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Cable/Video

MSN Absurdity

2:00 PM -- A couple of years ago, while in a remote location, I was in immediate need for a dialup account, and I made the mistake of signing up for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s MSN.com.

After my initial use, I rarely used the account, and it lay in a dormant state, charging me $9.95 a month. At some point they raised the price to $21.99 per month.

Partially out of frustration and partially out of laziness, it took me a while to cancel the account. The first time I tried, I discovered there was no way to cancel online. So, you can't cancel the Internet service online. Pretty bizarre, isn't it? After spending many minutes on the phone on hold, I gave up.

Today, I finally cancelled. Here's what it required: several minutes of frustrating navigation through a hellish phone menu that had no "cancellation" option, then many more minutes of waiting on hold, and then speaking with two different customer service agents. The first customer service agent told me she couldn't cancel because "she worked in billing and her system was down." When I asked her to take down my info and cancel it later when the system was up, she said she couldn't do that and that I would have to call back later.

Finally, after complaining, I was transferred to an extra-special agent who had some "secret" back access to the magic cancellation key. Presto! It was done.

Message to MSN: Nice knowing you -- I'll never use any of your products ever again.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 3:41:39 AM
re: MSN Absurdity >Maybe this ARPU clinging strategy could be >called Apathetic Revenue per User?

good one
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:41:44 AM
re: MSN Absurdity it was nearly impossible to unsubscribe. You couldn't do it online. It required waiting on the phone for hours. I think it's part of the technology industry's culture. There's a certain arrogance, as in, "how dare you not like our product!"

I've heard similar tales from people trying to cancel AOL. More than tech industry arrogance, it seems these companies intentionally create significant cancellation hurdles to hold onto ARPU. Knowing it's such a hassle, we don't bother canceling. Maybe this ARPU clinging strategy could be called Apathetic Revenue per User?
Scott Raynovich 12/5/2012 | 3:41:45 AM
re: MSN Absurdity Interesting, well at least you got the credit. I'm surprised you did not have to threaten legal action.

I find instances like this more common these days. I had another experience like this with one of Real's music services -- it was nearly impossible to unsubscribe. You couldn't do it online. It required waiting on the phone for hours.

I think it's part of the technology industry's culture. There's a certain arrogance, as in, "how dare you not like our product!"



Rick Thompson 12/5/2012 | 3:41:45 AM
re: MSN Absurdity I bought something at Best Buy in 2003 and unknowingly signed up for an MSN account that I NEVER signed on to. Like you, I noticed it on my credit card statement a few times but never took action for various reasons ($19.95/mo). I called last month, they verified I never used it and credited me nearly $1k. Thanks, MSN.
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