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I recently did an article about security issues and the Xbox 360. The dangers of using a credit card with your Xbox 360 Live account and Microsoft's current predatory business model. Today we have a chance to have a talk with a victim of Xbox Live's scrupulous business habits who got overcharged on his Xbox Live account for 3 years. Devon George is a 23 year old active gamer from New York City. Welcome Devon and thank you for sharing your story with us today.
Devon, can you tell us a little bit about how Microsoft overcharged you for 3 years?
Well when I first got my X-box I didn't know a thing about dial up and broadband. I had Unreal Tournament and I never played it because while it was fun offline it wasn't very challenging so I looked into finally setting up my X-box online. At first I was told I could use dial up but of course that didn't work. Thing is a Microsoft representative told me this. So after hours of trying to connect with dial up and even having another rep walk me through they told me I needed a faster connection. Once I got that set up I was online ready I went through the set up and at the end of it I hit a brick wall because I had to give a credit card number. At the time I didn't have a credit card so I had to borrow my sisters. Everything was cool at first. I got more online able games, had my fun, made some friends and eventually the one year payment came to an end. I got a message from Microsoft telling me my time would be up in a month and had I not renewed it my account with x-box live would be suspended.
So they really told you that Xbox Live would work via a dial up connection but you were unable to do so?
I was told I should be able to connect and play any game off of a dial up connection and that all I had to do was connect the ethernet cord to the x-box and to the back of the computer over the dial up wire. Now remember at this time I didn't know any better so I do it and when it didn't work I called back and after about an hour on the phone with another representative walking me through step by step they then told me I needed a faster connection. So yeah it didn't work because the system clearly doesn't support dial up.
So let me get this straight. Microsoft sent you an email that your account would be suspended if you didn't renew, yet you didn't renew and got charged another year anyway.
Not a e-mail. The first X-box had a function where friends could send you messages sort of like what the 360 has now. I put on the 360 one day and there was a message from Microsoft that said the account would be suspended if I didn't make a payment. It wasn't sent in a threatening way, more like they will miss me as a customer. Thats why I figured I would just use an Xbox Live card when I was ready to start up again but about a month later my sister told me I had a $50 charge on her card. I asked what for and she got a copy of the bill and told me it was from Microsoft and for something called x-box live. I was confused at first and told her that was suspended a while back and how I haven't played any games on live in weeks. When she called them up they told her they they have it set so that if the credit card holder didn't cancel the account that they would just send a bill to continue the service.
So, did she cancel the account at that point in time?
She tried but they told her payment had to be sent because the charge was already sent out and I had a months service time pass already so again I had to pay it off.
I understand, but you no longer wanted her credit card hooked up to the account so this didn't happen again. So they just didn't allow her as the credit card holder to cancel so another reoccurring subscription fee didn't get charged next year?
They told us...well her that it would be canceled after the year was up since she made the call. They said they were sorry for any inconvenience and they were paid again. I ended up not even really using the X-box after that because it was coming to the end of its life span and 360 was on its way. I ended up getting the 360, setting it up and eventually selling the regular X-box because the games I had left for the regular console were compatible with the 360. Thing is now I had the 360, paid for a gold membership with cash and a point card and I was on live meeting new people. Then another bill pops up about 6 months into me being on the 360 saying I have to pay $50 to Microsoft for an account I had on X-box live that was activated on October of the previous year. At this point I'm laughing it off because they are charging me for a system I don't have anymore and I have an account set up on the 360 under the same address, same name and everything the previous system was set up under. I told them this was the 3rd time they were doing this. The looked up the accounts and told me that they see I have 2 accounts with them. I told them the other was supposed to be canceled when the year was up and that I wasn't paying because my sister who was the card holder was told that she would no longer be billed.
Did they finally cancel your old account after that?
Yeah after that it was finally canceled.
You still have an Xbox Live account correct?
Yea, things have been better now on 360. I can control when I want to play online, for how many months, and the whole experience has been upgraded.
How is the experience better?
Well with everything i went through with the original x-box they seem to have organized themselves more. I can talk to friends via my headset, they can still leave messages but they can leave picture messages and stuff, we can download movies, customize the desktop, etc.
So that's why you decided to ultimately stay with the Xbox 360 instead of another gaming console? Would you ever attach a credit card to your live account again?
Yeah and I was a Playstation fan boy, but I'm impressed with the 360 now and Noooooooo I'll never attach a card to a gaming account again!
Is there anything else with your experience with the Xbox, and Live accounts you think people need to be aware of?
I just want to advise them that when using a credit card there is a chance the same thing might happen.
Thank you for sharing your story with us today Devon. The price for a year of Xbox live yearly subscription card has been dropped at Amazon.com.
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