So, tonight we had a guest over and wanted to watch a movie. Legends of the Guardians was the winner and it was listed on Zune marketplace via our new Xbox 360 console for 320 Points in Standard Definition. As we started the streaming movie there were a few hiccups and the spinning icon came up in the middle as the picture froze and then restarted. After a few restarts and sighs of frustration we gave up on watching the movie as it was clearly unwatchable. We switched over to the Netflix application on the same Xbox 360 and picked out a movie there and enjoyed it through streaming technology. The easy answer here is that the network was NOT the problem it was the Zune service.
My guest left at around 9:15 pm or so and I picked up the phone to call 1-800-4MyXbox, this was around 9:30 pm eastern time. At around 10:00 pm a representative picked up the phone and had me give several pieces of identifying information before assisting me. She had me look at my Zune purchase history to verify the purchase was made and took a few notes about my experience. She was powerless to refund my Microsoft points so she transferred me to the next department which she assured me could help me. At around 10:30 pm another representative picked up the phone and asked for my ticket number. The previous rep had not given me one so this representative asked for my credentials again. She then asked me if I wanted a refund for my Xbox live subscription of $19.99?!? What, I asked? I don't want a refund for my live subscription, I only want my 320 points back for the unplayable movie. As she listened to my problem she quietly stated that she could not help me, she had no access to the Zune system and could only refund Xbox live subscription costs. She then pushed a button to transfer me again.
It's 11:07 pm and I'm still on hold, by my calculation in about 8 minutes I'll be on the 2 hour mark for my $3.99 refund. I can't help but imagine laughter on the other end of the line as they know I'm on hold and extremely frustrated. At this point it is merely the principal of the thing. I've been a long time Xbox Live subscriber, actually since the original service was put into place over 7 years ago. Come to think of it I don't think I've ever asked for a refund for anything on the service and have easily given them hundreds of dollars over the years.
Ok, it's 11:09 pm, someone named Dillon just picked up the phone and says he can help me. I have given him all my information again and explained my problem and now he has put me on hold yet again to think about what he can do for me. I suppose he's probably laughing with his co-workers about my situation while he "ponders" whether or not he'll return my precious Xbox Live points. You would think they would have the ability to simply refund the purchase through the Xbox system itself and not even have to employ a human in this process. Why should my fate be given to Dillon? I should simply be able to click something within the interface to tell Microsoft I had playback problem and would like my money back, certainly they can see that I did not watch but the first 3-4 minutes of the movie and then exited out. I guess they don't have the ability to see the performance of the movie on my end which is understandable.
It's 11:15 now and Dillon has come back on the line to tell me the fate of my 320 points. So now, I have been informed that there are no refunds for Zune Video purchases. Now that I know Dillon is laughing at me I ask for an escalation to a supervisor. I'm now on hold again waiting for the supervisor who almost certainly is at least 2 years older than Dillon (and Dillon is maybe 20). So what shall I say to the Supervisor? I can plead my case yet again which I will most likely do but I will also tell them how ridiculous this entire process has been. They have essentially stolen $4 from me at this point. How can you NOT provide refunds for a service such as this? I suppose since there is not a problem with playback now I can go back in the living room and watch it but my guests are gone so it's not much fun to watch by myself now is it? If the Rental were for more than 24 hours then maybe I could save it till my guest comes back but he won't be back till probably next week. This seems like a pretty good reason for a refund to me.
Ok, 11:19 now, I'm still blogging and still on hold. Who knows, maybe someone will read this and feel my frustration and not rent from the Zune service for fear of having similar problems. I'll bet iTunes would have played it perfectly, or even Time Warner Cable for that matter, I should have just gone to Time Warner's On Demand section to see if they had it. Better yet, for the 2 hours I've now been on the phone and $4 I'm probably going to lose I could have driven to Best Buy and purchased the DVD or Blu-Ray. Ok Dillon, now I know you're laughing at me over there as I sit on hold, watching the little red light. Maybe you're waiting for me to be yelling into the phone to the elevator Music, that would probably make you extremely happy now wouldn't it?
11:22 update, Dillon just came back, it's going to be a few more minutes before he can get a supervisor on the phone. I wonder how much money they've spent on the 1-800 call, probably only pennies. They're already paying the customer service staff who have spoken to me for the perhaps 10 minutes of the 2 hours I've been on the phone now, so maybe it really is a game to them. Eventually they figure I'll hang up. I'm sure well over half the people would have left hours ago.
11:35, ok, Paul, the Supervisor has just picked up the phone. He listens to my problem then clearly states that there are no refunds on Zune rentals. He then offers to read me the terms of service that I agreed to when I pushed the A button on my controller. I ask him to do so, after a few minutes I ask him to clarify a few points in the terms of service then ask him if he is empowered to help the customer, he states yes but cannot refund my points. I ask him how he is empowered if he can't help me? He offers a solution of disputing the original points transaction with my bank. I explain that the points transaction was for a much larger batch of points than the 360 points that this particular rental cost me. He offers to read me the terms of service again. I have been polite and have not raised my voice throughout this entire conversation and once again ask if he can provide me a refund, he states he would lose his job if he did so. He then asks me if he can help me with anything else and instructs me to have a pleasant rest of my evening. Well, screw you Paul and screw you Microsoft. I hope you choke on your $3.99. I also hope all of the other Zune customers out there who have had similar nightmarish customer service experiences speak out like I am. I will never again use this service for Movie or Video rentals or purchases again, thank you very much.
For the final record I give you the only information this Supervisor would give me, his first name and the case reference number, should I ever need it. I have sent an email to customer support at Xbox live with a summary of this call but don't expect any resolution there. I am hoping that as many people as possible read this and realize that when you are renting movies through Zune you have ZERO recourse for a refund should you have technical difficulties with said Rental. Stick with your cable provider or other reliable service such as Netflix or iTunes for your rentals and good luck out there.
-- Final Call Information
Supervisor - Paul
Reference # - 1149187659