How Not Having Home Internet Access Makes Xbox Live Problematic

It’s difficult to imagine such a rustic, primitive existence, but Dustin doesn’t have broadband Internet access at home. He seems to manage, though. Except when it comes to his Xbox 360. When he downloaded a game expansion, a Microsoft representative gave him bad advice, instructing him to put his hard drive in the console of a friend who does have broadband at home. The representative left out a step, and the game expansion license now belongs to Dustin’s friend’s account. No one at Microsoft is able to help him get the content back under his own gamertag so he can use the content he paid for.

I am an Xbox360 owner who does not have high-speed internet connectivity at my home. First, I contacted phone support and asked for assistance with downloading a game expansion from LIVE market. The phone support instructed me to bring my hard-drive to a friends home, and use their console to download the material. The support agent did not instruct me to “recover my gamertag” (live account) and so the license was purchased for my friends account inadvertently. Because of this I am unable to access the downloaded content that I have paid for.

I have contacted 5 different support agents, 2 of which were supervisors, 1 of which actually told me “we are not responsible for any issues caused by incidental damage caused by tech support resolutions” and called me a whiny. I spent 5 hours on the phone regarding this, each operator I talked to offered conflicting information and instructions; none have been able to provide an acceptable solution.

The best solution offered was for my friend to recover his gamertag onto my console and transfer his licenses thereby, and then for myself to remain offline while playing the downloaded content. Unfortunately this is impossible because my first phone service agent erroneously instructed me to perform a license transfer at an inappropriate time and license transfers can occur only once every 120 days. A manual authorization requires 2 weeks time for the escalation department to complete the request. This would work if I were able to access Xbox LIVE at home in two weeks time, but fundamental to the problem I am not able to do this and a delay of two weeks to correct an error made by a phone service agent is not acceptable.

I do not believe I should be expected to expend this amount of effort to use a product I have purchased per the guidelines instructed by Microsoft’s own tech support, or to receive a trivial $20 refund or reimbursement for an unusable product.

I have since then, attempted an executive carpet bomb to no response, perhaps the addresses I had were not up to date, perhaps I need to give more than 3 days, but I’m not waiting 14 or 120 days for the ability to attempt to allow me to circumvent the system by never logging onto Xbox Live again.

On a side note, according to 2 different supervisors at tech support, they are apparently not allowed to give you their manager’s information, which helps them ensure that they are never held accountable for their actions or insults.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    My understanding was that X-Box Live content has ‘two’ keys – One is tied to the console that originally downloaded it, and one is tied to the account that purchased it.

    This is why my wife and I can both play Double-Fine’s ‘Trenched’, despite hers being the Xbox that originally downloaded it, and my account being the one that paid for it…

    Have they since changed this?

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      It’s not described up above, but no it hasn’t changed. Because he doesn’t have internet access at home the DRM can’t check to make sure his ID has the right to play the game.

      I had the same problem. I downloaded the extra levels for a game, and then my Xbox red ringed. But hey no problem, even though the levels were no longer tied to the original Xbox (and the levels weren’t redownloadable), it was still tied to my account so I could play. Until I lost internet at home, and XBL could no longer check my ID for the game, so I couldn’t play it.

      • az123 says:

        You can once a year transfer all licenses from on system to another, you need to log onto Xbox live web page to do this. Microsoft should in fact automatically do this when you send in an Xbox and get it repaired (replaced) but you can manually do it. The problem with what is highlighted in this article is that it is one program and their system is setup to do a 100% transfer (as in you get a new Xbox and want to move all your stuff).

        • amuro98 says:

          The ‘transfer all licenses’ thing won’t work. It’ll transfer ALL of the friend’s licenses to the OP’s console. AND you need to have your console connected to Live for the update to take place.

    • dangermike says:

      It’s still the same. The problem was that when the OP brought his hard drive over to friend’s house and downloaded his content, he wasn’t aware that his account had to be logged on with the friend’s xbox at the time of purchase so the license was not extended to his account and he’s unable to play it on his console.

  2. MonkeyMonk says:

    Considering that most new game releases tend to be public betas I would imagine not having an Internet connection to be problematic.

  3. Admiral_John says:

    XBox support is a joke. I bought a points card a couple of years ago and when I scratched the silver material off there was no code beneath it. I contact XBox and, at their request, faxed in a copy of the card, only to be told the lack of code was due to “over-scratching” and they wouldn’t do anything to credit me the points or to refund my money, even though the reps I spoke to admitted it was a known issue and as a result they were changing the card design to have a tear-off strip.

    A EECB and complaint to the BBB did nothing to get me any satisfaction, so I’m pretty sure OP is hosed.

  4. SkyRattlers says:

    Since I often comment about how the article title is badly constructed to make a situation sound much worse than it is, I feel obligated to do the opposite here. So congrats on choosing a very appropriate and accurate article title!

    Microsoft has a long and very well known history of being strict with it’s policies. The rep provided a very viable suggestion of using someone else’s internet connection to download the game. This idea is very simple to accomplish and due to an error made by the OP he now has an unusable game and is blaming Microsoft. I’m not seeing any issue that Microsoft should address or feel responsible for.

    • Vox Republica says:

      How does “The support agent did not instruct me to ‘recover my gamertag'” qualify as “an error made by the OP” exactly? It doesn’t matter how comparatively simple the solution is: if the instructions left out a key step‚Äîone that, apparently, led to the OP’s current circumstances‚Äîhow can this be put solely on the OP’s head?

      Liken OP’s circumstance to somebody that just purchased a product that required some assembly prior to use. If the included instructions left out a key step that rendered the finished product unusable, no matter how obvious the step might seem to somebody else, how is that *not* the problem of the company providing the directions?

      • SkyRattlers says:

        Because you don’t have to recover your gamertag if you are using your own XBox. You only recover your gamertag when you want to log into someone else’s XBox. Since Microsoft told him to simply bring his XBox over to a friends house and use their internet connection there is no need to recover his tag.

        • Vox Republica says:

          I *might* be missing something from the OP’s description of events, but OP’s original message notes “The phone support instructed me to bring my hard-drive to a friends home.” I’m coming from a position of abject ignorance here, but is there a functional difference between being told to just bring the hard drive and being told to bring the whole unit?

          • QuantumCat says:

            Yes. The license goes to the *console* and the Live account. Bringing his HD over only would have required him to recover his gamertag on his friend’s account–when he made the purchase, the license would go to his friend’s Xbox360 and his Xbox account.

            • QuantumCat says:

              Actually thinking about it, I’m wrong.

              The account would have been on his HD, so he wouldn’t need to recover–the license should have gone to his account and his friend’s Xbox as usual though.

              • SkyRattlers says:

                Exactly. Somewhere in this story is something that just isn’t adding up right. Whether the OP brings his whole XBox or just the hard drive he still wouldn’t need to recover his account. It would have already been logged in.

                Additionally in order for him to have used his friends account on his XBox or hard drive he would have had to recover his friend’s gamertag onto his Xbox or hard drive.

                So somewhere in this tale the OP screwed up the process. Microsoft is not to blame.

                • thefncrow says:

                  The OP is to blame, but it’s not impossible like you say. A lot of 360s have 4GB built-in memory. If his friend’s 360 has that 4GB built-in memory and the gamertag is stored there, then even with a HD swap his gamertag will be there, plus his settings will be retained. I’m thinking of those settings specifically for the “Automatically log in profile on boot” setting.

                  It’s entirely possible that the OP just booted his friend’s console, which auto-logged in his friend’s XBL profile, and they just went from there not noticing which profile was logged in.

              • tsukiotoshi says:

                Is it on your HD even if you create it on the internal memory? I have an arcade and added a new drive later, so my account is actually stored in the little internal memory the xbox arcade has. I’ve never tried putting the HD in another person’s xbox, so I have no idea if it also automatically copies your account info to the HD.

        • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

          He was instructed to plug his hard drive into his friend’s xbox, not bring his own xbox.

          • JHDarkLeg says:

            Shouldn’t the Ops profile have been on the Ops HD, and his friends profile on his friends HD? If his HD was in his friends Xbox, he shouldn’t have even had the option to sign in as his friend.

            Of course with the 360’s new roaming profile cloud storage this may no longer be true.

            • dangermike says:

              Maybe, maybe not. I bought an Arcade model the second time my Premium went in for repairs (mainly wanted to add HDMI support). The arcade has my old hard drive — well, a slightly modified 250 gig in my original HDD’s caddy, actually — but also came with half a gig internal storage, and that’s where my gamertags are. Also, I think there might be additional internal storage that keeps some of the gamertag data ready even removable storage is not present.

      • eldritch2k4 says:

        It’s an OP error because he logged into his friends account to purchase the DLC. It should be pretty evident that if you log into your friends account on his xbox (even with your hard drive in it) it’s going to be licensed to the friend. There’s also the issue of the OP putting his credit card information into the form on his friend’s account.

        He’s not going to get Microsoft to back down on this because there is no way to prove that it isn’t his friend’s DLC. His best bet is to get his friend to give him the cost of the DLC and try again, this time bringing his whole Xbox over to plug into his friend’s internet.

  5. Admiral_John says:

    And it just occurred to me, why didn’t OP bring his entire XBox with him, rather than just the drive? That seems to me as the much more viable solution that just the hard drive.

    • Kingsley says:

      Exactly. I hope his friend plays the game to begin with, because that was VERY kind of them to fiddle with the hard drive swap. Why didn’t the OP bring the box to the internet connection? I thought this whole post was filler. :p

    • Cat says:

      This, this, THIS.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Winner winner, chicken dinner.

    • thefncrow says:

      Indeed. In fact, that’s the only solution that would work for the OP.

      Even if he had just brought the HD to his friend’s house and bought the stuff using his gamertag, he’d end up with the content licensed to his gamertag and his friend’s 360. Then, he goes back home and puts the HD in his home console. He’s offline, so online authentication of the profile is out, falling back to the console licensed for the content, which is not his home 360. Thus, he’s not authorized to use the content.

      The big difference there, though, is that he could take his entire 360 to his friend’s the second time around and do a license transfer, and then the stuff would work when he gets back to his internet-less home.

    • El-Brucio says:

      I would hazard a guess that perhaps he doesn’t have a car, and just taking a hard drive via bus or bicycle is much easier than lugging around the entire console.

    • Jawaka says:

      I’m still scratching my head about why he purchased a downloadable game expansion when he knew that he didn’t have Internet access on his Xbox.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:




      You mean Microsoft made a situation more complicated than it had to be?

      No way.


  6. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    For those familiar with how an Xbox stores its profiles on the HD and how the logon process works, this story doesn’t quite add up. His friend’s account should have been on his friend’s HD. So if they swapped HDs, they would have seen the OPs account to be able to sign in. I’m not trying to go out of my way to blame the OP, but something seems off here and it sounds like he just screwed up and his trying to get MS to fix the mistake.

    • Franklin Comes Alive! says:

      And furthermore, if it was downloaded with is friends gamertag, then he probably used points belonging to his friend and not to the OP.

      • dwtomek says:

        Presumably he was attempting to redeem an online code of some sort. Regardless, ignorance of the process was the primary culprit here, assisted by a CSR agent who also was not entirely aware of the process. Really it’s hard to say though, seeing as how the story stands currently, some events have to be retold inaccurately. This story simply can not have occurred exactly as told.

        • pdj79 says:

          Even if he was redeeming the code, without “recovering” his gamertag (which in the context of this issue makes no sense if he brought his HDD to his friend’s house as it still technically resides on the HDD and should have logged in without issue as soon as he booted up the Xbox), the card would have been redeemed under his friend’s gamertag and it would essentially belong to his friend now.

          I think what he meant was that the Xbox support document failed to mention that downloading the game in this manner requires you to always be connected to the Internet in order to play it as Xbox LIVE has associated the unique hardware ID of the Xbox it was downloaded on as well as the gamertag it was purchased with. I ran into the same issue after my first gen Xbox RRoD-ed and they sent me a new (to me) Xbox. This was shortly before they revamped the system and allowed the license transfers. Every game I had purchased, included DLC for Oblivion, was still tied to the original hardware and if I tried to play the games without logging into Xbox LIVE, either the DLC was not present in the game or I was met with an error message stating I needed to be online to play. I am assuming this is the issue and he wasn’t informed that he needed to transfer the license to his Xbox, which will still require a broadband connection because the license information has to be downloaded onto the Xbox to make the change. He should have just lugged his hardware to his friend’s house….it’s not like it weighs 100lbs and requires a trailer hitch to move it. I’m not going to blame the OP…but I think he should have looked into this type of situation OUTSIDE of Microsoft’s support channels to find out what he should have done.

  7. kirkjt says:

    Sorry, but I have no sympathy. The right fix was obvious. Take your whole XBox over to the friends, hook up to their internet and then do the download. That shouldn’t even require tech support, it’s just common sense.

    • cparkin says:

      Hard drives are removable on the 360. Why would you take your whole console over to your friend’s when you can just pop out the HD? The OP was following tech support’s directions.

      • JHDarkLeg says:

        Well, Xbox downloads register themselves to both the Gamertag and the console downloaded on. If logged into the Gamertag you can play the content on any Xbox, and anybody with any Gamertag can play the content on the Xbox it was originally downloaded on.

        I suppose not everybody knows this, but making sure you’re logged into your account when purchasing something online should be relatively common sense.

  8. Hi_Hello says:

    miscommunication with the word harddrive?

    When i asked people to press the power button on their computer, some of them think the computer is made of two part, the monitor and the Harddrive.

    I wonder if CSR’s harddrive meant the whole console without cables and remote and TV…but OP harddrive meant the actually harddrive…

    • Rachacha says:

      I would hope that someone who works tech support would not refer to the console as the hard drive, unless the caller was not tech saavy and was calling the entire console the “hard drive thingy”

      • SkyRattlers says:

        I’m pretty sure I’m going to lay the blame of a lack of technical knowledge on the person with no internet is his home rather than the rep who spends his entire working day helping people fix technical issues.

    • ganzhimself says:

      Doubtful. I’m sure the phone techs have a script they read from.

  9. nicless says:

    So he put his hard drive in but did not think to sign in as himself to download the item? If he took his computer hard drive over to his friends house, booted up the computer and his friend was signed in to Amazon and then they bought a brand new TV with a prepaid gift card, who owns the TV? It is the exact same thing. If you aren’t signed in, you aren’t the one purchasing the item.

    • az123 says:

      The Xbox links to the embedded SN of the console, so even if you move your drive from one system to another, when you download a program it is coded for the console it was downloaded on and also the Xbox account it was downloaded with. So you can play offline only on that console or if you have an internet connection you can play on any console with your account.

      They do let you transfer all license once a year from one machine to another, so you can move your stuff if you get a new console, but it is all linked to the SN of the console it was downloaded on.

    • Gorbachev says:

      No. He signed in as himself, but because of DRM on XBL downloaded content, it’s ALSO tied to the actual Xbox device he downloaded it from.

      He should delete the game, take his entire setup to his friends house, and redownload.

      • thefncrow says:

        No, he didn’t sign in as himself, and that’s the problem. He signed in on his friend’s profile and made the purchase there, which tied the content to his friend’s profile. That means the 2 licenses for that content are signed to his friend’s profile and his friend’s console.

        The only recourse he possibly has here is to have his friend perform a license transfer to his console, but that will transfer not just this 1 license but all of the licenses, including any other content his friend may have purchased.

      • JHDarkLeg says:

        If that was true the download would have still worked on his 360 as long as he was signed into Live. If he wanted to play without being signed in all he had to do was a license transfer.

        Since this isn’t what happened he must have been signed in as his friend.

  10. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    Im sorry, if they offered you a refund not sure much they can do. There are techinal limitations to things and if they method they offered just didn’t work what esle can be expected.

    Essentially, OP is saying if he calls tech support/customer service and they give you a workaround it MUST work. Thats not fair to the company, they cant possibly know every variable in your indiviualized set up plus, since you will be doing the work they cant insure you didn’t make a mistake. All they can do is offer you a solution and say “no harm” if it doesn’t work. You wanted to buy this product, but you can’t. A refund is fair. If you just want something for your trouble, heres the problem. it was YOUR trouble. They shouldn’t have to take a loss for TRYING to help, and if thats the case they are more inclined to never help and just tell you your boned for not having net at home. They tried to make something avaliable to you that you otherwise would not have available, its failed and they are willing to put you in the position you were before you started. Whats the problem?

    • apple420 says:

      Actually they didn’t offer him a refund. He said it was a lot of trouble to be able to use his product or get a refund. He hasn’t gotten either.

  11. Kingsley says:

    Is the expansion $20? I will send them the $20 if they just shut up about it. #AllAboutMe

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, my first thought when he finally said $20 was “you’ve spent more then 5 hours on the phone trying to get a refund of $20? Had you spent that time mowing a few lawns you could have bought a new license, and another full game or two.”

  12. Cobra4455 says:

    What is this 2006? Go to for instructions on performing a license transfer. You don’t even need to deal with support as long as you do it less than every four months. The real headline should be: Use Google Before You Come To Us Whining About A Problem.

  13. ganzhimself says:

    Just wondering, but how difficult would it have been to just take the entire console to said friend’s house? Not much more difficult that removing the HDD and reinstalling it in another console. It’s not like the console is all that big or bulky. l’d imagine that the console now needs an internet connection to recover the license if a transfer is even possible. Lesson learned.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      hd removal in xbox 2 is really really easy. it’s mounted on the side, you just push a button and it comes off. Lighter to carry.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      It depends. When I was living in DC and relied on public transit, yeah taking the whole damn xbox would have sucked hard versus the HDD would could be thrown in my bag with ease. In an area where I have a car and have to drive most everywhere, no, not as bad. So I can see why it may have just been easier for the guy to just pop out the hard drive, especially when the customer service rep told him he could just do that.

  14. longfeltwant says:

    Walled garden -> knew or should have known

  15. josephbloseph says:

    I’m not sure how this could happen; the OP brought his hard drive, with his gamertag/live account/profile on it, put it on his friend’s console, logged into xbox live under his friend’s account, and either added MS points or his credit card information to his friend’s account, and purchased content? Or was the content purchased with points or payment information already on the friend’s account? Is it something weird where the friend’s account was on that hard drive as well, or in a memory unit or USB stick? Either way, even without seing a transcript of the support call, I don’t really think it’s on Microsoft to remind you to log in with the account that is purchasing the content. While I haven’t heard great things about MS support, and can believe that someone may have called you whiny, I don’t think you’re going to see that $20.

    Incidentally, to my knowledge you won’t be able to have your friend transfer that content licence to your system, at least without him transferring all of his other content as well, which wouldn’t really be in his best interest.

  16. dwtomek says:

    What the support person SHOULD have told him to do was to bring his entire Xbox over to his friends. I have a tightwad friend who refuses to pay for internet service. Occasionally he brings his Xbox over for things like this. I would argue it isn’t much harder to swap the whole box as opposed to just the hard drive, and it sure makes things easier in that it actually works. Microsoft service has been atrocious lately.

  17. BeastMD1 says:

    Should have taken his whole xbox over to the buddies house.

    The licenses on XBOX are tied to the console(not the hard-drive) and the xbox live AUTHENTICATED user, in the absence of one the add on would work,in the absence of both the add on wont work. Even though the reps are bad at xbox I have my doubts that they would have told him to do what he did. If they did, I feel for him. I think hes screwed, though.

    I do however question how much time he has spent on the issue, as at this point he has at wasted how much time to get his $10-20 add on? Sometimes you have to cut your losses.

  18. dush says:

    Why would idiot Microsoft tell him to slave the hard drive?
    Just take the whole XBOX over and plug it in to his friend’s internet.

    • framitz says:

      Now that would have been far to logical for MS support to even think of, it is probably not in the script.

    • spf1971 says:

      That’s assuming of course that the rep did in fact tell him to take the hard drive only. I’m sure it wouldn’t be the first time someone did what they thought they heard.

  19. shufflemoomin says:

    I smell shit. Your account is ON your hard drive. If your hard drive went, the account went. Unless they’re both using USB drives for their accounts for some reason, there’s no reason his account wouldn’t have gone with him and there’d have been no way for him to log on as his friend with his drive in there.

  20. NumberSix says:

    I do not have broadband internet at home either. It’s too expensive. The best I’m able to do is tethering off my work provided smart phone, but it has a 2GB limit (which I have to be careful with since that is for, you know, work). Its amazing how much you can still get done with a low cap and a 512K connection though.

  21. outinthedark says:

    Wow this is just humorous. Want’s to purchase DOWNLOADABLE content. Doesn’t have the internet.

  22. VashTS says:

    WHen DLC came on the scene I quit gaming. Te 80’s to early 200’s were the best gaming period. Now we have little addicts and stockholders decide what games get made and bought.