Resetting My Xbox Live Password Was An Exercise In Futility

Reader P bought a new Xbox 360 after his old console descended to Red Ring of Death hell. Having forgotten his Xbox Live password, P endured the arduous process of attempting to recover the password through Microsoft. The way P describes it, doing so was as simple and user-friendly as spinal surgery.

He writes:

Is this where we can report companies that provide ridiculously bad customer service or what we have to go through to get assistance. Here is my story with Microsoft customer service.

Not surprisingly, my Xbox 360 died on my and gave me the red ring of death. I ended up buying a new one as it was quite old but realized that I did not have the password for my Xbox live account any longer. The account was a 10 year old Hotmail account that was no longer in use. It had also started sending out spam at some point so I had changed the password but did not mark it down as it did not concern me

I don’t know how many people have tried to recover a Live password but I’ve quickly discovered how much of an exercise in futility it is. If you have no recourse such as a secret question, you must go through a tedious process with Microsoft which is aimed at Live/Hotmail. You have to provide a number of facts on the account such as contacts, folders, MSN friends, etc. which is difficult to do when you use either of the tools- even more so when you don’t have the password to access them!

So my only possibility was to provide as much information as I could on my Xbox Live account. This was done on the 14th of December. On the 22nd someone answered telling me I hadn’t given them enough information even though I clearly said I couldn’t. My response was to give them my address and even the credit card information linked to the account. The following day I gave them a complete list of what I had purchased on the Xbox Live account as I could still access the old hard drive in the new console. On the 29th I made a small purchase of points and told them what I had bought and the remaining total. Finally yesterday on the 8th of January they came back to say they still could not validate the account even with all I had provided!

During that time I also opened a ticket with the Xbox Live support who advised me to deal with MS Live. I called them again and they said they could not help me unless I got a password reset first. I asked for a supervisor and he explained it again that this is not an Xbox Live issue so it has to be Live that assists. It looks like both are unlinked and neither has any interest in helping me meaning I lose everything I’ve ever purchased off Xbox Live.

I have done everything I can… there is no further information I can provide them. So that said I ask the Consumerist if you can provide guidance on how I can get back my account on Xbox Live.

If you’ve reset your Xbox Live password, how did your experience compare to P’s?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I hate anything that requires a “LIVE” account. I won’t use it… Xbox Live included.

    I had a HOTMAIL account, back in the day, too. I stopped using it when Microshaft bought it.

  2. punkrawka says:

    This is part of the two-edged sword of having Windows Live IDs provide unified access to a slew of services. It’s convenient, but it means that security for those services has to be pretty strict.

    I’m not accusing the OP of this, but how does Microsoft know that he didn’t steal the XBox HDD (or buy it used), and is now trying to use it to gain access to the former owner’s entire Windows Live account, from E-mail to messenger to Zune and more?

    As much as it sucks to be OP right now, he probably needs to give up and set up a new account and have MS transfer the DRM for his purchases (they can definitely do this). Can you imagine the Consumerist headline “Someone bought my old XBox hard drive, so Microsoft gave them access to my E-mail”?

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      There’d be plenty blaming the OP for not wiping the drive first.

      • punkrawka says:

        Well, it goes without saying that if you imagine Consumerist headline X, you can also imagine blame-the-OP comment Y. :-)

    • zlionsfan says:

      Sure, there are processes in place to transfer DRM, but they’re primarily designed to move licenses from one console associated with a profile to another console on the same profile. Because he (presumably) can’t log in as that profile, he’d be in the same boat as he is now: he’d say “hi, I need to transfer from OldMe to NewMe,” and they’d say “sounds good, first you need to log in as OldMe.”

      And it would follow the same logic: you don’t want someone acquiring your licenses simply by calling Customer Support and saying hey, such-and-such happened, now I’ve established this new account, please transfer all the goods.

      As far as giving advice to P, hell, there are plenty of stories (here and elsewhere) about people with obviously legitimate questions being unable to navigate the labyrinth of MS support. Unfortunately for P, if he can’t offer anything other than his word, it might be a difficult problem to resolve …

  3. framitz says:

    “The account was a 10 year old Hotmail account that was no longer in use. It had also started sending out spam at some point so I had changed the password but did not mark it down as it did not concern me”

    No sympathy from me. Some people should probably not try to use on line services at all.

    • swanksta says:

      Yeah people need to take responsibility for their account information because the alternative is everyone else on the service having less security. I applaud MS given the amount of info a xbox account can have now including being tied to all your financial accounts.

  4. BlkSwanPres says:

    Why would you associate something as important as you Xbox Live account with something you did not care for or use. They don’t require you to have a hotmail or live address, and if you changed the pass word why on earth would you not document it when you had services you pay money for tied to it. That’s like changing the locks on your summer house and throwing away the keys.

  5. NashuaConsumerist says:

    Oh god I had nearly similar problem. The frustrating part is XBOX support out of india does not communicate with MS LIVE support. I spent weeks trying to go through support trying to figure out what my password was after I has long forgot it something like 5 years earlier… What made my particular instance that more troubling is the email I had registered with MS live for Xbox live back in the first generation days was misspelled. I had accidentally ended my email with @juno.coN with and ‘n’. This made my life worse, that even if I could get a password reminder sent to me it would be sent to a non-existent email. Finally, US based MS support explained the issue with my email address BUT WOULD NOT FIX IT WITHOUT THE PASSWORD. I pleaded with them to open my account, open the account address, hit backspace once and type the letter ‘M’, and hit enter. No luck there. Finally after spending 2 months to re-acquire my log-in information to do a license transfer I had one rep confirm my identity to send a password reminder to an alternate email address by confirming the credit card number used to buy my first year of xbox live 5 years earlier with a card i didn’t have anymore (thankfully I had saved a bit of paperwork that had the number on it from something else). Trust me, the path is long an arduous and required months of time and even exploiting a business relationship I had with an MS employee to get someone to help me….

  6. AI says:

    The Op needs to escalate, as I doubt Microsoft has a procedure for helping someone who forgot this much information.

    The Op doesn’t know enough information to reset his Hotmail password. While he has the credit card info, that info was linked to his Xbox Live account, NOT his Windows Live Hotmail account which seems to just be used as a universal login.

  7. pop top says:

    I hate to sound like I’m blaming the OP here but if you’re using an account that’s important to you, you should always make sure that the information on it is up to date. That includes recovery options and security questions.

    • VectorVictor says:

      Dead on. There’s no excuse, especially if it’s something you use on a daily or weekly basis, like your XBL account and XBox 360.

    • lostalaska says:

      It’s been a while, but I set up my gmail account as my secondary email address in Hotmail so if I reset my password it’s sent to my gmail account. Always have a fallback, because these kinds of lessons are a p.i.t.a.

    • kujospam says:

      I totally agree. Now only that, I have an excel sheet that is password protected and ecrypted with all my other passwords in it in case I forget. And I always keep that up to date. A pain, barely. It’s the price to live if you want to use a computer. Totally blame OP. There is also free software out there for password management.

      • swanksta says:

        I use lastpass it is the greatest decision I have ever made regarding online activity. All 300+ of my passwords are unique and they are the maximum characters allowed for each service. It even has double authentication to sign in and the browser plugin works just like the much less secure FF password manager. Having all my passwords in “the cloud” is really nice as well.

  8. shufflemoomin says:

    He can’t provide enough information to prove the account is his. What part of that does he have a problem with? He’d be just as angry if someone gained access to his account and complain that they shouldn’t have been able to do it with such a small amount of information. Why does he think he should get access just because it’s HIS account. THEY don’t know that and he can’t prove it. It’s also his own fault for changing a password and not bothering to mark it down. I’m sorry, but I don’t think MS is at fault here.

  9. wastedlife says:

    If he can access the old hard drive, why did he need to recover the account? You can use any usb drive as a memory unit and use that to transfer accounts and other data from the old hard drive to the new one. If he could access the old hard drive, couldn’t he also use that to log into your account to reset the password or associate it with a different email?

  10. JBTX says:

    I’m not sure whats better, I had a Xbox live account since day one. Back when they had the account hacking problem mine was one of the hacked ones. So in an effort to restore it they corrupted it. The solution from them – sign up for a new account, problem was I didn’t get any of my downloaded games on my new account due to the DRM. And the support agent in India said they couldn’t see any purchases on my account.

    I’m still really pissed about it and wont buy and online software with DRM. I just buy a physical copy.

  11. Larraque eats babies says:

    “Not surprisingly, my Xbox 360 died on my and gave me the red ring of death. I ended up buying a new one as it was quite old but realized that I did not have the password for my Xbox live account any longer.”

    Get a data transfer cable, copy the stuff from your old xbox hard drive to your new one. It should copy your account and any DLC you’ve purchased as well as saved games. Then fix your e-mail address.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      I will second this. That is what I did when I got a new HDD and I didn’t have to put in my information again, it automatically transferred it over. Give that a try.

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      Same here. The data transfer cable connects to your old Xbox hard drive, and all you have to do is plug it into the new Xbox and transfer the data over. It will transfer all of your account information if you select it, which means you don’t need to re-enter any information.

      On the downside, this means you need to have an active internet connection to play any of your downloaded games, since you will need to sign on to your account in order to play, and you can’t transfer the licenses to your new console, since that requires your Live account information. You don’t need an active gold account though, just the ability to sign on to your Xbox Live account, i.e. an internet connection.

  12. VectorVictor says:

    Considering people were on this and other sites a year or two ago pissed at how scammers and scum were able to “social engineer” passwords to hack XBL accounts, I would consider this to be a success.

    While the desks may not talk with each other (something that Microsoft should fix), I do have to hop on the “blame the OP” wagon in this case.

  13. Red Cat Linux says:

    I kinda feel for the guy. Every time I use a password keeper kind of file, I invariably lose the password to the password keeper.

    Sad. But true.

    Now I write the things down. There are so many of them. You need a password to them all, along with account names/login names and sites where they are valid. I’ve reached password overload.

  14. roguemarvel says:

    I had the same thing happen to me and it was very very frustrating. What i ended up doing was having to recover my old hotmail account by filling out paper work and answering questions to verify that it was my account. Lucky for me around the time I switched from hotmail to gmail my bf at the time would sent me messages to both accounts so I did have actual email titles I could reference when filling out the paper work. But boy was it a pain in the ass and Customer service was useless which started my hate relationship with Microsoft’s CS.

    After i recovered the email I was able to recover the live account threw it and update my email.

    I wish the OP good luck it took me two weeks to get the issue resolved. I hope the OP can some how find a work around

  15. whoever says:

    if you can move the hard drive from one machine to anothe you’ll be able to auto sign in.
    If from there copy your profile to a usb drive or xbox memory stick if you have the old style console. You’ll be able to auto sign in then from there with the new console

  16. Framling says:

    Okay, for those blaming the OP for changing the password and not writing it down, my 15-year-old brother-in-law is in much the same boat. There’s some kind of billing weirdness going on that prevents him from using the 12-month Gold card I got him I’m not sure how long ago, and since he was 13 or so when he made the yahoo account or whatever email he has associated with his Xbox Live account, and has since switched email addresses who knows how many times, I have no good way to resolve the problem.

    Since I’m personally responsible with my own passwords, am I allowed to ask for help? Or am I also a terrible, terrible person unworthy of sympathy because I apparently associate with such terrible, terrible people?

  17. Invader Zim says:

    Passwords I pick a day of the year make up a birthday (like Neals Birthday) and in the detail section put critical information like passwords to accounts (I never spell the whole password out just enough to remind me) then store the info in your outlook calendar or gmail calendar. Now I have the info everywhere i go and my phone syncs my new additions. Set it to reoccur. Been doing this for years. I also use to it store info like the size of my house furnace filter and my cats favorite foods. Just a thought and I can edit on the fly.