Following an investigation into Microsoft’s auto-renewing Xbox subscriptions, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has reached an agreement with the software giant.
“Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass products … are offered as memberships which are often entered into on an auto-renewal basis,” a CMA announcement explains. “This means that membership is automatically rolled over at the end of each contract period and the customer charged unless they actively take steps to stop the subscription.”
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According to the CMA, it investigated whether these auto-renewals were clearly communicated to consumers, how easier it was to turn off the auto-renewals, and whether customers even realized they were continuing to pay for services they were no longer using. And it found each to be problematic.
Working with Microsoft, the CMA reached an agreement to address these concerns. Microsoft has promised to be more transparent and upfront in its communications with Xbox subscribers, it will proactively offer refunds to those customers who were on recurring 12-month subscriptions and end those contracts, and it will contact customers who are still paying for inactive memberships, stop taking further payments, and explain how to stop payments. Finally, the software giant will be clearer about price increases in the future and ensure that those who don’t want to pay the higher price can cancel auto-renew.
“Other companies offering memberships and subscriptions that auto-renew should take note, and review their practices to ensure they comply with consumer protection law,” CMA executive director Michael Grenfell added. The CMA is also investigating Sony and Nintendo for similar issues.