Microsoft Agrees to Xbox Subscription Auto-Renew Changes in the UK

Posted on January 27, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox with 3 Comments

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.”

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.

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Comments (3)

3 responses to “Microsoft Agrees to Xbox Subscription Auto-Renew Changes in the UK”

  1. lvthunder

    They have a lot of investigating to do, because almost every company that has subscriptions or monthly payments do this.

  2. SvenJ

    It's been a while since I had any XBox subscriptions, but my other MS subscriptions send me e-mail notifications of billing and pre-notice of those things coming up on auto-renewal. Those e-mails detail where to go to change things. Trivial to make changes or turn off at MS. Way better than some other subscription vendors. Seems people need to be cognizant of what they are paying for.

  3. mattbg

    I would not be surprised to find some company like McKinsey behind the scenes having told all of these companies as part of a consulting engagement that they need to move to must-call-to-cancel, auto-renewing subscriptions in order to keep up with industry trends.

    I have been playing this game with the Wall Street Journal lately. Basically, the only time it's easy to cancel is if you live in a US state or country that has legislated that it must be easy to cancel. The functionality to do it is already built, but they only make it available if they must.