CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) – The attorney taking on Microsoft over allegedly mysterious suspensions of Xbox Live Gold accounts is fighting requests by the company to move the case off the court's docket and into arbitration.
Kasif Khowaja, attorney for James Maher, told Legal Newsline that although Microsoft has not directly responded to the allegations, “They have filed a motion to compel arbitration (and) since then we have amended our complaint. We expect them to file another motion to compel arbitration.
“I think that arbitration is obviously to their benefit," he said. "I don’t see many consumers following through on claims on their own because of the many hoops they are forced to jump through. In fact, we got calls from all over the country as soon as we filed from other users with the same complaint.”
Khowaja also believes arbitration agreements deter most consumers who only have had their services suspended for two weeks or less. Additionally, other examples are situations in which a parent purchases the service for their child.
“Let’s say you’re a parent buying the subscription for your older kid, or you’re a grandparent. You’re buying 12 months of service for the benefit of someone else; you don’t agree to the arbitration agreement you paid for 12 months and want 12 months of service. I also don’t agree with the one-size-fits-all nature of mandatory arbitration agreements,” Khowaja said.
Maher is claiming fraud and violation of state law since his paid 12-month membership account was allegedly suspended several times without warning. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
“It’s always unclear; one of the biggest reasons for our complaint is that it is unclear why the users are getting their accounts suspended. Although Microsoft offers a vague description, the problem is that without an apparent reason to what triggers the suspension, users are subjected to multiple suspensions resulting from them not knowing how to change their behavior,” Khowaja said.
Khowaja, a former Super Nintendo gamer, says, “I’m not into how it is set up today. It’s a different world now. I think with cyberbullying and things like that; you need some oversight, there needs to be some regulation. I honestly believe that Microsoft wants to give its users a valuable experience.”
It is essential for both sides to be protected. However, it must be done in a way that is fair to all parties involved.
Not only is there the issue with users not knowing why their service was subjected to suspension, but their accounts were not credited for the time of the suspension. Khowaja says it’s like being penalized twice.
“The fact that you don’t get to play by taking away that time frame is a monetary penalty for people that have paid for the 12 months of service. Instead, they get 11 months or perhaps only 10. I think that’s deceptive to buyers," he said. "Regardless, it is less than what they thought they were getting.”