Microsoft Double-Bills Subscribers, Class Says

     SEATTLE (CN) - Microsoft double-bills subscribers to its Xbox Live Gold service, an online multiplayer game system with 23 million subscribers, an irate customer says in a federal class action.
     Lead plaintiff Ryan Graves claims Microsoft's prepaid subscriptions are "governed by vague and onerous terms of use," under which Microsoft double-bills people who do not renew their subscription before it runs out. If they try to renew, Microsoft charges them for the new subscription and to "renew" their old one, Graves says.
     "In providing its Xbox Live Gold gaming services, defendant requires consumers enter into prepaid subscriptions, governed by vague and onerous terms of use," Graves says. "These agreements purportedly are meant to automatically renew, using the payment method on file - in the form of a credit card, debit card, or prepaid Xbox card. If the payment method on file is no longer valid at the time set for renewal, then defendant, pursuant to its terms of use, terminates the users' access to the service.
     "Afterwards, if former members wish to again subscribe to Xbox LIVE Gold, then they must purchase an entirely new subscription - a process which requires consumers to provide defendant with a new and valid method of payment.
     "Once defendant receives the new payment method, defendant renews the previous, expired subscriptions, without authorization, by billing the new payment method for a renewal of the previous subscription. This is done at the same time the customer is billed for the new, authorized, subscription purchase. This results in consumers, including plaintiff Graves, receiving one subscription for the price of two. Plaintiff Graves has complained to defendant about the unlawful and unauthorized double billing, yet defendant refuses to provide him with a refund."
     Graves says a Microsoft customer support rep told him Microsoft would not refund his double billing.
     "During that same conversation, Microsoft informed Graves that the duplicate charge was not a mistake. The representative further explained that one charge was for the authorized subscription that he manually signed up for on March 4, 2011, and the other was for the automatic renewal of his previous expired subscription. The representative informed Graves that he had two years worth of subscriptions that Microsoft would allow to run consecutively. When Graves responded that he did not want two years of subscription, but rather he wanted a refund for the unauthorized charge, the representative again refused," according to the complaint.
     Suing for the class, Graves seeks restitution, statutory, treble and punitive damages for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, conversion and violation of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. He also wants an injunction requiring Microsoft to "reverse all unlawful, unfair, or otherwise improper charges, and to cease and desist from engaging in further unlawful conduct in the future."
     He is represented by Beth Terrell with Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie.