Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dear Microsoft/XBox Live:

To start, your billing system for XBox Live membership renewas sucks. We're not just talking garden-variety suckage, either. We're talking completely broke-dick.

My current Live membership expires in early November (of this year). You, apparently, start working your renewal mojo three months ahead of the expiry. I started getting expiry notifications and "special" renewal offer emails in August.

In early September, I decided to accept the "$10 discount + Microsoft Points" renewal offer. I logged into my XBox billing portal, gave my credit card information and hit "Ok". Within a few minutes of hitting "Ok", I received a confirmation letter to the email account associated with my gamertag. I figured, "cool, that's out of the way".

At the beginning of October, I started getting more "your account expires in November" notifications. I forgot that I'd already done the renewal thing in September (well, to be more precise, I wasn't immediately, absolutely sure I had done it). So, I hit the "renew" button. This time, there was no special offer, just the normal $50/yr dunning. Again, after hitting "Ok", I received a confirmation email.

A week or so later, I got another "your account is expiring in November" notification. By this point, I was in serious "WTF" mode. So, I logged into my email account, verified that I'd actually received two confirmations of renewal. I then went to the XBox Live support web site to send my "WTF" inquiry.

A (business) day or so later, I received a response to my query. Apparently, they can't handle billing queries via the web/email response system. I was given a phone number and a service request number to use. Wanting to get this crap knocked out, I called the number, navigated the call tree and gave the CSR my service request number.

The conversation was very frustrating. The end result seems to be that I won't actually get billed till the expiry date and that I'll get billed the special offer rate (and that the second confirmed rate will not be billed/charged).

Umm... "ok", I guess. This seems really broken. I mean, even if you aren't actually going to bill me till November, shouldn't you update your billing/notification system so that I stop getting expiration warning emails? Once one billing update order has been accepted - even if not charged - shouldn't future attempts to order subscription renewals produce a "your account is already set to renew" messages, rather than a new "confirmation" email?

I mean, other than wanting to have customers confused and vexed and having to call in and speak to a CSR, why would you run your renewals system this way? It's hopelessly stupid. And, what if I'd have used a credit card that expired after the transaction date but before the renewal date? Would you have flagged it (somehow, I'm thinking "no")?

Oh well, just more brain damage from Redmond, I suppose.

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