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Microsoft Entertainment Games

Refunding an Xbox Live Annual Renewal Fee? 196

Posted by Cliff
from the sketchy-business-practices dept.
craigandthem is curious about the following: "Recently, I was going over my credit card statement, and noticed a charge I didn't remember making. After investigating, I determined that it was an auto-renewal for my Xbox Live account (for an Xbox that hasn't worked in months). I called to have the fee refunded, and Microsoft refused. They informed me that since it had been longer than 60 days from when my account was renewed, I was not eligible for a refund. The problem lies in that they didn't charge my credit card until December 26, despite renewing my account on November 15. I feel that this was done to increase the odds that I'd only be aware of the charge after it was too late to have reversed. They also claim I had fair warning I was going to be charged, since they sent me an email detailing my upcoming renewal. The email was sent to an old university account, which was de-activated after I graduated, and therefore never received. Have any fellow Slashdot readers received similar treatment, and if so, were you able to recover your money? Legally, is it my obligation to keep my Xbox Live information up to date to avoid this dilemma?"
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Refunding an Xbox Live Annual Renewal Fee?

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  • by ResHippie (105522) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:48PM (#8197946)
    At least for things not done in person. With a credit card you can simply call your company and contest the charges. Maybe enough people doing that will send a message.
    • The whole concept of an "auto-renewing" system even being considered acceptable just really burns me up. There's no good reason for companies not being forced to re-request a payment once a year. Let the burden be on the company to ensure that the consumer still wants the product, rather than on the consumer to ensure that he doesn't get shafted.

      This is why I wish everyone would use smartcards. While theoretically you could build an auto-payment authorization system with one, it isn't just a matter of "
      • The whole concept of an "auto-renewing" system even being considered acceptable just really burns me up. There's no good reason for companies not being forced to re-request a payment once a year. Let the burden be on the company to ensure that the consumer still wants the product, rather than on the consumer to ensure that he doesn't get shafted.

        Problem there, of course, is the hordes of people who, upon a) not keeping their contact info up-to-date, so not being reachable, and b) suddenly having their servi

      • But the fact is that you sign a service agreement with the company. My favorite solution is signing up for things online and using a credit card that offers virtual numbers - the ones that can only be used once. I have found that this works pretty well and that I kept receiving emails from the companies saying the credit card failed when they tried to charge it and if I didn't update my information, the service would be cancelled - which is what I wanted.
      • My credit card company, MBNA, has a system where you can generate a temporary credit card number, and assign a limit and expiration date to it. I try and use it for any "auto-renewing" system. So if I find a service I want to use for say $20 a year, I'll generate a CC# with a $20 limit, and an expiration date of next week. Then, a year later I have to manually renew with a new valid CC#, or they don't get any more of my money. Check if your credit card company has something like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:50PM (#8197960)
    Don't be surprised by anything on your credit card statement. Check them at least once a week online or by phone. Or every day if you use your card a lot.

    Whenever you see something you don't recognize (or in this case, didn't expect), immediately, or the next morning, call the responsible party (Microsoft). Do what you can to resolve the issue.

    If you can't resolve the issue, because of *your* screwup (which might be the case, since Microsoft made the rules pretty clear I think), then too bad.

    But if you still think you have a "case", immediately *WRITE* the credit card company a concise letter describing the problem. There are usually instructions on the back of the statement.

    I have found that most of these things are quickly resolved by the credit card company. The merchants do not like chargebacks or investigations from the credit card companies and will solve the problem pretty quick.

    In your situation, you *may* get results if you insist, calling several times over a few days, talking to different people, and generally being firm. But if you don't, you can't really press the issue because you didn't act immediately.

    This is really not an issue with Microsoft or the Xbox service. It happens with anybody that wants your money.

    Be sure to read all your agreements, and if they have deadlines, put them in your calendar! (i.e., Xbox auto-renews in 30 days, 15 days, tomorrow).

    Good luck!
    • Why bother writing to the credit card company? Every time I've needed to dispute charges I just called my credit card company, and they took care of it. It takes a while, but you are not charged for that item unless they find that the charges are valid. For me, the 3 times I've disputed charges, the credit card company decided that I was right. Either way the burdun of proof is on MS and it costs them time/money to try and get the money from you, so it's to you benifit to try that way they at least get
      • This guy didn't update his email (they aren't responsible for that) and forgot about the contract he mutual agreed with (they have no obligation to assist him in remembering the details). The only thing you could slightly say MS needs to defend is the time period for charging his account but that's hardly the burden of proof that makes or breaks this case.
    • > If you can't resolve the issue, because of
      > *your* screwup (which might be the case,
      > since Microsoft made the rules pretty clear
      > I think), then too bad.

      I have to point out that MICROSOFT DOESN'T
      MAKE THE RULES.

      *thwack* goes the clue stick.
      • I have to point out that MICROSOFT DOESN'T
        MAKE THE RULES.


        Well, unfortunately, I think they do in this case. Afterall, it's THEIR service, so you kinda gotta play by the rules to use it, the whole "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" kinda thing, loosly. If you wanna hang out at my house, you do so according to my rules.. If they aren't acceptable to you, then GTFOut.

        However, on the flipside, I think it's idiotic to make someone agree to an auto-renewal system in order to use your stuff.
    • How's this: I can't even set up a system where my phone or cable providers auto-charge my accounts. I have to pay the bill every month.

      Why should it be any different for something like this? Oh, yeah. It's because people are lazy ... and most of the time, people will be too lazy to close the account in a timely manner. And if they get charged but don't want the account, they probably won't bother with contesting the excess charge.

      Personally, I don't think that auto-renewal should be 'enforcable.' I
  • by Gizzmonic (412910) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:52PM (#8197974) Homepage Journal
    Take your Xbox...put it on the floor next to your TV. Turn it on (may I suggest "Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball"?!?!). Take a bath.

    Come back when you're all wet. Take a sheet rock saw and start sawing away at the Xbox's power cord while you're all wet.

    Soon, the cord will fray, and it will electrocute you. Now you're dead! This is a good thing, because you're no longer bound by the laws of time/space.

    Go back in time and develop Cinnamon Rice Krispies instead of Cocoa Krispies. Then leave a sheet rock saw under your couch so that your future self will be able to use it to kill himself, setting you free.

    If you follow these easy instructions, the Xbox will be free of all demons! And it will stay crunchy in milk!
  • by metroid composite (710698) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:53PM (#8197986) Homepage Journal
    Legally, is it my obligation to keep my Xbox Live information up to date to avoid this dilemma?

    Unfortunately I'm guessing it is, though I've never looked at the XBox agreement contract in particular. It's just that ToS agreements tend to thoroughly cover all such bases. For example, when you have a Paypal account you "waive your rights to credit card consumer protection laws, and that you may not issue a chargeback for anything you purchase using your credit card and PayPal account" (or...at least according to paypalsucks.com). Though, I'll admit I tend to just press "I Agree" and not worry about it; if they actually abused such contracts consumers would revolt...right?

    • For example, when you have a Paypal account you "waive your rights to credit card consumer protection laws, and that you may not issue a chargeback for anything you purchase using your credit card and PayPal account"

      Fortunately, you can't necessarily just "waive your rights" to protection under law, no matter what you sign. I'd be skeptical about PayPal's ability to enforce that one.

      In this case, the guy probably can get the credit card company to issue a chargeback pending an investigation. If Microsoft d

      • Fortunately, you can't necessarily just "waive your rights" to protection under law, no matter what you sign. I'd be skeptical about PayPal's ability to enforce that one.

        PayPal can't directly enforce it. But they can close your PayPal account and keep you from ever opening a new one. They could also bill you for what you owe them, send it to collections or take you to court.
        • A couple of years ago (prior to PayPal becoming an ebay property) I got scammed on a PDA on ebay with payment through PayPal. Their FIRST email was to inform me that they were starting the investigation and that I had to confirm that I would NOT contest the charge through my Credit Card company. I agreed and after working with the FBI(others in other states were scammed by the same person for the same item) I got my money back. While it probably got more attention because it became a federal offence, I d
      • I ordered a book (via Amazon.com) from an
        Amazon affiliate merchant; Amazon debitted
        my credit card.

        Merchant eMailed me to say they don't
        have what they showed they had, in the
        same (new) conditions shown.

        They cancelled the order & told Amazon.

        Amazon creditted my account with LESS
        than they had debitted, possibly due
        to a change in exchange rates. :-(

        I said, fine (about the book's con-
        dition), send one with a bent cover.

        Affiliate merchant says, fine, deal
        with us (directly) & we can send it
        by addition
  • As a couple people have suggested, challenge the charge through your credit card company. You'll have to double-check your credit card usage agreement, but for most US cards, you have 60 days from the first bill the charge appears on to challenge something.
    Once it's been challenged, it is up to the vendor (Microsoft) to verify with the credit card company that you really did authorize the charge.
    In most cases, this won't happen, you'll never have to pay the bill, and it will go away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:55PM (#8198007)
    I don't have an Xbox or a Live account, but here is what I would do.

    1. Submit a Better Business complaint in from the website www.bbb.org

    2. Dispute this fee with your credit card company. Explain to them everything you just told us.

    3. Sit back and watch the 2 big companies battle it out.

    A company simply can not charge you for services you no longer need. Just because it's their policy to charge you doens't mean that it was legal or even that it was morally right. Once you involve the BBB into something that is questionable they seem to make the company turn itself around.
    • by Murdock037 (469526) <tristranthorn.hotmail@com> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:46PM (#8198302)
      A few things:

      Submit a Better Business complaint in from the website www.bbb.org

      I'm sure this would not be the first contact Microsoft has had with the Better Business Bureau. They probably won't run and cower.

      Dispute this fee with your credit card company.

      Disputing the fee may work, but... it's messy. The credit card companies tend to favor the consumer in disputes, but it may not be worth the massive headache to the consumer over the money. (What kind of money are we talking about here? How much does Xbox Live cost, anyways?)

      A company simply can not charge you for services you no longer need.

      A company can, in fact, charge you for services you no longer need, if you agreed to those terms in the first place.

      Just because it's their policy to charge you doens't mean that it was... morally right.

      This matters how?

      Let's face it, folks, the guy's on shaky ground here-- he should have acted sooner. No matter how satisfying it may be to have one more way story that points out Microsoft screwing the little guy, that's not the dynamic at play.
      • (What kind of money are we talking about here? How much does Xbox Live cost, anyways?) $50 US a year.
      • Disputing a fee is not messy. Have you ever done it? You call the credit card company, and say "Yes, this charge on my card is not right. I did not request this service. I asked for a refund, and the merchant refused." They say, "Okay, we'll investigate!" and then a week later you get your money back. I've done it about three times, and it's easy as pie.

        Also, I'm a small business owner, and we take credit cards, so I have a merchant account. No one has ever reversed a charge on me, but when I signed
    • Go write one of those tech magazines that deal with readers problems. Its amazing how quickly companies will roll over when they get an inquiry from a magazine asking them why they're screwing around with other people's time/money/hardware/etc. I Can't name the magazine I'm thinking of, but that might be a quick fix for your problems.
    • Do they really have any legal authority to enforce anything?

      I believe that the most they can do is withdraw a company's membership and have the situation recorded in its records.

      Not exactly the strongest thing.
  • by Landaras (159892) <neil.wehneman@com> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:56PM (#8198017) Homepage
    I used to work for U.S. Bank (in a non-technical capacity), and there is something called a "charge-back."

    A charge-back is basically where the credit card company refunds a charge to a customer by withholding (current or future) funds from a merchant. Credit card companies hold a surprisingly large amount of power over merchants, even one such as MS.

    The way a charge-back works is a customer tells the credit card issuer that they are disputing a charge, gives the reason for the dispute, and states that they have tried in good faith to resolve the dispute with the merchant but have been unsuccesful.

    The credit card company will review your information, and more than likely, issue a credit to your next statement.

    Look for a "Fraud / Lost or Stolen Card" number on the back of your card, and give them a call. If that call center doesn't handle those issues they can direct you quickly to who can.

    When you talk to the right person, be rational, be reasonable, and don't ask for Gates' head on a stick sharpened on both ends. Simply ask them to charge the X-Box subscription back to MS because you were billed for a service you never received, and MS refuses to come to an amicable resolution.

    It sounds like you have a pretty solid case. Good luck!

    - Neil Wehneman
    • by edwdig (47888)
      Here's an important detail to remember when dealing with chargeback issues. Legally, your claim is not valid unless you submit it in writing. Calling up is not sufficient.

      One credit card I really like is the Sears Card (not the in store card, but the MasterCard one). Their website fully explains to you all the details of chargebacks, and even provides a web form to automatically generate a letter you can print out and mail to handle chargeback issues.
      • That may very well be technicaly true. But you are not technicaly legaly required to pay for CC things when you submitted the number over the phone, the internet, or anything besides being physcially present (your card too...).

        Call first. Demand a chargeback. Explain why. If they say OK, great. If they say they need a letter, write a letter, but the CC companies do just about everything over the phone, and almost definitly will accept verbal orders for the chargeback.

    • [blockquote]It sounds like you have a pretty solid case. Good luck![/blockquote] Perhaps in an alternate reality...I don't see this guy getting his money back. He isn't the first to get screwed by this automatical charge in the contract and he'll be far from the last...

    • When you talk to the right person, be rational, be reasonable, and don't ask for Gates' head on a stick sharpened on both ends.

      Sorry, but I'm confused -- what's supposed to be sharpened on both ends, the stick or Bill Gates' head?

    • I second this post, it is exactly what you should do. At the risk of sounding as over-dramatic as I usually do, chargebacks can put the fear of god into merchants. They don't just lose the money that they charged to your card, they also get charged by the bank as well. Rates vary, but at one credit card processing company I worked for, it was $20 per chargeback.

      What are your chances of getting it done in your favour? A story someone told on Slashdot about a DVD player comes to mind. The person bought the D
  • by Quarters (18322) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:56PM (#8198018)
    You don't say in your post if your subscription was for a full on Live! kit (12 months, headset, etc..) or just one of those Free 2 Months of Live! cards they are sticking in the games now.

    Either way, when you entered in the access code, postal address, email address, and CC # the Live! system put up a big full screen text window on your TV that said (paraphrasing), "Your account is good for X days from today. If you don't cancel your account before then it will be automatically renewed and your CC will be charged."

    They then warned you of the impending CC charge via email. That you didn't update your email address with them isn't their fault, it's yours.

    Bottom line - You agreed to the Terms of Service. You agreed to allow Microsoft to charge your CC for a yearly renewal, you didn't cancel by the date specified, and you didn't provide Microsoft with current contact information.

    Next time you should remember when you enter into a revolving service contract that the bill will come due at some point unless you take responsibility for cancelling the service if you no longer need or want it.

    • I work for an ISP, and that's basically how we handle billing disputes. We're a bit more lenient if a customer hasn't used their account in a couple months and would like a refund on the current bill; however, companies can't call up and make sure that you would like to renew your subscription each month/year. If you didn't update your email address or phone number, and agreed to the TOS, your luck in getting a refund without being a jerk to billing is pretty much nil.
    • by dmayle (200765) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:57PM (#8198363) Homepage Journal

      That's a load of horse sh*t.

      It's like how the gyms that require you to notify them in writing by snail mail to cancel your account. There's a reason why people have been taking them to court and winning, it's underhanded.

      Unfortunately, it's not so easy to do something about. If you used a credit card (as opposed to a debit card), it should be relatively easy to get the charge cancelled, like mentioned in an earlier post. If not, stop by at your local court house and pick up a small claims form. Specify the amount as $70 (Xbox fee) + ~$100 (your time and effort coming to court), and most likely they'll refund it before the court date comes, or they won't even show up, which means you win by default. (It's not worth their money to fight it.)

      Use the court system to your advantage, for once, and put them in the same positiion that they put small companies, i.e. the settlement is worth less than their legal fees... Total cost to you? Somewhere between $2 and $15

      • Microsoft doesn't require a notice in writing delivered by snail mail for a cancellation, though. It's not underhanded; it's what he agreed to. I agree that it's shitty, but he needs to learn to read agreements that he makes himself subject to. Those were the terms, he said "yes", and now he's upset that he's being held to them.
        • Microsoft doesn't require a notice in writing delivered by snail mail for a cancellation, though. It's not underhanded; it's what he agreed to. I agree that it's shitty, but he needs to learn to read agreements that he makes himself subject to. Those were the terms, he said "yes", and now he's upset that he's being held to them.

          If the "agreement" was illegal (eg, Microsoft wasn't allowed to automatically renew without at least a confirmation phone call or postal letter) then it doesn't matter if he ag

      • by Quarters (18322) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:28AM (#8198504)
        Your comparison to gyms is misplaced and not accurate. There is nothing in the XBox Live! agreement that says you have to snail mail Microsoft a written letter to cancel. At worst you have to call them. There's nothing hard about the process. The problem with the original poster, though, is that he never even did that and now thinks that Microsoft is shafting him. All he had to do was call when his XBox broke and say, "Please don't renew my subscription, as I won't be needing it". Instead he just forgot about it.

        Any frustration and/or anger he is feeling now should be directed at himself for failing to fully understand his responsibilities when he entered into a business contract with Microsoft.

        There is need to involve the court system in this. It would be just another useless lawsuit tying up an already overstressed and abused court system.

        Gettng a chargeback from the CC company for this would be at best underhanded and at worst immoral or fraudulent. He was not charged for something he didn't approve. He was charged for something he forgot about. Chargebacks are not a refund for stupidity. The more people abuse chargebacks the less chance the CC companies will grant them to people with valid complaints. Besides, like another poster said, the second he calls the CC company he will be asked, "Was this for a subscription service you agreed to?" The CC companies are already sick to death of people buying a month's pr0n subscription online and then calling 30 days later trying to get their money back for those "obviously fraudulent" charges that appeared on their bills.

        The only respectable thing for the original poster to do is to admit to himself he forgot to cancel the account, pay the $50 and learn a lesson from this.

        • failing to fully understand his responsibilities when he entered into a business contract with Microsoft.

          Now, where's the Goatse.cx site when you need it...

        • The underhanded thing is charging him past the possible refund date. I don't understand why you people are defending this. Even if you reviewed your CC statement every day and called the minute the charge was posted, you'd still be too late. They guy was careless maybe, but stupid is just being rude. How often does the average slashdotter check their statements?

          Correct, he agreed to the TOS. Corrent, he is in the wrong but that charging proceedure, designed to screw over people who 'forgot' to cance
      • + ~$100 (your time and effort coming to court)

        Do you not watch The People's Court? The judge will toss that part of your suit in the round file. Well... possibly depending on your locality, anyway.

    • I picked up one of the 12 month packs back when they were first released in Canada, after getting it home I spent about 25 minutes getting it set up (running a cable - 1 minute, entering informtation - 24minutes). I have a longish last name (10 letters), and kept messing up something in my address (also long) so I had to re-enter all the information from scratch.
      I only remember a welcome screen after that, and options for MotoGP and Whacked!.

      When I later spoke to people at X-Box Technical Support (i had to
    • Well, the fact that you know how long your original subscription was for, and that you were warned about the autorenewal and the refund policy, will probably screw you over. But the part about being re-notified via e-mail is bogus, because e-mail has no verifiable paper trail (snail mail postmark will probably get you/them through small claims court, though).

  • by Tom7 (102298) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @10:59PM (#8198038) Homepage Journal
    Whenever someone charges your credit card without authorization, you have the recourse of telling your credit card company to deny the charges. They'll start an investigation in which the charger will have to prove (to some measure of proof which probably varies from cc company to cc company) that you requested the charge and that the services/goods were rendered/delivered.

    The few times I've done this (with American Express) I've gotten the charges refunded with very little work on my part. YMMV, but it has a good shot of working, and it puts the onus on MS Live to get the money rather than on you.
    • American Express is the best card to use in cases like this - in disputes between card holders and merchants, they tend to heavily favor the card holder. This is one of the reasons that a lot of merchants won't take American Express.
  • Chargeback! (Score:4, Informative)

    by I Be Hatin' (718758) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:00PM (#8198044) Journal
    So call your credit card company and have them refuse to pay MS. I believe most credit cards give you 60 days to contest charges, starting from when the charge is received. Most likely, they'll just take the charge off your credit card statement, and you won't have to deal with it again. Either MS will back down, or your credit card will eat the cost (and pass the expense on to all of us through higher interest rates), but either way it won't be your problem...

    If you're real anti-MS, you can probably call your Better Business Bureau and get them involved first, since it sounds to me like you have a pretty reasonable case against them.

  • Well if you're stuck with it you might as well use it. Buy another xbox and use your subscription.

    OR you could sell your subscription on ebay? At least you'd get something for it.
    • That'll teach 'em! Since you won't refund my money, I'm going to buy a replacement XBox and give you MORE money. How do you like dem apples?

      Seriously though, selling the subscription doesn't sounds like such a bad idea, if the subscription isn't tied somehow to your hardware.
  • by bigbigbison (104532) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:04PM (#8198072) Homepage
    I got burned in a similar way by Gamespot complete. I joined a year ago. I got at least once a month spams from them which I eventually just started deleting without reading. Then one month I had a weird charge on my card. If I recall correctly, it didn't even say gamespot on it and I had to call the number on the bill to figure it out (I may be misremembering that part).

    Anyway apparently one of those spams they sent me was a reminder that they were going to autorenew my membership (which I had forgotten i had even had). So I called them up to complain and they were all "Did you read the terms of service?" well, yes -- A YEAR AGO. The operator game me additude. I hung up called my credit card comapany told them i didn't want to pay that charge. Blingo, charge was erased from my bill.
    • I have Gamespot Complete. I've had it since it was created.

      Near the end of my yearly membership they emailed me multiple times saying I had to physically renew it, even having to reenter the credit card, address, and other personal information.
      • I don't know what to tell you. I can go dig out the credit card bill if you would like. I got the year long membership just before E3 of 2002 so I could see the exclusive videos. Last summer (2003) the story I posted occurred.

        Perhaps they changed the terms of service since you joined? I went and looked and in the terms of service [gamespot.com] they state:

        Your credit card

        You must use a major credit card in order to register for the Service. You hereby authorize us to charge your credit card to pay for your initial Se

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:14PM (#8198123)
    If I have this straight, your argument is approximately as follows:

    You: "Hey, I didn't use my wireless phone at all this month - why are you charging me for it?"
    Phone company: "You initiated service with us, agreed to the service contract and set up auto-pay using your credit card number."
    You: "But you never sent me a paper bill to my new address!"
    Phone company: "Oh, so you moved without telling us? How were we supposed to send you the auto-bill receipts if you didn't tell us when you moved?"
    You: "This fucking sucks! I'm going to post on Slashdot!"

    Stop whining. You are responsible for your neglegence - not Microsoft. You *asked* them to charge you.

    Moral of the story is: Don't buy shit you're not going to use, then act all suprised when you actually have to pay for it.
    • I agree that the OP should have known that service would renew, but there is one problem I see here... Why does everyone convince themselves that Email is in any way reliable? Legally, you can't count anything as contacting someone at all unless you personally speak to them. Besides, doesn't MS use a correct sender address? Did they not receive the bounce from their email? Why was there a name, address, and phone number in their database too? Don't email bounces go into a 'problem' queue for a human be
      • >Legally, you can't count anything as contacting someone at all unless you personally speak to them.

        Registered mail is not legal? Faxes aren't legal form of communiations?

        Considering how many times email and IM are used in courts as evidence I'm quite sure that they are legal forms of communications.
    • While you're right of course - if Microsoft had common sense here they'd click up the usage report for his account, see that he hasn't used it in x months and realise that this is a legitimate request.

      I've been in similar situations (not with MS) and usually if you talk nice you can get at least a partial credit.

      The point is, he hasn't really cost MS anything for that time, he legitimatly forgot he had that account, legitimatly didn't get the reminders, and legitimatly didn't use thier service for a coupl
      • So you're saying the onus is on MS to check whether or not he's been using it? I don't know, but it seems to me he could have, say, canceled the account once he wasn't using it?

        It's hardly MS's fault this nitwit didn't cancel his account. He engaged in a contract to pay; you expect MS to suddenly allow him to back out once he owes them money?

    • you are missing the point.

      Its not that they charged him, its that they dated the charge X, and then posted it at X+45 days , and then told him he couldn't get his money back b/c 60 days had transpired since X.

      This is clearly bogus, and it is you sir, the anonymous coward parent who should be donning the 'ol asshat.

  • by GeorgeH (5469) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:14PM (#8198127) Homepage Journal
    If this were a reoccurring fee with TiVo or Apple or a Linux company, I'd say that you had fair warning and it's your fault for not protecting your money. I'd say that these things happen from time to time and the best thing to do is to suck it up and learn from the experience.

    But since this is Microsoft they have maliciously cheated you out of your money and you should do everything you can do to get it back. Call your credit card company and accuse them of fraud. Do it so that they don't extend their IE monopoly into the game console arena and so they'll give away all their source code under the GPL!

    If this were some company that Slashdot wasn't predisposed to I'd probably have advice somewhere in the middle of those two answers.
    • If a guy punches someoen then you would hear the case and think maybe he had good reason depending on the facts, but if some guy goes round punching everyone he see's your less inclined to beleive he was in the right. Guy 1- linux/tivo/apple Guy 2- M$ :-)
  • Chargeback rights (Score:5, Informative)

    by Michael Spencer Jr. (39538) * <.ten.recnepsm. .ta. .maps.> on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:43PM (#8198285) Homepage
    I work for a major credit card processor, First National Merchant Solutions, but I don't usually handle chargebacks. I'm still at work though, so I asked a coworker who does.

    You're probably curious about chargeback rights. This is where you talk to your bank, explain why you believe that charge wasn't fair or valid, and ask them to get your money back. I'm going to describe these chargeback rights.

    "Merchant" means a business who is charging your card. "Cardholder" is you. "Issuer" is the bank that issued your card.

    The merchant must have given you prior notice that they were going to bill you. I'm not familiar with the terms & conditions you agreed to, but they may have given you this notification when you signed up.

    If you called and cancelled the service within a reasonable amount number of days before you were billed, and they still charged you, AND you haven't received any material goods or services from them, you can charge the sale back.

    Also if you never received notification that they were going to charge your account again, you can charge the sale back.

    You probably can't charge the sale back claiming that they never provided the goods or services you requested. They will probably claim that your account has been capable of logging in and accessing the service, so they will argue that meets their fulfillment obligations.

    I'll refer you to my company's "Chargeback Case Studies" section of its web site. http://www.foomp.com [foomp.com] -- click on "REFERENCE DESK" at the top center, then click "Fraud & Loss" at the fourth link down in the body of the page. This section of the site describes the common chargeback reasons, and gives a case study for each chargeback type. This list doesn't include all of the rare chargeback types out there, but it's most of the common ones.

    Keep in mind you can't argue a chargeback case like a lawyer. You can't say you called him to cancel...and you already returned the merchandise...and you never received the merchandise...and you've never heard of this merchant before now. You must pick one reason and go with it. If you pick a weak chargeback reason and the chargeback is reversed, you may not get another chance to file another chargeback with a different reason. (You will probably be allowed to rebut the merchant's allegations, making this a 'second chargeback'.)

    If you feel you're entitled to a chargeback (because you read about a chargeback case study very similar to your situation) but your bank insists you cannot charge the sale back, the bank may be in violation of Visa/Mastercard regulations. If you feel they are, complain to Visa or Mastercard. You could find out the bank was right all along -- or the bank could find out you were right. If the bank was in error, they could be fined by Visa/Mastercard or (in VERY extreme cases) have their rights to issue those cards revoked.

    The opinions expressed above are mine, and not necessarily those of my employer. We are an "acquirer" -- we provide services to merchants, so we're used to helping businesses who are on the defending side of chargeback disputes. Acquirers don't usually go around giving customers advice anyway.

    --Michael Spencer
  • by PktLoss (647983) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:43PM (#8198287) Homepage Journal
    Actually this just happened to me.

    I noticed in December a charge on my CC from Microsoft Online Services. I was quite surprised as, like you, i had not used X-Box live for several months (read 8), and had expected to be involved in any sort of re-bill process (ie a message on the X-Box). The whole Live! sign up process was very difficult, with a whole heck of a lot of questions, and I was under the impression that they took down my CC only to confirm i was age for some of the content. I found it ludicris that I needed to give my CC# to the company whose service I had already paid for at the store...

    I caught it quicker than you did, and called them in December and spoke to someone there (3 forwards and 20 minutes on hold later) who eventually relented and offered a refund. I waited over a month and saw nothing on my CC. So I called back on the 3rd, spoke to someone else who said that they had cancelled the service, I had a credit on my account, but they wern't actually planning on sending that refund to my card. After more haggling, more hold time etc, they agreed to refund my card.

    All in all X-Box Live! was a difficult, expensive service to sign up for with unclear purchasing terms. I'm not happy with it, but I should have my money back soon....

    • Oh, One foot not sorry.

      The email account I registered with is active and I check it regularily, i was not sent a message regarding being re-billed.

      Interesting question about the TOS for X-BOx Live though, if your TV is too small to actually read the TOS, and thats the only place you see a lot of it, can they hold you to it?
      • by Inoshiro (71693)
        A legally binding contract is a legally binding contract when you sign it, even if you're a whiney bitch.

        Plus, they do mention that all TOS for Xbox Live! are on Xbox.com right in plain sight [xbox.com]! Plus, they even give you a nice login message whenever they change it.
        • Clicking on an OK button has never been held up in court as being a 'signature,' even if you're a rude asshole.

          Do I need a lawyer to notarize my click 'signature'? What if I'm under 18 and I just got a CC # from my parents so that I can sign up for this service that they already paid for? Am I supposed to read through pages and pages of legalese so that I know that, at some time in the future, Microsoft may charge me any amount they deem fit? Is there a way to opt-out of this part of the 'agreement'?
  • Complain. Complain to your CC company. Complain Microsoft. Complain to press. Call them criminals. Maintain that you haven't used their service in over 6 months. Tell them everything you told us.
  • by ezraekman (650090) on Thursday February 05, 2004 @11:57PM (#8198364) Homepage

    First off, call your credit card company/bank RIGHT NOW and dispute the charges. You'll probably be fine.

    Legally speaking, he short answer is this: if you clicked "I agree" to anything, you're technically bound by it, so long as it is legally enforceable in your state. If the agreement said they were going to charge you, it's not their responsibility to track you down and remind you of it; you've already agreed once. If however, they sent you an e-mail saying that they were going to charge you for it after you agreed to something else that was free, that's technically credit card fraud.

    That said, the slightly longer answer is good news: So long as you catch a given charge early enough, most disputes will probably be in your favor. This will, of course, depend on your bank. But I've rarely had problems, and I've never had to pay an unauthorized charge in the end.

    The exact policy will vary from bank to bank and credit card to credit card. The general rule is that you can file a dispute with them for any charge within sixty days of the charge; NOT sixty days from the product and/or service. This includes electronic funds transfers and other debits, and electronically processed checks, check-by-phone, etc. if it's a bank... though not for checks with your signature on them. Some financial institutions will allow longer time-frames for some or all types of charges. Some make distinctions between blatant fraud, and "normal" situations like these, where a vendor charges for a product or service that does not live up to what was promised.

    Microsoft's policies may very well be that they won't process a refund after sixty days. However, it's not like they can prove you've actually used it, since your X-box has been out of commission since before that time. This will only matter later, if they dispute your dispute. Odds are, they won't, since they won't have a signature on file... unless you were foolish enough to mail something into them. ;-) As far as your bank/credit card company is concerned, you've got until February 26th (i.e. 60 days after the CHARGE) or later, depending on their policies. Check it out. Remember, it's the SIGNATURE that matters most, and you can sometimes get out of it even then. You just have to demonstrate that you received less than you were promised for the charge, something that isn't that difficult in the litigious society that we live in.

    File the dispute, and you should be fine. From a social engineering perspective, I have found it useful to detail this process to the customer service rep you're speaking with, explaining that you will simply file a dispute with your bank and you'll get your money back anyway, in addition to causing their credit-card processor to charge them extra fees for the chargeback. Show them that it would just be less trouble for everyone involved if they will simply issue a refund. If you are clearly knowledgeable and they also understand the situation, they often back down... because they know that it's true and will only cost them more. But be nice about it. If you are to firm, you'll just piss them off and they make you go through it anyway, just to make your life harder. Because they also know that it's not costing THEM more; just the company.

    Here's your opportunity to gouge the company everyone's always complaining about, on their own ground: legally. ;-)

  • by base3 (539820) on Friday February 06, 2004 @12:03AM (#8198384)
    Use a single use credit card number, such as Private Payments from American Express. That, or buy a Webcertificate for exactly the amount of the first year's subscription. I've found these useful for buying services that I only want once, but either won't sell the service or charge an outrageous fee for not using recurring billing.
  • This is the perfect situation for one time use numbers (the one I personally use is MBNA ShopSafe). If it is a $19.99 annual fee (I have no idea what it is, I use PS2 and PC games), then you create a credit card with a spending limit of $20 (and 11 month expiration). They cannot charge you more than that. Then, one of two things happens. (1) After 11 of the 12 months they call you with a friendly reminder that your card expires soon - so you either cancel then or go and increase spending limit and expiratio
  • I have a friend who's an xbox freak. He cancelled his subscription due to some very long term traveling overseas.

    He battled with M$ support nearly an entire month before they would stop charging him. No, he never got a refund.

    When I read this post it reminds me of the same type of BS. Since I am a PS2 owner, I have no idea how all these xbox-live subscription really goes.
  • I called to have the fee refunded, and Microsoft refused. They informed me that since it had been longer than 60 days from when my account was renewed, I was not eligible for a refund. The problem lies in that they didn't charge my credit card until December 26, despite renewing my account on November 15.

    That does sound underhanded. If you receive your monthly statement around the middle of each month, by the time the December statement comes in at the middle of January, it would have already been too lat

    • Buh?

      They informed me that since it had been longer than 60 days from when my account was renewed

      Therefore, if the statement comes mid-January, it's only been about 20 days, well under the 60 day limit. Sounds to me like this guy plain old didn't pay enough attention to his monthly statements.

  • He took a subscription with an automatic renewal.

    His complaint is that he forgot about the renewal and because of the way they billed him (a month after the renewal) that he had no time to cancel the payment.

    Well he can forget complaining about the renewal. The drivel about the x-box not working is meaningless. They are not charging him for a game console. They are charging him for a subscription to network services. Wether or not he uses them is irrelavant.

    So the only question remains is if it is okay f

  • This kind of thing is being discussed on Ed Fosters Gripe Line [gripe2ed.com].
    So far the best solution is to get a credit card that offers one of thoses programs that generates a unique number(most major cards offer this) for each transaction. This way you can enter the number and then come the next charge it is an invalid number, and chances are the company will contact you.
  • Besides tearing it up for being too stupid to use one, dispute the charge with your bank. Microsoft's attitude is EXACTLY why there are consumer protection measures on cards. Oh, and never use a debit card. There's basically no protection on those.
  • I have worked for a few sleazy firms that would do underhanded things like this to earn the quick buck with no thought on the long term effects or repeat business.
    Essentially churn and burn.

    Its interesting to see that a company as big as Microsoft that is losing money on MSN and Xbox Live resorting to these techniques, you figure they could at least be more creative on figuring out how to earn their dollars.
  • As a counter-post, my XBOX Live service was due to be up at the end of Feb. I received my email warning last week. That's pretty early. I have a feeling the story poster might be fibbing and we have a whole thread who bought into it. Again. It contained instructions for how to cancel, how to renew, how to change my billing, all of it. Right there. Why did I get this email? Thats a complex question...

    #1 We don't get spam at here at work. We just don't.
    #2 The only commercial emails I get are ones t
  • I recently refunded my Annual renewal. And I was reading on the XBox support page, their calculation for determining your refund level. You can refund any remaining portion of your Annual subscription. At any time. It's simply a prorated refund. The easiest thing to do is call 1-800-4MY-XBOX (North America) and get them to process the remainder back to your card.
  • There are probably other steps that you can take, but start with disputing the charge through your credit card company. I have done this myself: I filled out a form explaining the situation and presenting my receipts (you don't have a physical receipt, unfortunately), and then let the credit card company take it from there. Make sure that when you dispute the charge that you do not have to pay it until the situation is resolved. If you pay up front, the chances of getting your money back are a lot less than
  • November 15 you say? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ajd1474 (558490)
    From MS' point of view you've had your "new" account for nearly 3 months now. That's 1/4 of the duration of the billing period. For all they know you've been playing the hell out of xbox live in the last 3 months.

    ALthough i feel sorry for your situation, there certainly isnt a clause in their contract that says "XBox Live, buy 12 months get 3 months free".

    At the end of the day you've had access to their service for 3 months, and although i'd support the refund pro-rata, you can't possibly justify being re

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