Microsoft And The $1,632 Copy Of Vista

Microsoft charged Bill $1,632 for a single Windows Vista Ultimate upgrade license. Each time Bill, an IT Manager, tried to his enter his payment details through Windows Live Marketplace he was told that Microsoft could not be contacted, and to “please try again later.” What Microsoft really meant was, “Ha! Got your money! How ’bout some more?!”

Bill ultimately entered his payment information 7 times. Each attempt cost him $233.15. Now his account is out $1,632, and Microsoft is refusing to help.

He writes:

My name is Bill. I work at a large University and deal with Microsoft quite frequently as an IT Manager. Recently I went to purchase the new Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate operating system from their online store, Windows Live Marketplace for my personal use on my home computer. I filled out all the appropriate documentation and submitted my order to them with my debit card information and the nightmare began….

Upon selecting “submit” from their site I was immediately taken to a page stating “Microsoft cannot be contacted at this time” or similar, “Please try again later.” So needing a license for Vista right away I resubmitted it and, again, got the same thing “Microsoft cannot be contacted at this time, please try again.” After 6 attempts, finally, the 7th attempt was successful and I was able to purchase a copy of Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Upgrade (which turns out was not what I wanted in the first place). I thought all was well until the following morning… I received a call from the fraud prevention department at my bank stating I had been charged by Microsoft 7 times at $233.15!!!!!!

This was completely unacceptable and I immediately phoned Microsoft when I got to work. Microsoft stated to me that the problem was with the bank and that the charges hadn’t actually posted to my account and I just need to wait for the bank to update their info so this is what I did. After a couple days nothing had changed in my bank account. I was still in the hole roughly -$500.00 thanks to Microsoft.

I called Microsoft again and was told my issue would be “escalated”. Ok I thought. No problem they recognize the problem and are working to address it and get this taken care of. WRONG. They did in fact remove a couple of the charges (4 of them) but what about the other 3???? I contacted Microsoft Windows Live Marketplace and stated it has been about 2 weeks and I have still seen no change in my bank account. I then told them I would now like to get a refund as well for the one copy I did actually receive. That return was processed in the same phone call the way I would expect the others to be credited back to my bank account. WRONG again. So by this time I have spent almost all month without any money and being late on all of my bills and now, almost a month later, am STILL waiting on Microsoft to refund the other 2 charges that were posted to my account at $233.15. This is almost $500.00 and for someone who gets paid monthly is completely unacceptable. I have been calling Microsoft now for 2 weeks straight and all the Microsoft Windows Live Marketplace keeps telling me is “I am sorry sir your issue has been escalated to our product delevopment team and you should get a call back today or tomorrow.” WRONG yet again…. Everytime I call its the same story “… it has been escalated sir sorry” “we will call you tomorrow” ….. No call.

I am really irritated and have asked numerous times for a number or email address to “Product Development” and they keep telling me they don’t even have that information and that the system they use doesn’t even tell the support person I am speaking with that contact information. WHAT KIND OF SYSTEM IS THIS?

I now have overdue bills and am going hungry for what would appear to be the rest of the month…. I suppose this is what I get for trying to do things legitimately with Microsoft… A big smack in the face.

I give Microsoft a lot of business being and IT manager at a large University but am extremely dissatisfied with this whole experience. I will be seeking Unix/Linux alternatives.

Please Help!!!!

The charges posting:
The charges clearing:
Bill could have protected himself by charging Vista to his credit card. Since Microsoft is unwilling to reverse the clearly erroneous charges, it’s time to ask the bank to stand up and fight for its customer. If conversations don’t help, leap over the hurdles of incompetence and fire an Executive Email Carpet Bomb at both Microsoft and the bank.

(Photo: johnsu01)
RELATED: Contact Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer


Edit Your Comment

  1. Pro-Pain says:

    Dare I say anybody willing to buy Vista, much less pay for an UPGRADE to useless Vista Ultimate deserves this? I blame the victim here.

  2. Pro-Pain says:

    To add to my post, your bank/credit card company obviously sucks ass if they didn’t catch this and call you right away to see what was up.

  3. Melt says:

    And why use a debit card for this? With a credit card, you could easily just deal with your credit card company. For an IT Manager who deals with Microsoft often, it would seem that a) he would know which product to purchase and b) have alternate ways of purchasing (even for himself).

  4. timmus says:

    This story needs to be spread onto Slashdot and some of the other tech blogs. This is an astronomical level of misuse of the electronic payment gateways and really, really bad customer service.

  5. tptcat says:

    I’ll probably come off as kind of a dick here, but…

    In the story, Bill writes, “I now have overdue bills and am going hungry for what would appear to be the rest of the month…”

    An IT Manager for a major university who’s life is riding on being out $500? While I think this is a terrible situation for Bill to be in, and MS or his bank should absolutely correct the issue now, he might be good to use Consumerist to look into some of the ways to learn to build some type of savings and investments. This seems to be the real issue here.

    Spending over $200 on an upgrade to something he probably doesn’t NEED or can wait for, doesn’t seem like good spending habits when the space between you and homelessness and/or starvation is $500 (that’s only a dozen or fewer tanks of gas).

  6. bilge says:

    Which bank’s involved here?

    And this is another example to use a credit card, not a debit card.

  7. kspray--dad says:

    In Canada:

    In a proven case of online fraud, you are protected by the ‘Customer Services Rules’, which ensure that your funds are returned to your bank account by your Financial Institution. These ‘Rules’ are based on the reputable Canadian Code of Practice for Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce. While we work with all stakeholders, as well as security experts, to maintain the ongoing security of our services, there are actions that you can take as well. You are encouraged to regularly check your bank statements to verify that all transactions have been properly documented. If entries do not accurately reflect transaction activities – for example, if there are missing or additional transactions you should immediately contact your financial institution.

  8. HOP says:

    the hell with vist. i’m sticking withh xp till the system falls apary…….

  9. Was he buying a download or a ordering a physical disk?

    If a download, as an IT Manager he should know better…. it is far better to have the physical disk for an OS.

    If a physical disk, why not just buy it from the local B&M, price will be virtually the same and there is the immediate satisfaction with the quick purchase.

    Fixing the current problem will be easier from the MS end of the ball game as they have the proof (or lack thereof) of the purchases being downloaded or shipped.

  10. anonvmoos says:

    ya talk to the bank. also debit card = anyone can steal all of your money, including microsoft.

    go hungry for a month? sounds a bit dramatic. i’m sure you can bother a friend for some food money :)

  11. brandymb says:

    First big mistake: using a debit card to make such a purchase = open access to bank account. I use my AMEX card for online purchases. That way I can make a chargeback if need me. Hindsight – 20/20..

    Good luck bro.

  12. digitoxin says:

    I read the consumerist all of the time and it drives me nuts everytime someone says you should be using a credit card for large purchases and never your debit card. Some people don’t use credit cards. I don’t. My wife and I have sworn off credit cards and will never use or own one again for any reason. Telling people they should use a be using a credit card is just spreading the destructive myth that to operate on our society, a credit card is a requirement and not having one is stupid. I do agree that you are taking a risk using your primary checking account for online purchases, especially large ones. That’s why I have a second checking account specifically for online purchases. I keep a minimal amount of money in this account and transfer money from my main checking account to this one as needed when I need to make a large online purchase. It is not the perfect solution, but neither is telling everyone they NEED to get or use a credit card.

  13. Squeegoth says:

    @tptcat: Seriously? You’re seriously going to pick at this guy’s finances knowing two things about him? Go troll elsewhere. This attitude right here is what makes the Consumerist comment area the steaming pile underneath what really is very good, relevant information in a blog I love.

  14. gnubian says:

    A true “IT Manager” wouldn’t be buying an upgrade version and wouldn’t be buying from Microsoft’s website (imho) …

    From Newegg

    Upgrade Ultimate = $184.99
    OEM Ultimate = $169
    Retail Ultimate = $279

    I looked to see what MS would charge me to upgrade from my vista home premium -> ultimate via the builtin upgrade tool included in vista .. it would cost me more for the upgrade than to just outright buy a new OEM copy from newegg.

  15. danieldavis says:

    Guys, he may have not got his stimulus check or something. I back Sqeegoth.

    As for Micro$uck, is anyone surprised here. SWITCH TO A MAC TODAY….incompetence vs Mac is what it’s looking like in this world. I’m not trying to advertise, but damn, they do exist other alternatives. Time to face it Mr. IT Guy.

  16. And people wonder why products are pirated

  17. Joedragon says:

    What a dumb IT Manager paying much for a upgrade when you can get a full install OEM disk for under $200.

  18. Joedragon says:

    Sounds like he is PHB IT Manager and not a TECH guy.

  19. NDub says:


    In the post, he says he gets payed monthly.

  20. nicless says:

    @danieldavis: Use a MAC and you too can speak horrible English!

    I’m not normally one to blame the consumer, but after attempt #3 wouldn’t a normal person have realized there was something wrong with the system and perhaps stopped trying? Remind me never to go to whatever “Large University” trusts this guy for IT.

  21. midwestkel says:

    @Pro-Pain: Only people that dont know how to use a computer have issues with Vista.

    @gnubian: Some companies will not reimburse you for your payment unless it is from certain places like authorized retailers. Its hard to trust Newegg when they say something on thier site and you get something else.

  22. ironchef says:

    charge back.

    Let the Credit Card company duke it out with Microshaft.

  23. azntg says:

    Looks like the money wasn’t actually debited yet. Unless my eyes are tricking me, they’re preauthorization holds. So, the money’s not debited yet. Just on hold.

    I’d speak to the bank and ask them to RELEASE the hold immediately.

    Furthermore, in future purchases, I’d use a corporate credit card and not risk the bank account at the same time.

  24. Chaosium says:

    “A true “IT Manager” wouldn’t be buying an upgrade version”

    Yep. That’s been true since the days of Windows 98.

  25. TechnoDestructo says:


    That is the sort of attitude that killed Atari.

  26. Rajio says:

    @Papa Midnight: I dont think anybody wonders that.

  27. scoobydoo says:

    Damn… A TRUE IT manager at a university would have just ordered the .EDU version of Technet for $90…

    In this day and age you’ve gotta be a pretty stupid IT guy to pay more than retail for Windows Ultimate.

    In fact, WTF do you need ultimate for anyway? The few extra features in it do not make it worth the money.

  28. bwcbwc says:

    Dude, the charges show as “PRE-AUTHORIZATION”. That means they didn’t actually bill you, they just validated that you were within your credit limit and locked that amount of your available credit. The charges will disappear automatically after a few days.

  29. bwcbwc says:

    @bwcbwc – Well since we’re talking a debit card rather than a credit card, it means they locked your available balance. This can be a bit more of a pain in the ass, since it locks real money rather than a credit line, but it should still clear automatically when the final debit doesn’t go through.

  30. LUV2CattleCall says:

    , but damn, they do exist other alternatives.

    I take it grammar check do exist not in OSX?

  31. Wet_Baloney says:
  32. Wet_Baloney says:

    @digitoxin: sorry, but you are totally wrong on this. Yes, it’s stupid to overextend yourself on credit cards, but if you pay them off in full at the end of the month they are MUCH preferable to debit cards. With credit cards you have the protection of the Fair Credit Billing Act. You can dispute charges and the bank must not charge you for the disputed item(s) until your complaint is investigated. With a debit card or check, you are just out the money and on your own to correct any problem. Using a credit card is the ONLY dependable way to protect yourself from bad transactions online.

  33. linbey says:


    It is not legal to buy an OEM copy of Windows unless you are buying a new Motherboard/CPU along with it

  34. tptcat says:

    @NDub: And???

  35. basket548 says:


    How can you claim that your method is preferable to a credit card? Putting money in an account, and then using a debit card linked to it? Methinks that you’re opening yourself up to two dangerous situations – no possibility of a chargeback, and an overdraft fee if your transfer doesn’t clear immediately or you mis-estimate the amount needed.

    You clearly have something against credit cards, but you can do the exact same thing with them, except in reverse. Charge the purchase on a cc; then immediately (not when the bill comes, immediately) pay off the amount due. Now there’s no chance of a fee, and you get the additional protection.

  36. basket548 says:


    And more on an FYI basis, but why do you think that needing a credit card is a destructive myth? Yes, I espouse the opposite point of view, but I’m genuinely interested in hearing your reasons.

  37. afrix says:

    Debit card vs. credit card isn’t necessarily an either/or situation. If you have a debit card with the VISA or MasterCard logos, those are accepted AS credit cards–and it’s preferable to use them that way.

    Sure, they’re still debit cards and they’re still tied to your bank account, and the money still comes directly out of your bank account. But if you use them as credit cards you are entitled to the very same consumer protections as any other pure credit card.

    It’s been shown that people who use credit cards, even if they pay them off every month, tend to spend more than those using pure cash. I don’t know where debit cards stand in all of this, but there was no reason for this guy not to have a debit card that’s tied to the credit card system.

    My local bank went to VISA branded debit cards, that can be used as either debit or credit card, some years back. It’s no big deal; I use it at the ATM, and I use it at those few restaurants that don’t take my Discover card. But when I do use it at those restaurants, I don’t give a PIN or otherwise use it as a debit card. It gets swiped and used as a credit card, complete with all the consumer protections a credit card has.

  38. SomeoneElseNotMe says:

    Sounds like it’s time to go Mac . . . .

  39. gnubian says:


    I’ve never received an incorrect product from newegg in the 7 years I have done business with them.

    quoted –

    “Recently I went to purchase the new Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate operating system from their online store, Windows Live Marketplace for my personal use on my home computer.”

    He wasn’t purchasing for the university, he was purchasing for private use, so saying something along the lines of ..

    “Some companies will not reimburse you for your payment unless it is from certain places like authorized retailers.”

    has no bearing.

  40. linbey says:


    Yeah and good luck trying to find any new games to play on it, and of course you know you cant upgrade the video card in a Mac either to anything decent. Ill own a Mac when I can play new games on it. Not ones that came out for PC 5 years ago. And Ill buy one when I can put a Nvidia 9800GTX OC 1GB video card in one.

  41. czarandy says:

    This is why you should use a credit card.

  42. Trai_Dep says:

    @linbey: N00b, Macs have slots that work fine with Nvidia. Not to mention the built-in ones in the all-in-one/laptops, which are comparable with other mfrs. Most the leading games are on Mac, and for those that aren’t (Gabe Newell sucks eggs), dual-boot solves that.

    Yup – have to agree: a REAL IT professional would have upgraded to Mac.

  43. eelmonger says:

    “I received a call from the fraud prevention department at my bank stating I had been charged by Microsoft 7 times at $233.15!!!!!!”

    If fraud prevention called him, that should have been the end of it right there. If he had said “I did not recieve the merchendise for 6 of those 7 charges.” I’m sure the bank would have taken care of it, as they are the ones that noticed the activity in the first palce.

  44. Jesse in Japan says:

    Why would an IT manager be buying a copy of Windows Vista in the first place?

  45. AlphaWolf says:

    First, if you are in IT long enough nothing Microsoft does surprises you anymore. Is he just days on the job or something?

    Second, after attempt #2 fails it is time to go buy a boxed copy somewhere on the internet as others have mentioned. How smart is it to keep flogging the broken website?

    My Microsoft mouse broke, time to switch to Linux. Haha, whatever.

  46. Imakeholesinu says:

    This is poor planning and implementation on the part of the IT manager. First off, Volume Licensing is what you need especially if you are using the “large university” statement. The only reason to buy retail versions of the operating system is if those versions are going to stay bound to those workstations.

    Secondly, if you were a half decent manager you would have realized that the upgrade keys are worthless in your world anyway without updating your environment to a 2008 domain or installing the Server 2008 AD components. If you had done this, you would have been able to also setup the actual license server and have your workstations contact your license/WDS server for updates and have them “pull” the vista upgrade from the WDS server.

    Not to mention there is no real reason to go to Vista unless these requirements are met and you know the applications in your current server environment will be supported on the server 2008 platform.

    Sounds like someone has a lot of reading to do.

    As for the bank issue, yes, Microsoft overcharged you but this could have all been avoided had you taken the time to research what you were actually getting your IT department into by going to a Vista workstation environment. Just upgrading to the latest and greatest thing will always come back to bite you in the ass if you do it on a whim which is what it sounds like happened.

  47. Cullen D says:

    Hey! I can see myself and some of my friends in the back of that picture :)

    We were some beta testers who Microsoft invited to launch. See the short guy in the hazmat suit in the way back? The squirly one? Yeah he was in an arguement with me about why Linux is better, and I had some friends from Microsoft on the phone giving me lines to feed him :) that was fun!!!

  48. Sinflux says:

    @gnubian: Exactly, I run the network at my work (not by choice, I’m just the only one who knows *anything* about computers [I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain backslash]) and I always buy OEM from a third party.

  49. butyoulied says:

    from the looks of things this is a 5/3 online account. i should know.. i have one. and honestly if they get them involved it will be nothing but headaches in the end. terrible customer support, but something has to be resolved in the end. this seems like a gross incompetence level on both ends. after (hopefully) reading review after review of how vista should not be put into the limelight just yet, he should’ve thought twice. but at the same time this should’ve been something rectified very quickly. i mean come on, if they’re tracking registration and serial numbers and there’s 7 copies unregistered, wouldn’t that throw up red flags to someone in support?

  50. SumedhaKolling says:

    “I take it grammar check do exist not in OSX?”

    Hello irony.

  51. amandakerik says:

    I’m by no means a lawyer, but…
    Bill: Contact your bank’s head office and get all the payments remaining rescinded.
    Also:Consider looking into finding a lawyer and looking at fraud charges. You intended on buying one license and the site told you it didn’t go through. It did. The site lied.
    You were defrauded of money. And to me the final burn is that Microsoft won’t work with you at all. That carried too far is theft.

    Look into contacting the FTC, etc. I’d also look into suing them.

  52. mrrobotanger says:

    Tee hee. This reminds me of an acronym my brother (also an IT guy, but maybe a bit more, um, worldly, than Bill) taught me. PEBCAK. Problem exists between chair and keyboard. And some of us don’t have credit cards due to bad credit.

  53. weissadam says:

    Never, ever, ever use a debit card as a credit card!

    This looks to me like a classic case of unsettled debit card transactions…

    As a holdover from the days of paper and telephone/voice CC authorization, credit card transactions pass through two stages. 1) Authorization and 2) Settlement. Typically when a merchant runs a credit card payment, they “authorize” on the spot which reserves part of your existing credit line for a certain amount. Then at some later determined date (usually nightly, sometimes longer) transactions are “settled” and cards are actually charged. You can think of settlement as what used to happen when a merchant would send in all their credit card receipts to the credit card company in order to actually take payment.

    Typically this system works fine, and often times merchants will overauthorize. (Gas pumps can authorize up to $50 a pop.) Given that it’s a credit line, typically this is no big deal.

    Enter debit cards. A big ugly kluge stuck on top of an already antiquated system. Debit cards are evil, real evil. When a credit card “authorization” goes through on a debit card, the account holder’s bank will set the money aside and remove it from their available balance. It will sit in this state until the merchant either settles the transaction, cancels the transaction or it ages out of the system (aging out can take weeks).

    Given that this isn’t typically a problem for credit card users, often times merchants don’t understand how to properly cancel erroneous authorized transactions. (Even more frequently, they don’t even understand how the system works.) Often times they’ll delete them, which makes opening them back up and settling for zero (canceling) very difficult.

    In the end, the moral of the story is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use a credit card instead of a debit card. If there’s fraud, your life becomes a nightmare. If there’s a processing SNAFU, your life becomes a nightmare. All of these problems magically go away with credit cards. So use ’em, and be sure to pay ’em off at the end of the month!

  54. scoosdad says:

    I had a beef recently with Microsoft in renewing the OneCare subscription some other members of my family use. My bank offers temporary Visa card numbers to use in such circumstances (such as not wanting to lock myself into a perpetually renewing subscription, security, etc.), and so when Microsoft’s online order reported to me that the renewal would cost me $49.95, I went to my bank in a separate window and authorized a temporary number good for $50.

    Fast forward a day or two later… looked at my credit card statement online. Microsoft had not only charged my card the original $49.95, they decided after the transaction had been confirmed with me to tack on an additional amount which I determined was equal to our state’s 5% sales tax. Mind you I have a pdf copy here of the final Microsoft order confirmation, which was generated after I had entered my name, address, and state, and the absolute bottom line total on the confirmation came to $49.95.

    And even worse, my bank let the charge go through anyway even though I had only authorized a maximum of $50. So what’s the point of that if they’ll allow a larger charge to go through? (BofA, BTW). And Microsoft’s online shopping cart system is so stupid it can’t even determine up front if you’ll owe any state sales tax before it issues a confirmation? I’m not sure which is worse.

  55. tptcat says:

    @Squeegoth: I’m not “picking” on him. He decided to make his story public. In fact, a couple other commenters had similar views – saying that saying he’ll starve is a bit dramatic, etc.. As I said in my first post, I empathize with Bill, but he has a bigger issue here that he needs to work on and Consumerist is a perfect resource to start with. After he gets his $500 back, which I hope he does, the real issue won’t be gone.

    Trolling? No.

  56. A few reasons that this is bullsh*t. 1) Why are some entries blurred (the date and balance info) and others completely whited out (The CC number which wouldn’t be represented on a statement anyway). 2)Why does he blur his balance information and a date and then proceed to provide us with his balance info in the text. 3)Proof of manipulation of the screen cap: In one of the entries it clearly says that the money is being returned to the account, but the money doesn’t appear in the credit area of the statement. 4)Banks have automatic systems that will red flag when it sees multiple charges for the same product, if it didn’t freeze the account, a simple phone call to the bank would clear it up. 5) The article ends with a request to “carpet bomb” Microsoft, which sounds like someone who wants to have a laugh at Microsoft’s expense.

    Why is it that people believe everything they read? If this is true, then the guy hasn’t followed several major steps to get this resolved. He hasn’t attempted to talk to a supervisor at MS? Why is the issue being escalated to Product Development? What the hell do they have to do with overcharges? If I called a company and they said “can’t help, sorry.” I’d say “please put me on the line with someone who can.” Next step would be to contact Microsoft’s corporate offices.

    There is always some way of taking care of something like this. The fact that this person hasn’t even tried is more evidence that this is at least partially fabricated.

  57. Frank says:

    Wow, I´m glad that I went to UBUNTU LINUX from XP instead of going to Windows Vista. Hey, everyone…the new long term release of UBUNTU LINUX is FREE, yes FREE. Plus, LINUX works on most old computer hardware. I´m using UBUNTU HARDY on an old 600 MHz AMD laptop and a wireless Internet connection to write this. Microsoft users need to wise up and use the alternate free products that are available!

  58. BrendaNerq says:

    Credit and Debit cards are the same in terms of the ability to submit a chargeback. Call the bank and ask for the Dispute department.

  59. Bill – I work for Microsoft. Though I’m not involved with support, I can help route this to the right people internally.

    Can you send me your support case ID and email address? My email id is sriramk [at]


  60. djreedps says:

    I had a credit union send me in the mail a debit card to replace my ATM card. I went in and told them I don’t want a debit card. I got them to take back the debit card and give me a new ATM card instead.

    I opened an account at another bank, and they pressured me to accept a debit card. I told them No thanks.

    This case is an example of the things that can go wrong with debit cards, and is why I will never own a debit card. With credit cards, you can dispute the false charges with the credit card company. With a debit card, on the other hand, the company that makes the false charges already has your money. You have to work hard to get your money back. In the meantime all of your other bills don’t get paid or worse yet your checks bounce.

    Debit cards only benefit banks and companies. I see absolutely no reason to have one unless you have trouble with racking up credit card debt. In that case, you should just pay in cash anyway.

  61. Leiterfluid says:

    @tptcat:You beat me to the punch. What kind of IT manager lives paycheck to paycheck. Also, if he works for a University, can’t he buy vista much cheaper at the University bookstore?

    and, what kind of IT Manager employs the … “Well that didn’t work, so I’ll try the exact same thing six more times until it does” methodology?

    The guy should just pay the $400/ye for a TechNet subscription, and get all the Operating Systems he can shake a stick at.

  62. trk182 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Atari still exists.

  63. trk182 says:

    @linbey: Smoking weed is illegal too??? So which one of us has a point?

  64. Since he works at a large university, he should really know better that his institution almost definitely provides at least two far less price-gouging ways to get his hands on Microsoft licenses.
    Like @Leiterfluid says, one way is through the bookstore, and the other way is that likely as part of the outrageously expensive volume licensing agreement they get home-use licenses for their employees to use at home as long as they work there.

    Finally… you would think that he’d have the sense to pirate his home-use software. I mean, doesn’t MS make enough money off the computer he uses all day? If that work computer happened to be a laptop, he could carry it home and MS wouldn’t be entitled to a separate license just because he was in a different building. Why, ethically, is it any different if you choose to have a separate machine for home use? I know many people give more weight to Microsoft’s license terms than I do. But this is what I do as an IT manager:

    At work, everything must be 100% genuine Microsoft software (as well as the other vendors). Non-compliance is not an option. Why? Because otherwise BSA shows up and Fs your company in the A and your career can be ruined that way.

    At home, I will never pay a penny to Microsoft, because I hate their lying, cheating guts and would rather save my money for people who aren’t already filthy rich. Other vendors will be considered for purchase though (e.g. shareware), if their products aren’t grossly overpriced.

    RTFA, this was about his _PERSONAL_ machine at home. All the stuff you said applies only to *work* machines.

  65. kable2 says:

    people actually ‘BUY’ windows????!!!???

  66. @afrix: I understand your point, but you are wrong about some of this. It’s not exactly about consumer protection. What it’s more about is what is the authorization hold against.

    Example time: Let’s say your bank account balance is $598. You don’t have a credit card because you hate them. Now you go to MS Broken Website to order Vista for $300. You know you get paid next week and you only need $300 for gas and food between now and then, so you say “there’s no point in using credit unnecessarily!” so you use your debit card (since this is online you’re obviously using it as “credit” mode not PIN-type debit. Microsoft does the only thing they know how to do, screw it up, and authorize the charge twice. Let’s say one charge clears and the other just sits there on hold for a couple weeks. Your bank:
    1. Takes $300 out of your account for the charge that cleared
    2. Takes $300 more for the other authorization
    3. Charges you a $30 overdraft fee for those extra $2 you didn’t have, leaving you with a negative balance of -$32 and no way to buy gas or food for the next week.
    Now you have to call and beg your bank to help you remove the erroneous charge. They might even say “Don’t worry about it, the other auth will time out in a week or two!”

    Now. Let’s try that example again only this time you don’t hate credit cards. Same bank balance, $598. Your credit line is $5000 and let’s say the balance is at 0 because you pay it off every month.
    MS screws it up and authorizes your CC twice. Your CC balance the next day is $300 but you might notice your available credit is strangely $4400 instead of $4700. You put off calling in about it and by the time you get your statement the double auth has timed out on its own and you lost nothing. You pay off the $300.

    Now if the double charge is NOT gone you call the CC company and charge it back. They IMMEDIATELY issue a “conditional credit” to your account for $300 so you don’t even have to pay it or even pay interest on it. Then they start investigating. In my experience that’s the last you hear of the situation. I guess they call the vendor, ask them to produce proof that you authorized the extra charge, they’re unable ‘cos you didn’t, so the bank marks it “case closed.”

    This is simply the fact when it comes to buying things. If there’s ANY chance they could screw it up (online= 100% of the time), using a CC is just good sense. The only time you should really use a debit card anymore is for when you’ve already inspected the merchandise and you retain control of your card 100% of the time. For example, the drugstore, where you can swipe it yourself so have no risk of multiple charges and you’ve made sure you recognize what the swiping station is supposed to look like so there’s no skimmers. But on the other hand, restaurant=bad. That waiter could write down your card number and use it to buy Xbox Live points later that night putting you in another runaround with your bank.

  67. washwords says:

    niiiicce. this did recently happen to me at a spa where they “just put a hold on” $2,000 for the balance of my trip. Trouble is they put that hold on every day for five days when the TOTAL cost of the trip was $2,000 (at most). harumph.

    as for windows, they worst they ever did to me, is … well the growing list of 10 million gripes about msword, like not being able to backspace in track changes. harumph squared.

  68. maynard says:

    To all ‘blame the victim’ commenters:

    I too am an IT Manager for a well known University. It’s a job, not a religious calling. Perhaps this guy should have bought what he wanted with a credit card instead of a debit card. Perhaps he should have bought a different product. But he didn’t. He used a debit card to buy a specific copy of Windows from the Microsoft web site. And they charged him seven times for a single purchase. Then they didn’t fix the overcharges.

    It’s that simple folks. The rest of this is all BS. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t live up to the general consensus of what “an IT manager would do.” None of us have any idea what his situation and context is. As such, insults of the form “he must suck at his job because” are utterly meaningless and serve only to ignore and shift attention away from the underlying issue: FRAUD.

  69. Victor V. says:

    @maynard: But it seems he did get activation keys for all of the purchases.

  70. *Microsoft employee here*

    I replied above but I’m trying again (in bold!) to get attention.

    The right folks internally are working on this.

    Bill – if you’re reading this, can you get in touch with me (


  71. Squeegoth says:

    @maynard: So what do you think the mentality behind the blame the victim folks is? Does this sort of blog attract such a self-righteous crowd that they’re looking for fault not just in companies, but in everyone all the time?

  72. nardo218 says:

    Why the hell do you keep pressing “submit” on a shopping website?? Thats’ like rule number 1!

  73. KeeneElpenor says:

    Something similar happened to me recently when ordering an upgrade
    online from Adobe. $795 for an upgrade to a program that should have
    been $159. I got 5 identical charges on my card for one upgrade and

    In my case I was presented an Error Dialog Alert box — with no
    explanation — on first ordering online, stopped, phoned customer
    service, and was “talked through” the process via a different “route”
    through the store. Following that, a series of phone calls,
    conflicting information, solutions that don’t map to the problem,
    and … the saga continues … I have even managed to get someone to
    listen and empathize … but haven’t found anyone who can actually
    “do” anything about it … yet.

    No money left over for gas now .. :-)

  74. anonvmoos says:

    actually, rule #1 is dont buy things from a broken website.

    could be a fake or having technical difficulties

    but yeah rule #2 is dont press submit twice!

    most sites fix this by greying out the submit button using javascript…

    whats rule #3 ? price match first ? never buy upgrades ?

  75. lestat730 says:

    Something similar happened to me with HP only the outcome was much more positive. Basically I was ordering a pack of 13×19 proofing paper from HP’s website using the company card for work and got a similar message. After entering the payment info in a second time and getting the same error message I called customer service to order by phone and verify that the card wasn’t charged online. They told me that the card had not been charged so I went and ordered the paper from them on the phone. A few days later the paper comes, 2 days after that another pack of paper comes. When I called customer service they immediately offered to credit my account for one pack of paper and they let us keep it for free! Thats what I call good customer service!

  76. glorpy says:

    Bill, what did you say to the Fraud Department when they called to confirm the suspicious transactions?

    The correct answer, “The first is legitimate, but the rest are not,” should have taken care of the issue quickly.

  77. blackmage439 says:

    You’re an “IT Manager” at a “large university” and you can’t afford to have $699.45 debited from your account for a month?

    First of all, as an IT manager, you should know better than to use your bank account for online purchases. Using a credit card, you could have charged-back those erroneous charges by now, if you’re so desperate.

    Second, I am a lowly IT techie working at a high school, and having $700.00 deducted from my account through this fiasco would certainly not force me to be late on bills and go hungry. It sounds like someone is living way beyond their means…

    While I hate what M$ has done with Vista, and I’m only learning Vista so I’ll be ready when I’m forced to support it, I cannot have sympathy for you. Cut back on your expenses, and charge-back those bastards, not necessarily in that order.

  78. ValedaThymoetes says:

    I am Larry Engel. I am the General Manager at Microsoft responsible for Windows Marketplace. Bill Park’s transactions occurred on our site.

    During late April and early May, some customers who purchased products on Windows Marketplace received an error message indicating that their order wasn’t processed. At the time, that error message was incorrect. If they clicked on the purchase button again, it resulted in multiple transactions. In most cases we were able to contact these customers and immediately refund their money. Unfortunately, our analysis of the transactions did not reveal all the customers that were impacted. Some customers needed to call Microsoft in order to initiate the refund, and did not receive the level of product support warranted in a situation like this.

    This software error has been corrected so that no more customers are impacted. We are continuing our analysis of all the transactions that took place on Windows Marketplace during the three week period, and are actively refunding customers. In addition, we have made sure that all customer service agents for Windows Marketplace are well versed in this situation and can deliver timely service if we are contacted by a customer who was inadvertently charged multiple times for a single order.

    I understand the inconvenience and trouble that this caused. Available credit (or account balances, for debit cards) for making other transactions is reduced by duplicate charges. It costs time, effort, and frustration to contact us, or the credit card company, to reverse the charges. I deeply apologize for this.

    My team and our support teams at Microsoft are working to follow up with all the customers affected by this and will resolve any remaining issues.

    If you have been incorrectly billed and have not seen your credit/debit card credited appropriately, please call Windows Marketplace support at 1-866-441-1525.

    If you want to get in touch with me, please feel free to e-mail me at

    Once again, please accept my apologies for your inconvenience,
    Larry Engel