Microsoft to change Xbox Live auto renewal policy?

Microsoft's current policy of forcing Xbox Live Gold subscribers to make a phone call to cancel their accounts could be changing soon. A message on the Reddit site (via IStartedSomething.com) from an unnamed and unconfirmed Microsoft employee on the Xbox Live developer team claims that this policy could be changed sometime in 2012.

Having dealt with Microsoft's policy on canceling Xbox Live accounts on a personal basis, we can confirm that it is indeed a pain to get Microsoft to cancel an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Oh sure, you can purchase a Xbox Live Gold pre-paid card and make things easy but we suspect that a lot of people use their debit or credit cards to establish their accounts.

While Microsoft lets customers sign up new accounts via the Xbox 360 console or on the Xbox.com web site, there's no such easy way to shut that Xbox Live account down. The anonymous Microsoft employee claims in his Reddit post, "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 bull****."

While we know that no company likes to lose accounts, there are also many reasons why people would choose to cancel subscriptions such as Xbox Live Gold services. This economy is awful for most people and having to pay to play multiplayer games online via the Xbox 360 console is just not in the budget for a lot of families.

The bottom line is that Microsoft needs to make it easier to cancel Xbox Liveaccounts. People are more likely to come back at some point if it is easy to cancel than if a company makes a customer jump through a lot of hoops to do the same thing.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

AMD invests in BlueStacks; will AMD tablets run Android apps?

Next Story

Can Nokia reverse Windows Phone's fortunes

26 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I stick to PS3 for online games as it took me several attempts to cancel Live Gold whilst I was having a dispute over an offer. Never received so much as an apology even though I went through several channels to escalate.

Xbox charging to play games online is a complete rip and as mentioned in the article becoming more unpopular.

It's about friggen time, i hate calling companies, all of this stuff should be online by now. Napster is the same way, have to call to cancel, what's the point?. Seriously this should of been an option from the get-go.

I don't mind having to call to cancel your account. What I do mind is that you can't remove your credit card information from your account without calling. That is retarded.

I do mind having to call to cancel my account. I however do not mind if MS retains my Credit Card Information. They are not going to charge it without my authorization. So how does it matter if they have the card information or not?

spacer said,
I don't mind having to call to cancel your account. What I do mind is that you can't remove your credit card information from your account without calling. That is retarded.

Once you cancelled any active sub, you CAN remove a CC from the account via Xbox.com

As someone who uses billing.microsoft.com for more than just xbox, I can appreciate the one click purchasing that comes with entering your card information once. At the same time, I think the process needs to be changed.

I think a better option to implement would be allowing gamers to move between countries.

that is just messed up.. if they allow you to make an account on their website, they should let you cancel it from their website

Never found them bad to be honest. They will dangle a carrot, just say no, and off you go. Though I suppose it depends what sort of call centre you get. Last time I phoned it was an Irish chap and very easy.

They did make it simple to cancel for UK folk a few months a go with a option on your account via Xbox.com.

The feature is there for users to cancel easily if they allow it. MS are just trying to make more money by making it automatic and a little work.

I will however never give my credit card to MS again. Trust and fair play isn't there.

My friend sold his XBOX, and he had to go through 3 people who offered him 2 different discounts AFTER he told him that he no longer owns the Xbox, the system to cancel was annoying, and a waste of his time.

Dale said,
My friend sold his XBOX, and he had to go through 3 people who offered him 2 different discounts AFTER he told him that he no longer owns the Xbox, the system to cancel was annoying, and a waste of his time.

They don't just say "ok", they will try to keep you subscribed if they can. That's what it terribly annoying about it, and I hope it changes. One reason I like the subscription services on iOS devices (even though their 30% cut is outrageous) but I would even be willing to pay a little more for it to be an App Store subscription because they make it as easy as a toggle on a screen to manage all your auto-renew subscriptions.

What is also fun about their process is that they store your credit card and give you no options to remove your credit card from their system unless you call them up. And then, get this, if your account has a CC on it, there is a pretty stream-line click through process for purchasing anything on Marketplace. Parental controls don't even allow you to setup a passcode to enter before making purchases... It will prompt you for a passcode if you put in a DVD rated PG. Maybe I didn't set it up right (the XBox dashboard has become a convoluted nightmare), but it is really irritating to have to ensure that my account is logged off and I have a passcode setup for my account if the kiddoes are playing xbox.

Shadrack said,
What is also fun about their process is that they store your credit card and give you no options to remove your credit card from their system unless you call them up. And then, get this, if your account has a CC on it, there is a pretty stream-line click through process for purchasing anything on Marketplace. Parental controls don't even allow you to setup a passcode to enter before making purchases... It will prompt you for a passcode if you put in a DVD rated PG. Maybe I didn't set it up right (the XBox dashboard has become a convoluted nightmare), but it is really irritating to have to ensure that my account is logged off and I have a passcode setup for my account if the kiddoes are playing xbox.

Can't you just modify the CC info to something invalid to prevent the charges? I activated a new card last year and realized I didn't update the expiration info right away. During that time, charges failed because the information was not correct.

I think they verify that everything is correct. One time I left an expired CC on an auto-renew XBox Live Gold account. Microsoft still tried and failed to charge it for 3 months. Eventually, they locked my account sent me a bill. When I wouldn't pay for it, they sent my bill to a collection agency. I called, huffed and puffed with XBox Live Support over the fact that XBox Live Gold is a prepaid service and since they never received payments and I never received service (or rather, used the service...i guess it was still enabled thoughtout this time). They wouldn't budge on it though and said my gamertag would be inaccessible until I paid. I eventually paid them their 30 bucks or whatever. Learned my lesson though, if you are done with XBox Live Gold you need to call in and cancel.

Shadrack said,
I think they verify that everything is correct. One time I left an expired CC on an auto-renew XBox Live Gold account. Microsoft still tried and failed to charge it for 3 months. Eventually, they locked my account sent me a bill. When I wouldn't pay for it, they sent my bill to a collection agency. I called, huffed and puffed with XBox Live Support over the fact that XBox Live Gold is a prepaid service and since they never received payments and I never received service (or rather, used the service...i guess it was still enabled thoughtout this time). They wouldn't budge on it though and said my gamertag would be inaccessible until I paid. I eventually paid them their 30 bucks or whatever. Learned my lesson though, if you are done with XBox Live Gold you need to call in and cancel.

Microsoft has weird billing methods. When you start a auto-renewable, non-promotion Zune Pass subscription they don't immediately cancel your service, even if the card on file declines the payment. Then after a certain amount of time of receiving no payment, they suspend your service until you pay up. Usually for the Zune Pass, they will let you continue to use it for about two weeks, on a month-to-month plan. On the 3 month plan, they let you use it for about a month and a half. But once you pay, you can continue your service and they will give you the additional time you had left. I believe once they go from suspend to cancel then they will bill you for the amount of time your account was still active. Then collections if they still don't receieve payment.

Shadrack said,
What is also fun about their process is that they store your credit card and give you no options to remove your credit card from their system unless you call them up. And then, get this, if your account has a CC on it, there is a pretty stream-line click through process for purchasing anything on Marketplace. Parental controls don't even allow you to setup a passcode to enter before making purchases... It will prompt you for a passcode if you put in a DVD rated PG. Maybe I didn't set it up right (the XBox dashboard has become a convoluted nightmare), but it is really irritating to have to ensure that my account is logged off and I have a passcode setup for my account if the kiddoes are playing xbox.

I found this odd as well, but found that you can delete your cc if you log in to Xbox.com... I hope that helps.

M_Lyons10 said,

I found this odd as well, but found that you can delete your cc if you log in to Xbox.com... I hope that helps.

I thought there was a way to do that. You can do it on the Zune.net site as well. You can cancel your Zune Music Pass from there as well. I guess the Xbox Live cancellation process is unique.

I dunno. The quote from the "unnamed Microsoft Employee" just screams nonsense to me. I would seriously question that this was made by a Microsoft employee at all.

Do I feel that it's a change that should be made? Absolutely. But this just doesn't jive to me.

In the UK you've been able to cancel your XBOX LIVE account online for ages, so it wouldn't surprise me if they added it for other places.

ZakO said,
In the UK you've been able to cancel your XBOX LIVE account online for ages, so it wouldn't surprise me if they added it for other places.

It works like that where I live in Illinois as well due to local laws. A lot of people on the Reddit post just told everyone to change the state to Illinois if you live in the US to get around it.

ZakO said,
In the UK you've been able to cancel your XBOX LIVE account online for ages, so it wouldn't surprise me if they added it for other places.

Maybe, but in my experience they seem to keep changing their minds.
There should be a law or EU directive(and it's just good CS) that anything you can sign up for online, you can cancel online!
Companies could still beg you to stay by making offers on their websites.

acnpt said,

Maybe, but in my experience they seem to keep changing their minds.
There should be a law or EU directive(and it's just good CS) that anything you can sign up for online, you can cancel online!
Companies could still beg you to stay by making offers on their websites.

there is such a law in spain. although im not sure if it only applies for telecommunication services (phone/internet providers).

ZakO said,
In the UK you've been able to cancel your XBOX LIVE account online for ages, so it wouldn't surprise me if they added it for other places.

Eh really? When I last tried I had to do it over the phone, there was no online way to do it, all options said 'phone this number to cancel it'.