My Microsoft Account is fubar…how do I get actual support?

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Yesterday morning, I got a weird message that my phone number had been removed from my Microsoft account. A brief time later, I opened OneNote on my mobile device to jot something down, and I was prompted to log into the service. I provided my email address and it sent me a request through Authenticator, which is all typical. However, I got a plain message stating, “There’s a temporary problem with the service. Try again later.” And that’s how it’s been for the past two days.

I have tried all the typical troubleshooting…signing into multiple Microsoft services from multiple devices and multiple browsers. I tried recovering my account and even changing my password. All of which seems to work, until I get to the Microsoft account step, and that’s when I get the generic message again. And again. And again.

It’s crazy, because I’m super fastidious about my account management, especially my Microsoft. I use two-factor verification. I provide backup options. I link my accounts together in every way possible. And I have everything connected to this personal account; I can’t log into Office 365, Outlook.com, Bing, Skype, Xbox, Cortana. Even Github. None of it works now. I can’t even sign into Edge because of this mess.

My first question is whether anyone else has experienced this? And my second question is how do I get actual support? As in, not just some random moderator in a chat asking me to clear my cache and try it again, followed giving me a shrug and a “sucks to be you, pal.” But like, real support. I pay for Office 365 Family, Xbox Live Gold, a Skype number, etc. Shouldn’t those services come with some kind of SLA support?

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30 responses to “My Microsoft Account is fubar…how do I get actual support?”

  1. Avatar

    darkgrayknight

    I've had similar moments of issues connecting, though eventually it will work again later.


    As for actual support, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/contactus/ is probably the starting spot if you can't login to account.microsoft.com/

  2. Avatar

    yaddamaster

    i'm curious - do you have a grandfathered custom domain?

    • Avatar

      gregsedwards

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      Nope, but I do have this account tied to a Teams (free) account, which sets up an Azure domain on the back end to manage the Teams directory instance and related resources. My son had been setting up Teams on his Chromebook a few days earlier. The Teams app on Chrome OS does require a phone number, and I'll bet he added my mobile number, which got assigned as an alias to my his account outside of the normal process (normally, a phone number that's already been added to a Microsoft account as an alias has to be removed before it can be added to another account). Whether the Teams AAD had anything to do with it is just speculation, but it's the only thing I could figure.

      The back-end configuration for Teams is wacky, especially when used with Microsoft accounts, which were really not designed to play with the more enterprise-oriented features of AAD. It's a weird confluence to see services like Teams, Flow, etc., being exposed to consumers.

    • Avatar

      dougkinzinger

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      FYI - to weigh in, I do (have a gfathered custom domain) and each year when I renew it I have to change my primary alias in order to renew, etc. Interesting.

  3. Avatar

    gregsedwards

    Update to the update: After a total of 4 hours and 17 minutes on the phone with Microsoft Support, I finally connected with a supervisor, who informed me that he had no way to further escalate my ticket nor to connect me with anyone else who could help me. He said the case had been escalated to the product team, and I'd need to wait until they had completed their investigation for a resolution. He said there was nothing else he could do for me at this time.

    I continued to check throughout the evening, and finally at about 9PM, I'm back in...finally. I received no notification from support. Nor any explanation. I'm just relieved to have access to my important stuff again.

  4. Avatar

    olditpro2000

    Where did you receive the message stating that your phone number was removed from the account? Was it through the Authenticator app, through a text, or email....?


    Edited to add - the last post from Phongway here might provide some clues or another avenue to take: answers.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook_com/forum/all/password-reset-error-theres-a-temporary-problem/67fb7d4b-8a96-48af-9773-e46510c5a3d8

  5. Avatar

    gregsedwards

    Update: I've now been on a call with Microsoft Support for the past 2 hours and 51 minutes. I've been bounced around about half a dozen times. It seemed like we might be getting somewhere a few hops back, but nope. The last representative said that she had escalated it as far as she could, and that I'd just have to wait for a support engineer to call me back. Nope. That's what they told me 10 days ago. I've now been on hold 20 minutes waiting to speak with a supervisor. I am simply refusing to disconnect until they send me to someone who can get this resolved.

    • Avatar

      minke

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      I wonder if there is a possibility your account was hacked into somehow and the password has been changed? That initial message you reported telling you your phone number had been removed sounds suspicious. Are you still receiving emails sent to your address on your phone or somewhere else? Did you have a backup email address set up, and did it receive any useful or suspicious messages when this first happened?

  6. Avatar

    minke

    I wonder if there is a problem with the authenticator app? Can you choose an alternate method of signing in, like the recovery code?

    • Avatar

      gregsedwards

      In reply to Minke:

      Good idea. Tried. Nope. Recovery code didn't do anything. Authenticator itself seems to be doing its job. I hoped to see whether turning off two-step verification might fix whatever is hanging the process. But you can't remove the two-step verification from the account without, you guessed it...signing into the account.

  7. Avatar

    gregsedwards

    So, more than a week later and I'm still locked out of my primary Microsoft account. And to be clear...this isn't a run of the mill account lockout. My account appears to be fine. I can reset my password successfully. Their support reps have said there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with the account itself. Sign in just fails every time, and I continue to get this "temporary problem" message.

    I'm still bird-dogging Microsoft support for actual, y'know...support. That's an ongoing source of frustration, mostly because it's a literal black hole of information. I keep chatting, writing, and calling, providing Information but getting no updates or even the sense that anyone is actively looking at the problem.

    But I'm starting to doubt that I'll ever be able to get back into this account, which is a real shame. I've maintained it for over 20 years. It actually started off as a Hotmail account, then became my MSN Passport ID, transitioned to Live.com and became a Windows Live ID, then transitioned to Outlook.com and finally evolved into my modern Microsoft account. Along the way, it's held my personal email for over two decades, and has become the hub of my digital life. It's probably the longest relationship I've ever had.

    But if you look at the majority of documentation on the support site, Microsoft seems to regard these personal Microsoft accounts as semi-disposable. If your current account runs into problems, their advice is often just to create another one.

    And perhaps that's the more interesting angle here. My Microsoft account is my key to every personal Microsoft service that I use, and more importantly, that I pay for. Services like Office 365 Family, OneDrive, Xbox Live Gold, Skype (I have paid number), and others all require a Microsoft account. And if you can't get to your account then you're disenfranchised from using all those services. Furthermore, it's the key to hundreds (maybe thousands?) of dollars of purchased content including movies, TV shows, and video games. And there's no clear path to transitioning any of that stuff over to a new account easily, if at all.

    And sure, you can chide me for putting all my technology eggs in one basket. But isn't that what Microsoft and other companies have been telling us to do for the last 20 years? Isn't that the point of the cloud?

    Do I have a grievance here? What's the best avenue to approach Microsoft to get this issue resolved? And is there a story here about the dangers of trusting a single technology company with your entire digital life? And also whether that company has a responsibility to be not only a good steward of that trust but also a legal obligation to make that purchased content accessible through their related systems?

    • Avatar

      darkgrayknight

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      You may need to reset the authentication app, by removing/changing the two step authentication so that it uses text to your mobile phone or email to a non-ms account email.


      I have multiple accounts that I wish they would make it possible to merge them, but there are still some weird left over things from the previous existence of accounts from different places (Xbox vs Skype vs Live vs Hotmail vs etc.).

      • Avatar

        minke

        In reply to darkgrayknight:

        I understand the frustration, but with free accounts you can expect little real support. Google/Gmail is the same (or worse), and many people lose their accounts for various reasons. It isn't a helpful answer right now, but when/if you do get back in make sure you have everything duplicated/backed up to other services. For example, maybe have your email synced to desktop Outlook, if you don't already, sync OneDrive to a local device. The usual advice is to have your data in at least three places: online, local, and offsite backup. The lack of real support is a potential Achilles heel of free online accounts. Personally, I have most important things backed up to another online account, with occasional downloads of everything to local storage. This way if one of the online accounts fails I can easily just log into the other online account and carry on.

        • Avatar

          judgejewelz

          In reply to Minke:

          I’m not so sure about Google. Recently I had cause to contact Google to repair a damaged Android update, and within minutes was speaking with a wonderful American lady who patiently guided me through to a fully restored phone. Couldn’t fault Google’s service.

          • Avatar

            minke

            In reply to judgejewelz:

            Was that Android phone support? There is no in-person support for a standard free Gmail account, which is equivalent I think to what this thread was about. You will not be able to reach any human being for standard free Gmail via chat, phone, email, etc. The only option is to follow the automated prompts.

            • Avatar

              judgejewelz

              In reply to Minke:

              Hi Minke, I followed the contact request thread within the Google help page and was contacted very shortly thereafter by a person to remedy the problem. If I recall correctly this was relatively straight forward, but it does require careful menu selection.

        • Avatar

          darkgrayknight

          In reply to Minke:

          while the "account" is free, it is tied to paid for subscriptions: Xbox Live Gold, Office 365 Home, etc. and also paid for content (Movies and TV, Digital Xbox games, etc.). So there should be some amount of support along those lines.

        • Avatar

          gregsedwards

          In reply to Minke:

          But this sort of leads to my central argument, which is that while a personal Microsoft account is "free," all the stuff tied to it most certainly isn't free. I have multiple Microsoft subscription services that require a Microsoft account. I have purchased non-transferrable content and credits using this account. And while I do back up everything I can, it's also worth noting that there's no way to (legally) back up purchased movies/shows or games. Those are non-transferrable licenses.

          Companies who ask you to trust them with your data and purchases have an obligation to provider better support than this. It should be no different than if I was a business customer paying for Office 365 license (and BTW, that support has always been excellent).

  8. Avatar

    waethorn

    I link my accounts together in every way possible


    That's probably a mistake. Use random passwords and don't reuse passwords - EVER! - and DON'T link accounts (like using your MS Account on third-party website logins where they say they accept them, like they do for Facebook and Google accounts). Having other websites get permission to read stuff from your account is a security nightmare.

  9. Avatar

    waethorn

    If you pay for a product, you get support for Microsoft Account logins. If you don't buy anything, the online help just tells you to make a new account because free accounts don't include any support.

  10. Avatar

    Costanza

    Are you still having this issue? I have a similar issue where I can authenticate just fine but then it asks me if my Security Info still either "Looks Good" Or "Updated Now" no matter what I select I get the temporary problem page. Going on three weeks now and support has done basically nothing.

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