Persistence wins.

An update is necessary to Friday’s post about my Xbox Live Gamertag, for sharing the details of my sixty minute call (calls, actually) with customer support is instructive in how to run and not run a business.

As I mentioned Friday, I chose a Gamertag I didn’t like when I signed up for Xbox Live. I had the expectation that I could change it at will, with no financial repercussions. Nothing during the sign-up process, including an actual reading of the Terms of Service, indicated that changing my Gamertag would cost me 800 Microsoft Points $10. So I chose something for expediency rather than permanence so that I could play online. Silly me.

I called Saturday night before redeeming my 12-month subscription card to leave myself the option of abandoning my achievements. But considering the bulk of them came from playing through the entire campaign in Call of Duty 3, I didn’t want to lose them. I’m going to play through that campaign again, but on a harder setting. Not that I fully care about my points, but I earned them and the basic idea that I should lose them because Microsoft wants to swipe $10 bucks discourage Gamertag changes is ridiculous.

That’s how I phrased my approach with Xbox Live customer service, asking for nothing more in the beginning than a “Why” for the policy. The first person I spoke to informed me that the Gamertag is a privilege. Huh? He also said something about copyrights, which I didn’t understand or care to understand. I told him as much and made it clear that I expected to change my Gamertag this time for free. He couldn’t do that, so he transferred me to a supervisor. She let me know that the policy is stated very clearly on the Microsoft website. I made the obvious point that that information might be available, but what is presented is all that matters. At this point, we were disconnected.

I called back, agitated. In a small personal victory, I responded calmly when the new representative answered. He hadn’t done anything, so no reason to take it out on him. Assuming the disconnect occurred accidentally would save my sanity and might help me achieve my goal. Anyway, I explained the situation again and asked to speak to a supervisor, since that was where I’d left it before. He obliged and the fun began.

To say that I encountered the rudest person ever would do no justice to the truly demented satisfaction this woman took in telling me that I was out of luck. She didn’t care that Microsoft didn’t present the information. She said I could ask my question on the Xbox Live forums and someone would answer me. I asked for a name, which she refused to offer. Anonymity rules, apparently. She finally obliged my request to speak to another supervisor.

This person, the fifth, explained that they could only change it if the Gamertag included first and last name, telephone number, or full birth date. Essentially, they were going for personally revealing. Gotcha. So what. I explained that I can’t run my business the way Microsoft runs Gamertag changes. If I tried to charge for something in which the original contract ignored a charge, I’d be broke and homeless. The customer experience is more than just how fun it is to play online. This should be obvious.

In the end, the last supervisor miraculously found a way to change my Gamertag for free. I don’t know if it was my cold logic or my statement that I would pay the $10 in the future if I wanted a new Gamertag because I now know the policy. Regardless, chalk up the score as Tony 1, Microsoft 0. Or maybe Tony 1, Microsoft 0.5, since I redeemed my Gold pre-paid membership card after hanging up.

Addendum: Regarding Microsoft Points, if you ever need a good time, speak to Microsoft customer service representatives and refuse to engage in the myth of Microsoft Points as currency. We can argue that the US Dollar is a fiat currency, no more legitimate than Microsoft Points. That’d be wrong, but we could discuss. But Microsoft can’t comprehend that anyone would bother to decipher the conversion rate (80 MP per dollar) and talk in real currency without believing in Fantasy Land. The first person I spoke to tried to challenge me by demanding where the Xbox Live service said $10 for a Gamertag change. Just tell them it doesn’t say that but you don’t want to talk about imaginary currencies. They don’t like that. Good times.