I was playing Rock Band with Mike this weekend, and on a whim, I decided to check the XBox Live Marketplace to see if any new tracks had been released for download. Well, wouldn't you know it - there were! And what's more, they didn't SUCK like the last batch (who the hell wants to rock out to and spend hours becoming the master of ANY song by Fall Out Boy?)

"Dude, Hard to Handle by the Black Crowes!" I yelped. "I'm totally getting that!"

"Ok, then, do it," Mike said.

So I did it. But Microsoft wouldn't let me.

About 15 times, I saw a message saying that there was some sort of problem buying points with the stored credit card in my account, and to try again later. I figured they were still suffering from the huge surge of new subscribers from the holiday season, so I just took a deep breath and decided that I could wait a day or two before gettin' all sassy on the mic Chris Robinson style.

So, I tried again later - today to be precise - and saw that damn message again - "Status Code: 80169d94". A quick Google search for the code reveals that I'm not the only person with this problem - apparently, everyone who thought like I did that it might not be a good idea to go sticking their phone number out on the Xbox Live directory is having issues buying points, because the details of their personal information in their account and the stuff on their stored credit card information don't match.

Okay, then - A quick call to Microsoft should fix this.

The call was not quick, nor did it fix anything. I'll save you yet another agonizing tale of outsourced tech support mispronouncing my last name about 240 times across four different conversations with four tiers of support... But it looks like it'll be 3-4 "working" days before they can simply remove a bit flag from their database that says "this Joe guy is actually who he says he is."

And here's the thing - as an aggravated consumer, my heart and my brain are telling me to just cancel the stupid service and be done with it... But goddammit, the allure of shakin' my money maker with ribbons tied on my arms and leather pants on my booty singin' "Mama, I'm sure hard to handle now" is just TOO strong.

So it's off to the store with me for some stupid prepaid cards with scratchy backs.

**** Update, 1:45PM ****

So, I went up and bought some prepaid cards - two 4000 point cards and a 12 month membership card. I went and attempted to redeem the membership card:

Status Code: 80169d94.

I tried to redeem the points card.

Status Code: 80169d94.

I called stupid XBox Live support. I told the outsourced young man that I had a reference number, I gave it to him, he escalated me to his supervisor. I told the outsourced supervisor all the crap that was going on, and after pretty much doing nothing for 30 minutes, he pushed me over to an American Microsoft representative, who attempted to help me troubleshoot the issue. We deleted and recovered my gamertag... No dice. We tried redeeming the code online through the web interface... No.

So basically, the only way this can possibly be fixed is when the queue finally reaches me and the DBA in charge of actually going into the physical database and updating the live record to remove this flag finally does that job.

I spent years writing software for a living, and more years managing people who write software for a living. I know for CERTAIN that there is a much, much, much easier way to accomplish this task.

Anyway, the entire source of my aggrevation doesn't stem from the fact that a fraud flag was placed on my account - after all, i did enter a fake phone number and my PO Box as my personal information, and that doesn't jive with the credit card's records.

My aggravation comes from knowing that whatever measures were put in place to update Microsoft's system to adhere to the new fraud prevention measures now enacted in many states in 2008 are so fumblingly stupid that the fix takes 4 days. I'm also really pissed that it extends past credit card information and into prepaid cards... When my subscription runs out, I'm going to be bumped out of XBox Live with no recourse, and all of my 2 years of playing on that service and all of the accomplishments and achievements will be nil.

Not to mention that all my downloaded tracks for Rock Band will be useless, since I won't be able to log in and verify ownership.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

*** Update 1/17/08 3:21 PM ***

It is fixed! If this ever happens to you, just call them and escalate the issue. Tier 1 can't help you - get to Tier 2 and tell them what's going on, and they'll put a request into a queue. Even the American dude said "there's nothing else I can do with that" so I believe this is the best recourse.

Hard to Handle, here I come.