It was November 14th when my Xbox live account was first compromised. I was furious.
After seeing a string of emails about charges I had not authorized, I went to investigate. I discovered that they charged roughly $100.00 to my credit card, transferred out those points in addition to 4300 points on my account to dummy gamer tags (such as WelcomeCash089 whose only activity was in Poland), and changed my gamertag’s email address. They did this all in the span of two minutes.
I called Xbox support on 11/14/11 and let them know what happened. To their credit they were supportive and didn’t accuse me of being phished or try to defraud them. Everything was going smoothly until they told me that the recovery process would take up to 25 days. I was shocked to hear that something that took two minutes to pull off would take nearly a month to resolve. However, it was the hacker who put me in the position not Microsoft so I sucked it up and gave the information needed to file the Unauthorized Access Claim.
It’s been 74 days and that initial fury has turned into a sense of betrayal and disappointment as this process has been filled with negligence and apathy on the part of Microsoft.
After getting off the phone with Microsoft, I called my bank and told them about the charges. After 30 minutes I was told the money would be returned to my account in 2-3 days. They were shocked that I seemed happy about this turnaround time as most people weren’t, but anything sounded better than 25 days at the moment. I stewed a little more about the turn of events but eventually accepted it and moved on.
The next day I remembered that the annual holiday sales were coming up and called to see if I could have them retroactively reduced or transferred to my main account after purchasing them on another account. After getting a no on both counts, the representative on the phone gave me some more bad news: the initial rep had mistyped my email address that would be used to recover my account. Thinking it wasn’t a big deal I gave him the right address and he typed it in the notes. Seeing as how it got caught, I didn’t worry about it and moved on.
For the next few weeks, the only news I saw was that the Family Gold Pack ($99 retail price) which the hacker had purchased at the low, low price of $14.99 was cancelled. At least that they were making sure they weren’t getting ripped off even if they weren’t keeping me updated.
Eventually, after restraining myself from calling and pestering them, I called on December 12, 2011 after the 25 days passed on:
Me: Hi, I wanted to check on the status of my ticket
Rep: One moment… it looks like your case has been resolved…three days ago actually.
Me: Awesome! What do I do now?
Rep: We sent you an email with recovery instructions
Me: I didn’t receive one… Wait, there was a typo! I called and had the correct information put in the notes.
Rep: It looks like they sent it to the typo address.
Me: Oh…can you resend it to my real address?
Rep: I’m not authorized to do that.
Me: Hmm… can you walk me through the recovery process instead?
Rep: Sure thing. First log into your Windows live ID.
Me: Well, they put my gamertag on another windows live id so I don’t have access to it.
Rep: We can try and work through that. Try to go to password recovery.
Me: Okay, it says I can send it to my back up email addr…
At this point I was able to see the typo that was causing the trouble. I was worried that I messed up on my last name which has several double letters in it. I didn’t. I had given them my school account but instead of ending the email address with “.edu” the rep had typed in “.eud”.
Seriously? “.eud”? This could have been fixed in 3 keystrokes and was a plain as day typo. But hey this guy is going to walk me through it and get this back tonight so no big deal.
Me: So the backup email address isn’t going to work at all.
Rep: Okay try the secret question.
Me: Sure thing. *typed in answer* huh? That didn’t work. Let me try *types in another* not that either? That’s weird… I swore it was *types in another answer* Well now I’m locked out of trying…
What’s really depressing about this part is that A) one IT person has possibly identified this as one way they could have accessed my account (Story: http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/121/1216502p1.html) and B) This wasn’t my email account, so guessing this with legitimate answers was a complete waste of time.
Me: Okay there is a customer rep recovery option left, you can help me with that right?
Rep: Well actually you have to answer a series of questions regarding your email address.
Me: But…it’s not my email address I don’t know anything about it…
Rep: It also takes 24 hours to respond and only works if you have submitted the correct answers.
Me: There’s no way I’ll get these right, what other options do I have?
Rep: You can resubmit a claim.
Me: How long will that take?
Rep: 25 days.
Three keystrokes which could have been entered correctly by at least 3 different parties turned into an additional 25 days of not having what I paid for. On top of that, they had not refunded my balance of 4300 points on my account. I number I had deduced by going on Microsoft’s own billing website and calculated from the total number of points transferred out of my account less the fraudulent points bought by the hacker which is here:
11/14/2011 Transfer to: -- Points -13,100Microsoft Points --
11/14/2011 Points added View Points 400Microsoft Points --
11/14/2011 Points added View Points 800Microsoft Points --
11/14/2011 Points added View Points 1,600Microsoft Points --
11/14/2011 Points added View Points 6,000Microsoft Points --
I didn’t add in those blanks, there was no recorded of the running balance or who they were transferred to but I did a little math and observed that there had been no activity since the 9th which made it look legitimately sketchy.
Needless to say I sucked it up again and resubmitted my claim and prepared to wait another 25 days.
The holiday season came and I begrudgingly bought the games on sale during the holidays on another account. I still stayed loyal to this company even though I had been inconvenienced by not having my home account or being able to transfer them over to my home account once I got it back.
23 days later I called on January 3rd, 2012 in to check how things were going thinking I had wised up and not waited the full 25 days. I gave them the new ticket I had opened up on 12/12/11 and asked how it was going.
That ticket was closed for being a duplicate ticket on 12/13/11. The day after I submitted it. The person ignored the notes showing it was a resolution for an issue with another ticket. They put their efficiency not into resolving my case but deleting a report that led to a waste of 23 days without any progress made by Microsoft toward a resolution.
I put together another claim which they told me would be resolved in a week or two. I promised myself I would call in weekly from now on. After week one, I was told it would be resolved in a week and a half. After a week and a half, I was told no progress had been made but they would have their progress team start a dialogue about why it was taking so long. That’s where I’m at today. Waiting for a process to start whose goal is to complete another process which hasn’t started.
Throughout this experience I have never yelled at any of the customer service reps as they’ve all been quite sympathetic and have even admitted that they themselves would be at the point of yelling at this point. They’re just been doing their jobs and I’m not looking to have anyone lose their livelihood about this. That said, not once have I felt supported by Microsoft or their Tier 3 team. They’ve let me down time and time again and no one you can talk to has the ability to make the impact that the Tier 3 team can. If that person I talked to on the second day could have changed the email address, I wouldn’t be writing this wall of text.
I haven’t just lost my Xbox live access I’ve lost months off my Call of Duty Elite membership, I haven’t been able to use my Gears of War 3 Season Pass (which to add insult to injury was offered at a discount during the Christmas sales), I haven’t been able to redeem content for games I own, and I haven’t been able to play most of my Xbox live arcade games because they won’t work without an internet connection. The thing that I’ve lost most of all though is my piece of mind.
A lot of people have told me to demand retribution and ask Microsoft how they’re going to make up for this and that they owe me. That’s not really my nature as I feel that you get more bees with honey than vinegar and I understand things just go wrong sometimes. All I truly felt I was owed was the goods and services I paid for and for them to try their best to resolve this. I haven’t gotten their best and I know there are several people who haven’t either. I want them to trust their Tier 1 people to do more and get more access to the tools that can help customers. I want them to keep an open line of communication and update people (callbacks etc.) regarding the state of their account. I want them to change the email policy at the very least. Three simple keystrokes have equaled 74 days of frustration.
I started this process furious and heated at this hacker because I knew I’d be missing out on deals of the week and great new content. That fire at an individual who decided to take what wasn’t theirs has turned into a loss faith in and passion for the Microsoft brand.