Recovering my Xbox Live account

A co-worked recently lamented about how the Xbox Live service wouldn't let him recover his expired Live account so he could use it for his Xbox 360. I explained that he should maintain hope, that I was in the same situation a few months ago but was able to recover my account.

I had canceled my Live account and was told I would not be able to start the account up again if I quit. I didn’t care (at the time) and quit anyway.

Months later, I got an Xbox 360 and decided to research if it was now possible to renew my original account name. My research told me I could not. Websites and phone staff made it perfectly clear that the old account system and the new one (with both paid Gold-level accounts and free Silver-level accounts) were so completely different that allowing the first account to go inactive just completely broke everything and forced you to start over with the new system. I also learned the “fact” that my original name was locked out forever, as their system would never recycle old, unused, or abandoned names. However, none of this made any financial sense to me—a company should expect that people will eventually discontinue their service and therefore make it incredibly easy for customers to renew and pick up where they left off. I decided to wave some money around and see if Microsoft was greedy enough.

Quickly into a second phone conversation with their accounts department, I learned from a savvy rep that I could recover my “lost” account name, but it would entail a time-consuming phone call. I got the impression it was a hassle for their staff to make this switch, so I certainly appreciate the time and patience of the fellow who helped me.

In the end, all I had to do was renew my original Xbox Live account as a Gold-level account (which I did, with a year’s subscription time) and then they could help me recover my original account into a new Xbox 360-enabled Gold-level Live account. This is what happened. The phone rep helped me recover my original account into the new system.

From my perspective, I really only had two hassles: (1) Researching the misinformation/lie that I couldn’t recover a inactive Xbox account to become an Xbox 360 account and (2) an hour-plus phone call while there representative recovered my inactive Xbox account to become an Xbox 360 account.

Bonus: My original friend’s list was still intact.

My recommendation to my co-worker: Set up your Xbox 360 and be prepared to do things as asked by a phone rep. Then call the Live help number and let them know you want to recover your inactive Xbox account to the new account system, but be prepared to have to sign up for a Gold-level account.

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