Xbox Live support: Epic Fail If you thought Microsoft Customer Service was bad before...

So we’ve had a little problem with our Xbox Live service. No biggie, we thought. We’ll just make a call and have it fixed. If only!

What follows is an emotional, true story of one man’s struggle to redeem his honour, his 3000 Microsoft points card, and, ultimately, the threads of his own sanity.

Enjoy the ride.

Episode 1: The Phantom Microsoft

Xbox LIVE, for the most part, is a pretty decent online experience that can offer you hour upon hour of fun, adventure, and merciless teabaggings by random idiots. But what happens when you’re a Gold customer, who’s paying good money for a yearly service, and something goes wrong with your account, do Microsoft have your back? Well now, rather than have you continually wonder about the quality of service Microsoft provides, the cosmos saw fit to offer me an opportunity for some hands on experience – and these are my stories…

Day 1

11 am – I lay down fifty bucks at my local EB for a 3000 point Microsoft card. I’m buying it for the expressed purpose of writing a feature article based on Xbox LIVE Arcade games. The sun is shining and spirits are high.

12 pm – I free the Points card from its plastic prison (using a fricken hacksaw), I do the ‘lottery scratchy’ thing on the back, and I enter the code into my 360.

The card fails to redeem my points and an angry side bar pops up saying the following, “Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. Please try again later. Status code: 80169d94”

Unfazed, I attempt to redeem another ‘bonus’ Points card that I received for pre-ordering GTA IV. Curiously, this sucker works straight away and the Points happily appear in my account. Weird, perhaps my first attempt was just a network issue or some dyslexia on my part. Shrugging my shoulders I re-enter the 3000 point card code.

QUOTH THE XBOX, “Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. Please try again later. Status code: 80169d94”.

Hmmm, that’s mildly annoying. Next, I check to make sure all of my billing information is up to date and correct (clearly I’m running out of options and this is the best solution I can come up with).

While perusing Microsoft’s billing information website I notice that my details have an old address in there (I moved shanty recently, you see). I quickly fix that up so that it matches my current credit card address.

I log back in to Xbox Live and try my card code once again.

QUOTH THE XBOX, “Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. Please try again later. Status code: 80169d94”.

1:04 pm – Running out of ideas, I try to delete my trusty Xbox LIVE account ‘YermumsAWESOME’ (don’t ask, just roll with it) from my 360 and then attempt to retrieve a virginal version of it via Microsoft’s servers.

*One hour of utter boredom passes…*

2:04 pm – Waking up from an unplanned siesta, I log into LIVE with my fresh account and enter the 3000 points code one more time, confident that some sweet, sweet Xbox Live Arcade action will soon be mine.

QUOTH THE XBOX, “Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. Please try again later. Status code: 80169d94”.

Right. This is getting silly. I brew up some coffee and go put my favourite conversation hat on. Things are about to get interesting…

2:38 pm – I call Xbox LIVE support, select accounts and billing information, and get put on hold.. Pretty soon I get serenaded with some halfway decent Halo 2 music

*Two minutes later…*

2:40 pm – A Texan lady named Vanessa answers, welcomes me to the Support line, then asks my name.  I tell her and then quickly explain the situation regarding the code.

“Alright sir, let me just check something”,*she checks something* “sorry about the wait…”

Halfway through saying,”that’s okay. Don’t mention it, Vanessa” – she hangs up on me.


2:45 pm – I call back my new friends at Microsoft, select accounts and billing information, and get put on hold again. Understandably, the Halo music isn’t nearly as rockin’ the second time around.

*Three minutes pass…*

2:48 pm – Helbert picks up the bullhorn

I quickly run him through my error code problem.

“Okay sir, can I have your gamer tag?”, Helbert asks me.

“Sure mate”, I respond, “yer mum’s awesome”

Shocked silence on the line.  “…uh sir?” Helbert asks timidly.

“YermumsAWESOME. That’s my Xbox live tag.” I explain. I then proceed to agonizingly spell out  ‘Y-e-r-m-u-m-s-A-W-E-S-O-M-E’ – paying particular attention not to spell it the backward, American way (i.e ‘Yer’moms’AWESOME’).

Despite my no-nonsense demeanour, Helbert is unsure whether I’m taking the piss out of him. He says, “Uhh…Okay, I’m gonna have to put you on hold, for a second sir.”

Before I’m tossed back to the dial tone I decide to add the following, “I’m cool with being put on hold, but please don’t hang up on me like the last chick did.”

To his credit, Helbert seems a little shocked at this, “No sir, I won’t do that to you. We don’t do that here.”

No. Of course you don’t…

2:52 pm – The hold music begins. (Mercifully, this music crackles and dies after a minute)

*Three minutes chug along…*

2:55 pm – Helbert is back in the hizzang, the Mc Hizzle, or whatever the cool kids are calling a ‘house’ these days.

“Okay, sir can I have your email?” he asks me.

I comply, “Sure, mate; ‘Your mums freakin awesome at windows live dotcom’

There’s more uncomfortable silence, and then “…uh…. okay, thank you, sir. That is the …uh… email address I have on your file here”.

Helbert taps away on his keyboard, presumably accessing my file, and then tells me the following, “Hmm this is an odd situation. The system says that your account is a fraud account”.

Refusing the burning urge to WTF, I tell Helbert that I own the account, Furthermore I haven’t had a single issue with my account up until now – it is NOT a fraud account. I also add, “I need this situation fixed.”

Helbert replies “I see, let me just put you on hold to check some records, again”.

2:57 pm – Put on hold, the Master Chief reappears and proceeds to rape my eardrum with his wailing cock rock. In a purely metaphorical sense.

*Three more minutes of my life disappear…*

3:00 pm – Helbert returns and for security purposes we waste time reconfirming my address, my credit card details, my phone number, the name of the first girl I ever kissed, my sexual turn ons, etc, etc. He asks me if I’ve changed my address in the system recently.

I explain that while I was trying to get the account working I noticed that I had an old address in my details, and so I updated it this morning. I explain to Helbert that I did this so that it’d line up with my new credit card billing address. I remind Helbert for the second time “This is not a fraud account”.

“Okay sir, let me just check some things” Helbert says. I notice the beginnings of uncertainty in his voice this time though.

3:03 pm – On hold again – Master Chief is back and he is rocking up an absolute storm on his guitar. I admire his dogged enthusiasm – but don’t share it.

*Two minutes pass, I count the bricks on the wall…*

3:05 pm – Helbert saves me from the rock to say that he needs more time, can I hold longer. I tell him to do what he has to do – I can wait as long as it takes.

3:06 pm – As I’m put back on hold I suddenly recognise the burning urge to use the facilities. Being on a cordless telephone, I quickly calculate the time it’ll take for me to deliver the package.

Worst case scenario: if Helbert returns mid-dump and hears suspicious splashing noises, I’ll just tell him that I’m now in a really echoey room, feeding my pet goldfish… half a dozen rock cakes.

*Four minutes and one epic ‘speed poop’ later…*

3:10 pm – Helbert is back (right as the toilet audibly flushes… Dammit..) and he tells me that the situation has to be ‘escalated’.

The shorthand of the situation is this; for one reason or another the Xbox LIVE system up and decided that I’m a ‘fraudulent user’ and they need time to remove this security flag. Helbert assures me that he is going to ‘escalate’ this situation to his supervisor.

Now, at this point I’ve got to say that ‘Escalate’ sounds like a pretty good word. I’m about to climb the ladder.

3:11 pm – I get slapped on hold as Helbert talks to a bigger cheese than himself.

*Four minutes later go by*

3:15 pm – I’m still on hold. I’ve never been ‘escalated’ on a phone call before, but it’s not nearly as immediate as an escalator in a shopping mall. It is however, just as annoying as being stuck in a shopping mall. When Helbert comes back, I may ask him if we can take the stairs next time, it may be quicker….

*Five more minutes of purgatory later…*

3:20 – Helbert returns and confirms that the account is now in fraud status and is locked down. Hurray for me. He says that he’ll request it to be fixed by the billing department. He confidently assures me that I can try to redeem my 3000 point card in four to six days

I imagine that four to six days is the standard amount of time Microsoft’s in house criminologists need to review my case. Hopefully they’ll determine that I don’t have the ‘brain pan of a stage coach tilter’ and then I’ll be granted the privilege of redeeming my expensive 3000 points card.

Helbert asks me if there’ll be anything else. “Man, I hope not” my inner monologue pipes up. Ignoring the hateful voices, I thank him for his help and he thanks me for my continued patience.

3:22 pm – Call ends. I decide to go wash my hands.
Call duration: 44 minutes
Time spent on hold: 26 minutes (59% of call)
Call duration Time to date: 44 minutes
Time spent on hold to date: 26 minutes
Time to Microsoft Points: 3 hours 22 minutes – and counting

Does this phone call end my Microsoft problems? Hell no. That’d be way too easy.

Episode 2: Dial Harder

Day 7…

I wake up in the morning and life is good. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, I’ve got some serious morning wood (for the new fireplace I just had installed in the bedroom) – and better still, I can now download a metric shit tonne of Xbox LIVE Arcade games.

Like a hyperactive child on red cordial I leap out of bed, run over to my 360, fire it up, and enter my 3000 point card code.

It is at this point that I cop a hefty kick in the love spuds – courtesy of Microsoft.

QUOTH THE XBOX, “Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. Please try again later. Status code: 80169d94”.

QUOTH THE ADAM, “You *&%@$#*@^  sack of  %$#@!!!!!”.

9:05 am – I call my homies at Xbox LIVE customer support and get slapped on hold.

*Two minutes pass…*

9:07 am – Leo answers

9:08 am – Rather than waste time explaining things, I give Leo the reference number of the last call. He excuses himself and takes two minutes to read the file and bring himself up to speed on the situation.

As he does this he uses the following choice phrases; ‘hmmmm’…’okayyyy’….’mm-hmmm’, ‘just checking the info, sir’…’okaaaaay’, ‘yeee-ahhh’ ‘alriiight’

Satisfactorily up to date, he returns to me and says “Well, it looks like your account is still locked”. In addition to this he tells me that the situation has been ‘escalated’ to the ‘front management department’ (a department so elite; they make the tip of the spear look like the arse end of a broom handle). Furthermore Leo tells me that any additional details regarding to the matter are being kept strictly confidential ‘for my protection’.

Sensing the end of the conversation fast approaching, I decide to level with Leo. I tell him that I’m a video games columnist who is currently writing for some nationally published magazines and some gaming websites.

This information is important to him because I’m trying to redeem this 3000 point card to write up some reviews of their Xbox LIVE Arcade games (I had plans to do it) – but after this whole experience I’m leaning towards a feature article entitled ‘Is the Xbox LIVE service convenient, or just a pain in the arse?’.

Without being rude, I remind him that it has now been 7 days, 21 hours, and 8 minutes since I tried to use Microsoft’s online service – to no effect. I ask him, ‘just out of curiosity sake – for both myself and the readers who’ll be following this article’, how much longer the situation will take to fix.

Leo says that he’ll find out for me, but first he needs to verify my credit card, phone number, (whether I like coke or pepsi) and my mailing address. He also has to confirm my Xbox LIVE tag – and, to his credit, he manages to stifle a chuckle when I tell him that ‘his mum’s awesome’. (YermumsAWESOME).

Leo keeps it together and tells me that he has to go and research my account on another PC. He courteously asks if it’s okay to put me on hold.

Even though it isn’t fine to get put on hold – and I’d jam a screwdriver into my ear rather than suffer their Halo hold music – I politely tell him that “its fine by me, I’ll wait as long as it needs to take.” Being a jerk never got nobody anywhere, after all.

9:13 am – I’m put on hold. Note to self: the next time we play Halo, mute the volume…

*Ten minutes tick past…*

9:23 am – Leo’s back, and according to him I’m being emasculated… sorry, Freudian slip there… I’m being escalated with the billing department – due to suspected fraud. He can also see that it is being ‘processed’ at this very moment.

Leo says that they need some more time until the issue is resolved. But he says that he is putting notes on everything to bring it to the attention of the ‘higher-ups’. He apologises once again for the inconvenience

“OK Leo, but how long will this take, can you tell me that? This review feature hinges on whether I’m able to redeem this card.” I ask him.

Leo taps away on his keyboard and then informs me that customers support is locked out from any further information at this point. According to him, it is now with the billing department and he is similarly “locked out for my protection”.

While it’s ‘super nice’ to be ‘protected’, realistically it is just a waste of time. I ask him if he can transfer this call to their billing department so that I can have a chinwag with them.

Leo can’t do that – customer support has no connection to the billing department whatsoever. I imagine a pristine white billing department run in total vacuum by a crack squad of bubble boys – with no phones.

Leo reassures me that he is putting the necessary notes on my file to attention it to the proper people (i.e. bubble boy automatons) in the billing department. This way their admin personnel will prioritise it and get it sorted out much quicker. I give an involuntary twitch at the word ‘quicker’… it seems like a term I once knew, in a past life perhaps.

With regards to me being in a position to write about their Xbox LIVE arcade products, Leo says that “We do appreciate your comments.”

I ask Leo how long it’ll be until I can redeem this card and get started on my feature. Leo says the account will be unlocked in three days time.

He sounds pretty damn confident on that last point. Shrugging my shoulders, I thank Leo for his help…

9:28 am – Call ends

Call duration: 23 minutes
Time spent on hold: 12 minutes (52% of call)
Call duration Time to date: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Time spent on hold to date: 52 minutes (82.5% of total call time)
Time to Microsoft Points: 7 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes – and counting…

Okay, will THIS be the end of our journey for points and nutritious gaming sustenance? Hell no, we’re just getting ‘escalated’ here.

Episode 3: Revenge of the Xbox

Welcome to part three of our ongoing saga with the Xbox Live support line. The reason we’re talking with Microsoft support? We bought a 3000 point Microsoft card and when we tried to redeem it Xbox LIVE labelled our account as a fraud. Joy!

Day 10….

I wake up to the sound of an early morning thunderstorm and with a groan I remember that this is the day I have to try to redeem my Microsoft code, again, for the millionth time. Sleepily rolling over I glance towards the alarm clock and immediately see the Xbox 360 staring intently at me from the living room down the hall.

Freakishly, it is already turned on. The angry green power ring winks at me with evil intent through the semi-darkness. This is especially odd because I haven’t played the little bastard in at least a week.

The logical part of me quickly deduces that he is only powered on because my pet cat (Mister Meowgi) has parked his sizeable fuzzy arse onto the 360 controller, thereby powering up the console overnight – but another, more primal part of me insists that the hideous white brick has been secretly nurturing itself on my frustration and has finally achieved malevolent sentience.

As if to prove the point Mr Xbox loads up the demo section of the Bourne Conspiracy disc sitting inside its twisted innards – and the resulting disc access sounds eerily like chortling, maniacal laughter.

Today is the day I try to redeem my points card again. I know it. He knows it.

Striking first, I leap out of bed, wrest the controller out from under my shit-scared cat, and enter my code.

QUOTH THE XBOX, “Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE. Please try again later. Status code: 80169d94”.

Quoth the me, “&#^% you! You sack of %$#*!”

9:00 a.m. – I hit the speed dial for Microsoft Xbox LIVE support (it is now number ‘1’ on my speed list, having overtaken ‘Fire’, ‘Police’, ‘Pizza Hut’, and ‘The Drunk MILF Partyline’)

9:01 a.m. – I punch in the required menu numbers (punch in the traditional usage of the word) and I’m slapped on hold

*One minute passes*

9:02 a.m. – Karen answers

Despite my seething rage I realize that the spritely Karen isn’t the source of the evil that now pervades my gaming system, and I calmly explain my tale of woe to her.

We go through the usual motions after this, she asks me my gamertag (‘YermumsAWESOME’ for those of you just joining us) and we check a whole host of other info like my address, my email address (YermumsfreakinAWESOME at windows live dotcom), my phone number, my hair colour, whether I’m wearing glasses, whether I am wearing a hat, etc, etc.

Karen matches all this info up on her computer version of ‘Guess Who?’ and determines that I am who I say I am. She then tells me that she has to check something on another system (I imagine she has to feed this new information into a computerized version of Hungry, Hungry Hippos) and politely excuses herself.

9:05 a.m. – I am banished the magical land of ‘Hold’ where Halo theme music is all you will ever hear. Damn you, Bungie sound department.

*Five minutes tick past. Mister Meowgi stalks into the room and lives up to his namesake by catching a fly that was winging about. While I am suitably impressed, I scold him for using his paws to do it and not the special cat chopsticks I made for him.*

9: 10 a.m – Karen is back and she tells me that my account is still locked.

Confused, I quickly retell her the conversation I had with the last guy (Leo) and I make sure to mention his promise that this problem would be fixed by now.

Karen tells me that she can see that he has made notes in the documentation (so he did do something, at least) and he has put in a request to unlock my shit pronto (my words, not hers).

I ask her how the unlocking is coming along and she tells me she needs to go find ‘additional resources’ on another system so that she can see what stage the billing department is at. She politely excuses herself from the conversation.

9:13 a.m. – Back on hold. The great Halo marching returns to bash my ears like some sort of freelance wife.

*Six minutes of time that I’ll never ever get back, drip away*

9:19 a.m. – Karen is back from verifying my issue. She tells me that there are no available updates, and that my ‘fraudulent’ account is still on review.

When I press her for a timeframe she tells me that it’ll be early next week, according to her there is no specific time to resolve this sort of issue. At this point it seems weird that the last guy could give me a set date but Karen can only give me a roundabouts, when-it-is-done-its-done kind of guesstimate.

I tell Karen, that I realise she isn’t the cause of this problem – and that I’m not mad at her in particular for what is going on – but I need to speak with someone higher in the chain of command, perhaps a supervisor, because I need this problem resolved, like, seven days ago.

I tell her what I told the last guy: I’m a videogames reviewer who is trying to redeem a Microsoft points card to purchase Xbox LIVE arcade titles in order to write a roundup on them. I remind her that if I can’t buy their products I can’t review them, and if I can’t review them I can’t do my job. Once again, I ask her to please get me a supervisor.

Karen asks me if I can wait until next week.

No, Karen. My employer needs these reviews for an upcoming feature, I’m on a extended deadline – more importantly, I haven’t done anything to be labelled fraudulent in the first place – I need this problem fixed now. For the love of sweet Jeebus get me a supervisor.

9:22 a.m. – Karen goes looking for a supervisor

*Five minutes tick on by, during which time I contemplate strangling myself with the phone cord – then I remember it’s a cordless.*

9:27 a.m – Karen is back, not with a supervisor, but with a daft solution to the problem. She asks me why I don’t just create a new Xbox LIVE account and purchase the content through that.

Resisting the urge to bash the cordless into my head repeatedly, I tell her that isn’t an option, I’ve had my gamertag for a long time. I’ve invested a buttload of time into my digital persona, that and the phrase ‘YermumsAWESOME’ defines me as a person now. I wouldn’t know how to rebuild my life without it – furthermore – I shouldn’t have to, I’ve done nothing to warrant being locked out of my account.

Unmoved by the passionate, symbiotic bond that I share with ‘YermumsAWESOME’, Karen says “seeing as though you don’t want my resolution sir, what would you like me to do?”

I thought the next part of the plan was pretty damned simple. What about the supervisor, Karen? Did we eliminate ‘get me a supervisor’ from the customer support field manual? Where’d he go? Keeping an even tone I tell her, “I’d still like to speak with that supervisor, Karen”.

9:29 a.m. – Thwarted, Karen says she will connect me through to her supervisor – Supervisor Dan.

*One minute goes by. My hands are positively dry with anticipation.*

9:30 a.m. – Supervisor Dan slinks over and picks up the bullhorn. While he is polite enough, he sounds like he was the kid who regularly got pushed into the urinals in primary school – and by the girls, no less.

I ask him if Karen has brought him up to speed on the situation. He tells me that she has and that he has my file open in front of him as we speak. He asks me why the ‘create another account idea’ won’t help me. I quickly realize that this is his brilliant solution to the problem, not Karen’s.

I tell Dan that I don’t want to create another account for several, glaringly obvious reasons. First, I don’t want my Microsoft Points strewn across two accounts – it is a pain in the arse. Second of all, if I create a new account it will be busting my arse down to a lowly SILVER account which means that if I download the Arcade games and they’re online enabled (i.e a fair percentage of them) I won’t be able to use the online modes, which will make for a shitty feature article. Lastly – and this one’s important Dan, so pay attention – I shouldn’t have to. I’m a loyal customer, why am I getting all this grief for nothing?

Realising he is about as useful as an Amy Winehouse rehab clinic, I ask Dan if it’s possible to get a direct line to the billing department – or even a phone number – so that I can sort this out myself – y’know, plead my case to the mighty Microsoft gatekeeper. Throw myself at their feet for mercy, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Dan responds like an automaton, “No sir, we communicate via the same systems, but we have no line to the billing department”.

“What I will do is post a follow up to this problem. It’ll be two or three weeks – but I can’t promise you that – and I will be putting the necessary attentions on your file to see that it gets looked at as soon as possible.”

Hmmm, well Dan, that’s not much of a turn around. I’ve got a job to do here – one that will reflect upon your company and their products – and all you’re telling me is ‘kinda, maybe, quasi-three weeks -esque, probably’. That isn’t anywhere near good enough, my friend.

I remind Dan, like I did the previous guy I spoke to, that this entire ‘customer support’ experience is being documented and that it’ll be showing up in a feature article very soon.

Treading veeeery delicately, Dan replies, “uh… okay sir, we… we do apologise for the inconvenience but there’s nothing further that I can do on this matter. Is there anything else you need from me today?”

I tell him no thanks.

Dan blurts out the automated “Thankyou for calling Xbox LIVE, we at Microsoft hope that you have a good day” – but both of us know how hollow his cheerful sentiment sounds.

9:36 a.m. – Call ends.

Call duration: 36 minutes
Time spent on hold: 18 minutes (50% of call)
Call duration Time to date: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Time spent on hold to date: 1 hour, 10 minutes (70% of total call time)
Time to Microsoft Points: 10 days, 22 hours, 4 minutes – and still counting

Episode 4: A New Hope?

By the time three weeks have passed and the living room clock has struck nine, I am mentally and physically prepared for the task before me. It’s been thirty days, twenty two hours, and four minutes since I first tried to redeem my Microsoft Points card. It’s a full months worth of frustration that may hopefully end today.

During my journey I’ve spent over an hour on hold, I’ve tangled with four Microsoft Support representatives, and even tangoed with one Microsoft Support supervisor (yes, he was man – and yes, I was being metaphorical). I’m sick and tired of the fighting but, if needs be, there’s still plenty of fight left in me.

On top of all these shenanigans, my mind has begun playing tricks on me and the Xbox 360 has been acting very bizarrely. The other day when I was dusting in the room I felt the tiny hairs on my neck stand on end. Sure enough, when I turned around the Xbox was already turned on – it’s single green eye staring up into mine. Watching. Waiting. Mocking me.

A sane person could easily argue that my cat (Mr Meowgi) just likes to sit on the Xbox controller (thereby powering the Xbox up) but as the days go by I’m beginning to suspect that this is a convenient excuse for a more sinister and paranormal force.

Today is the day I try to redeem my Microsoft Points card for the very last time. If it fails to redeem, I plan to end the demon box with a stake and a mallet, bury it in the backyard, and then I’ll call in a priest to exorcise the TV cabinet.

It’s nine o’clock. Game time.

In a misguided attempt to take the Xbox by surprise, I jump out into the room with my feet at shoulder width apart – quick draw stance…

As my eyes adjust to the gloom, my mind quickly registers two things; the Xbox is powered on and, to my growing horror, so is the television. Startled by my sudden appearance, Meowgi-San bolts from his preferred spot on the couch like a bullet from a gun. The Xbox controller, the TV remote, and the air conditioner remote fly out from under his furry arse and tumble across the floor.

Amidst the remote chaos the air conditioning unit switches on and the controller analog stick receives a dislocating bump in the crash. Instantaneously, the Xbox awakens from its dark screensaver slumber, and a beam of blinding cathode light flares across the room toward me, like the murderous eye of Sauron.

Finishing the feline equivalent of a burnout, Mr Meowgi finds purchase on the slippery linoleum and skitters past my legs, which are now frozen into position. During his crazed escape he inadvertently upsets a plastic bag that has been sitting on a nearby bookshelf (ironically, this is the EB bag that originally carried the accursed Microsoft Points Card into my house).

A deafening silence fills the room. I stare at the Xbox. He stares back.

After a full minute, the plastic bag is snagged by the low whistling wind of the air conditioner and it slowly bounces between the Xbox and I – like some ghastly, non-biodegradable tumbleweed.

Getting a hold of myself, I realise that the Xbox 360 is a (relatively) inanimate object – which would make it ‘my move’ in this particular showdown. I tell myself that “it is all in my head” and, with amazing false confidence, I “John Wayne” strut over to the controller, scoop it up, and enter in the Microsoft Points code…

QUOTH THE XBOX: “Your Microsoft Points have been added to your account”


Without a single moments delay, I quickly change Braid and Bionic Commando Rearmed from GIMPED TRIAL VERSIONS to AWESOME FULL VERSIONS and I spend the rest of the day happily playing the hell out of them.

When my wife returns from work, a full eight hours later, she finds me asleep on the couch with a faint smile on my face, a faded Microsoft Card that has been shredded into a thousand pieces, and a purring cat sitting atop a nearby Xbox controller.


Overall call duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Time spent talking to humans: 29 minutes
Time spent listening to hold music: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Time to Microsoft Points: 30 days, 22 hours, 4 minutes.

Customer service grade: FAIL


So, let’s recap the story. I got denied the ability for buying goods on Xbox LIVE because my credit card details included an address that didn’t match up my Xbox LIVE account. This was a crime heinous enough for the sirens to start blaring at Microsoft HQ and for them to brand me as a fraud (for my protection, kids).

To solve this problem – and prove to the big M that I wasn’t hiding in an undisclosed location, wearing something from the Hamburgler Spring collection, fraudulently using somebody else’s LIVE account  – I had to take it upon myself to call up and waste my time chatting with the polite, yet useless automatons, at Xbox support.

Even though I could prove my identity on every occasion, answer all questions flawlessly, and jump through every hoop provided – I still had to wait a mind-boggling month and a bit for some genius at Microsoft to get up off his arse, waddle over to a computer, type in “YermumsAWESOME’, and switch the dial away from “User is a criminal, possibly related to Satan” over to the other setting “Situation: Peachy, smoke if you’ve got ‘em”.

30 days, 22 hours and 4 minutes. Un-freaking-believable. Hell, the big cheese upstairs knocked out the whole of existence in only seven days, plus commercials. All Microsoft had to do was unflag a flag.

While I’m suitably pissed with the geniuses at Microsoft customer support, I bear no ill will towards my Xbox 360 (although I no longer trust it to be alone with pets and small children). Rather than rant on how messed up this whole debacle was, I’ll just leave it here for your own edification, dear reader. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this experience has branded the following impressions into my brain:

First, it’s ruined the soundtrack to Halo for me, forever. Every time I hear that beautiful-yet-haunting Gregorian chanting of a Halo game I feel so angry I could punch an orphan in the neck.

Second of all, I’ve learned that toilet arrangements should be taken care of PRIOR to calling any support line.

Last of all, I realize now that Xbox customer care representatives, while effectively useless and grossly misleading with any guarantees they’ll make to you, are faultlessly pleasant individuals – even that chick that hung up on me for no reason.

*NOTE: Despite the obvious spicing up of the retelling, yes, all phone calls in this story happened as stated. This all occurred between June and July 2008.


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Seriously MS should send you a fricken medal i cant imagine the pain you went threw my eyes and my head hurt so bad right now from reading all that so fast seriously this could be made into a short movie its just amazing and it has a happy ending for you good it was so funny tho the words you used in ur little saga congrats thats all i can think of saying right now. you deserved it


Well thank f#ck for that! C’mon, 31 days isn’t sooo bad for M$!

Glad it was you and not me… **knocks on every wooden thing he can find**


Awsome humour like always mate. It’s good everything work out in the end.


It really depends on who you get at the other end. Sometime you get a turd, sometimes you get a diamond. When my email was stolen by some Chinese fellow selling boxes of LCD screens (just the boxes) here in Australia, I got real help when I made the call and got my email back the next day. But phone companies are the pits when it comes to problems, Its like they hire stupid or non-english speaking people so you leave them alone but we are a determined bunch aren’t we when it comes to more punishment.

Daisaku Punch!
Daisaku Punch!

At least it wasn’t an Indian call centre… I had the misfortune of being handled by an Indian call centre in the early days of Xbox Live. No disrespect to Indian people, I love a good curry and all, but with the scratchy international reception and all, I couldn’t understand a single word the guy was saying to me.

Well done, Microsoft – great to see things haven’t changed.


That seems very similar to a call I made to Telstra a while back to get the internet fixed. Took them 3 or 4 days to get everything fixed, when all they had to do was fix a password. Foreign customer service, what more can I say?