Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Microsoft would rather cooperate with robbers than with its own customers

Ok, this is not the usual kind of content I put up here, but I felt I needed to share this story. Hopefully, someone can give me a convincing and reasonable explanation as to why things went the way they went.

Yesterday, I came home from the long weekend (Canada Day gave us Monday off) to find that my apartment was robbed. Among all the missing items was my XBox 360.

Some months ago, when I decided I wanted to buy some XBLA content, I entered my credit card data, so I wouldn't have to go out and buy points cards. Little did I know that going this route had a hidden cost.

With the credit card info saved on the console, anyone with the console can now buy Xbox points (or whatever they're called) or even subscribe to a Gold account using my credit card info.

Now, I know they can't extract my credit card number from the console, but the thought that they can still charge stuff to my card irritates me, as it would mean complex dealings with my credit card provider.

So I called up the Xbox customer service line, chatted up a storm with Max (the automated voice dude you have to go through before you can talk to an actual human being) and then got a chance to talk with a nice young lady (whose name I forgot to write down... sorry if that brings down my credibility, but I bet anyone from XBox customer support can confirm that what I will tell you next is their actual policy.

Anyway, I expose my problem to the nice young girl, and simply ask that my credit card info be deleted, or at least that they prevent any use of my credit card on XBLA for at least 30 days. Either of these solutions would have satisfied me.

I thought I owned that credit card. I even tried deleting the info myself through the website. No dice: you can only add another credit card, you can't delete an entry.

The nice young girl patiently explained to me that the only thing she could do was to put in the request that my credit card info be removed, but that the process would take at least 30 days to complete, and that if any transactions are attempted during that time, the process would be canceled.

Think about this for a minute.

Even if I ask that the info be removed, never mind that removing info from a database can be done in a few seconds, it takes them 30 days to do so, AND if the robbers decide to buy some XBLA points, the whole process is canceled. Even though I explained that I don't mind not being able to buy anything with my account for the next month or so (I won't have a 360 back until the insurance replaces it) and even though I don't have any recurring charges setup (such as a Gold Membership or any other services I don't know about.)

Note that this wasn't a security issue. I gave her more than enough info for her to confirm my identity.

Her only suggestion was to tell me to call my bank/credit card provider and tell THEM to block any transactions going to Microsoft. The one thing I was hoping to avoid from the start, as we all know how complicated it can be dealing with credit card companies. I guess it's even worse trying to deal with Microsoft.

So, back to the title of this post: if you haven'T figured it out, what I meant was, Microsoft prefer to make it easy for robbers to fraudulently buy more stuff from them . They'd rather encourage fraud than protect their paying customers. Way to go Microsoft!

(What is it with companies refusing to delete credit card info from their files when asked to do it? Why should such a simple manipulation -- assuming the caller's identity can be verified -- take 30 days to complete?)

Anyway, for my dear, regular readers, I'll try to post the things I promised soon... This last robbery and my new job are taking up a lot of my mind these days, but then again, I bet if I start, the distraction will grow on me and I'll be back to full posting strength... maybe...