Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Screw you, Hotmail!

If anyone got a spam email from my old Hotmail account, I'm sorry.

To Microsoft: I am so pissed off right now it's not funny.

Okay, I didn't have the most secure password in the world. But it wasn't 'password' or '1234' and it wasn't a word you'd find in the dictionary. But it looks like I got a message from someone else who was hacked a while back, and then my account sent the same messages just tonight. I don't think it's spyware on my computer. I have Windows 7 with Microsoft Security Essentials installed with no threats found. Again, not the biggest fan of Microsoft right now but I'm reasonably sure I'm protected there. I also am pretty reasonably sure I didn't go to any fishing sites and certainly didn't enter my Hotmail password anywhere for at least the last year. So I'm going to assume that somehow the account was hacked either by a dictionary attack or some other vulnerability.

The first thing I did was change my password to a secure password, but I'm not sure that was enough. At this point, I rely so little on my Hotmail password and lost enough confidence in Hotmail (not to mention being pissed that I get Hotmail emails from people with advertising in them) that I decided to close the account.

Here's where it gets really fun. So closing the account isn't something in Hotmail's settings. It's in the "Live Account" settings at the top right. Fine. Finally find the 'close my account' form. I enter the password and click close. I'm then informed that I can't close the account because I have an email address (the one I was trying to close)  that's associated with the account, and I'm prompted to close that email address. I try that option, and I'm THEN told that I can't close THAT account because I have billing associated with it.  Again I'm given a friendly link to close the billing associated with the account. When I get to that, I'm told that there is no billing associated with my account.

Seriously, this is starting to look like a Kafka novel at this point. Why on earth would they build an infrastructure this confusing and byzantine? I guess because Microsoft is such a large and multi-divisional company whose divisions just don't talk to each other all that much, but like the linking they get from having someone's account associated with their division.

Or something.

Anyway, I click one of the help links actually expecting to find some help. Instead I'm pointed to a forum where I can search for questions. This is how I expect to get answers to a problem with installing Linux, not from a multi-billion dollar company.

So I find a topic that's similar to mine, and it's RIDDLED with similar complaints: people's hotmail accounts were hacked, want to close the account, are running in circles with no way to close the account. The MS support reps seem fairly helpful, but basically just point people to the MS billing support site, asking that people contact them directly. Wait a second, you're Microsoft. I don't care what department handles it, if you work there. You find out the information and help me.

I know all of this complaining is about basically a free service. But it's a service I (used to) trust with my contact information and that trust was breached by a security violation. And when I try to leave the arrangement, I'm lead through a maze that gets me back to where I started.

If this were any other company, I'd write a letter to the CEO about it, and probably get some action or something. But since this is Microsoft, I couldn't do that without fearing that I'd get a chair thrown in my face by crazy ol' Ballmer.