Many people talk about what’s possible in getting a refund of Microsoft 365 plan but it’s mostly copied from other social media or forums and some completely wrong. We’ve gone looking for Microsoft’s real rules for cancelling and refunding a ‘subscription’ they are quite different from what’s commonly ‘known’.
Most of the references to Microsoft’s refund policy are in forums and do NOT come from Microsoft authorized staff. Answers often come from volunteers or associates who are not speaking authoritatively on behalf of the company.
An oft-repeated line is that Microsoft 365 plans can be refunded for 30 days after purchase, sometimes it’s 90 days. This has been copied and repeated so often it’s become accepted but it’s really a ‘Zombie Fact’. Zombie Facts or Statistics are things that have been repeated so often they’ve become accepted as true, even though they are not.
No 30 day refund rule
There’s no 30 or 90 day refund rule in Microsoft’s own Terms and Conditions.
Pro-rated refund for a partially used Microsoft 365 plan is another Zombie Fact. As we’ll see, this has a slither of truth but not for Microsoft 365 consumer (Family/Personal) licences.
Practice vs Rules
There’s a gap between Microsoft’s published rules and what they are prepared to do when faced with a customers request.
In this article we’re focusing on Microsoft’s publicly announced terms, which is what you can rely on in a dispute with the company.
Microsoft seems to have policy of giving refunds to newly purchased Microsoft 365 customers, if the customer asks and it’s soon after purchase.
How soon? 30 days seems likely but it’s not in the official licence agreement, the publicly stated in Microsoft’s formal rules.
Also consider the consumer rights laws in your country. Many companies like to pretend that their Terms and Conditions are the final word but they can’t overrule local laws. To Microsoft’s credit, their refund policy acknowledges that upfront.
Final and non-refundable
Microsoft’s Services Agreement has NO provision for refund of Microsoft 365 subscriptions after purchase.
“All purchases are final and non-refundable” unless local laws (like consumer protection laws) overrule that.
Under ‘Payment Terms” it says the only basis for refund is a charge made ‘in error’ and then you have 90 days to request a refund.
Refund Policy.Unless otherwise provided by law or by a particular Service offer, all purchases are final and non-refundable. If you believe that Microsoft has charged you in error, you must contact us within 90 days of such charge. No refunds will be given for any charges more than 90 days old. We reserve the right to issue refunds or credits at our sole discretion.
30 days is semi-official
We did find a place on the Microsoft site which confirms the 30 day refund rule — but you’d need a miners helmet, lamp and a spelunking licence to find it.
Go to Microsoft’s Cancel Subscription page which is really a series of questions to guide customers, If you dig into the questions and answer in the right way you’ll eventually see this info:
That last paragraph is where Microsoft confirms that customers can cancel an annual Microsoft 365 plan if purchased in the last 30 days.
The important word is ‘initially’ which might mean the 30 day refund only applies to first purchase not renewals.
Renewal date vs date charged
Microsoft 365 plan renewals or what Microsoft calls “Recurring Payments” need special attention because you’re charged before the expiry date of the plan.
Still in the Microsoft’s Services Agreement under ‘Payment Terms’ there’s a section on ‘Recurring Payments’ which says, in part ..
“ You must cancel your Services before the next billing date to stop being charged to continue your Services. “
This is where it gets legally fuzzy because of a sentence later in the same paragraph …
“ Subscription fees are generally charged in advance of the applicable subscription period. “
Office-Watch.com has warned our readers about this little Microsoft trick. Microsoft 365 renewals are usually charged two weeks before expiry date. That’s an issue if someone wants to buy their renewal cheaper elsewhere or change plan … that has to be done before Microsoft charges.
The date to ‘cancel your Services” strictly depends on what the ‘billing date’ is. Either the Microsoft 365 expiry date or the undisclosed date they charge for a renewal.
In practice the ‘billing date’ is about two weeks before the plan expiry date. You need to act before that date if you want to change plans, cancel the service or buy elsewhere to extend the plan.
Microsoft 365 Business Plans
The arrangements for Microsoft 365 Business/Enterprise plans are clearer and worth looking at because they seem to explain where some ‘Zombie Facts’ come from.
Cancel your subscription explains how business plans can be cancelled and the consequences in terms of data storage and eventual deletion. It includes this line
“ Refund: Any prorated credit will be returned to you within the next billing cycle.”
It seems this is where the idea of partial credit for unused Microsoft 365 Family/Personal plans has grown from. However, it does NOT apply to consumer plans.
What it all means
For Microsoft 365 Consumer plans (Family or Personal) Microsoft could refuse any refund request unless:
- The charge was made ‘in error’.
- A refund is required under local law.
In practice, Microsoft has the practice of refunding recently purchased Microsoft 365 annual plans or renewals if the customer asks.
There’s no published deadline for a refund but 30 days after the charge seems to be the accepted timeline.
You can cancel a Microsoft 365 consumer plan at any time. If you’re more than a month into a Microsoft 365 annual plan, then there’s no refund possible (full or partial).