PS: the customer is not always right, but it's my job to make whatever he wants possible. In the end, I help him be right. I've got redesigns, firmware changes and even forced a particular Windows update just to cater to clients. I don't do that for customers with hostile attitude though. Business 101.
Good thing my company is widely known for it's superb customer support then. I go out of my way to give the best solution possible for any problem, oftentimes that's problems which are currently impossible but ain't in a few days if I put my weight on it. But I don't accept vile customers. Most people are reasonable and the vile customers are usually those who don't want a solution in the first place.
I doubt you'll find anyone who disagrees with the sentiment. However, like in any debate or discussion, the first thing you need to do is define your terms. What do you mean by "vitriolic customer"? "People who don't want a solution" would work, but that is clearly not the case with many of the interactions ANet has had with their player base. Plenty of folks, like myself, have been waiting for GW2 for five years. That kind of time for emotional investment isn't one to be simply tossed aside. We want the game to be good. We simply want it to be they way it was pitched to us, and the ability to criticize to the same degree we can with other products.
Normally, that would be the end of my contribution until I get a working definition, but luckily, ANet has already done that for us. Unfortunately, they are wrong. When a customer says they were lied to, and can point to a collection of evidence to back it up, that is not vitriol. When a customer dares to ask for a response from a developer (the real life equivalent would be asking to speak to a manager), that is not vitriol. Even if a customer says something unproductive, like "[company] is incompetent", that is not vitriol. At worst, these statements/questions are unpleasant.
Accusations of lies and dishonesty should never, ever be brushed aside, and the accuser punished. Not in the business world. A good business will look at the facts the accuser brings up. What does ANet do? Deletes posts, and hand out infractions as if the customer has crossed the line by pointing out that they did not get what they were promised (if a company's word cannot be taken as a promise, then that is a shady company with whom I want no dealings). The honest thing to do is to admit when a mistake is made, and fix it. Sadly, ANet refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem... or at least, they don't acknowledge the right problem.
Banning employee call outs is just baffling to me. I get that the developers need to actually develop the game, and can't stop what they're doing to answer each and every question they get from people on the internet, but there is no harm in a customer asking (even demanding) for a response. Ignore call outs, sure, but at least give the actual meat of the post its due attention. If the post actually brings up an issue that warrants a response, have an appropriate employee give the response. If it just so happens that the right person to respond is the person called out to, this might just be an indication that the customer knows what they are talking about. This is someone to whom it is worth it to listen! Not to ANet. They don't like questions being asked directly for whatever reason.
Lastly, let's assume that a customer is truly being abrasive. There is a cut-off point where a company/employee should say "I'm not dealing with this. Please leave". That point is never at the outset of the interaction. Even when a customer enters a store saying "whose [noun] do I have to [verb] to get some attention around here?" (fill in the blanks with whatever words you like. I personally like using [teeth] and [admire]), the appropriate response is not to immediately kick them out the door.
I said it earlier, and I'll say it again, the onus is on ANet to be the professionals, not the player base. They need to be the ones with skin so thick that an elephant wearing 16 leather jackets would be jealous of the crap they can shrug off. This is true of any customer/company interaction. I've been on the company end of dealing with PitA customers. It sucks. I know. It can really put a damper on your day. If you (that's the impersonal you, not anyone in particular. just to be clear) can't handle it, then leave the service industry (video games are very much a service when online functionality is involved). But, play your cards right and you will reap the reward. Once in a blue moon, I've had said PitA customers approach me after our interaction to apologize for being a PitA (now I'm hungry for some flatbread for whatever reason). The pride one feels when getting that kind of reaction is usually only the first... let's say 'return of investment'. Those customers (no longer PitA's) usually return, often asking for me specifically, to serve them. That's the second part. In time, these newly loyal customers will bring in their friends to do business with you. That's when you know you're the best damn person at your job.
This is the basis behind the 80/20 rule (http://management.ab...areto081202.htm). 20% of your customers make up the majority of your revenue, while 80% mean very little. I've also heard it said that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Either way. it means your loyal customers are very important, even if they are a minority. DON'T TICK THEM OFF! A company cannot afford to lose customers willy-nilly and hope to thrive. ANet is not immune to this. Every person they give an infraction to is less likely to purchase gems if the smallest of "offenses" get them punished.
Patience and lenience are a must for a company. ANet is lacking in, yet demanding of both.