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Today’s lesson on how to piss off your users…

December 15, 2008

… is brought to you by Microsoft.  Last January I paid for a OneCare subscription basically as an experiment to see how good it was since I wanted some antivirus software for the Windows virtual  machine I run on my Mac.  Since I had a few spare minutes today (gotta love the end of the year), I figured I’d take the update the virtual machine (I haven’t used it in awhile). When checking mail in it I discovered that my OneCare account was set to autorenew next month.

Now, I’d been planning on cancelling my subscription (pretty much the only time I use that Windows VM is when I want to use FrameMaker, so OneCare just isn’t worth it), so this renewal was news to me. It turns out that automatically set you up for renewal when you first subscribe, and you have to read some really fine print in the license agreement to discover that fact (plus there’s no way when signing up to opt out of it). No problem, I thought, there’s a link to cancel the renewal.

Of course, if you follow that link to Billing, and then to another page listing help for cancelling service, and then on to what in theory is a OneCare web page you in fact end up at msn.com.  Not quite what you’re looking for.

If you dig a little deeper, you in fact discover that there is no way online to cancel your autorenewal; you have to call customer support and talk to an actual person. And the way to find that number is to search online for other people complaining about OneCare, since the OneCare webpage (once you actually find it via a web search) link for the phone number leads to a dead page (note that there is a link to renew your subscription, which just creates the illusion that renewal is a separate action).

Given that I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to make it through cancelling the auto-renewal without being thoroughly pissed off (lord knows I didn’t), you have to wonder whether the accidental $50 renewals they’re collecting really balance out all the cranky users venting about bad your customer experience is. I almost found myself wondering what would happen if I didn’t call Microsoft to cancel the autorenewal and instead just reported the renewal fee as a fraudulent charge to my credit card company. In the end I figured the latter course would be more work, so I sucked up it and called.  But it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever subscribe to anything from Microsoft again.

From → Software

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