Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop





XBox 360 Live Support is busted

Posted 17 January, 2009 at 9:37am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Rant)

So, out of the blue, I began to receive these emails from XBox 360 Live. I've been receiving them for the last month, and I don't even have an XBox! I'm guessing someone signed up with my email address and apparently Microsoft doesn't do the standard email verification. They also don't include an unsubscribe link on the emails. Finally, this evening, I got fed up and decided to figure out how to unsubscribe. I started by logging into the account. How? I just told it to reset the password for the email (it IS my email address), confirmed the reset in my inbox, and then logged in. Then I looked for some way to deactivate the email or close the account. I couldn't find it easily, so I clicked on Contact Support and all of a sudden my browser window expanded to almost maximum size with a side browser opening up to mimic the Microsoft Help interface. Unfortunately, this makes the computer really difficult to work with since I have a large widescreen workstation monitor and work with text on the right hand half most of the time. Now imagine this blown up to a large monitor, one second I was looking at my web browser, the next - all I see is white:
Too Large

So, I get over this website user interface design faux pas, look to the left to find that nothing has changed - it didn't take me to the contact page. I look to the right and find a list of help sites for various Microsoft products. Some how, logging into the XBox Live page and doing the password reset has taken me to all of Microsoft's account stuff instead. The XBox help instructions tell me to access the contact support from the Xbox Live Accounts and Billing Page. So, I click on it (resize my windows so they are not ridiculous anymore) and try to find the page I'm looking for. I don't see it immediately, but I find a Support page where there is an "Email Support". (There was also telephone support, but it was too late to call.) I click on email support and there is a nice sane looking contact form. I'm guessing I could have gotten to this form without hijacking this guy's XBox account, but who knew?

I filled out the form, left a pull down blank that was labeled with: What type of problem do you have? (Select the option that most closely matches your problem. your selections enable us to quickly provide the most accurate response.) - none of the choices had anything to do with accounts (even though a previous pull down allowed me to select XBox 360 Live as the service I needed support on). Then I wrote a few sentences explaining that someone had used my email address, perhaps by accident, and that I needed the emails to stop and maybe they should try contacting the individual. Then I hit submit and received an error that said: Select problem type. Okay, I guess I'll have to pick one of these:
Not my problem!
Clearly none of them are even remotely related to my problem. I don't even have an XBox 360! So, I randomly picked one and tried to submit again - but my problems weren't over yet…

I received this back: Description cannot be more than 500 characters. You got to be kidding me! How many characters did I use? At least tell me that so I know how many to shorten by! I'm not even asking for a live javascripted count, just let me know how many I'm over by so I have an idea if I wrote 100 characters too many or 10. I shorten the message a little. Resubmit, same thing. Okay, I cut and paste the description into EditPad Pro (one of my favorite editors for coding in the Windows environment) and look at the character count. I'm now 550 or so. So I start shrinking sentences and using a little IM speak. I feel like I have to explain to the tech support guy on the other side that I'm not one of those idiots that writes in scrunched up sentences and text message speech so I have to put in a sentence at the beginning to explain why the sentences are so weird now. So I wrote:

This form sucks: must use <500 characters so I need abbr. sentences! Problem: someone signed up (xxxxxxxxxx) with my email addr (accident??)! My email addr = xxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com. Getting emails frm XBox360 Live & no UNSUBSCRIBE in body. This is ridiculous. Used link in latest email, reset pass, logged in 2 send support msg to remove from mailing list. Pls STOP sending me email. I don't own XBox 360. thx, Michael (P.S. I forced to choose a prblm from drop down; didn't have "other" choice, srry.)

Then I hit submit and I got Invalid characters found in description.

NOOOOO!!!!! I guess that it's the "<" so I change the first part from "must use <500" to "only use 500" and resubmit.

This is what I received:

5 comments to XBox 360 Live Support is busted

Charles-Alexandre Lacasse, January 17th, 2009 at 7:12 pm:

  • Exact same here… although I own an Xbox360!
    Here's the description I wrote:
    " Problem: Console locks-up during gameplay - History: 1.First occurred oct. 28 ‘08 playing Dead Space (rendered unplayable) 2.Occured few times with Fable II in october 3.Now occurs all the time with Fable II Knothole Island & Rock Band 2 - Steps taken: 1.Powercycled console 2.Blowdusted console (compressed air) 3.Cleaned HD cache 4.Removed HD and peripherals, performed Initial Setup 5.Cleaned all gamediscs - Xbox360 (17 oct. ‘06), 120GB HD, wireless peripheral, HDDVD drive addon "

    It seems to me that those are all pretty commonplace characters!
    I'll try to resolve the issue and see if anything works… notice how I started with one problem and now have two on my hands!

    Thanks Gates, Ballmer, or whoever is leading this sinking ship that is Microsoft (if there is anyone)!

Charles-Alexandre Lacasse, January 17th, 2009 at 7:20 pm:

  • Well… I tried removing all characters that weren't letters and changing the problem category (scrolldown menu) but nothing worked. I didnt receive the error message but it seems it's officially busted nonetheless!

    Could the Indian MS customer support workforce have acquired the right to go on strike?

Harold, June 20th, 2009 at 12:20 am:

  • Yeah, the whole experience of Xbox Live is lame, as it appears to be window-dressing (no pun intended) for Windows Live accounts. So clicking anything on the Xbox pages has a chance of taking you to what appears to be a completely different site!

    About the character length: the same problem exists on FP, not providing a character count.

    My saga (in brief): we bought our 360 from my brother-in-law back in December, as you may recall. Playing the latest Prince of Persia game (which is more like Sands of Time than the two more recent games, and that's a GOOD thing), suddenly I got green cross-hatching across the screen. This continued for a little while, despite my resetting the system, and then I got the Red Ring of Death, and the console displaying simply "E74 System Error". So I went and did some research. Apparently MS designed the 360s to use a particular graphics chip, which load testing then revealed had a high failure rate (some whole numbers of percentages of units). MS shipped anyway. Not only that, but they didn't replace the chips in any of the newer models for four years. Up until 2008, people who shelled out $$ for the console would randomly get an "E74" would have lost their system with no recourse except to *buy a new 360*. That's right; MS knew about the chip's weaknesses, but wouldn't cover them with a warranty. Last year, class action suits were filed in California to get some kind of recompense for the thousands of people who were out scores of dollars and couldn't play their game libraries any longer (and if they signed up for Xbox Live Gold, they were also still getting charged monthly fees). That case wasn't resolved until April of THIS YEAR; MS has now revised the warranty and back-dated it for 3 years, so that a console experiencing an E74 can be sent in for a free repair.

    That's in theory, of course. We got the E74, and I went to submit a claim, using the same lame-ass web site you experienced. Two problems. First, I hadn't registered the console when I bought it. Trying to register it brought me up against the second problem: my brother-in-law registered it, and MS has made no allowance for the possibility that a console will ever change hands. So only my brother-in-law could submit the request for service/repair/replacement. Gamely he contacted them, gave our address for the packing materials they would send, and thought he was done with it. That was in May; we still haven't seen any trace of any packaging, we're out almost two months of Xbox Live Gold membership (just imagine if we had a larger family of gamers, with multiple accounts on the one system, all getting charged for a service that can't be accessed, used, or deferred/paused in any way!), and my son can't play Lego Star Wars II (his favorite game).

    I can't decide which 10 or more year-old console to dig out and replace the useless 360 with; the playstation, the genesis, the SNES, the 5200, the 2600? All of them have been manhandled, packed in boxes which have sometimes been dropped, subjected to high temperatures in non-climate-controlled storage units, full of dust, all for years and years as we've moved from house to house. But they all _work_. I'm getting charged money for Xbox Live Gold, and I've bought a small handful of games, so I'll probably stick with it, trying to get my freakin' console fixed, but really I'm tempted to throw my hands up in disgust and walk away from it. As usual, you were the smart one with the PS3…

Michael Chu, June 20th, 2009 at 1:27 am:

  • Wow, I'm really sad that you don't have a console to play. And even sadder that Blake can't play LEGO Star Wars II. I'm halfway through Episode 5 on my copy of LEGO Star Wars… but you probably shouldn't mention that to Blake.

    This reminds me… did I forget to get my Dreamcast? I don't really need it back, but I remember Darcy wanting me to take it to relieve your overfilled garage of about 1 cu. ft. of occupied storage space. It's not on my computerized inventory of my worldly possessions, so I don't think it came to Texas with me.

Michael Chu, June 20th, 2009 at 1:29 am:

  • And you're right, of course - there are a lot of places where we need to put in character counts… we'll get to it eventually…