RealTime IT News

Microsoft Owes Customers for Botched MSN Accounts

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.