Monthly Archives: March 2005

MSN Direct difficulty

So, I finally obtained a MSN Direct watch last Friday – the Suunto n3.  It’s a pretty big watch (especially for a guy who likes things on the small side) but it only slightly dwarf’s my wrist.  Some of the functions are pretty neat, for instance having the weather and random news on your wrist is somewhat compelling.  However, there is one distinct problem I’m having – I can’t activate it!

Why?  Right at the end of the setup “wizard”, you accept the EULA and then click the Finish button.  I do so.  Up pops the following error:

MSN Direct Error 
Sorry, there is a problem with the page you are trying to reach and it cannot be displayed. 
Please try one of the following:

  • Click your browser’s Refresh button.
  • Check the spelling of the URL to make sure the address is correct (capitalization and punctuation are important) and then click your browser’s Refresh button.
  • Click your browser’s Back button to return to the previous page
  • Try again later.
  • Go to the home page for MSN Direct.

So of course I tried the usual suspects, tried different browsers (yes including the almighty firefox), tried different credit information, and so on.  Notice there’s no real Help on this error– no 1-800 line to call, no e-mail address to ask for assistance, no web chat.  In fact, if you go back into the MSN Direct website, click Help, then Contact Us, there’s no real way to contact MSN Direct without actually going through the setup.

Luckily for me, I have a pre-paid 3-month trial card which does list a toll-free number to call for assistance, so I decided to see what they could do.  After calling up, I got two options — 1 for Billing Inquiries and 2 for Technical Support.  Realizing I needed both, I just pressed 0 and was near-immediately transferred to Mary (who did not seem to be in India, a welcome change).

The first thing Mary asked me for was my phone number of my account associated with the watch.  Of course, I couldn’t really help her with that given that I can’t activate.  I informed her of such and explained what I’d done so far.  She was able to confirm that the server was rejecting my activation but couldn’t tell me why.  So she did troubleshooting 101, which amounted to clearing the Internet Explorer cookies and cache (which of course is completely and absolutely pointless given I’ve tried in other browsers), cleared the SSL State and had me go into Passport Member Services and click the ‘Update’ button in my Passport Profile.

So I tried once again and sadly, still the same error (not that I was surprised).  Mary’s suggestion to me?  Use a different Passport.  I’m sure that would be fine for others, but I have a Messenger contact list associated with this Passport and would like to expose the fact I have the watch.  I specifically had to ask her to escalate the issue and she said she’d call me back in a few days (now, not to sound cynical, but I’ll believe it when I get it).  Had I actually purchased the watch for the retail price (~$200), I wouldn’t be very impressed right now and would simply return/eBay.

I am actually in Redmond now, so I am somewhat tempted to try and enlist someone for assistance.  According to Mary, she had heard of this issue before but the fix previously was the "use a different Passport" solution.  With all the things associated with my Passport and with no way to "transfer" some of the services from one Passport to another, this really doesn’t work out for me.

Per popular demand, some photos…