European consumer watchdog forces Microsoft to fairly charge Xbox gamers

An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in Europe has forced Microsoft to provide more transparent, upfront information to help customers understand their Xbox gaming console membership and refund customers if it charged them for inactive subscriptions.

The European consumer watchdog probed Microsoft’s gaming practises following concerns about its use of auto-renewing subscriptions for online gaming services.

The CMA identified concerns about certain features of Microsoft’s auto-renewing subscriptions, like whether it was clear upfront that contracts would automatically renew, how easy it was to turn off automatic renewal, and whether people may not have realised they were still paying for services they no longer used.

Microsoft will now make clear that the “subscription will auto-renew unless the customer turns off auto-renewal; when the subscription will auto-renew; how much it will cost; and how the customer can receive a refund after an accidental renewal”, the CMA said in a statement on Thursday.

“Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions,” said Michael Grenfell, Executive Director of Enforcement at the CMA.

Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass products allow people to access a library of games and play together online. They are offered as memberships which are often entered into on an auto-renewal basis.

“This means that membership is automatically rolled over at the end of each contract period and the customer charged unless they actively take steps to stop the subscription,” the European watchdog said.

Microsoft will now contact existing customers on recurring 12-month contracts and give them the option to end their contract and claim a pro-rata refund.

The tech giant will also contact existing customers who haven’t used their memberships for a long time but are still paying.

These customers will be reminded how to stop payments, and if they continue not to use their memberships, Microsoft will ultimately stop taking further payments.

“Microsoft will give clearer notifications of any future price rises, and will ensure people know how to turn off auto-renewal if they don’t want to pay the higher price,” said the CMA.

The CMA clarified that other companies offering memberships and subscriptions that auto-renew should review their practises to ensure they comply with consumer protection law.

20220128-162803

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here