Xbox Live: Retarded Edition

I remember a couple of months ago I got a little notice from Amazon.com when I visited the web site saying that the credit card information I had given them was about to expire, and that I should go to my account page and fix it. So I went to my account page and fixed it.

Apparently the same thing happened at Xbox Live. Because Microsoft is going to crush all comers in the online service sweepstakes, you would think that they’d have a similarly streamlined scheme for dealing with this issue. Of course, if you think this, you will find yourself at home at 9pm on the phone with some Indian guy who really doesn’t give a shit. This is because Microsoft customer service is retarded.

Let me go over all the mistakes Microsoft has made here, one by one.

Mistake 1: No warning

Every time I turn on the Xbox, it calls up the Xbox Live mothership and logs me in. Presumably, it also downloads a bunch of account information at this time. Yet, I never got one message warning me that I’d have to update my credit card info or lose my access in the last three or four months. Not one. Never. They hold my TV hostage while I watch the little “you just logged in” spinning lightshow of death for 45 seconds and they tell me nothing until my account is already suspended. This is because they are retarded.

Mistake 2: Conflicting User Interface Messages

Here is what happened when I tried to fix my accont from my console. I would tell the console to login. It would fail and give me a message about how my account was suspended. It would ask if I wanted to go to the account management page to fix it. I would say “sure, go to the account management page and fix it.” The account management user interface would appear for 10 seconds and then immediately disappear. I would try to login again. This time I would get no error message. I open up the profile editor and try to get into the account settings. It tells me I have to be logged in to Xbox Live. I try to login, and again it does not fail, but apparently does not succeed either.

Is my account suspended?

Am I logged in or not?

Is there any other way to the account management interface?

For grins, I try to get to the account settings page at Xbox.com and it says the that the page doesn’t exist.

Nowhere in this space age online service is there a single screen telling me what is wrong and allowing me to fix it. This is because the interface is retarded.

Mistake 3: No Backup Authentication

The Xbox Live account is primarily hooked up to my credit card number. I understand this. It makes sense. But, I also have a login and password on the Xbox.com web site and gamertag info on my console hooked up to this authorization information. Unfortunately, neither of these cookies allows you to manipulate suspended account information. Once the credit card authorization goes bad, you are basically dead in the water for convenient online account management. There is no other way to gain access to the account. Even though Microsoft has arranged for you to hook up multiple pieces of identity information to your Xbox Live presence, none of it does you any good if the primary key goes away. Thus, we are left with the final failure of the system (since it is retarded).

Mistake 4: If I have to Call You on the Phone You Have Failed

The fundamental theorem of online commerce is that I should never have to call you on the phone. Aside from tracking packages, this is the most important role that the Internet plays: phone avoidance.

But since they failed so horribly, I had to call Microsoft on the phone and spend 20 minutes talking to a completely apathetic Indian man so that he could go to some internal user interface and type in my credit card number for me. This brings the total time I have spent on the phone with Microsoft in the past 12 months to about 150 minutes, which is about 145 minutes too many.

For a system that is supposed to be the world’s most advanced integrated online gaming experience, this is a failure of monumental proportions. The whole point of putting the service on the network in the first place is that I should never have to actually talk to one of your worthless phone drones. I pay Amazon good money for Amazon prime and I have never had to talk to them on the phone. I expect nothing less from any other for pay online service. The only acceptable level of phone usage is zero. Ok, maybe just above zero.

Sadly, Xbox Live fails at this. Because they are retarded.

Maybe I’ll go play some Halo now.