Hostages of Microsoft
by justinlferris - 1/10/13 6:10 AM
Myself and some else on Microsofts support.live.com forum are having such bad experiences with their customer service that we write essays about it....and I'm not a writer by any means. Here they are:
How Microsoft Is Holding our Information Hostage
Remember when Hotmail first arrived on the world wide web? It was back in 1996 and I had my account up and running as soon as I heard about it. Before that, email was a privilege for paid and employee accounts that no middle school kid, like I was at the time, would have reason to have. Hotmail gave my friends and I the freedom to have our own, private email access. Since then, I have seen Hotmail, or should I say HoTMaiL, go through many changes. Microsoft acquired it and branded it MSN Hotmail, then MSN Live, and now it is some simplified version of Outlook.
My problem originally started, not with the service its self, but when you have the same email address for so many years, you start to receive junk...a LOT of junk. My daily average number of junk emails received was around 30. Imagine what happened when I went on vacation for a week! The solution to this, or so I though, was setting stronger filters to remove the unwanted emails, but then I found myself having to look through all of my junk anyways to find the important emails that were not identified as safe. Get this, Microsofts junk mail filter will even send important Microsoft messages to the junk mail folder.
I then increased my level of aggression and online security and decided to close that account and set up a new one. The process is as easy as signing in, clicking on account settings, and selecting "close account" at the bottom of the page. What really happened was a three month long nightmare of failed attempts to close the account and horrendous customer service.
Upon my first attempt to close my account, I was given a very simple message that I had paid subscriptions still active and that I would have to cancel them...I went temporarily insane and bought a Zune and had the music pass. Ok, canceled that and even waited for the current month to end and then tried again. No Luck. But what else do I have on my account? Nothing. So I was directed to the support site support.live.com and posted my issue in the forum hoping for an easy answer. I then started exploring other peoples issues and saw many people with the same thing happening. To this day, I have not seen any one with this issue get resolved! The forum monitors would just cut and paste in steps that don't work at all to resolve the issue and would ask for specific ID numbers and other information ( yes, in an open forum). I just love trying to solve an information security issue by posting my ID numbers and personal information in an open forum! I did post that information thinking someone at Microsoft would actually help fix the issue but I did not receive any more contact after that. I'm getting really paranoid at this point and found a number for technical service and gave that a shot. The first representative said that he could not help and sent me to billing. Billing gave me the hopeless forum website(which I cursed him for) and sent me to MSN Live department. MSN Live department then asked me if I was a paying customer (No, because I am cancelling my subscriptions to close the account) and then gave me the, you guessed it, support forum website and hung up.
All I wanted to do was close my existing account and open a new one, but after this experience, I will be switching my brand loyalty to Apple/Mac. Our current PCs will be receiving the latest Ubuntu releases and my Zune will hopefully sell fast on Craigslist. I have lost all trust with Microsoft and I will not stop in my quest to remove all of my information from their servers!
Hotmail is holding my account hostage until I give up personal information.
This isn't my account, of course, because I can't use it to sign in here: it's blocked!
Or at least I think it's blocked.
A funny thing happened on the way to reading my Email. It's a cute little scam, and I'm not sure if Microsoft is the scammer or not.
1. There have been more than usual phishing messages threatening to close my Hotmail account if I don't click on the link and give up enough personal information to make identy theft possible. They purportedly came from the hotmail.com domain.
2. Several days later, I got another bunch of Emails, also purporting to be from Hotmail: one to my Hotmail account, one to my friend's Hotmail account, one to my backup account in another domain. Subject: Microsoft account password reset. I cancelled the reset from all three accounts. (August 10, repeat on August 19) Naturally, anyone can request an account reset.
3. Two days later, I got a bunch of "rejection messages" purporting to be from Hotmail.
1. The originator address is "*** Email address is removed for privacy ***", but the first Received: from dub0-omc4-s23.dub0.hotmail.com ([126.96.36.199]) which appears to resolve to Microsoft. That does not, of course, prove that the message originated from that IP. (August 21)
2. The message error reported "Diagnostic-Code: smtp;530 5.3.5 This message was not sent because it contained suspicious content. (-786841955:1096:-2147467259)". That's suspicious, because 530 is "Authentication required".
3. AFAIK, all the recipient addresses can be found in archived newsgroups and webthreads; access to my Hotmail account is not proven.
4. The reportedly rejected messages contained no Subject: and a single reference. Because I use Outlook, I can't get the original hyperlink from the message.
5. The Sent date/time refers to a time when my computer was turned off and packed in its bag.
6. I got no reports from anyone not on the list, that they had received a suspicious Email from my Hotmail account.
4. The next day, I could not connect to Hotmail, either from Outlook, nor from the Web interface.
1. Messages to that account from another account bounced.
2. From the Web interface, I was redirected to a form, "To make sure you, and only you, can access your account", requesting detailed personal information including previous passwords, names and email addresses of my correspondents, &c.: just what the phishers were after!
1. I did not supply any of that information when I signed up for my account twenty years ago, and I can see no legitimate reason for Hotmail to require it now.
2. IE informed me that the security cert for that website was not issued by a trusted certificate authority! The address bar reads https://account.live.com/security/LoginStage.aspx?...
(DNS poisoning? in my local DSL router?)
3. I went to another computer on another network, and supplied the information I supplied then: Name, address, and the answer to a single secret question. Whether that was a secret question I answered when I signed up: who knows?
3. I got a reply from *** Email address is removed for privacy *** , letting me know that they were going to take a week to process my request. (August 21). For the moderator(s), the issue number for this request is 50922936.
4. "We recently received a request to recover your Microsoft account *** Email address is removed for privacy ***. Unfortunately, we were unable to verify your ownership of this account using the information you provided." (August 31 - ten days later)
This makes no sense: they don't have the info, how can anyone verify it?
The entire issue is nonsensical!
If someone else was using my E-mail account, they were either doing it with my permission, in which case it's nobody's business, or they were doing it without my permission. In that case they either cracked my password or hacked my computer. In the first case, a password reset would solve the problem. A complete scan turned up nothing suspicious. If my computer is hacked, and I can't find it, no account recovery procedure in the world is going to prevent it from happening again.
Blocking my account until I give up enough personal details to allow identity theft and profiling for advertising purposes is arrogant blackmail! And I should to use SkyDrive to store my files? NOT!
There is a simple way to resolve the issue.
Microsoft is very keen about tracking IP addresses. They also have a lot of unexplained cookies stored in my system. It should be a simple issue to determine that the IP address from which I access Outlook Connector, the Hotmail web interface for my account, and the web interface on which I'm submitting this, are generally all the same. I don't know how dynamic the DHCP address assignment is from this internet provider, but I believe it's quasi-static. A new IP address is assigned only when a new DSL connection is established.
I would like to be able to communicate with a real, verifiable, person about this issue. Unfortunately, Microsoft's support of Hotmail stops short of actually allowing contact through Email, so this is post is the best I can do.
Waiting with bated keyboard,