Last Sunday I sat down for movie night with my family. I have lots of ways to watch movies these days: Comcast, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Redbox and iTunes to name a few. On this night I decided to use the Zune Video store since the kids were already playing Xbox and I have some “points” stored up I can pay with. Easy. We agree on a movie and get it started — it’s looking pretty good. About 5 minutes in it pauses as it buffers the content…it happens occasionally so no big deal, we wait it out.
After about 5 seconds of pause the movie resumes — but it keeps doing a freeze-frame during the action sequences. At first I think it might be some kind of nifty effect. But after a number of freeze frames in strange spots I begin to suspect something is wrong. Then more buffering — this is not good. Another 5 seconds and the movie starts again. A few minutes later an error message pops up: ” There was a connection error. Please try again later.” WTF! The kids are getting annoyed. We start the movie again, optimistically hoping it will work this time. But no such luck — buffering every couple of minutes followed by another error message.
After about 20 minutes of this we decide it’s been enough. It’s Family Movie Night, let’s not spend it wrestling with technology. Luckily we have choices — so I fire up the Sony BluRay player, connect to Amazon, rent the same movie (in 1080P no less) and we finish watching. Mission Accomplished. Kids go off to bed. I will send an email to Microsoft Customer Support in the morning and simply get a refund for the movie rental that we couldn’t watch.
The next day: Send email to Customer Support.
Hmmm…which one do I click on? Xbox? Zune? Billing Issues?
I take a wild guess and go with XBox.
This is a simple problem and we’re talking about 360 “Points” (about $4.00) — no point in calling, this can be handled by email or chat. I’ve had minor streaming issues with Comcast and Apple before and it’s no big deal, they refund the rental and you rent more. I send an email to support explaining the situation and ask for a refund. A day later I get my response:
“Steve, the email support channel cannot discuss on billing such as refund.”
“I recommend to contact the Xbox Support Specialists for it to be rectified as the email support channel has no access to the account for security purposes.”
Great. Here we go. OK, I’ll give them a call to see what happens — surely Microsoft values me as a customer and wants me to continue spending money on my XBox right? So I call. I call the local number with a 425 area code. I get a guy who is actually pretty good. He wants to help me troubleshoot my XBox (“did you reboot it?”, “did you clear the cache?”, “did you check for updates?”). I explain that I am not in front of the console and that I will do those things later but that it was “Family Movie Night” and I wasn’t going to waste it fighting technology. He understands — he reviews notes and informs me that Zune did, in fact, have some streaming issues on Sunday evening and I was due a refund. FINALLY! However…since he is part of “Xbox” he can’t give me a refund, I have to go to Zune. Seriously???!!! Fine.
“Can you transfer me?”
“Unfortuately I can’t but I can give you the number…stand by.”
By this point I am getting leary.
“What do I tell the Zune guys when I get them on the phone so they won’t send me back to you?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that, I have made notes on your ticket. Tell them you were having issues on Sunday night. They know there were system problems on Sunday night and they will give you a refund.”
“Great thanks. Goodbye”.
I’ve been on the phone for 30 minutes now. My ear is tired. I am starting to get really annoyed that Microsoft has not given me back my $4.00 yet. I find the Live Chat option for Zune Support. It didn’t take long for him to attempt to send me back to Xbox Support.
“Since this was done on the Xbox the Xbox support team will have to trouble shoot this with you. If they determine that this was a technical issue they will be the ones to issue the refund.”
My favorite quote:
“…it would surely be in your best interested to make sure everything is in order so this does not continue to happen.”
I have [at least] five different ways to ensure this doesn’t happen again: Apple, Amazon, Comcast, Netflix and Hulu. Why on earth would I ever spend money on my Xbox again?