Legal action against arbitrary Microsoft account suspension in Europe

Paragraph[German]Microsoft requires registration and use of a Microsoft account (online account) for many activities, but reserves the right to block and deactivate this account immediately. For the person affected, this means 'digital death' and possibly financial loss. This is the first time that a German affected person has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Ireland as a contractual partner.


Advertising

Background: Microsoft account suspension

I had already addressed the topic of Microsoft account suspension in my German blog. Microsoft now requires a Microsoft account by default for its products. With online services such as OneDrive, outlook.com, Skype, teams, etc., one could still understand this – although it used to be possible with other registration methods. But on-premises products like Microsoft Office are without a Microsoft account not really useable. 

German WIMVP colleague Martin Geuß has just published his article Windows 10 20H2 installiert und Neuerungen angeschaut: Mit Edge, Kontozwang und Familien-Einstellungen, where he pointed out, that the upcoming fall version 20H2 of Windows 10 forces the use of a Microsoft account. And Microsoft Office is virtually useless without a Microsoft account. 

I had pointed out here in the blog in various posts (see link list at the end of the article) that Microsoft can and does deactivate online accounts arbitrarily. For example, users of Microsoft Office experience that a new account will be closed immediately if no mobile phone number is provided during registration (see my German article Werden Microsoft-Konten von Office ohne Telefonnummer gesperrt). This is similar handled with Skype accounts. 

Microsoft-Kontensperre

And there are the cases where users of a Microsoft account suddenly receive a notification that the account will be suspended for violating the Microsoft service contract. I had this more detailed in the article Stop: Arbitrary blocking of Microsoft Accounts. The perfidy of the whole thing is:


Advertising

  • The Microsoft account can be blocked arbitrarily (with reference to the service contract) by Microsoft at any time and without justification. 
  • The users usually do not receive a reason for the deactivated account – there is no legally verifiable possibility of objection – the user has accepted the general terms and conditions, which Microsoft grants extensive rights.
  • Anyone who has bought apps or services such as OneDrive etc. and connected them to the Microsoft account loses access – the data is then simply gone.
  • If a subscription (Office 365, Games Pass etc.) exists, this subscription continues to run, so the blocked user may still pay.

As a user, you are simply the dumb one and after the account has been suspended/deactivated, the affected person is 'digitally dead' – purchased content as well as stored content has disappeared into digital nirvana. There is simply no possibility of objection. 

Legal action brought by German user

Together with MVP colleague Martin Geuß from Dr. Windows, I have been collecting such cases in Germany over the last few months and the whole thing has been compiled by both of us in various articles. Martin Now Martin Geuß has informed me that a affected German person has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Ireland. This is the contractual partner for the various online services that European users can connect to a Microsoft account.

Up till now, the affected person does not know where and how he is supposed to have violated the terms of service. He therefore regards the suspension of his Microsoft account as arbitrary and unfounded. The complaint therefore focuses on the following key items:

  • Microsoft is to be forced by judgement to explain in detail the reason for the block or the violation of the service contract.
  • Microsoft has to be forced to unlock the account and grant the affected person access to his important data that he has stored in his OneDrive safe.
  • At the same time, Microsoft is also required to release this data, regardless of whether the account is unlocked or not.

There is an earlier ruling by a German court against Amazon, in which the plaintiff had to be granted access to his paid content despite the account being blocked. We have to wait and see, how the above case end. If Microsoft suddenly activates the suspended account again, the lawsuit may collapse and nothing is legally clarified. Martin Geuß has provided a few more details on the facts of the case in the German article Konto gesperrt: Nutzer reicht Klage gegen Microsoft ein

Similar articles:
Stop: Arbitrary blocking of Microsoft Accounts
Microsoft's account suspensions and the OneDrive 'nude' photos


Cookies helps to fund this blog: Cookie settings
Advertising


This entry was posted in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Legal action against arbitrary Microsoft account suspension in Europe

  1. Tony Ram says:

    My account is blocked.
    I need your help to make it work.

    • guenni says:

      I can't assist, because I have nothing to influence Microsoft.

      BTW: I've deleted the link to the tailor site (don't like SEO stuff here within comments).

  2. Robert Spencer says:

    I too am bringing an action against Microsoft Ireland in Diblin.

    I recommend everyone affected by Microsoft refusing access to data stored on one drive begins a court action against them in Ireland. If enough people start Microssoft muust do something is actually against the unfair contract terms act which they cannot opt out of.

  3. Robert Spencer says:

    In Ireland, the Unfair Terms Regulations (the Regulations) put the EU Directive into national law. … The Regulations require standard contract terms to be fair. The contract is not allowed to create an imbalance between your rights and obligations as a consumer and the rights and obligations of sellers and suppliers.
    Citizens Information logoCategories My Situation Find a Centre What's newTwitterTwitter
    Search…
    You are here: Home > Consumer > Consumer laws > Unfair contract terms
    Unfair contract terms
    Introduction
    Understanding contract terms
    Consumer law on unfair contract terms
    What is an unfair term?
    The fairness test
    Who decides if a term is unfair?
    What is the effect of a term being unfair?
    Where to report unfair contract terms
    Further information
    Introduction
    A contract is an agreement between two or more people that is enforceable by law. When you buy products or pay for a service, you enter into a consumer contract with the seller or supplier. Both you and the seller are bound by the terms of the contract.

    Contracts can be made verbally or in writing. The terms and conditions of each consumer contract can differ depending on the type of business you are dealing with. Sellers and suppliers are free to set contractual terms, but these terms can't be unfair or take away your legal rights as a consumer. Generally, contract terms are unfair if they put you at an unfair disadvantage.

    The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has supervisory powers to make sure traders comply with the law. In certain circumstances, the CCPC may seek a court order preventing the use of contract terms that are considered to be unfair.

    Understanding contract terms
    The terms of a consumer contract sets out what you agree to do (for example, pay a certain price) and what you expect the trader to do in return.

    There are different types of terms:

    Express terms – Terms, or direct promises, that are individually agreed between you and the trader (for example, agreeing a price for a good or service if it is not fixed)
    Standard terms or 'small print' – Terms that are already included and you have had no influence over them
    Core terms – Terms that set out the main conditions of the contract or the basic nature of the goods or services (for example, the price)
    Mandatory terms – Terms that are required by law or industry regulations
    Implied terms – These terms are not mentioned but are automatically part of the contract because of consumer law. Products must be of merchantable quality, fit for purpose and as described. Services must be carried out with necessary skill, proper care and diligence, and materials used are fit for purpose. Find out more about your rights as a consumer in Ireland.
    Consumer law on unfair contract terms
    When you enter into a contract with a trader you have certain protections under the EU Directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts (93/13/EEC). In Ireland, the Unfair Terms Regulations (the Regulations) put the EU Directive into national law.

    The aim of the EU Directive is to protect you against the abuse of power by the seller or supplier. In particular, it protects against one-sided standard contracts and the unfair exclusions of essential rights in contracts.

    The Regulations require standard contract terms to be fair. The contract is not allowed to create an imbalance between your rights and obligations as a consumer and the rights and obligations of sellers and suppliers. A term is unfair if it puts the consumer at an unfair disadvantage or is harmful to the consumer's interests. You can find example of 'unfair' terms below.

    Contract terms must be drafted in clear, plain and understandable language. Any ambiguities in a contract term will be interpreted in your favour. The rules are only for contracts between a consumer and a trader (B2C transactions).

    What is not covered?
    The Regulations do not apply to:

    Any term that has been individually negotiated in a contract between you and the seller giving you the chance to change it in some way. The seller or supplier has to prove that the contract was individually negotiated
    Any contracts between one business and another business (B2B transactions) or contracts between one consumer and another consumer (C2C transactions)
    Terms that are required or allowed by law (known as mandatory terms)
    Core terms that set out the price or define the product or service. Core terms must be in clear and understandable language
    Other contracts not covered are those relating to:

    Employment
    Succession rights
    Family law
    The formation of companies or partnerships
    What is an unfair term?
    The Regulations give a of terms which may be unfair, known as the 'grey list'. This list does not include every unfait term and in some cases, a term that is included on the list may be fair. Equally, a term which is not on the list, may be found to be unfair if it puts the consumer at a disadvantage.

    The 'grey list' of terms that may be unfair include:

    Terms that exclude or limit the trader's liability if the consumer dies or is injured because of an act or omission by the trader
    Terms that impose unequal obligations – the consumer is bound to the contract but the trader is allowed to get out of providing a service
    Terms that exclude or limit consumers' rights to compensation if the trader does not deliver
    Terms that allow the trader to keep pre-payments (for example, deposits) if the consumer cancels but does not provide for compensation to be paid to the consumer if the trader cancels
    Terms that give the trader the right to unilaterally (without your agreement) change the terms of the contract without a valid reason stated in the contract
    The fairness test
    The Regulations allow for a fairness test, that is, the legal test for assessing the fairness of terms. A number of factors are taken into account when assessing the fairness of a contract term. These include:

    The strength of the bargaining position of the parties
    Whether the consumer was offered an inducement to agree to the particular term (an inducement could be a payment or a discount)
    Whether the products or services were sold or supplied to the special order of the consumer
    Whether the seller or supplier has dealt with the consumer fairly and equitably
    Your Europe has information about unfair contract terms.

    Who decides if a term is unfair?
    Only the courts can decide whether a term is unfair or not. If you believe that a term is unfair, and you have been unable to resolve the matter directly with the trader, you can consider taking legal action. Find out more about the small claims procedure and taking a civil case. If the trader is based in another EU country, you can use the European small claims procedure.

    The Regulations also allow authorised bodies to bring court action in the Circuit or High Court against traders who do not comply – see 'Where can I report unfair contract terms?' below.

    If the court decides that a contract term is unfair, you will no longer be bound by this particular term. However, if the unfair term is not an essential element of the contract, the remainder of the contract (without the unfair term) will still be legally binding on you and the trader.

    What is the effect of a term being unfair?
    If a contract contains an unfair term, that term will not be binding on the consumer. The overall contract will continue to be valid (as long as it continues to make sense), but the unfair term will be struck out.

    Where to report unfair contract terms
    The Unfair Terms Regulations allows authorised bodies to apply to the courts for a declaration that a particular term is unfair.

    If you have a complaint about a seller or supplier using unfair contract terms, you can report the issue to the following bodies:

    Authorised body
    Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)
    Sector – Consumer contracts for a range of goods and services

    What can it do?

    The CCPC can provide advice about your consumer rights.
    It can use information received to help inform what enforcement action may be taken depending on the level of consumer harm caused by a trader. Find out more about reporting a business to the CCPC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *