Last year about this time, when my free subscriptions to my employer’s antivirus solution were going to expire (because I left!), I decided to give Microsoft OneCare a try. At the time it was $20 to protect 3 PCs for a year, which was a deal to protect both my laptop and my design/development PC.
Aside from the typical Microsoft bloatware, the program works fairly well. Within a few months I had moved a few hundred miles away, decommissioned one PC (now my media server), and purchased a Mac. My subscription to Windows Live OneCare became fairly useless, so I installed it at my parents house to protect their systems.
Now it’s time for renewal so my parents are getting their own subscription and I’m looking to cancel my own. Microsoft tells me that unless I cancel by April 22nd, I’ll be charged $49.95 for the next year. Here’s the problem: Microsoft offers no way to cancel Windows Live OneCare. Sure, there are links that *say* you can cancel, but none of them work!
Here’s what I’ve tried so far, though I warn you that I have yet to be successful:
1) Sign on to billing.microsoft.com. What the *$*%$ is my Windows Live ID password? I know what it is, but Microsoft doesn’t agree. Reset password.
2) “Welcome to Microsoft Billing and Account Management”
3)Enter Windows Live OneCare (who names these things?) account management page. Three links:
“Cancel My Account”
“Cancel My Service”
“FAQ: How do I cancel this service?”
4) Click “Cancel My Service.” Window resizes, new sidebar appears.
5) “You must contact Customer Support to cancel.” Dumb, but if that’s how it has to be.
6) “For Windows Live Services, go to Help Central.” What? “Help Central?” Another screen? Another product? Another website? I’m so confused!
7) “Select your product from the list below.” Ok, though I just came from there.
8) “Welcome to Windows Live OneCare Help Center. Click ‘Launch Instant Support’.” Ok.
9) “Search Instant Support.” Ok. I’ll type “cancel.”
10) “Microsoft: Is it true you want to cancel your Windows Live OneCare subscription.” Yes.
11) “To cancel your subscription, visit the Microsoft Billing and Account website.” (See #2)
This is perhaps the worst user experience I’ve had in a long time. Companies intentionally try to make canceling a service hard in order to retain customers. Think of AOL and other subscription-based companies – they’re famous for walking the fine line preventing customers from canceling.
To me, this seems wrongheaded, and Windows Live OneCare is a great example. This is a product in its relative infancy (1 year!), so it’s important to understand what customers like and dislike about the product. Cancellations are an opportunity to learn from customers. Instead, I’m just telling Amex to decline the charges.
Further, canceling customers are already dissatisfied in some way. Companies have a small window here to provide a pleasant experience to an already-dissatisfied customer. Though I’m in the business, if I were a regular consumer, why would I try another Microsoft product if I can’t get customer satisfaction?