Xbox Live and moving country – don’t

Whilst the kids in Redmond have done a great job in turning XBox Live into the best console online gaming community, the backroom staff who support it in terms of billing need a kick up the proverbial.

Since moving to Ireland from the UK I’ve not got around to updating my XBox Live account. It is registered against my UK credit card, which gets used whenever my membership gets renewed or I buy stuff from the Marketplace. My old card has expired and in any case I no longer want to use a UK card for such purposes. Hence, yesterday I attempted to update my details on XBox Live. Go to change of address, enter new details, but there is nowhere to change your country. Hmm. Try on the web at billing.microsoft.com – again you can edit everything but the country. Phone up XBox Live support and speak to a person who puts me on hold for 5 minutes to come back and tell me that it can’t be done. Proclaim surprise that nobody designing the billing system ever considered that people may move (but then again I expect it was designed by and primarily for North Americans) Ask to speak to a supervisor: “Yes sir, please take down this reference number and give it to the person after I transfer you” Erm, so you can’t even flow my details along with my call, thought that was a basic piece of call-center functionality these days. Whilst on hold for 10 minutes for the supervisor I do some googling and (unsurprisingly) find loads of blog entries about the same problem. Figure that it probably isn’t worth spending any more money on hold to the UK (or at least the virtual UK if you know what I mean) to speak to the supervisor who may never pick up.

It appears that the only way to legitimately move countries with XBox live is to cancel your account and start a new one. The problem here Bill is that I’ve invested time and effort into building up a social community with my current gamertag (which by the way I’ve had since XBox Live was in beta five years ago and I don’t appear to have received any of the free marketplace points you were meant to give me on the anniversary…) and not insignificant time registering my progress on games in the form of gamerpoints. I’m not going to throw all that away. So, it appears that I now have to rely on buying pre-paid vouchers whenever I am in the UK so that I have a stock of marketplace points available should I actually want to buy anything from your service. Oh, and when it comes around to time to renew my Gold subscription I’ll have to make sure I have a voucher for that as well.

Now you are launching things like the video store, encouraging me to spend more money with you. Would be nice if you could actually make it easy for me. Sorry, I thought this was the globalised 21st Century. Obviously I was wrong.

3 thoughts on “Xbox Live and moving country – don’t

  1. What a right royal pain that is! It does seem strange in these days of a global economy and global mobility that that funny little business practices like locking in country are still there. The only bright side would be catching you in gamerpoints after the recent surge you had :-)
    I have had the same problem not being able to buy things with my nintendo wii, which is a US one that was given as a gift. These whole region lockout seems counter productive. It means I am not likely to use my wii much, not worth it as I am not in the right part of world for the hardware.
    Regional settings are good if they offer local content as well as the global content. I dont mind when gran turismo finally surfaces on the ps3 that it has links to top gear and the stig’s track. I dont think the rest of the world should miss out merely it it already installed or top of a selection list.
    The internet is global, xbox live is global, gaming is global this should be a no-brainer.

  2. And the latest installment… Last night I thought I’d try using the 400 gamerpoints I do have left to rent a HD download from the brand new video marketplace. Pressed confirm to pay and then got told that it is not available in my region. Given that Ireland is allegedly one of the supported countries now I fear that they are using Geo-IP technology to recognise that I’m trying to purchase from the UK store (as I am a UK subscriber) but downloading to a non-UK IP address :-(

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