Opt-Out Hell as Microsoft Loses Momentum

This is a true story.

The mission
: unsubscribe from a newsletter

How it should work
: one click and you’re off the list

How it really worked
: try to unsubscribe… which requires signing in… but then I can’t remember the ID so I try recovering it, but that doesn’t work, so I have a lengthy exchange with one customer service team… who refers me to another customer service team… who then deals with a third team that’s finally able to remove me from the list

The good news: I’m no longer a subscription to Microsoft Momentum, a newsletter I’ve tried to get off before but never tried so aggressively to do. And Microsoft customer support was very responsive, even if it often took a few emails for them to get what I was talking about. 

The bad news: other users will have to go through this very exercise.

Below I’m including the text of the exchanges. There’s a lot here, all in the extended entry. You can click to

PART ONE – WINDOWS LIVE CUSTOMER SERVICE / TECHNICAL SUPPORT:

I first reported the problem on August 15:

What type of problem do you have?

Sign in and password [Sign in and password]

 

I get a sign in error or invalid password [I get a sign in error or invalid
password]

 

Full name:


   David Berkowitz

 

Be specific when describing your problem. The details that you include enable
us to promptly send you the most likely solution to your issue.


   I get the Microsoft Momentum delivered to me at [dberkowitz@….com]…. Somehow I’m getting Microsoft Momentum delivered
to me, but I can’t unsubscribe, and I get errors when I try to reset my
password. Please find a way for me to log in or at least get me off the
Momentum newsletter.

I soon received this lengthy message back:

From: Microsoft Customer
Support
[mailto:LV_ID.WNLV.NA.US.EN.MSF.SEA.TS.T01.RTG.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com]
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2008 4:46 PM
To: David Berkowitz
Subject: RE: SRX1076120593ID – Windows Live ID:Sign in and password:I
get a sign in error or

 

Thank you
for contacting the Windows Live Technical Support; my name is Max, and I will
be assisting you with your issue (based on what
you selected on our support page
), you are experiencing issues with
signing in or you are seeing an invalid password error. This automated response
will provide you the information needed to optimize your browser settings that
has been known to resolve sign in issues.  If this response does not
resolve your issue or you have already tried to optimize your browser, reply to
this message.

First, we
want to make sure that the account name (E-mail Address) that you are using is
spelled correctly on the sign in page. Then you will want to ensure that the
password is the correct password for the account you are attempting to sign in
to. We have found that this is a resolution step that many have overlooked.
Your email address might be correct, but a simple misspelled domain name can
cause additional headaches.
Ie:
yourname@htomail.com or yourname@hotmial.com. In these examples, the name
hotmail was mistyped and has caused some of the issues you might be seeing.

Next, we
have a site that can walk you through to optimize your Internet Explorer
browser:
Windows Live ID Space. If the link does not work, you can
use the direct web page:
http://liveidsupport.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!4D45F3F81F297BB6!110.entry.

If you have
forgotten your password, then you can reset a forgotten password online
by selecting the link under the password box on any log in page that states
"Forgot your password?" or by going directly to this link: Forgot your password?, then follow the on-screen instructions to complete
the password reset instructions.

The
information for changing your  password can also be found on our online
help:
Click Here or go to the following link: http://help.live.com/Help.aspx?&project=LiveIDv1&querytype=topic&query=Accountv1_PROC_ChangePassword.htm

Verify that
these steps either resolves, or does not resolve the sign in problems you are
seeing. If the information in this email does not resolve your questions or if
you are writing about a different problem or question, reply to this message
with additional details and error messages you are seeing. Thank you for
contacting the Windows Live Technical Support.

Sincerely,

Max :
Windows Live Technical Support SR

You can
also get online help:

? Sign In Help

? Sign Up (Create an account) Help

? Windows Live Hotmail Help

? Windows Live Messenger

? Windows Live Spaces

? Help
Central (All Products):
If
you don’t see the Windows Live Product or Service, then go to the
Help Central site and select the product
name drop-down at the top left of the page to get a complete list of
Windows Live products.

? Microsoft Windows, Office, and more!

Find out
how easy all-in-one PC care can be with the 90-day free trial of Windows Live
OneCare . To get started, paste this link in your browser:
http://www.windowsonecare.com/purchase/trial.aspx?sc_cid=SPT_ppt

I was offline for a week but then wrote back on August 23:

Thanks, Max. This doesn’t help. I’m trying to retrieve my
password for my account at [dberkowitz@…..com]
where I’m currently receiving emails from Microsoft, yet it doesn’t recognize
that email, so I’m at a loss for how to unsubscribe.

Soon I heard back from Daisy:

From: Microsoft Customer
Support
[mailto:IDENT.LVID.00.00.EN.SYK.MNL.TS.T01.SPT.00.EM@css.one.microsoft.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2008 8:11 PM
To: David Berkowitz
Subject: RE: SRX1076120593ID – Windows Live ID:Sign in and password:I
get a sign in error or

 

Hello David,

Thank you for writing back to
Windows Live Technical Support. This is Daisy and I understand on the message
you provided that you need assistance in retrieving the password of your account. I know how
important it is to have this issue be resolved and I look forward to providing
you with necessary assistance.

The Windows Live ID that
you sent us does
not exist in our system. I would like to inform you that we base our
investigation with the account in question you provide. In this regard, please
verify if this is the account-in-question so we can correctly address your
concern. However, if the account you sent is correct, it is possible that it
never existed, was mistyped, or may have expired.

Notes:

– Once an account has been
inactive due to no sign in activity for a predetermined amount of time, the
account will be fully removed from our system.

– When an account is deleted
from our system, the user name is immediately available for registration.

To register an e-mail name as
sign-in name (EASI) account as a Windows Live ID, please visit:


http://help.live.com/Help.aspx?market=enUS&project=LiveIDv1&querytype=topic&query=Accountv1_PROC_CreateAccount.htm

Please note that you will be
directed to Windows Live ID Help Pane.  If you encounter any issues,
kindly verify which of the steps did not work for you as we want to make sure
the instructions are easy to follow.

If the Windows Live ID
account information that you provided was incorrect, reply to this e-mail
message to help us resolve the
issue.         

We appreciate your continued
support as we strive to provide you with the highest quality service available.
Thank you for using Windows Live ID.

Sincerely,

Daisy

Windows Live Technical
Support

On Sunday, I wrote Daisy:

From :
"David Berkowitz"
Sent : Sunday, August 24, 2008 12:25:21 AM UTC
To : "Microsoft Customer Support"
Subject : RE: SRX1076120593ID – Windows Live ID:Sign in and
password:I get a sign in error or

Here’s my problem: [dberkowitz@….com]
may not be in your system, but Microsoft is managing to send email there. And
there’s no way I can unsubscribe to that email. I have no clue what to do at
this point.

 

I do appreciate the personal service. I don’t get how I’m
getting email if the account is deactivated.

I then heard my last from Daisy:

Hello David,

 

Thank you for writing back to Windows Live Technical
Support. I understand that you want to discontinue the e-mail messages you are
receiving from Microsoft Momentum. I know how important it is to have your
concern addressed immediately.

 

David, I reviewed your information and determined that
your issue is related to Microsoft Newsletters. In order to better address your
issue, I request that you submit a support request through https://support.microsoft.com/contactus2/emailcontact.aspx?scid=sw;en;1208&WS=mscom&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.microsoft.com%2fen%2fus%2fdefault.aspx&WS=mscom&url=http%3a%2f%2fwww.microsoft.com%2fen%2fus%2fdefault.aspx
and a Microsoft Product Specialist will be able to better help you resolve this
issue in the most effective manner.

 

We appreciate your continued support as we strive to
provide you with the highest quality service available. Thank you for using
Windows Live ID.

 

Sincerely,

 

Daisy

Windows Live Technical Support

PART TWO – MICROSOFT ONLINE CUSTOMER SERVICE:

Why not… I’ve come this far… I decided to reach out to the Microsoft newsletter team:

From : dberkowitz@….com
Sent : Monday, August 25, 2008 1:32:23 AM UTC
To :
CNTUS.GNCS.NA.00.EN.000.000.CS.CMR.CUS.00.WB@css.one.microsoft.com
Subject : Unsubscribe from Microsoft Momentum

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS
Message: I keep trying to unsubscribe from Microsoft Momentum at [dberkowitz@….com] but it won’t
recognize my email address. How can I get off your list? I’ve tried to work
with Microsoft Live Customer Support and they sent me your way.

Okay, so I should have said Windows Live, not Microsoft Live. Anil was still willing to help, even though he didn’t appear to read my message:

From: Microsoft Online
Customer Service [mailto:CNTUS.GNCS.NA.00.EN.TRA.BGL.CS.T02.CUS.00.WB@css.one.microsoft.com]

Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 1:17 PM
To: David Berkowitz
Subject: RE: SRX1076930818ID – Unsubscribe from Microsoft Momentum

 

Hello,

 

Thank
you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.

 

I
understand that you would like to unsubscribe from receiving Microsoft Momentum
newsletters.

 

In
order to process this Service Request, I need the following additional
information:

 

1)
Your full name:

2)
The e-mail address where you receive these newsletters:

3)
Windows Live ID that you use:

 

Once
I have these details, I will be able to determine the appropriate resources to
assist you.

 

I
appreciate your patience and look forward to your reply.

 

Thank
you,

 

Anil

Microsoft
Customer Service Representative

 

If
you have any feedback about your Customer Service experience, please send it to
my manager, Anil Kumar, at
http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6998852
Please do not forget to indicate the name of my manager in the subject field.


I helped fill in the blanks for Anil:

From :
"David Berkowitz"
Sent : Monday, August 25, 2008 5:28:29 PM UTC
To : "Microsoft Online Customer Service"
Subject : RE: SRX1076930818ID – Unsubscribe from Microsoft
Momentum

Hi Anil,

 

My name is David Berkowitz.

I receive the email at [dberkowitz@….com]

I have no clue if I have a Windows Live ID or what it is. When I
try any of my email addresses to reset the password, it says none are active
accounts.

 

David

Anil had enough of me. Apparently the issue was complex enough that this had to be referred to another team. In case you forgot by now, I was just trying to unsubscribe from a Microsoft newsletter, not create a new operating system. My new friend Bhagesh gave me the latest report:

From :
CNTUS.GNCS.NA.00.EN.TRA.BGL.CS.T02.CUS.00.WB
Sent : 26 August 2008 00:46:20 UTC
To : "David Berkowitz"
Subject : RE: SRX1076930818ID – Unsubscribe from Microsoft
Momentum

Hello David,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.

I appreciate you for taking the time to
write back to us with the requested information
.

I am currently working with my colleagues to resolve your issue.
Typically, we hear from them in 24 to 72 hours, depending on the complexity of
the issue. If you have not received a reply within 3 business days please
respond back to this email for follow-up.

David, I hope your issue is resolved soon.

Thank you,

Bhagesh

Microsoft Customer Service Representative

If you have any feedback about your Customer Service experience,
please send them to my manager, Anand Ravi, at http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6998852
Please do not forget to indicate the name of my manager in the subject field.

To their credit, they wrote back to me several hours later:

Hello David,

My name is Sambit. I am a Customer Service Representative following up with
your Service Request 1076930818.

Our colleagues have unsubscribed your email address [dberkowitz@….com] from the Microsoft
Momentum Newsletters. Please let us know if you have any more concerns
regarding this.

Thank you,

Sambit
Microsoft Customer Service Representative

If you have any feedback about your Customer Service experience, please send
them to my manager, Himadri Roy, at http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6998852
Please do not forget to indicate the name of my manager in the subject field.

They have yet to respond to my final bit of feedback:

Thank you for this, Sambit.

 

My only concern is that the unsubscribing should be a
one-click process. It should be instant, without requiring two different
customer service teams and several people on them. It’s a waste of my time and
yours since you could be helping customers with more important issues.

 

Will this feedback be shared with the appropriate people
at Microsoft? How can they prevent other people from having the same
experience?

 

Regards,

 

David

Update: They did respond:

Hello David,

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.

We would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule
to provide us feedback on your technical support experience with
Microsoft.

We will be forwarding your comments to the appropriate Microsoft
group, which will use your feedback when planning and evaluating future
enhancements. Please let us know, if you are still receiving the
Newsletter from Microsoft.

We strive very hard to provide the best technical support in the business while recognizing our exceptional support staff.
 
In the future, if you have any concerns, please do write to us.

Thank you,

Ragin
Microsoft Customer Service Representative