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The Inequality of Xbox Live Gold Accounts

Posted on October 12, 2012 AT 11:49am

You may not be aware of this fact, but not all Gold account are created equal when it comes to promotions and programs. There are also bugs within some Gold programs that can be really annoying.

When Microsoft introduced the Family Gold Pack, the gaming world rejoiced. Here was a way for families to save money on multiple accounts. $99 for a whole year for four people? Bargain! It seemed like the easiest and best solution…we thought.

I have a Family Gold Account, so I know about a couple of bugs first hand. As the secondary adult on the account, I am treated as a child account by default. Yes, you read that right, a child. Even though my age listed on my account is clearly adult and all my settings are unrestricted, I am still treated as if I am a child. Oh and my husband had to set my account restrictions by the way. I cannot buy my own points. I cannot download certain M-rated demos/trailers. I cannot even accept my own terms of service. If I try, I have to put in my husband’s password to okay it for me. In essence, I have to ask his permission. He must purchase points for me and “gift” them to me. However, the card listed on the account is in my name, ironically enough. When this issue was brought to the attention of Microsoft at the launch of the Family Gold Pack, subscribers were told that a “fix was being worked on” but two years later it still business as usual.

A new issue was exposed with the introduction of Xbox Live Rewards and the My Achievements section of the Rewards page. This might not seem important, but when you consider that Gold members within a certain Gamerscore range can get a discount on Xbox Live Marketplace items and something free for their birth month, this becomes very important. Sure it’s only a 1-2% discount but when you spend as much as people do on games, that discount is worth it. I have been a member of the Xbox Live Rewards program since its inception. I have been plugging along, earning Microsoft points for answering surveys, buying certain DLC, renewing my Gold account, or just remaining a Gold member. I didn’t really pay attention when my husband was awarded points for renewing the Family Gold account. I wasn’t concerned since I figured it would be awarded to the main account holder. Then the My Achievements started and my birth month is fast approaching. I wandered over to the section to see what it was all about only to see a message telling me to “upgrade to Gold” to participate. Wait…what?! I have been Gold for five years and we just renewed in August. Thus begins the next set of issues…

In my quest to fix my Xbox Live Rewards issues, I discovered another hidden issue, the inequality of Gold accounts. Now my issue is a known bug and it can be fixed, but what they do not tell you is that the bugged account will lose Gold for a minimum of five days. The offending family member account must be removed and re-added. This automatically results in a five-day cooling off period before they can be re-added. When we were given the fix in the Xbox Live Rewards forums, the only place to get help at this point, we were told it was a simple fix. Just remove me and re-add me immediately. Immediately must happen within a fraction of a second apparently because we were immediately given the “5 day wait” notice. Needless to say, I was just a little bit more than irritated, not just because I am being told I have to wait to fix a problem that they are aware of, but because I was not told in advance there would be a wait. It was presented to be like an easy remove-add and you’re all set fix. My quick fix resulted in my waiting to talk to Xbox Live support (20 minute wait for online chat), but they fixed it for me. By the way, this is the only way to fix this issue at this time. They haven’t worked out how to make the Rewards program acknowledge Family Account renewals except for the primary account holder.

For the record, I am a fan of the Xbox support team when you call or use their online chat. They have always been super helpful and really sweet. I have never had an issue they couldn’t help me with or weren’t willing to help fix. They even fixed my warranty issue with the Star Wars Xbox that I had received as a gift. They went to bat for me and removed the 5-day cooling off period. You have to feel for them, having to deal with frustrated and unhappy people all day. Try to be kind when you call/chat. They really do just want to help and a little kindness goes a long way.

But I digress, in my journey through the forums I discovered that Microsoft does not consider the 2-year contract Gold accounts as full Gold accounts, the 2-year accounts people signed up for to get the discounted Xbox package. If you bought one of those, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you are not a “real” Gold account according to the Rewards program. This is because you are paying for Gold at such a discounted price (promotional account), you are not entitled to everything a regular or Family Gold account is promised. Promotional accounts and free accounts cannot participate in the My Achievements discounts and free birthday gift offer, which is understandable but judging from the posts in the Xbox Live Rewards forums, people were not aware there would be discrimination against the 2-year contract Gold accounts. These people promised to keep Live for two years, they deserve to get everything regular Gold subscribers get. After all, Gold subscribers are not promising that. They did not commit to anything. Some only commit to a month at a time yet, they get more perks.

Basically, a word to the wise, read all the small print before you sign up for a “good deal” because you never know what you are going to be left out of, or in my case, be demoted to.


Carly "PoisonPinkFluff" Frith is a little sugar, a little salt, and a whole lot of personality. Gamer, general geek and beer aficionado. Just call her a tomboy in high heels. She is on Twitter: @DN_PinkFluff.

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