Anonymous Microsoft employee claims Xbox Live auto-renewal policy to change for the better

Even though there’s no dispute Xbox Live is a great gaming service, cancelling a subscription for whatever the case may be up until even today has been a classic case of making customer service more difficult than it should be. In a Reddit thread griping about this exact issue, it sounds like Microsoft may finally change this in the near future.

Since the service was launched, gamers in at least United States and Australia could not simply cancel their automatic renewals online. The only method to do this was to call telephone support, wait to speak to a real person and push forward against attempts to convince you otherwise. Not that this was impossible, but not the easiest opt-out experience by far.

What is actually odd is that there are geographic exceptions to this rule. As examples, for users with an address in the US state of Illinois or United Kingdom, users can simply cancel their renewal with a click on a link on the website. The functionality obviously exists.

According to Reddit comment anonymously posted by an alleged Xbox Live engineer,

I’m a developer that works on Xbox Live. You are correct to be upset, this is purely an account retention feature. They figured people would either forget about their accounts and continue to pay, or that they could be swayed with discounts if they called to ask for it to be cancelled. Rest assured there are plenty of people at MS that agree that this attitude is bullshit.

The good news is that this is going to change. I don’t know when (hopefully by next year, it would be blocked by our release cycles) but whoever made this decision go their head out of their ass and realized it’s a PR nightmare that made things worse.

Hooray. Hopefully in the same update they can also enable the changing of account regions to more countries.

Furthermore the commenter reveals an interesting tidbit about just how support some fixes account issues on production servers, with SQL queries believe it or not.

If you guys ever have issues with XBL, you should call support or let someone know on the forums. Live site issues are taken very seriously. We have full time developers, based here in the US (not outsourced!) that will fix live production issues for individual users. I literally mean someone will run an SQL script in production to resolve issues with an individual’s accounts, but they can ONLY do this if you tell us about it.

7 insightful thoughts

  1. Wait, you are accepting this without question? “I literally mean someone will run an SQL script in production to resolve issues with an individual’s accounts, but they can ONLY do this if you tell us about it.”

    This assumes that either you can get to a high level engineer easily enough (which could be possible) or that the level 1 or level 2 support people can run SQL queries in a production environment without much oversight. The f*ck?

    Having an idea of how Microsoft runs their production systems, this sounds… odd.

  2. Thanks for bringing this up Long Zheng

    I had unwittingly paid for a Live account like this for nearly a year, after falling for a 1month cheap shot that didn’t explicitly state the binding autorenewal.

    I have since defected to OnLive 😀 and am loving it !
    At a tradeshow an MS rep gave me a really nice 360 Bag after hearing this , I think I have since made amends and may return as a paying customer [and wont just download Kinect demos and watch trailers.], but yeah I felt the burn and spread the word.

    I had to anwser like 8 different question on the phone to verify. Stuff i entered so long ago when signing up, that i might just as likely not have known anymore. Staff was sincerely friendly and fast – but that was so many hoops, so much time and money wasted was really glad to see this article.

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