Xbox Live user tries to sue Microsoft for $500 billion

Mike Halsey MVP
Aug 21, 2011
Updated • Aug 30, 2011

I just love stories like this and it is the silly season after all so here's a story to make you chuckle for the end of the weekend.  A man known as David Stebbins from Arkansas has filed a motion in Seattle against Microsoft claiming that they owe him half a billion dollars.

The claim comes from an attempt he made to change the terms of his Xbox live contract.  On May 6th this year he sent a message to Microsoft saying that he was "unilaterally amending the terms of service" of his contract.  His claim was that if Microsoft did not cancel his contract within 10 days it would have to accept his new terms.

In his new terms he introduced a "forfeit victory clause" in which Microsoft would have to pay him $500 billion dollars in damages in it didn't respond within 24 hours of the 'new' contract taking effect.

This is not the first time that Stebbings has tried to pull a fast one.  The Seattle PI, which broke the story, did a search on the US federal legal database and found "more than a dozen claims within the past year.  In some of them, he alleged discrimination by companies - including Walmart - that refused to hire him...Many of the cases were quickly dismissed."

His claim has very little chance of ever being heard by a court and I very much doubt that Microsoft's lawyers will be worried in the slightest.

When Seattle PI asked Stebbins why he was bothering, or words to that effect, he told them "My true goal is not to just harass, and it’s not just to get rich. My true goal is to level the playing field.  I’m trying to give employees, consumers, and generally, people who’ve been economically disadvantaged a new, powerful tool to protect themselves. Who needs to go crying to Congress for more workers’ rights and consumer protection laws?!  We can do it all ourselves! How’s that for a motive you can get behind?!”

Stebbins wouldn't be the first person on the planet to be fed up with big business, only two days ago I wrote an article here on gHacks asking if "Patent Tennis", the gentle art of companies slinging patent lawsuits back and forth that is slowly eroding consumer choice, hasn't already gone too far.  After the global economic downturn it's understandable that many people will be resentful of companies that make enormous profits when others are struggling to find work or pay the mortgage.

However while some might consider his attempt valiant, others would more likely consider him foolish, especially in a statement he made when asked if he would be submitting full documents to a court.  He scornfully replied that he "will not be presenting any exhibits in paper format. To do so would put an undue strain on my printer."

According to Seattle PI the Xbox Live contract doesn't say it can't be amended by a customer, though this is unlikely to get him anywhere.  Microsoft's lawyers normally have every angle covered, and then some (believe me, I've worked with them and they can be a right pain for this!)

Stebbins admitted though that it was probably unlikely that the expansive legal department at Microsoft HQ in Redmond would even have seen his claim, saying “I mean, think about it: When I mail these documents to Microsoft, they won’t go to any legal division; I arranged for the mailings to be picked up by the employee that just collects regular mail! It’s quite possible that these employees won’t understand the legal significance of these documents, and know that they’re required to respond.”

Via NeoWin


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. wii points free said on February 23, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Hey There. I discovered your weblog using msn. That is a very well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  2. Allayna said on December 2, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Yeah that\’s what I\’m talnkig about baby–nice work!

  3. cant tell u said on November 27, 2011 at 5:02 am

    this is stupid y do that just play ur games and get on with it dont be a d**k about it

  4. Daniel said on August 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    The guys is nuts for thinking this will work, but that’s only because the world we live in is insane. In a sane world, he would win an award large enough to hurt the software giant and send a message. Contracts that allow only one party to change the terms at any time are downright immoral. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to have a clause that allows them to dishonor their agreements and force their unwitting customers to obey the almighty CEO’s mandates. That, my friends, is absolutely mind-explodingly batshit insane. In a contract, both parties should be forced, in no uncertain terms, to adhere to the terms under which the contract was formed. If a company can’t commit, how can they expect their customers to? Oh, right, because every god damn provider does it, so the customer has no alternatives!

  5. Jason Edwards said on August 23, 2011 at 10:43 am

    This kinda story seems pathetic until for example, your cell phone company lowers your data allowance mid contract or your cable tv provider says you have to pay extra for a certain channel from now on.

    Whilst he’s gone about it in a bit of an eccentric manor, his principles are spot on. Too many companies chop and change their contracts which kind of defeats the point of having them.

  6. Hafk said on August 22, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Just pointing out a typo, the article title should be “$500 million” not “$500 billion”

    It’s the difference between “insane” and “absolutely mind-explodingly batshit insane”

    1. Chris said on August 22, 2011 at 11:17 am

      its $500 billion, with a b

      1. OK said on August 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm

        Then why does it say ‘half a billion’?

  7. TRY said on August 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Yet a another Idiot who has no meaningful life, May God help the poor dumb fellow ;)

  8. Robert Palmar said on August 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    The Xbox Live contract doesn’t say it can’t be amended by a customer
    but the key issue is it does not say that it can be amended by a customer.

    Stebbins does not have a case. Other than a case of him being unhinged.
    The simple rule of loser pays, passed in Texas, would stop this type
    of lawsuit insanity which is rampant in various forms in the US.

    1. Dave Gray said on October 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      I think it’sa 2 way street. Microsoft xbox live just took £52 out of my “games for windows live” account and credited someone else with the points, a premium gold pack for xbox (no I don’t own one I think they’re some kind of box that allows people who cannot use a computer to play games) and no verifying was done at the time of purchase and no security is in place, no enter a pin number or confirm the 3 digits on the reverse of your card, nothing, nil, nada, zip. They did send me a nice email saying thanks for the money we’ve given someone else a nice gift and debited you (or words to that effect). Microsoft xbox live support are extremely unconcerned because whether a purchase is made legally or as in 1000s and 1000s of cases illegally…. microsoft still get your money. When I googled it I found this fraud has been rife for years and microsoft still have not put any security measures in place but then again all the time this is extremely lucrative for them then why would they?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.