Xbox360 Live

  Confab 14:00 21 Mar 2008

I thought that I’d write this mainly as a warning to others who have purchased an Xbox 360 either for themselves or for their children and have subscribed to Xbox Live!

For Christmas I purchased an Xbox 360 for my eldest son, he’s 13-years-old. He wanted to play online games so I didn’t really think that much about subscribing to Xbox Live for him. As part of the subscription process you have to enter your credit card details and, of course, confirm that you agree to their Terms and Conditions. Noting wrong with that, or so I thought. Microsoft being one of the biggest organisations in the world wouldn’t do anything to compromise my card details – how wrong this turned out to be.

On Monday 17th March my son advised me that he thought that “someone” had purchased 5000 gamer points via his Xbox. Upon checking his e-mails sure enough he had received a mail from Microsoft dated 11th March, which read

“This mail is confirmation that you successfully purchased Xbox Live 5000 Microsoft Points bundle on 11 March 2008. Here is a description of your purchase:
5000 Microsoft Points will be deposited into the account associated with your Xbox Live gamertag. Use Microsoft Points to acquire gamer pictures, themes, and game content from Xbox Live Marketplace.”

I was shocked. How could he have purchased these gamer points? He’s only 13 years old and as far as I’m aware doesn’t yet have a credit card. I asked both my other children whether they might have purchased the points and that’s when my middle son said that he ordered some points when he was playing a game but he didn’t realise that it was real cash that had to be used to buy them. He’s 11 years old.

On Monday evening I telephoned the Xbox helpdesk. I explained the whole situation to the operator, advising her that I hadn’t purchased any gamerpoints, that my 11-year-old son had done this without my permission and I would like a refund of the amount taken from my credit card account. Initially things seemed to be going well. She advised that I could add parental controls to the Xbox, which would stop any further online purchases and would talk me through the process of doing that. So I followed her instructions regarding the parental control and, believe it or not, it was still possible to buy online gamer points without entering any additional password or card details into the Xbox. We went through the whole process a second time and again, it was possible for anyone with access to the Xbox to buy online points using my Credit Card. I then tried removing my card details from the Xbox but amazingly found that this is not possible. They were stuck there, forever!

So back to the refund issue. The operator initially told me that because 800 points had already been used a refund would be out of the question. I was stuck with 4200 points that I had not purchased and certainly didn’t want. I again explained to her that the points had not been purchased by me but by an 11 year old, a minor. She then told me that if I purchased an additional 800 points online then she would be able to refund the cost of the 5000. I initially refused this offer although with hindsight I really wish I’d accepted it. Throughout our 45 minute conversation she continually “put me on hold” in order to speak with her supervisor. The last time she did this the call was terminated – not by me.

  Confab 14:01 21 Mar 2008

So I phoned the helpdesk again and spoke with a gentleman. I explained the situation to him and again had to go through the parental control options and again they didn’t work. At this point he said that he would get someone to call me back within 48 hours. This was Monday evening. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with no call.

On Thursday I received a call from Xbox. By this time I had received my credit card statement showing a £42.50 Microsoft Xbox Live transaction dated 11 March. The lady from Xbox advised me that had I not spent the 800 points then she would have gladly refunded me however, Microsoft’s international policy states that if any points have been used then no refund will be given. Also I should have purchased an Xbox membership card from a game store if I didn’t want my credit card being used. I again explained the whole story to her – about the fact that I had no issue with paying a subscription to Xbox live but was absolutely stunned when I discovered that not only can I not remove my credit card details from the console, that anyone can use my card without permission to make online purchases, including minors, and that no authorisation code or password is required in order to do so. She went on to say that she could remove my credit card details from “their” system but this would take 30 days. During this 30-day period I was not to purchase anything online otherwise the removal would be cancelled! My card details will always remain in the Xbox but any transactions made using the card would be declined. In order to get this process started today I have had to agree to cancel my sons subscription to Xbox live. There were only 5 days left but it’s not the point really.

I mentioned the compromise that they had initially offered saying that if I bought an additional 800 points then they would refund me 5000. This was also declined. I asked to speak with her supervisor but she told me that she was the supervisor. I asked for an address so that I could make a formal written complaint and was told that notes of our call were being logged. If I really wanted to write then I could email support at Xbox Live.

I guess that my only option is to contact my credit card company and see what advice they give. It seems that I’ll have to swallow the £42.50. I’m just so annoyed that Microsoft makes it so very very easy to make a purchase online but so very very difficult to remove my card details.


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