XBOX Live member ForceTrainer says that after he forgot to update his credit card information, Microsoft shut down his XBOX Live account. He was fine with this, but when he tried to update his info, pay his balance, and convert his account to silver, Microsoft demanded he pay an entire year’s fee to settle the two months he was delinquent.
I’ve been a faithful Xbox Live Gold member since I first bought my Xbox 360 a few years ago. When I first signed up for my account I chose the annual option, so for the past two years I’ve paid my $49.99 like a good little gamer.
This year was probably going to be no different, but my billing ran into a little snag when my credit card on file was replaced. I started receiving emails from Microsoft telling me that I needed to update my card info so that I could be charged for the next year, but I kept forgetting. I finally received a final email saying that my account had been closed and at that point I could no longer sign onto Xbox Live. Honestly I couldn’t care less about having a Live account, but I have a good amount of DLC, so I immediately gave Xbox Support a call so I could at least get switched to a free silver account so I wouldn’t bork what I had already bought.
After a minute or two on hold (I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX) I got through to a very nice woman. I explained to her that my account had lapsed and that I just wanted to convert my Gold account to a Silver one. She said no problem, but informed me that I would need to speak with billing. “Not a problem,” I thought, and I got forwarded immediately.
After another minute on hold I was through to the billing department. I was pretty impressed at the lack of hold time, considering it was a Sunday night, and I even made a comment to my brother over IM saying, “Wow, Xbox support is pretty good.” Needless to say my comment was a bit premature.
I again explained my situation to the billing rep, and he asked me to sign on to http://billing.microsoft.com so I could update my billing information there. That seemed like a pretty simple request, and he said he would stay on the line with me to make sure that everything got updated properly. Again, I was impressed because most reps would just tell you where to go and hang up. He verified that my billing information was updated, and he told me that I would be charged $49.99 because I had an owing balance on my account. While all I wanted to do was convert to a Silver account (hopefully for no charges), I was half expecting this since my account had technically lapsed in June. I asked if it was possible to just pro-rate the two months that I was given service after my account lapsed, and I was told because I’m an annual member that wouldn’t happen. Alright, fine, no big deal – it’s just $50. The charge was put through and I figured all was set. Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:
Me: Alright, so my account is settled. Since my account lapsed in June I’m assuming I should have about 10 months left of Xbox Live Gold service, right?
Me: Ummm… what do you mean no? When I paid the $50 I was paying for service from June 2008 to June 2009. I understand that I won’t get a full year of service from today, but how come you’re telling me I’m not going to get Gold service at all?
Rep: By paying the $50 you settled your account. Your account has been reactivated as a Silver account.
Me: Okay, I understand that my account is now settled, but I just paid for 12 months of service. If you date that from June 2008 I should have a Gold account until June 2009.
Rep: No. When you paid the $50 that was just to settle the account and bring it current. Your account was almost sent to collections, so your payment stopped the process.
Me (Getting very pissed off right now): Okay, so what you’re telling me is that I just paid $50 so you wouldn’t send me to collections? With Xbox Live service you PRE-PAY for the service! If I’m paying you $50 I just PRE-PAID for services that you owe me. Now you’re telling me all I did was stop you from sending me to collections?
Rep: Yes. However, now that your account is settled you can go ahead and purchase a Gold account if you want.
Me (To the point of ripping my hair out): So what you’re telling me is that I just paid you $50, and if I want to get a Gold level account I will need to pay again for it even though I just paid you $50?!?
Rep: That would be correct sir.
Me (Trying not to yell at the guy so I can ask pertinent questions): Okay, that makes no sense, but let’s continue. Can you tell me exactly what I was charged for? Was the $50 I just spent for Xbox Live Gold service, collections fees, account reactivation… what?
Rep: The charge will be for Xbox Live Gold service.
Me (Ready to rip his throat out through the phone): You just said that I was being charged for Xbox Live Gold service. If that’s the case then how come I am not getting the balance of the months?
Rep: Because that charge was to bring your account current.
This ordeal continued for another 10 minutes. He told me that my payment was solely to bring my account “current.” His rationale for not giving me the balance of the months on my account was that my account was almost sent to collections. Well, first off, my account was never sent to collections, so that’s the biggest BS story I’ve ever heard. Second, how can you send me to collections on a debt for services that I was never given? Microsoft cut off my account when it went delinquent, and at the very least I got a free month out of them. I absolutely understand them wanting me to pay for that, but how can you send me to collections for an entire year of service that I haven’t even used yet? I also asked him that if I had called last month to settle my account would I have been given the balance of the months. His answer? Yes. Rationale? Because my account wasn’t being sent to collections last month.
After all of this I informed the rep that I would dispute the charge with my credit card company. He told me, “Fine, we get that all the time. However, we always win because we will show that it’s a legitimate charge.” I tried to argue with him saying that yes, while the charge itself is legitimate (I did authorize it), Microsoft is refusing to give me the services that I paid for, and that is grounds for a dispute resolution in my favor. He didn’t really seem to care and I knew I was getting nowhere, so I just hung up at that point.
So where do I stand? Yesterday I was charged $50 for 12-months of Microsoft Xbox Live Gold service which should have been dated from June 2008. However, my account is currently at a Silver level, and the only way to upgrade the account is to pay again for Gold service.
There are several problems that come up with this entire phone call. First, I only had the choice to pay $49.99 to bring my account current even though there are monthly and quarterly payment options available. If I had been a month-to-month member I probably would’ve just paid for a single month and lost a month of service, not 10. If I had been paying via Xbox Live Cards that you buy at retailers nothing would’ve happened because there are no recurring payments. So for the most part, a dedicated customer who makes an annual commitment to the service gets screwed the hardest. Thanks Microsoft!
Yuck. You should probably call your credit card company and talk the issue over with them. We wouldn’t be surprised if you were able to do a chargeback.
(Photo: Tengaport )
UPDATE: This complaint has been resolved.