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Microsoft’s Sleazy XBox Live Autorenewal Credit Card Scam

Posted on February 16, 2011, 4:46 pm, by Thomas Hawk, under Microsoft .

Yesterday I got my AMEX bill. I noticed on there that there was a charge for $59.99 to Microsoft for XBox Live Gold Renewal.

I’ve been really happy about being able to dump Microsoft’s crappy XBox 360 Netflix tax (they charge you $59.99 per year in order to stream your already paid for Netflix to your XBox 360) ever since buying an Apple TV in December (which streams your XBox 360 for free).

I wasn’t aware that Microsoft was going to autorenew me and charge my credit card, so today, the day after I got my credit card bill, I called Microsoft to ask why they’d autorenewed me without my authorization and to see if I could have the charge reversed out. (I’ve streamed no Netflix movies on the XBox 360 by the way since the auto renewal date in Jan).

First before I called Microsoft I tried to see if I could figure things out online myself. I tried to go to my Windows Live account to look into it but was told that it had been temporarily “blocked.” According to the page “Someone may have used your account to send out a lot of junk messages or done something else that violates the Windows Live Terms of Service.” They wanted my cell phone number to unblock it and so I just said screw it and called Microsoft.

After screwing around with the standard push 2 for this and 1 for that and 3 for this I finally got a real person. I explained to this person calmly and politely about the charge and asked her if she’d reverse it for me and make sure the account was closed. After about 5 minutes with her it was determined that she did not have the authority to do this and that I was going to need to go to some other department. Fine.

So the next guy I got first tried to talk me out of canceling. Do you like “sports” he asked? No, I answered back. These sort of questions went on for a while until he finally offered to renew me at the price of $44.99 instead of the $59.99.

I explained to him that the only reason I had the live account in the first place was to stream Netflix and that now that i could do that for free on AppleTV and the wii that I didn’t need this anymore he finally agreed that there was nothing that XBox Live Gold really offered me that I wanted or used and began the process of trying to help me with a refund.

I explained to this guy that 1. I wasn’t aware that I was on autorenewel. That 2. I

hadn’t used the service at all since it “autorenewed.” and 3. that I just got my bill yesterday and called as soon as I saw the charge.

He explained to me that the autorenewal thing was part of the EULA I’d agreed to and so it was in fact authorized. Ok, whatever. He also told me that Microsoft sent me an email (which maybe they did but I never got it. I could have inadvertently deleted it or it could have gone to spam or who knows). But one thing he wouldn’t/couldn’t do was offer me a refund.

Instead he suggested that he cancel my one year account, resign me up for a month to month service. That I could then call back tomorrow to cancel the month to month service and I’d only have to pay $23 instead of the $59.99.

I told him that I found this unacceptable and that I called as soon as I’d seen this charge and that I thought it was deceptive for them to hide an autorenew clause in the EULA. We went round and round about this for a bit until he said look I’d like to be able to refund you, really I would, but the system just won’t let me.

At that point I asked to talk to the next level of supervisor up. He told me that I could wait if I wanted but that it was going to be a waste of time and that he was just going to tell me the same thing.

I decided to “waste my time” anyways and talked to the next level up guy. He examined the situation, repeated a bit of what the other guy told me and finally agreed to help me cancel my account without having to call back the next day. He said he was going to charge me $7 though. I’m not quite sure why but I said sure go ahead.

So now I’m officially off of XBox Live. And it only cost me about $7 and an hour of my time. At least I got a blog post out of it.

Personally I think it’s sleazy for Microsoft to hide autorenewal stuff in an EULA. But if they are going to do this and somebody calls the day after they get their bill, they should at least agree to refund them 100% of their money and without all the hassle that I had to go through to get a partial refund.

I’m glad to be done with Microsoft though finally. I moved my Windows phone to an iPhone and then Android phone. I’ve moved my families 3 PCs to Macs. And now I’m finally done with the XBox and can stream Netflix for free now on our wii or AppleTV.

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