Microsoft Owes Customers for Botched MSN Accounts

Jim Wagner

Updated · Mar 06, 2002

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to refund customers seeking
to stop their MSN Internet access accounts and $100,000 in civil penalties,
according to the Orange County District Attorney office Tuesday evening.

Without admitting wrongdoing, Microsoft signed an agreement with the
California attorney general’s office to ensure future compliance with the
state’s business and professions code.

The district attorney’s office filed a lawsuit against the popular dial-up
Internet service provider (ISP) after customers complained they were still
being charged for Internet access after canceling their accounts.

Prior to the settlement, Microsoft maintained customers could not cancel
service because their credit card numbers did not match those in the MSN
database, and were subsequently billed for continued use.

MSN’s financial office put the onus on correcting the credit information
with the customer, requiring them to contact their bank and track down the
discrepancy. The delay kept MSN accounts active, charging users for
service they no longer wanted.

Investigators from the district attorney’s consumer protection unit found
MSN in error, not the customers, after it was revealed changed credit card
numbers were not updated in the database after notification from the banks.

As such, former MSN customers will be refunded for any service charges from
the date of their original cancellation request. Furthermore, MSN will pay
the Orange County district attorney’s office $100,000 to pay for the
investigation and civil penalties.

In the future, Microsoft has agreed to forward all credit card
discrepancies to a supervisor for resolution, as opposed to getting
stonewalled by a MSN customer service representative.

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