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Friday, December 05, 2008

screw u xbox live

Microsoft really knows how to rub some people up the wrong way. This week, my friend Brick got first hand experience of how ridiculous their online gaming system (Xbox Live) runs.

Quick introduction to Xbox Live: When you connect your Xbox to the internet, you register your gamertag (nickname). This gives you a gamercard (like an account id) showing your gamerscore (how many points you earned playing different games). There is two types of memberships; Silver and Gold.
A Silver Account is free and allows you to chat with friends, download content from the marketplace. A Gold Acount allows you to do all that plus play games online with other people and friends. Currently the price for 12 month Gold Membership is €59.99 in Ireland and Europe. However in the United States, this is only $49.99 (~€40)

  1. When Brick was in the States he signed up for a free Silver Account. He created his gamertag and built up a gamerscore playing games. When we returned to Ireland he transferred his account over to his own Xbox 360 and continued to play and earn point on his gamertag.
  2. This week he decided that it was time to get a Gold Account so he could play with his boyfriends friends online. But since he signed up with a US account, it would not be possible for him to pay for it unless he has a US credit card billing address.
  3. He rang Microsoft at Xbox Live to change his account to an Irish one so he could pay for Gold Membership.
  4. He was told: no. It was impossible. They didn't even want to listen to his problem or reason for the request. 
  5. The only way he could pay for a Gold Account was to registered a new gamertag. He would loose his gamerscore, stats, friends list and current gamertag (which he was quite attached to).
  6. So Microsoft were refusing to accept €59.99 off him, right there.
  7. A little bit annoyed at them he ploughed on with the online payment system on the Xbox, hoping they wouldn't notice that the billing address for the credit card wasn't in the US.
  8. After his second payment attempt his phone rang. It was his bank wondering about the suspicious activity on his account. He explained his problem to the nice lady on the phone and she turned off all security for his credit card. He then put through the order, this time it was manually authorised, billing his credit card the US amount for a US 12 month Gold Membership, about €40!

So Microsoft wouldn't take the whole €59.99 off him when they had the chance. Instead he ended up paying two thirds that, and next year won't even think about getting in touch with Microsoft when renewing his account! They will keep losing about €20 a year all because they wouldn't play nice on the phone and accommodate him by changing his address!

Note on US accounts: There is more free downloadable content in the marketplace than you can get on an Irish account. Brick can access this straight away, but there is no reason why you can't sign up for a free Silver US account and avail of the free stuff. Most of my friends have two accounts!