  14. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    There's more (Bitcoin) apologetics here than....

    ....at a creationists science fair!

  15. edmundarc

    NO POINT PHONING

    I managed to get trough on the English speaking line in a little over 5 minutes.

    The person I spoke to didn't have great English but we understood each other in simple sentences.

    Unfortunately all she would say is that all information was on the website.

    I asked how I could register as a creditor of the company. "All information on website."

    I asked if there was anything she could tell me that's not on the website I should know. "Nothing, only what is on the website"

    So after some effort, it seems all the call centre can or will say is look at the website and absolutely nothing else.

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