Update: It looks like this particular situation has been resolved, presumably a result of the media. The author states that his account was banned due to an old RROD’d machine being fixed and used to hack other accounts, and Microsoft are sending him a brand new machine.
I’ve lost track of the number of articles and blogs we’ve done on this – it must be approaching ten – but we’re not SuperDuperMegaGamer and thus nothing appears to change over in Redmond; the coverage from major sites on this whole ‘Xbox hacking’ thing just isn’t there.
Hopefully, then, this latest story might pick up a bit of traction, I know that the likes of Kotaku have been given the nod. Until then, here’s the sorry story of a “30 something, college professor” that found himself permanently banned from his Xbox 360 Gamertag after suffering three months of having no access after his account was hacked.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that at no stage does the author blame Xbox for the security issue – the truth is that no-one really knows how all this is happening – this is clearly just a finger pointed squarely at the way he was handled by customer services, and the rather incredulous ending that just beggars belief.
The blog doesn’t make for happy reading. The episode starts in October when the individual’s 360 account was compromised and migrated to Russia, and yet despite filing an immediate contact with Microsoft, nothing had been done by December apart from some empty offers of (pointless) one month Xbox Live Gold vouchers.[drop2]After filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau at the end of last year (which was processed on the third of January) Microsoft called him back, on the 23rd. Over the next few days things finally started moving, and his account was gradually returned to its rightful owner.
“Later in the day on the on the 27th,” said dmaul1114, “I got e-mails confirming the investigation was completed, my 1200 points had been refunded, and instructions on how to change my Windows Live ID password and recover the account to my console.”
But that wasn’t the end of it, by a long way. “Then I noticed another e-mail from Xbox,” he continued, “this one stating that my profile was permanently banned for a code of conduct violation.” Upon calling Microsoft, he was told that this was now a matter for the Xbox Live Policy Enforcement Team, and was instructed to post in the relevant forum on Xbox.com.
Ultimately, after a few more calls, dmaul1114 was told the notes showed that the XBLPET had ruled the violation happened when he was in control of the account. “I asked what the violation was for,” he said, “and he stated it said it was for attempting to steal other accounts.” Incredible, right?
After this, the gates remained shut. The ban stays, and he’s lost all his licensed for purchased Arcade titles, all his DLC and his game saves, unless he just wants to play offline. “Thus I cannot import my Mass Effect 1/2 characters into Mass Effect 3 if I want to play the online modes with my existing characters,” he says, by way of an example.
“What kind of customer service is it to not give the customer the benefit of the doubt in such a simple case as this?” he asks. “Are account thieves reporting their own accounts stolen, going so far as to file Better Business Bureau complaints to try to get them back? Am I omnipresent so that I can be hacking accounts from Russia while living and working in the US?”
“It’s just baffling that Microsoft can treat a loyal customer this way.”
He’s responded further on NeoGAF. The chap sounds like a reasoned individual and one remaining remarkably calm given the situation. “I’m glad my story is getting some exposure,” he says. “I really don’t care about getting the account back as I just can’t support MS after this experience. I just hope this gets some buzz and causes them to handle any similar cases in the future properly.”
Hopefully, if enough coverage is made of this, Microsoft will be finally pushed into some decent security for their system – but more interestingly, some customer service. Three months might be the exception, but it’s just simply not good enough – not to mention the ban at the end of it all…