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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The Unbearable Frustration of Error Code 80169d94

Comments (33)

Error Code 80169d94 cost me an hour of my life last night and ninety minutes of my life this morning.  All I wanted to do was upgrade my Xbox Live Silver account (which comes free with an Xbox) to Xbox Live Gold (which costs $49.99 / year) so I could stream Netflix movies on my Xbox (cool feature).

I spend the first 15 minutes following the directions and trying to update to Gold on the web.  Every time I hit confirm the update page refreshed and did nothing.  Being stubborn, I did this about 25 times, including firing up IE and trying that (figuring that it was a Microsoft / Firefox thing.)  Wrong.

So – I stopped following directions and started poking around on the Xbox itself figuring there was an "upgrade to Gold option."  Of course there was, so I did it.  And got an error message: "Can’t retrieve information from Xbox LIVE.  Please try again later. Status Code: 80169d94".  I stared at it for a few minutes as though I had been pithed.  I tried again figuring it was some wonky connection problem.  Same error message.

I googled xbox live 80169d94 and found no shortage of other people with this problem.  The best explanation was at Xbox Live 80169d4 Fix.  It seems like there’s a case where your account gets "locked from making purchases" when the credit card info doesn’t exactly match the Xbox user info.

This is obviously ridiculous since there are never any instructions that these need to match and anyone that has a credit card knows that it probably isn’t the same as your user id.  Since I’ve successfully bought 100+ Rock Band songs using the credit card I’d previously entered, this is a recent issue with my id – possibly occurring when I recently did the Xbox upgrade to the new software.

Ok – that was about an hour, and I still have no solution.  I gave up for the night.

This morning, while procrastinating from going for an 8 mile run in 5 (feels like – 12) degree weather (at least the sun is out today), I called Xbox support. I used their spiffy voice automated system, which worked well.  I chose to talk to billing since that seemed most relevant.  "Marcus" (or "Michael" – I had trouble understanding his accent) verified my account information but decided he couldn’t help me.  Marcus then transferred me to tech support. 

I then spent 30 minutes on the phone with "Carlos".  I explained the situation to him and told him I was getting error code 80169d94.  He walked me through the upgrade steps I had done last night that didn’t work.  I tried to explain that I’d already tried this but he insisted that I walk though the steps with him.  When we got to the magic error code he had to check his resources.  After holding for a few minutes, Carlos came back on the phone and told me that he needed to transfer me to billing!  I asked if he realized that billing had transferred me to him and he said he realized this, but they were the ones that could help me.  Carlos put me on hold for a few minutes and then transferred me to his colleague in billing, who is named "Billy Jean."

For the third time I confirmed all my account data with Billy Jean.  I explained the error message to her.  She put me on hold to check "her resources."  She then had me go to http://billing.microsoft.com, log in, and "update my account information."  I’m not really sure what she meant by update my account information, but I went ahead and modified all the information on the Xbox account to match the data on the credit card I was using (name, address, phone.)  After completing that, Billie Jean put me back on hold to check her resources.  She then came back on to get the best phone number to contact me at (the same one in the account!) and a time (Brad: "anytime", BJ: "you need to give me a specific time", Brad: "how about 6am to 10pm", BJ: "it has to be between 9am and 9pm Central Standard Time", Brad: "ok – anytime between 9am and 9pm Central Standard Time.")  Billy Jean then had to put me on hold to check her resources again.  After a minute, she told me that someone from upper management would be calling me in 5 to 10 days to help resolve my issue.  I amazingly asked why it would take 5 to 10 days and she informed me that a supervisor from upper management would need to resolve my issue.  I asked if she knew what the issue was, especially since I was able to provide an error code.  She told me that it was a problem that only upper management could solve.  I asked if there was any way we could resolve it faster than 5 to 10 days.  She told me that is the fastest they could call me back.

There are two phrases I heard at least ten times during this call sequence (exactly the same phrase from Marcos/Michael, Carlos, and Billy Jean: (1) "I need to put you on hold for 1 to 2 minutes to check my resources" and (2) "Thank for you patiently waiting, sorry for the long wait."  None of these 1 to 2 minute resource check waits were very long, especially when compared with the 5 to 10 days that I now have to wait.

I’m done procrastinating from my run (at least for the day.)  I guess Microsoft isn’t going to get my $49.99 for somewhere between 5 to 10 days and I won’t be watching streaming Netflix movies between now and – well – whenever upper management calls me.  It’s pretty amazing that it’s almost 2009 and Microsoft Tech Support can’t handle an Error Code 80169d94 in real time.  Oh – and during one of my hold periods, I was informed by the on hold music that I was talking to Samsung Customer Care in Richardson, Texas – obviously the Marcus pressed the wrong hold button from his call center – wherever he was – probably not Richardson, Texas.

  • Rod Burkert

    I do not have the xbox. But we just purchased the Roku for $99 – a two year payback on the xbox gold subscription. We hooked it up in about 10 minutes and have had no problems. Best of all, the Roku box is small and portable so we can take it with us to our 2nd house.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

      I’ve got a Roku at my house in Eldorado Springs (where I don’t have an Xbox) and it works great. I like to try everything that’s why I have different things in different places. Apparently Roku just got an upgrade to HD for Netflix which will be very cool.

  • http://www.concave.com Mark Slater

    well i actually canceled my card rather than cancel my account. That should say it all about how completely and utterly Lame their service and support is. Now i just get emails saying that their authorization was 'declined'. Unfortunately my level of support is 'checking resources'.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/steve_bergs2127 Steve Bergstein

    I think that it's most remarkable that you've spent 2 1/2 hours on this problem and you're not done yet.

    You still have to hear from "upper management" in 5-10 days and, no doubt, spend some warm and fuzzy time with them.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

      Indeed – who would have thought I would have had the patience to spend 2.5 hours on the phone? Fortunately I have a speaker phone and email to work on and blog posts to write.

  • John

    Welcome to off-shore call support and the land of scripts. I went through a similar scenario when I was trying to cancel my xbox account…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/martin_edi18731 Martin Edic

    We'll find out if the Xbox people are monitoring social media- because you've populated this post with a lot of keywords and a lot of people are going to find it and spread the link. It is too bad that a company has to get blasted like this before they start monitoring what people are saying and responding at a senior level. Both Dell and Comcast (poster boys for social media marketing) had to get hurt before they realized there was value in it.

  • Sam

    yep nothing new with xbox support. unless you know exactly what you want them to do (like cancelling your account), you WILL be transferred at least once. You will have a 50% chance or greater of getting someone who can't speak english.

    The other side to the coin is that I have called in to xbox support in the past and been greeted by a friendly, American woman who helped me figured out what I needed to do (reset the password on my console) quickly and without any transfers.

  • http://www.marketing.fm Eric

    It is definitely worth the wait as netflix on xbox is amazing. I hope that others who have this same problem get some help from this post. It will be interesting to see the follow up from msft in 5-10 days and then seeing this post – keep us in the loop.

  • Brendan

    I had a similar problem when i tried to recover my account for my 360. Apparently if you had a regular xbox live account and it was inactive for a certain amount of time they locked it and were incapable of unlocking it or deleting it, of course to find this out I had to call 4 times for a total of about 6 hours.

  • Ajay

    i really had great laugh reading your article. Just reminded me, so many conversations in the past with tech support from Charter, Microsoft, ATT, T-Mobile, Credit cards.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Jay_Levitt Jay Levitt

    What's really surprising is that Microsoft tends to have bafflingly good tech support. And I say that as someone that really wanted to hate it! I usually can debug my own problems, so when I needed XP support, it was usually a deep-seated bug of some sort. My tickets would always get detailed responses, with techs asking for log files, suggesting workarounds, duplicating it themselves with my failcase data, etc.

    We almost inevitably found the problem. If not, I left satisfied that it really *was* intractable, and I never got that "if I could just talk to the guy who wrote it, he could solve it" feeling.

    Shame that their phone-based Xbox support doesn't live up to their web-based XP support.

  • Greg

    calling on boxing day? good luck, has it happened? im having issues with a different code and have been told get a new gamer tag, doesnt seem acceptable to me.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

      Still no response. I’m stubbornly patient.

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  • Rich

    amazing. I upraded by buying a card at gamestop and entering the code on the card – it worked fine and then the netflix connection process worked well, too. The problem I have been struggling with is getting the Windows Media Center connection to work. One needs to implement something on Vista called "media center extender" – for me, that series of steps ends with an error message but no error code. I can connect through Windows Media Player to play music, see pictures and videos from a connected PC, but not WMC…very confusing…probably not worth struggling with any longer. Good luck with your upgrade and keep us posted.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    12/25/08: 3pm: I thought I'd keep track of my progress. It's four days later and I just got the following email from Xbox Customer Support.

    Greetings !!!
    This is a contact email. I am following up on your account unlock request.
    You can always contact us at 18004myxbox, or visit us at http://www.xbox.com
    Your reference number for this case is: 1088295xxx
    We will keep in touch.
    Thanks !
    Michelle D.

    I logged in to http://www.xbox.comand tried to (a) find where I could track my reference number (can't find anything) and (b) tried to upgrade to Gold (still can't). Oh well – at least someone sent me a "hello there" email.

    I replied back asking when they thought things would be fixed.

    I then called with my reference number. After repeating all the information to verify my account, I sat on hold for a few minutes. The person answering came back on to tell me my issue had been escalated to "upper management" and they would be calling me on 12/26 at 9am.

    12/29/08 @ 3:15pm. The call from "upper management" came today. The first thing the person I spoke to wanted me to do was reconfirm all of my account information on the xbox site. It satisfied her when I said "I've already done that on three separate support calls." Then she asked me to confirm my billing data verbally. I did. She then informed me that should would submit the request to unlock my account and it would be resolved in one to two weeks. I asked why it would take so long; she said "there was no reason." She then offered to call me every 48 hours and update me on status. I accepted her offer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chase_barf55451 Chase Barfield

    Brad – Go the route that your partner Seth and I did…get a Roku. It's a $100 which, in my opinion, is less than the cost of the frustration and time spent with your XBox.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

      I have a Roku in Boulder and like it a lot. I need to resolve this on my Xbox so I can buy more Rock Band songs anyway, so…

  • Waleed

    this hasn't been much help but it's very entertaining reading this! you should right a book man!

  • Waleed

    *Write : )

  • xASSASSINx

    what is strange is that when the Call of Duty: WAW Map Pack 1 came out i went to download and got the 80169d94 error code and kept trying i for 15 minutes straight, and got it to work! but for some strange reason when i go to buy points for the halo 3 mythic map pack trying it for 15 minutes straight doesn't work.

    I understand that most people who work in customer support are probably under a lot of stress but how does it take 5 to 10 weeks when a superior could email BASIC instructions for how to solve your problem and if you still have problems then you could call back.

    I have bought content for several games and now this error comes up and if they cant fix it im'm screwed, and i will sell my xbox and buy a ps3 and rejoin my friends.

    However if i do get it fixed i will try to remember to write about it so that it can help others.

    Thank you for letting me express myself i am very pissed off at the moment and i need to vent or else i wont have an xbox to play on.

  • xASSASSINx

    Okay, I called microsoft a few minutes ago and I was suprised, the overall length of my call seemed like 20 minutes (not exactly sure how long it was) and the first dude i spoke to actually spoke some pretty good english. and i was only on hold for a total of about 5-10 minutes (YAY!) what also suprised me was that i got in touch with the supervisor in like 5 mins, and it took her about 3 minutes to do what she needed to and she said that i can try to purchase microsoft points within 72 hours (3 days) and they will call me within 5-10 business days to confirm that it works. keep in mind i called at 11pm EST so everything had probably calmed down there. I will try to remember to post a comment stating whether or not it worked.

    Good luck getting your accounts fixed.

  • Abubbakah

    Thanks to you guys I knew exactly what to do when i called their out-sourced help number. The first time that I called, the dude couldn't even spell "sound." Then I read this and called back. I told them that my account had been locked (assuming from this info). And lo and behold, it had been locked! The whole call took about 30 min. I was transferred from a well mannered and educated foreigner, to some American dude who gave me a reference number to use with…–>some head honcho American dude. The cause of my account being locked was entirely user (my) error. The information on XBL and my credit card billing were not exactly the same. Eventhough XBL verified the card back when i got a 360, some recent update changed things. So I went to the microsoft billing website billing.microsoft.com and set all the details correct. Then head honcho man had to verify it and said my account should be unlocked in 5-10 business days.
    Irony, i was doing all this to take advantage of the Xbox live gold for 1$ offer. By the time my account is unlocked, it will probably have expired.

  • Deployed Joes

    Worst tech support ever. Nothing takes 5-10 business days to resolve if you want to 'keep' business. For some of us deployed overseas and living in CHU's, this is our only source of entertainment. I cannot believe Microsoft, being as large as Life as they are, cannot handle this issue more efficiently. It sickens me to have read this post and learn that customer support didn't have any idea what caused this issue. How can you pay someone to do a job when they don't even know how to do it? Who does that? What is wrong with them? Anytime someone starts to purchase a large amount of game points, they're going to get this issue. I can't name anyone who bothered to enter their billing information on the website when all we had to do before was punch it in under the 360 GUI and voila! points and content. So if they're reading this, or paying attention, here's an idea, Microslow, HAVE_A_PLAN_FIRST_BEFORE_YOU_IMPLEMENT_A_FEATURE. It's called "quality assurance". You test the product, update, billing verification feature FIRST, before you just dump it onto the masses. Idiots… pure idiots. Sometimes I think we're shooting at the wrong people over here… the rage I tell ya…

  • Ryan

    So, Brad, everything working now?
    I'm having the same problem. :(

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld Brad Feld

    It took about six weeks but eventually it started working.

  • James

    What is truly BS here is that I am having the same problem, so I purchased a PREPAID POINTS CARD so I wouldn't have to wait on a billing fix. Enter the code, and greeted with the same error. Who cares if the credit card has some mismatch?? I'M NOT USING IT!!!!

  • David

    woot got the process started now i just have to wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait.

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