The recently passed Xbox Live Arcade updates has caused many consumers to worry about a new class action lawsuit that could stem from it. The new requirement that all prepaid Xbox Live account holders must have to participate in the live gold gaming services calls for users to “verify” their identity and remove cookies from their computer systems before they can play games on Xbox Live. The new requirement in the latest version of the Xbox Live Arcade is also vague and onerous and could force consumers to endure long delays for the opportunity to play games on their consoles. While there may not be a concrete case involving the validity of this new rule, the lawsuit could certainly become a class action lawsuit.
According to the requirements of the latest version of the Xbox Live Arcade, all prepaid subscriptions will require consumers to download a software program onto their computers before they are allowed to enroll. Consumers are then required to enter their personal information on an online form and confirm that they want to subscribe to the live gold gaming services. Once the form has been successfully completed, the application fails and the consumer is prompted to input their financial information. This new rule requires consumers to provide their Social Security number, date of birth, address, phone number, and more personal information. The information that is required from consumers seems to have no legal foundation and could easily be found in a variety of places online, including online classifieds, emails, or published materials.
The second requirement of the latest update to the Xbox Live Arcade also prompts consumers to pay with a credit or debit card, PayPal, or another electronic payment system. Again, the purpose behind this requirement is to track cardholder information. The Electronic Payment Association (EPA) is the international industry body that sets industry standards for electronic payments. The EPA describes the payment process as follows: when a consumer submits a valid electronic order to a participating issuer, the issuer notifies the cardholder's financial institution, and the financial institution charges the cardholder's applicable credit card balance. If the amount requested is not available, the issuer notifies the cardholder that a new subscription will be required, which typically requires consumers to input their credit or debit card information once again.
The new payment method requires consumers to input their personal information each time they sign up for a new subscription. The new rule also requires consumers to enter a billing address, which can be found on the receipt, and then submit a valid mailing address. Consumers will need to remember this address when they attempt to subscribe. A reminder notice may be sent to the cardholder's phone, email, or online site in the event that the cardholder does not submit the correct address. Consumers may also be required to complete and submit an electronic form with additional personal information. The form usually asks for a mailing address or other contact information.
As many attorneys know, prepaid Xbox cards are considered “expired” once they are used for one single purchase. In contrast, when a card is purchased with a credit/debit card, the card expires after one full month of use. The courts have held that sellers of prepaid subscriptions have exceeded the time period within which a consumer can sue a seller over purchases that occur after the expiration date. This reason has been cited in many Class Action Lawsuits filed against companies that sell expired debit and prepaid cards.
The new regulations regarding Xbox Live Gold Gaming Services require that subscription agreements provide the following language: “You acknowledge and agree that you may renew your subscription for a period of thirty (30) days from the date this agreement is entered into.” In addition, the rules state that any material updates to the Xbox Live services must be provided in the manner specified by the provider. This language is so onerous and vague that it is almost identical to the terms of any bill that requires consumers to automatically renew their subscription after a certain period of time. The term “you agree” has no meaning under the statute, and consumers have been forced to pay a fee for this unclear provision.
In short, this watered-down version of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act trumps the original law because it gives the Creditors the ability to contractually agree to terms that benefit them instead of the consumer. The problem is that once prepaid subscriptions are issued and money is deposited, the Creditor cannot change the terms at any time, except to cancel the prepaid accounts. This is a clear case of double-billing; therefore, it is imperative that the Creditor and Debtors seek counsel to determine if they should file a class action lawsuit against the issuer of the prepaid Xbox Live Card. If the parties decide to go forward with the class action lawsuit, the court will likely require that the charges on the prepaid card be distributed based upon the actual charges incurred, including the finance charges, and the remainder, which is profit to the creditor.
The issuance of prepaid Xbox Live Cards and the acceptance of such submissions by the major credit card companies allow the Creditor to circumvent the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects the consumer from abusive and deceptive practices. The issuance of prepaid subscriptions and the use of a markup language in the documents accompanying such subscriptions enable the Creditor to charge an unreasonable percentage of the initial purchase price of the Xbox Live Cards in one lump sum and maintain those interests through the life of the subscription. In most instances, the Creditor will not even charge a membership fee in the first place (thus giving them an unfair advantage). For these reasons, you should contact a prepaid legal firm today if you feel that you have been a victim of double billing, abusive lending practices, or other unfair debt collection practices.
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