So, Microsoft has a problem… I know, I know, what company doesn’t. What I am referring to is the fact that Microsoft’s email service at msn.com is no longer free. Of course if you had an account before the switch to the paid service, then you are grandfathered in. So, no harm no foul on Microsoft for that.
What I am talking about is how I inadvertently lost my MSN account and they can’t seem to get it back for me.
Back to the beginning
It all started the morning of June 27th, 2018 when I visited a friend for a few weeks. Whenever I go someplace new and try to check my email (I use Thunderbird to manage my various email accounts). I invariably have to sign in using a browser and use the recovery address to get a recovery code. It is a pain, and all of my Microsoft based accounts are a pain in that regard. Rarely do my other emails give me grief, and I cannot remember any of them being hacked (thankfully).
Anyways, I have been progressively changing them all to use a single email address as a recovery account so it is more practical for me to manage. I thought I had finished doing this, but evidently one MSN email account was still pointing to another recovery email address. So, I logged in using my browser, went to the account settings and changed the primary recovery address to the correct email address.
Inadvertently, at 9:09 am June 27th, 2018 that changed the primary alias on the account?!? How does that work??
Don’t try this without coffee
I admit, I could have been working without coffee that morning and inadvertently clicked into a wrong section… but I wouldn’t have clicked on anything related to closing my account. Of that I am quite certain!
Anyways, after nearly a week with my friend, I had this email account not showing up in Thunderbird, but having been quite busy, I didn’t take the time to log in using my browser… until today.
What I found surprised me… it said:
“That Microsoft account doesn’t exist. Enter a different account or get a new one.”
Chatting it up
Well after fighting with that for a while I dug around until finding a chat option for dealing with Microsoft account login issues. After dealing with “Jann V”… who was polite and helped me troubleshoot as much as possible. That chat lasted just over an hour (from 9:04 to 10:08 AM). After about an hour, “Jann” then referred me to the MSN team and called their support number.
Calling them out
I spoke with “Mary” who also was very polite, and helped me troubleshoot even further. After quite a while with “Mary”, I asked to speak with a supervisor to see if they could do anything since she couldn’t find a solution. I was then transfered to “Jun” who was a supervisor in “Accounts and Billing”.
Unfortunately after spending over 1-1/2 hours on that call no solution was found. In fact “Jun” even tried some creative ideas, one was to sign up for an MSN subscription in order to register the email address under a paid account.
That didn’t work either since it was within 1 month of my MSN email being ‘closed’, but we tried anyways. I will say kudos belong to Microsoft’s support team members who I dealt with. They all did their best to try to solve this enigma, but Microsoft has made a terrible mess in this situation from a technical standpoint.
The solution moving forward would be for Microsoft to do 2 primary things to make sure that this doesn’t happen again:
- there should be no possible way for an account to be closed simply be changing primary recover addresses!
- there should be 2 ways for email account recovery:
- a link should be both emailed to the account holder and accessible for at least 30 days, but no less than 15 days which would allow for a path to account restoration, recovery or reinstatement.
- at the least, MSN account support staff should have an option on their side to restore, recover or reinstate any closed account for at least 30 days and no less than 15 days from when an account is closed.
So what’s the big deal?
If someone was relying on an MSN account for all of their main email communications, this situation could be devastating. Potentially costing people more than just a severe headache. Much heartache can be caused be the loss of an email accounts contents. Loss of access can even cause financial losses due to business communications not being received, etc., etc., etc.!
I hope that not only for my sake, but for others as well, that Microsoft corrects this major flaw in their system.
In fact, under the circumstances, I think they should offer remedy to those affected, and where account names are still available, offer a means for former MSN email account holders who were grandfathered in with free MSN accounts to regain their MSN accounts… for free.
This would be only reasonable in my estimation.
What can you do?
I hope you are more careful when managing your email account settings than I must have been, but by all means, please encourage Microsoft to improve their system & services by sending them a physical letter:
Attn.: Microsoft Legal
1 Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052-6399
Note from iNA:
If any of you have had a similar experience, please share it below in the comments section.