Ode to Joy or Fun with Microsoft Store Customer Service

Like most gamers in search of deals, I scoured the web the week of Black Friday to find some bargains. I ended up adding a few games to my already considerable backlog including a couple purchased from Microsoft’s online store. While feeling like I was stealing when purchasing Forza Horizon for only $15, I should have stopped there. On November 24, a number of games were listed for $9.99. I decided to get two more. Because I sometimes get an unhealthy hankering for a round of video game golf I chose the Tiger Woods 13 CE. And because many of the GB crew raved about it when it came out, I took a chance on Asura’s Wrath. And that is where my tale of frustration begins.

On November 27, I received an email that my order of the last two games had shipped. Forza Horizon arrived with no issues. The package that I believed to contain the other games was delivered on November 30. Due to various other things, I did not open this last box until December 2. Inside, I found the Tiger Woods game along with a copy of Mass Effect 3 but no Asura’s Wrath. I had previously purchased ME3 from Best Buy in April. As I am horribly behind on my gaming, I was only just finishing ME2 when this duplicate arrived. While aggravated, I assumed this would be an easy enough fix. And as the saying goes when one assumes…

Later that day, I called the customer service number listed on the support page and spoke to someone about the issue. She apologized for any inconvenience this had caused and said she would be happy to help. She put me on hold for a couple of minutes. When she returned, she informed me my problem had been escalated and sent to Tier 3 (which is apparently the Microsoft store version of Area 51). She told me that someone would call me within 72 hours to address the situation and gave me a case number. I thanked her but thought that seemed like an awfully long time for something as simple as this appeared to be. Just send me a shipping label, I will return the wrong product and they will replace it with what I originally ordered. It turned out to be anything but simple.

The next day, December 3, I checked my order status on the website to see if there was any notification as I had not received an email notating my initial contact. A chat window popped up asking if I needed assistance. I decided to see if it normally took 72 hours to get back to customers so I asked. A person with the screen name of Rusty replied. He began by asking for the information I had given on the phone the day before. I indicated to him that I had already been through all of that and had a case number. He took that and got back to me saying my case had been escalated to Tier 3 and someone would be with me within 24-48 hours. Since that fit the original 72 hour time frame I decided to wait.

That brings me to today, December 5 when probably the worst customer service experience of my life continued. Since my 72 hours had expired with nary a peep, I called the number again hoping to speak to someone in Tier 3. The gentleman I spoke with today informed me that contrary to what I had previously been told not once…but twice, my problem had not actually been escalated to Tier 3. To make up for that apparent oversight, he was happy to do that for me now and someone would get back to me within 72 hours. I told him this was simply not acceptable. I had no reason to believe he was going to do anything different than the first two people with whom I spoke. I asked several times to be transferred up a level to this Tier 3 since they seemed to be the only people capable of solving my problem. He told me they had no way of transferring the call, no number they could give and no email address. I told him that was absolutely absurd. He said would let me speak to his floor manager.

This new person came on the phone asking how he could help. I explained my situation again providing the case number. At no time, did I use inappropriate language even though it was certainly warranted. I did however tell him in no uncertain terms just how awful and unsatisfying the customer service process was. His first solution was for them to sell me another copy of Asura’s Wrath but at regular price and not the sale price. I laughed and told him that was preposterous. His explanation of why they could not offer assistance and just send me the correct game was that I had (the apparent misfortune) of ordering something on sale and that had to be cleared through...you guessed it…Tier 3. At this point, I had beyond had it and just asked for a refund and a shipping label to return the wrong game to them. He told me they would process the refund in 5-7 days and they would mail me a return label during that same time. He confirmed my case number and the call ended.

A few minutes later, I got an email from Microsoft support telling me how I was going to get the refund I requested minus shipping and handling. All I had to do was return Asura’s Wrath and they would process if everything was in order. The only problem was of course, I had NO Asura’s Wrath which was the entire reason for my call in the first place. I immediately called back. The lady I spoke to listened to my story then seemed as if there was some confusion in the notes about what I did and did not receive. I asked, well actually demanded, to talk to someone in this Tier 3 area. She made a pretense of seeing if there was any way I could contact these Lords of the Refunds and put me on hold.

After a few minutes, she regretfully informed me that there was no way I could actually speak to anyone in that department. She did offer her supervisor. When the supervisor got on the phone, she told me contrary to the previous floor manager’s statement, I would not receive a refund until Microsoft had Asura’s Wrath. I thought I was in a bad comedy routine. I again stated my original reason for calling was that I did not have that game. I informed her that I was starting to doubt the existence of any such thing as Tier 3 knowing quite well my blasphemy might cause a complete meltdown among the peasants of Tiers 1-2. She assured me that Tier 3 was in fact quite real and the email I received was proof. She said it was o k to ship the extra ME3 with the invoice for Asura’s Wrath and she would make a note of what happened. I said I had zero faith in that as there already should been several notes about this on my account.

I told her that I understood she did not care and that I probably would not in her case either. But, I would not be shopping with them again and this had been an atrocious customer service experience. The fact that the first three people I contacted at the very least misinformed and basically flat out lied to me about the process should be cause for serious concern with her company. She again apologized and that was that.

After thinking about it, I decided it would be simpler for me to trade in the extra ME3 or sell it myself rather than trust I will get the promised refund. I have written this blog not to discourage anyone from ordering from the online Microsoft store. Mainly, it is an admittedly long-winded warning that you are in for a rough experience if you have to contact their customer service department. It is an experience I will never repeat and would not wish on anyone.

And that is all I have to say about it. Now if you will excuse me, several must have Ubisoft products are on sale on the Xbox live marketplace…


Is this really all we have to do?

 Do I really need a promo extolling the virtues of blu-ray and why I should choose that format when I'm watching a blu-ray disc? I mean obviously I've already made the choice. I don't need to be sold on the product anymore.  I just want to see some heads roll in Ninja Assassin.