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Over the weekend Microsoft was hit with a class action lawsuit
by Ryan Graves siting improper charges from it’s Xbox Live gold members
accounts. According to the complaint, Xbox LIVE Gold is a prepaid
subscription based service. For the past few years, Microsoft has automatically
renewed members’ Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions once they expire, using the
members’ credit cards, debit cards, or prepaid cards on file in their account.
If members do not maintain a valid payment method in their account, then Microsoft
cancels the subscription and suspends the members’ access to the service. If
members wish to later sign up for a new subscription, the complaint alleges,
they risk being billed twice by Microsoft—once for the new subscription
purchased and again to “automatically” renew the old canceled subscription.
This is what Ryan Graves claims happened to him. Ryan didn’t renew
his subscription, causing his membership to expire. A few months later, he
signed up for a new subscription using a new debit card. It was not until the
next month when he received his bank statement that he realized Microsoft
charged him for two subscriptions instead of one. Thinking this was a mistake,
Mr. Graves contacted Microsoft to have one of the charges removed. He was told,
according to the complaint, that one charge was for his newly purchased
subscription and the other was to renew his old subscription. Microsoft would
not refund him for the double charge.
The class action seeks relief on behalf of Mr. Graves and
other Xbox LIVE Gold members throughout the country, who have similarly
experienced Microsoft’s unauthorized charges. The complaint asserts that
Microsoft breached its contract with members and violates the federal
Electronic Funds Transfer Act. “Microsoft cannot just charge a consumer’s credit or debit
card whenever it wants without authorization,” remarks E. Michelle Drake, Mr.
Grave’s attorney. “Mr. Graves signed up to play games on his Xbox, not to allow
Microsoft to play games with his debit card.”