Lawsuit Accuses Microsoft Of Double Billing Xbox Live Customers

For Xbox 360 users to have access to online gaming, they need to get a paid subscription to Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold service. But a new lawsuit alleges that the service’s “vague and onerous terms of use,” are leading subscribers to be double-billed.

The plaintiff in the case, which is seeking class-action status, claims that customers who fail to renew before their subscription expires can end up being double billed when they attempt to renew.

From the complaint, as reported by CourthouseNews.com:

In providing its Xbox Live Gold gaming services, defendant requires consumers enter into prepaid subscriptions, governed by vague and onerous terms of use… These agreements purportedly are meant to automatically renew, using the payment method on file – in the form of a credit card, debit card, or prepaid Xbox card. If the payment method on file is no longer valid at the time set for renewal, then defendant, pursuant to its terms of use, terminates the users’ access to the service.

Afterwards, if former members wish to again subscribe to Xbox LIVE Gold, then they must purchase an entirely new subscription – a process which requires consumers to provide defendant with a new and valid method of payment.

Once defendant receives the new payment method, defendant renews the previous, expired subscriptions, without authorization, by billing the new payment method for a renewal of the previous subscription. This is done at the same time the customer is billed for the new, authorized, subscription purchase. This results in consumers… receiving one subscription for the price of two.

The plaintiff says that when he contacted Microsoft to request a refund, a CSR told him the double billing was not an error. According to the suit, the CSR “explained that one charge was for the authorized subscription that he manually signed up for on March 4, 2011, and the other was for the automatic renewal of his previous expired subscription,” and that he now had two years’ worth of Xbox Live Gold that the company would run consecutively, but that he could not get a refund.

The plaintiff seeks restitution and damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion and violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, as well as an injunction requiring Microsoft to “reverse all unlawful, unfair, or otherwise improper charges, and to cease and desist from engaging in further unlawful conduct in the future.”

Class Claims Microsoft Double-Bills [CourthouseNews.com]