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Microsoft double-billing Xbox Live subscribers?

Microsoft is facing a new lawsuit accusing the company of double-billing Xbox Live subscribers when they do not renew their subscription before it expires. According to the man filing the lawsuit, Microsoft’s prepaid subscriptions are “governed by vague and onerous terms of use.”

The lawsuit was initiated by Ryan Graves and alleges Microsoft for double billing its Xbox Live Gold subscribers when they do not renew their subscription.

“In providing its Xbox Live Gold gaming services, defendant requires consumers enter into prepaid subscriptions, governed by vague and onerous terms of use,” Graves says. “These agreements purportedly are meant to automatically renew, using the payment method on file – in the form of a credit card, debit card, or prepaid Xbox card. If the payment method on file is no longer valid at the time set for renewal, then defendant, pursuant to its terms of use, terminates the users’ access to the service.

Afterwards, if former members wish to again subscribe to Xbox LIVE Gold, then they must purchase an entirely new subscription – a process which requires consumers to provide defendant with a new and valid method of payment.

Once defendant receives the new payment method, defendant renews the previous, expired subscriptions, without authorization, by billing the new payment method for a renewal of the previous subscription. This is done at the same time the customer is billed for the new, authorized, subscription purchase. This results in consumers, including plaintiff Graves, receiving one subscription for the price of two. Plaintiff Graves has complained to defendant about the unlawful and unauthorized double billing, yet defendant refuses to provide him with a refund.”

Apparently, Graves attempted to get his money back by contacting Microsoft, but the company’s customer support did not help him. Instead, they insisted that the double charge was not a mistake. “The plaintiff was told that instead of the two subscriptions running simultaneously, they would run consecutively, giving him two years worth of Xbox Live Gold access. When Graves said he didn’t want two years access and asked for a refund on one charge, the representative again refused.”

So what does Graves want from this lawsuit? He seeks restitution, statutory, treble, and punitive damages for breach of contact, unjust enrichment, conversion, and violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. Graves also wants Microsoft to “reverse all unlawful, unfair, or otherwise improper charges, and to cease and desist from engaging in further unlawful conduct in the future.”

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