Even though there’s no dispute Xbox Live is a great gaming service, cancelling a subscription for whatever the case may be up until even today has been a classic case of making customer service more difficult than it should be. In a Reddit thread griping about this exact issue, it sounds like Microsoft may finally change this in the near future.
Since the service was launched, gamers in at least United States and Australia could not simply cancel their automatic renewals online. The only method to do this was to call telephone support, wait to speak to a real person and push forward against attempts to convince you otherwise. Not that this was impossible, but not the easiest opt-out experience by far.
What is actually odd is that there are geographic exceptions to this rule. As examples, for users with an address in the US state of Illinois or United Kingdom, users can simply cancel their renewal with a click on a link on the website. The functionality obviously exists.
I’m a developer that works on Xbox Live. You are correct to be upset, this is purely an account retention feature. They figured people would either forget about their accounts and continue to pay, or that they could be swayed with discounts if they called to ask for it to be cancelled. Rest assured there are plenty of people at MS that agree that this attitude is bullshit.
The good news is that this is going to change. I don’t know when (hopefully by next year, it would be blocked by our release cycles) but whoever made this decision go their head out of their ass and realized it’s a PR nightmare that made things worse.
Hooray. Hopefully in the same update they can also enable the changing of account regions to more countries.
Furthermore the commenter reveals an interesting tidbit about just how support some fixes account issues on production servers, with SQL queries believe it or not.
If you guys ever have issues with XBL, you should call support or let someone know on the forums. Live site issues are taken very seriously. We have full time developers, based here in the US (not outsourced!) that will fix live production issues for individual users. I literally mean someone will run an SQL script in production to resolve issues with an individual’s accounts, but they can ONLY do this if you tell us about it.