Leaving aside the defective hardware in its first release, Microsoft’s Xbox console is generally easy to use. I am not so impressed with the way Xbox Live purchases and accounts are handled though.
Today’s story begins when I followed a link on the XBox 360 dashboard to upgrade my Live Account to Gold and get a free game: one of Kinect Sports, Kinectimals, Fable 3, or Halo Reach.
I followed the link and tried to pay. I got error 80190848. That’s right, just the number.
Of course I googled it. It seems that it indicates a problem authorising the credit card. Fair enough; the card on file was out of date. But what is wrong with a message that says “We could not authorise your payment; please check your card details”? This is poor usability.
Next, I found I could not delete the old card from my account. To do this you have to go to the Xbox Live website on your PC. However, you cannot take advantage of the special offer from the Xbox Live website. No, you have to use the dashboard, otherwise it does not apply.
OK, I left the dud card there for the moment, added a new card, and made the purchase.
That went through OK, but what about the free game? Nothing. No on-screen information. No message. No email.
OK, so I contacted support. This isn’t too good either. You go to the support page and have to find the tiny contact us link at the bottom of the page. At least that one works. Some paths through the site just don’t work at all. For example, go to My Xbox – Accounts – View Billing History. On the Billing account overview, click Contact support. You get this:
Lovely. Note that for Xbox, it says go to to the Xbox Live Accounts and Billing page. Yes, that was where I just came from. I click it anyway:
Apparently Microsoft has lost a significant amount of money because of weak cryptography in its Xbox Live Points scheme. I wonder how much more it has lost thanks to annoyed or frustrated would-be customers?