The Paradox Of MSN: You Want To Cancel Because You Lost The Password, You Need The Password To Cancel

Reader Kim is mad. Her dad called MSN because he was having some computer issues, and they changed his password to something that he doesn’t remember. Unfortunately for Kim’s Dad, MSN’s solution to a lost password is to email the password to the account that you lost the password for. Even more brilliantly, if you call to reset your password, MSN’s verification system is based on the credit card number used to open the account, and that Kim’s Dad no longer remembers.

Kim writes:

When I finally reached a human being at MSN, they said the only way they’ll tell us the password is if Dad can tell them the last four digits of the credit card to which he originally had the account billed. But he’s changed American Express cards a couple times and can’t find that old card. Call American Express, MSN says. Ok. The first woman I reach at American Express tells me they can only tell me the old 4-digit account number if I can read her the security code from the card. DUHHH. If I had the card, I wouldn’t need to call and ask her the last four numbers!

This sort of thing is precisely why verification should be based on something that doesn’t change. Read Kim’s email inside.

I’ve been dealing with a NIGHTMARE with my Dad’s MSN account. I know lots of people have written stories about how impossible they are, but if you need grist for another one:
My Dad, who is currently 79 years young, signed up for an MSN email account maybe 5 or 6 years ago, and had it billed to a corporate American Express number. Time moves on…Last week he had some computer troubles and called MSN for tech support. They changed his password to something he doesn’t remember. So now, he can’t get in to his account. He asked me for help. When I went online to reset the password, MSN’s only solution was to email a new password to him. There’s a catch 22! How are you supposed to get your password on an email account that you don’t know the password to? There’s even a question to that effect on the reset password page. But when I clicked on the question to get the answer to that puzzler, I got an error message. Then I spent a long time looking in vain for a telephone number for tech support. I finally called Dell, the maker of my Dad’s computer and they gave me the MSN help line number. When I finally reached a human being at MSN, they said the only way they’ll tell us the password is if Dad can tell them the last four digits of the credit card to which he originally had the account billed. But he’s changed American Express cards a couple times and can’t find that old card. Call American Express, MSN says. Ok. The first woman I reach at American Express tells me they can only tell me the old 4-digit account number if I can read her the security code from the card. DUHHH. If I had the card, I wouldn’t need to call and ask her the last four numbers! I hang up. I called back and reached another drone who says they simply don’t keep that old historical information and don’t have the old numbers. In these days of computers, I know that can’t be right. I ask for a supervisor. She says they are awfully busy and can the supervisor call me back in a half an hour? It’s been 90 minutes. No phone call.
So we’re stuck in a no-win situation: American Express won’t tell us the 4 digit number and MSN won’t tell the password. We got so fed up we called MSN and asked to just cancel the account. HERE’S THE PUNCH LINE:
MSN said they can’t cancel the account unless we give them the 4 digits of the credit card to which the account was originally billed. So they won’t let Dad get his email and will keep billing him for eternity all because he threw away 5-year-old credit card bills. No wonder Microsoft has such great profit margins! Greater profits through ripoffs!

Kim

This is so unnecessarily frustrating for Kim. MSN needs to rethink their policy. In the meantime, it’s time to stop paying MSN and switch to a free email service like Gmail. —MEGHANN MARCO