XBox Live Gold and a Pet Peeve

WARNING: Nerdy, kvetchy, juvenile rant ahead. Those of a sensitive disposition may wish to avert their eyes. You must be at least 48″ tall to read this post. Pregnant women or visitors with neck or back problems should sit this one out. Please consult your physician before proceeding. Do not read while under the influence of alcohol or medication. This post has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. 4 out of 5 dentists surveyed believe you should read something else instead. Still here? Ok, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You know what I hate? Businesses that will  let you sign up easily for their service on their web site, but when you want to cancel said service, require you to call their support line, wait on hold, get hung up on, call back, get transferred to their outsourced support center, punch your account number into the phone, talk to “Bob” from somewhere that’s definitely not mid-America, tell “Bob” your account number, tell “Bob” your account number again because he wasn’t ready the first time, tell “Bob” why you want to cancel the service, endure “Bob’s” sales pitch on the many virtues of the service, assure him that yes you still want to cancel, endure another sales pitch with the promise of a temporary discount, assure him that yes you still want to effing cancel, wait on hold again, get transferred to another representative who doesn’t know anything about the conversation that’s already transpired, tell the new representative your account number, and write down the “cancellation confirmation number” so that when they charge you again next month you can provide the number and be told they have no record of it.*

Which is why I won’t be buying another XBox Live Gold subscription.

Bad enough that, even though I’ve already paid for the XBox, for the game I want to play, and for my Internet connection, I still have to pay an additional fee for the privilege of playing on-line. But add the fact that they won’t let you cancel your Gold membership online — a fact which they don’t actually make clear anywhere except by not giving you a cancel option in any of the dozen places on their website and subscription management screens on the XBox you might reasonably think a cancel button might lurk — and it pushes me well over the threshold of nonsense tolerance.

My favorite part of the whole experience was asking “Bob” why there’s no online option to cancel my account. He assured me initially that it was for security reasons. “Let me get this straight,” I said to him. “You guys consider your systems secure enough that I can enter my personal credit card information and incur debt, but not secure enough to stop doing that?” He then said there were also technical reasons that prevented it. Bollocks. If they can cancel an account on his computer, they can do it on mine.

So, adios, XBox Live Gold. I liked the service well enough to pay a few bucks a month for it, but not enough to endure Microsoft’s account management shenanigans.

* This is not actually what happened when I called Microsoft, but a pastiche of bad customer service experiences I’ve had, exaggerated for comic effect. Take that, lawyers.