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 )


Edit Your Comment

  1. seital says:

    I had a similar case about a year ago, but they only overcharged me for two months (about 16 dollars), and this was before I started reading The Consumerist.

    I’m glad to hear ForceTrainer got his money back, I know when I tried to talk to the representative about it the only options were to pay the overcharged money or to cancel the account, I reluctantly paid, but I also think they should just cancel accounts that they can’t receive funds for (like most online games) in place of overcharging, then forcing you to pay or lose your account.

  2. EmperorOfCanada says:


    Nice to see a happy ending.

  3. exkon says:

    I think when most people ask for escalation, they’re already in an angry state and when that happens no one is going to get any help.

  4. FijianTribe says:

    That’s it… I told the employee not to give further info… Now I will have to fire him.

  5. cpt.snerd says:

    love happy endings at the end of the day ;)

  6. parad0x360 says:

    MS support has been pretty good to me in the past. Once I rented the same movie twice in the same day by accident and then refunded the points for both rentals and I still got to watch the movie.

    If you call when the US offices are open you can normally get what you’re after (in reason) in short order.

  7. zoso says:

    I had good luck with Live Support as well. I had been out of the country for two months and I forgot to discontinue my service. When I returned home I noticed a charge on my Visa bill for 2 months of Xbox Live. I called them up, told them that I was away and (since they could verify that I was, no logons for 60 days) they ended up not only refunding the amount that was charged but they also gave me Microsoft Points as an apology. They didn’t even do anything wrong! I’ll never have anything bad to say about them after my experience.

  8. nXt says:

    #1 rule of Xbox Live…. NEVER USE A CREDIT CARD. If your account gets hijacked, you’ll have more problems.

    Second, billing mistakes like this.

    Third, this is the Consumerist, why sign up for automatic annual or monthly payments?

    Fourth, use/buy Xbox Live cards. Deals can be found in stores where they can be cheaper.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar experience, except it was before the advent of MS Points.

  10. kthxbai says:

    Sic picture of what looks like Astor Place 6 train stop… ohhh im pathetic

  11. YoniX says:

    I love it when a plan comes together, and also when Microsoft admits when they are wrong, that to me is music to my ears.

  12. Dyscord says:

    Whenever I had Xbox Live, way back in 04, I used cards exclusively. Someone sold one of the free cards you used to get in some games on Ebay for about 3 dollars, which is a deal considering you don’t have to buy the game to get it. Then I bought a year card for roughly 30 dollars on Ebay also.

    Of course, this was before the decline of Ebay, but the point still stands.

  13. itccinc says:

    My son purchased an Xbox Live 12+1 Bonus Month Subscription Card in January of 2009 because he knew his pre-paid 1-year subscription would be expiring soon. When he logged in to enter the subscription card information, he could not do this without a credit card because apparently the card information on file was not up to date. He entered the credit card information followed by the subscription card.

    This month, we received a bill for $49.99 from POS PURCHASE MICROSOFT *XBOX LIVE 800-469-9. So, I called 800-4MY-XBOX and made sure to speak to a person in billing. They said that I could not be refunded without cancelling the account. I asked if this would cause my son to lose his gamer tag. They said that it would not. They did say, however, that the subscription card would be lost during this process.

    I asked to have this escalated. Upon speaking with Chris, the manager, I was basically told the same thing. He went on to explain that because we had signed up for auto-renew and the credit card information was not current that the account had to be brought current before the subscription card could be used. He tells me the good news is that my son’s account is good through 2011 now. I hope his XBox does not RROD (Red Ring of Death) before then like his cousin’s XBox did.

    So, consumerist, it looks like the training that James had mentioned has not been implemented at this point. It also looks like Microsoft has reassured my distrust in providing credit card information for services like XBox Live.