There are strange and worrying reports of double billing, disconnection of service and other anomalies that leave some Microsoft 365/Office 365 paying more or getting less than what they paid for. Here’s what to do if your Microsoft 365 account and billing has gone wrong,
Just some of the troubles being reported:
- Double charging. The customers card is charged again for another annual plan weeks after the first charge.
- Short ‘annual’ plan. Customer pays for an annual plan but only gets seven months added to their Microsoft 365 subscription! This report is so strange, it’s hard to understand how it could happen.
- Microsoft 365 plan suddenly ends. Software is disabled and documents can’t be saved to OneDrive. This could be a billing problem or a software activation bug.
- Much confusion about Microsoft 365 that’s supplied with a new computer. The computer may, or may not, include a Microsoft 365 paid plan.
Happily, most Microsoft 365 customers don’t have these troubles. But there are enough complaints in forums and MS support logs that Microsoft should be trying to identify the underlying problems and fixing them. There seems to be problems with Microsoft’s billing system while some troubles might be misunderstanding or confusion by the customer. Either way, Microsoft needs to act.
Microsoft’s support doesn’t seem able to cope. Customers waste a lot of their time trying to reach Microsoft billing support, explain their problem then wait days or weeks while their problem is ‘escalated’.
Is the email real or a hoax?
You’ve received an email saying your Microsoft 365 plan needs renewal and you weren’t expecting it. There are two things to check, the email address then your Microsoft account.
The exact email address the ‘Microsoft’ email was sent to
Look in the email header to see exactly which address the email was sent to.
If that’s NOT the address used for any of your Microsoft 365 accounts, then it’s spam.
Check the Microsoft account online
If it IS a Microsoft account linked address, login using that email address and check the status of your Microsoft 365 account via https:.//office.com … expiry date, billing etc. If the email is legitimate, the web pages will show the same information.
Resolving billing problems
Microsoft has a page covering some Microsoft 365 billing questions How to investigate a billing charge from Microsoft or MSbill.info
They suggest checking your order history for each Microsoft account you might have.
That’s an important point and often the source of mixups. Most of us have different email addresses and it’s too easy to get them confused. Our own Shop Manager, Victor, often helps Office Watch customers who have bought ebooks using different email addresses without realising it.
For Microsoft 365 it’s possible to share a plan with one address then get another (maybe with a new computer) registered under a different email address.
The web page also covers some other possibilities for billing troubles but it doesn’t allow for an error by Microsoft. There are links to Microsoft support.
Before contacting Microsoft support, write a summary of the problem, the accounts you have and the Microsoft 365 status in each one. Keep a record of your contacts with Microsoft. If possible, use the online messaging/chat system because then you have a written record of what was said and any promises made by Microsoft.
If the problem needs to be ‘escalated’ to some higher authority in the company, get a firm deadline for a response. Make it clear that if you don’t hear from Microsoft by their deadline, you’ll take other action to get your money back.
If you’ve tried to figure out the billing problem, contacted Microsoft and not received a satisfactory response it’s time for the ultimate option – card chargeback.
Credit / Debit Card chargeback is the last resort option if the merchant won’t help. Check with your card issuer about how to start a chargeback.
It’s why we recommend keeping a good record of your attempts to deal with the merchant. A chargeback request is more likely to succeed if you present clear facts and document a good faith attempt to solve the problem with the merchant.
See here for more info on chargebacks.
Avoiding Microsoft 365 subscription troubles
Microsoft isn’t the only company that has troubles with their monthly or annual subscription offers. These tips are for Microsoft 365 but can apply just as well to any annual ‘subscription’.
See our Excel Subscription Manager.
Don’t pay Microsoft direct
We’ve been saying it for years … don’t buy Microsoft products direct from Microsoft. The company charges full price for the same product available elsewhere cheaper.
Aside from the higher price there’s the (small) risk in giving credit/debit card details to a company. In some instances, it seems Microsoft is misusing that information. And it’s hard to get a fix.
One reader suggested giving Microsoft an expired card so they can’t charge. Strictly speaking you let the card recorded by the company lapse and don’t update the expiry. That satisfies their requirement to record a credit/debit card.
An alternative (suggested by Office Watch reader Ed T.) is a virtual credit/debit card. Some card operators can issue a virtual card number without a physical card. It’s great for online transactions because, if there’s a problem, your physical card details aren’t compromised. Ideally, the virtual card can be disabled/enabled by the customer from a web page or app. Capital One in the US has that service. Revolut and other modern banking apps have virtual cards.