Bang On: Outsourced Xbox support is completely useless

Ever feel like a company's technical support phone line was set up in a way that it twists and bends your mind until you wind up letting them get away with shenanigans? After this weekend, not only am I convinced Microsoft's Xbox phone support is designed to drive a caller up the wall, but it's also nearly useless compared to the support offered elsewhere.

This all started when my girlfriend wanted to play a few levels of Sonic: The Hedgehog on Xbox Live Arcade. I had purchased the game two years ago, had beaten it, and then left it to sit on my hard drive untouched. In that time away, I've replaced my console numerous times due to faulty DVD drives. No red rings of death, just dead drives, but that's another story completely. Anyway, I should have known something this simple would go horribly wrong very quickly. No sooner does she start the game that I realize it's asking me to unlock the full version. Excuse me? Did I miss something here? I already started to mumble to myself as I followed the menu options to the marketplace where it clearly says that I've "already purchased this game" and that I could download it again. I downloaded it again and still received the same annoying message. I hate you, Microsoft.

I picked up the phone and figured I'd give Microsoft's Xbox phone support a try. I should have realized it was a holiday weekend and I had no chance of getting a call center in North America. I hope Microsoft saves a lot of money driving me insane as I try to communicate with people half way around the world who have no understanding of the Xbox Live system beyond what's written in their handbook. The first representative was completely lost and forwarded me to someone else almost instantly. This second woman decided that she needed to say "thank you" after everything I said. I'd say "your welcome" and she'd say "thank you", again. I had the speakerphone on and my girlfriend was hysterical laughing as quietly as she could.

With laughter in the background, my blood pressure rising, and an excessive amount of gratitude being given, the woman on the other end did everything from getting my console ID and serial number to having me clear my cache. The last step, by the way, involves losing all the game updates I ever downloaded, so every game I play now has to be updated, again. Best of all, none of this worked. I'm starting to really hate you, Microsoft.

After 30 minutes of complete failure, my case was moved up to a supervisor and she was the most useless of them all. At least the first representative admitted she knew nothing. This wonderfully useless supervisor simply asked me to fax over a copy of my receipts for when I exchanged my Xbox 360 at Best Buy. Slight problem: I don't own a fax machine and, right now, I don't have a printer to scan with. She advised me to use my "digi cam" to snap a photo of the receipts and use to send the photo over. She was about to hang up when I kindly reminded her that she needed to tell me the number to fax it to. Slight oversight on her part, huh? I send the fax and decide it's time to go out with my girl and worry about this later. I hate you even more, Microsoft, and now I'm done.

Even leaving my house, though, I wasn't going to escape the grips of this horrible support case. The supervisor actually called me back four hours later to tell me the photo wasn't clear enough and I should try again and then, without much notice, she said "that's all we can do" and hung up. At that point, I was content with simply giving up and leaving the game broken. I wasn't going to let this Sonic fiasco do to me what Sega is doing the Sonic franchise these days. You must hate me as much as I hate you, Microsoft.

Today, however, in a moment of boredom and curiosity, I hopped on over to the Xbox Live forums and found the sub forums specifically designated for the Sonic arcade game. Sure enough, there was a thread about this exact problem and a solution given right there in the thread. All I had to do was use the new (at least to me) "License Transfer" tool to give my new console rights to the game. I followed the link and in three minutes I was finally up and running. All of that insanity with the so called "professionals" and I got nowhere. Five minutes online reading content from everyday gamers and all my problems are fixed. How can this be? How could the people getting paid for this not know about the license transfer tool? My mind is still lost as I search for this answer. All I know is that, for now on, I'm skipping Microsoft's help and going straight to the people with the answers: All of you. At least you won't thank me for every sentence I speak.

"Bang On" is a regularly occurring column written by Christopher Vendemio. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of

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