Microsoft Ads Unpausing a Dormant Campaign On Its Own – Fighting For a Refund

At the end of last month, I was doing my normal reconciliation of our credit card statements and there was a $1,001 charge from Microsoft Ads. We haven’t run a campaign with MS in over a year. Problem.

To make matters worse, the email from which we received our billing notices was an old account which is never checked. I immediately recovered our login and paused the campaign. How would this just restart on its own??!

Upon research, this was a campaign we had run for a higher education client. We had paused it in April, of 2022! We paused it due to the poor quality of search queries the campaign was generating, despite negatives and matching.

I looked up the Change History to see how in the world the campaign was restarted. I was 100% sure I was the only one with access to it. I went into the History and just found that on June 10th at 3:25 AM, the Account was Changed – Financial Status from Hold to No Errors.

I immediately hit the Help icon and filled out a form. To Microsoft’s credit, they called me right away and started an email communication with me and a rep. She was very polite and helpful. But, they still started a campaign without my permission.

2 days later, the rep came back and basically said that due to the fact that the Account had a status change, the campaign was reactivated. But they understood my concern and were offering a 25% refund. I obviously said no to this. I asked her to go back to her billing team.

A day after that, another $200 hit my card from pent-up charges from before when I paused the campaign. Not the fuel for the fire I was looking for.

She got back to me on July 14th, seven days later:

Hello Joe,
Good day!
I am sending this email as an update with our discussion from our Billing team. As agreed they have gave a final offer of 50% refund including the last charges applied to your account.
According to our billing team this is the final offer they can give in line with what happens to the account. I regret that I cannot proceed with the full refund as the this process works by its design.
As one can imagine, I had steam coming from my laptop. I simply said no, only a full refund is acceptable. I also then took to Twitter with this predicament and tweeted at @MSFTADsSupport. They responded with an answer to DM them. However, I got this:
So, I need to be verified to get support from the…support Twitter handle. I explained this to the @MSFTAdsSupport handle that they pointed me to a helpdesk. Not the help I was really looking for.
On July 18th my rep replied and said that their final offer was 50%. I sternly said that this was acceptable and I needed to talk to management within the billing department. It was looking like my battle was going to get long and entrenched.
On July 21st, the rep responded and said I was getting a 100% refund. I was very surprised. I figured this process was going to take several more emails and possibly calls with someone with their billing team. I did get my full refund.
So, my point in making this situation public is that if you have old dormant accounts with Microsoft, or even Google Ads, yet still with your card on file, keep an eye out. If you are an agency like us and manage multiple accounts, it can be easy to lose track of which accounts are getting hit with endless $500 charges. Be diligent. And I will say, even though it wasn’t looking good for a while, full marks to the MS Ads rep and team for eventually getting me my refund.

Joseph Ford

Joe Ford is a Managing Partner at Netvantage SEO. In addition to overseeing day to day business operations of Netvantage, he directs paid search strategy and management. Ford is on the Marketing Committee for Impression 5 Science Museum, and the Executive Board of the Capital Area IT Council. He was previously a member of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Board of Directors for 8 years. Additionally, Ford is an adjunct faculty member in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

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