UPDATE: Microsoft Offers Full Refund To Overcharged XBOX Live Member

XBOX Live member ForceTrainer writes in with an update about his issue with Microsoft. In our last episode, ForceTrainer has been charged $50 for 2 months of a XBOX Live gold membership– the price of a year of service.

ForceTrainer says:

First off, many thanks for posting my experience with XBOX Live billing on your site. About 6 hours after the post went up I received a phone call from XBOX Live support asking about the situation. Unfortunately I did not speak with support list night, and after calling them back today I got in touch with one of their reps.

I spoke with James in their escalated support for about 20 minutes. Right off the bat he explained to me what MS would be able to do, and I was offered the option of a full refund of the amount that I paid or they would provide me with a 12-month XBOX Live Gold membership code that I could redeem. I opted for the full refund since all I wanted originally was to downgrade to a Silver membership.

After getting that cleared up, James asked me to explain the entire situation to him, and I gave him the story pretty much verbatim from what I sent to the Consumerist. When I finished James apologized for the confusion that occurred, and he explained a few things including why he thinks the situation occurred:

– His first comment was that I was absolutely right that I should have received a full credit for the time paid for (vindication!).

– My case should have been escalated by default when I first spoke to billing because my request and situation were non-standard. My account was in a decline state which the billing department can handle, but since I wanted to downgrade to a Silver account while in a decline state I should have been escalated immediately.

– James believes that the major confusion occurred because my annual account was in a decline state, and that it is very rare for a billing CSR to deal see. Decline states are common with accounts paid on a monthly basis (which makes sense), and the CSR treated my annual account like it was a month-to-month. With month-to-month billing if you get declined your payment to bring your account current gets you paid for that month. Basically you’re just paying for time that you’ve already used. However, with the annual membership, when you pay your balance there is time that is owed to you. The CSR that I spoke with just pretty much screwed this part up.

I absolutely believe that James was sincere in his evaluation of the situation, and his point that decline states don’t occur often with annual accounts means that the CSR I talked to may have never had that exact situation before. While that doesn’t mean that what the CSR did was right, mistakes happen and MS worked quickly to fix the mistake. James said that they will make sure to address this in training with their CSRs. Whether that happens or not I don’t know, but the fact that they called me directly speaks volumes.

I did ask James if he knew why I received a call from their department, and his response was that he was just told by his boss to call me and not given any other information. This to me was a pretty big clue that it was the Consumerist post that sparked the phone call. I’m definitely not going to complain about that!

Most importantly (because I want to help other readers that have been trying to deal with XBOX Live billing) I brought up to James that there were other Consumerist readers that were having similar problems, and I asked if there was anything they could do to make getting their situations resolved a little easier. This is what I was told:

1) If you are having billing related problems with your account, call XBOX Live support at 1-800-4MY-XBOX.

2) When the IVR (known as Max) answers, wait for the option to speak with billing. This option is AFTER the choice for XBOX Live support. He said that many users choose the option for XBOX Live Support when in fact they need to speak with billing (obviously they should be changing their prompts).

3) If you account is in a decline cycle (meaning your credit card expired, etc.) tell the CSR that you know you are in a decline cycle, and explain exactly what you would like to have happen. This could be anything from just paying your bill to downgrading to a Silver membership. Be clear and things should hopefully shake out.

4) If at any point you feel uncomfortable or confused with what the CSR is saying, ask to be escalated to the next level of support. They should do this immediately without any objections.

5) At this point the escalated support should be able to help you out. They have authorization and additional information to handle most requests including refunds if necessary.

The main reason I didn’t escalate my call was because I was rather angry, and I didn’t want to yell at someone that was just trying to help me out. In the end everything worked out, and I thank the Consumerist for that! With the information that I got from James as well I think that other people with billing related problems should be able to get squared away. If not, just write in to the Consumerist 🙂


Let us know if ForceTrainer’s instructions work for you by emailing us at tips@consumerist.com. Good luck! And remember that you shouldn’t ever be afraid to ask for your complaint to be escalated! There are limits to what your basic CSR can do. If your issue needs TLC, ask for someone with more authority.

(Photo: Maulleigh )

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