Lawsuit: XBOX 360 Scratches Discs?

Jorge Brouwer, of Broward Country, FL filed a lawsuit and is seeking class action status after his XBOX 360 scratched several games. Brouwer claims Microsoft negligently manufactured the system and that the scratching problem is widespread. From the AP:

Brouwer said his Xbox 360 scratched two of his games, “Gears of War” and “Madden NFL 07,” and that Microsoft offered to replace the games for a $20 fee. He is seeking more than $5 million in damages, according to the court filing.

We’re assuming the $5 million is to replace everyone’s games (class action) and not just for him. This lawsuit deals only with disc scratching, an entirely separate issue from the “general hardware failure” that prompted Microsoft to extend the XBOX 360 warranty.

Microsoft responded to the lawsuit:

Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said, “Out of the millions of Xbox consoles in use, Microsoft has not received any widespread reports of Xbox 360s scratching discs.”

A quick search through the Consumerist tipline reveals this complaint from March 20th about the issue, from reader Joseph:

I’m sending this to you in the hopes that it might interest enough people to make something happen.

I purchased an Xbox 360 Premium from Sam’s Club in June of last year. About two weeks after getting Oblivion the 360 scratched the heck out of the disc and refused to read any others. After jumping through several hoops and waiting nearly three weeks I received my replacement 360 (Microsoft refused to replace the disc). Fast forward to December, when I picked up Gears of War and essentially had the exact same thing happen. I called MS tech support and set up the return. After waiting nearly two weeks with no return box in the mail, I called back only to find out that they’d screwed up the order and sent the return box to the wrong address.

All right, fix that problem, wait another week, get the box. Two weeks later I had my third Xbox 360. I hooked it up, hit the eject button, and watched in utter frustration as the disc tray refused to open, getting stuck after moving about 2mm. Finally, on the fourth push of the button, the tray opened.

This is how I’ve been using my 360. I usually have to try two or three times to get the tray open, but otherwise it works well. That is until this past Friday, when I picked up Dance Dance Revolution: Universe, and the 360 started locking up randomly. It only seems to happen with this game in particular, but it’s a bit of a showstopper. You expect any computer to crash every now and then, but at this point it’s basically a foregone conclusion that I’m going to have to reboot the 360 at least once during any DDR session. I’ve done some googling and it doesn’t look like there’s a specific lockup problem related to this game. It’s clear my 360 has unique problems of its own.

This is why I’m coming to you. This is now my third 360, and I’m afraid that if I call Microsoft tech support all I’m going to end up with is about three weeks without a 360 only to have whatever refurb they send me work the same way. That, or they’ll give me the proverbial finger.

How many others have had this kind of crappy luck with the 360? Isn’t it time Microsoft bit the bullet and started sending us new units? This constant recycling of refurbs isn’t helping anyone. And don’t get me started on their clearly outsourced tech support. If you can’t understand what they’re saying they’re trying to pin the problem on you. I’ve been an IT professional for years; I know better than to move a piece of [shoddily assembled] equipment while it’s operating. The only reason I’ve dealt with any of this so far is because I like the games themselves, but I’m just about ready to do the Web 2.0 thing and set up a website for people with broken Xboxes.

Help!

Regards,
Joseph

Perhaps Microsoft should add “disc scratching” to the whole “general hardware failure” thing.

Lawsuit claims Xbox 360 system scratches disks [Seattle P-I]
(Photo: hellblazer!)

Comments

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  1. slapstick says:

    I’ve never had any problems with my disks getting scratched. I hear scratching can happen if you put it up on its side, which is a no-no.

    Maybe this guy just needs to take better care of his things?

  2. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    “We’re assuming the $5 million is to replace everyone’s games (class action) and not just for him.”


    Yeah, right. The lawyers will get all of that money. Everyone else will get a $10 gift certificate at Wal-Mart towards the purchase of a new Xbox 360 game.

  3. Meg Marco says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: True, but that’s another post. =)

  4. Thrust says:

    Why is it that when something doesn’t work as planned people assume they are entitled to a whole shitload of money? Products replaced, repairs paid for sure. If the problem is as persistent as this one, a full refund is acceptable. But your grief is not worth the court’s time or 5 million dollars.

    Oh, and there is one item here that IS worth bitching about, Microsoft trying to charge for disc replacement. If this guy’s story is true, and the XBox did ratch the CDs (giving the benefit of the doubt that its not his fault, like having the machine on angle, etc), the discs should be replaced free.

  5. frankieman70 says:

    Slapstick said that putting your xbox on its side is a NO-NO, that is not true, xbox has always said that you can play the 360 either on its side or laid down so that means the quality should be the same no matter what, I actually had the disk scratch problem with the Gears of War game and it was a brand new copy and trust me I take care of my games, I just got an even exchange and then had my xbox replaced for the 2nd time, sux 2 be microsoft.

  6. dbeahn says:

    The part that bothers me is that there was no doubt that the “red rings of death” was a wide spread issue – it was all over the forums.

    This? This I’ve never heard of (or had a problem with it myself). Most of the comments I’ve seen on it is in the form of “I’ve never had this problem. Maybe he should stop kicking his Xbox 360 while playing games on it…”

  7. enm4r says:

    @dbeahn: While it’s not as common as red rings of death, I’ve seen it on plenty of forums. I think it’s mostly an issue with playing on it’s side, maybe the disk wobbles while spinning down? I don’t know. I don’t know if this is class actionable, but I have seen it around with enough unique cases that make me think misuse isn’t the only cause.

  8. Skyoodpov says:

    Yeah, I haven’t seen this on the 360 before, but I know the Playstation 2 would scratch disks left and right if you played them up on its side. The way the tray holds the game, it just sort of balances, it doesn’t snap in like a laptop disk drive. As the disk spins it can bounce and hit against internal parts of the optical drive. Played horizontally, gravity will hold the game in place.

    I am guessing this guy will be S.O.L. The PS2 had a tiny little disclaimer saying “Only use the PS2’s vertical stance for storage, not gameplay” in tiny little letters at the very end of the user manual. Microsoft probably has something similar.

  9. crichardson79 says:

    XBOX 360 Blows. Stop making crappy products M$. Spend time testing it M$ before letting the rest of us beta testing it.

  10. mac-phisto says:

    the only time i’ve heard of extensive disc scratching is if you move the 360 from the horizontal to the vertical position (or vice versa) while the unit is on & a disc is in it (whether or not it is playing)…i believe this is even addressed in the manual (but i’m not positive if that’s where i read it or not).

    i just sent my 360 in b/c the disc drawer would not open, but none of my discs are scratched. it’s a good possibility that in trying to get the drawer open, joseph alternated the standing position, resulting in the scratches.

  11. royal72 says:

    after enjoying the ring of death experience on my ex-360, it scratched a nice groove into one of my games which then became unplayable. i put the game in, it began spinning, i heard a rubbing sound, and that was that.

  12. alhypo says:

    @Thrust: If someone doesn’t sue Microsoft for a bunch of money they don’t really have much motivation to replace the discs for free. Don’t think of the money as reimbursement for the defective product or compensation for mental anguish; consider it a punitive action to get Microsoft to behave better.

    My dad has sent back two 360s before getting one that doesn’t seem to scratch the discs, however, he sent them back to the good people at Overstock.com as Microsoft invariably denies that the units are defective.

  13. Skyoodpov says:

    @crichardson79:

    Only approx. 33% of them blow. The other 77% of 360’s are actually a lot of fun. Thats a C+! Way to go Microsoft. Thats…thats O.K.

  14. lestat730 says:

    This guy probably treats his hardware and software like crap and then gets upset when it fails. I’ve had my 360 for over a year now and have not experienced any problems what so ever. No red lights, no scratched discs, not a single lockup, or any other problem. I have friends who have launch consoles that haven’t had any problems either. Because of this I find it VERY hard to believe that he’s been through 3 consoles and continues to experience the same issues.

  15. Thrust says:

    @alhypo: Oh trust me, I hate Microsoft, and I totally hope they go bankrupt and DIAF. But this kind of stuff happens, often, and with pretty much any kind of product known. Now XBox is a shitty product made at subpar standards. Everyone knows this. Microsoft’s motivation to fix this problem would be when you sheep stop returning the machine for a replacement one, and start returning them for a REFUND. But no matter how crappy the machine is, the onlything owed to the consumer EVER is compensation for damages or loss. Microsoft owes you the value of the defective machine, the price paid for whatever games it ruins, and thats it. They don’t owe you millions of dollars. Your inability to play Halo 3, or the time spent waiting in line to buy it, only to find it not work, is not worth any compensation.

    Now if that piece of shit exploded and killed/maimed someone, THEN you could ask for millions in compensation as a life has immeasurable value (Or so they say).

    Doesn’t work? Return it, and spend the money on something more reliable.

  16. shades_of_blue says:

    Putting any optical disc drive on it’s side is a NO-NO, regardless of what the manufacturer says. I’ve seen real computers, PS2s and 360s do it. Checkout old issues of GamePro or speak to the employees at GameStop and you’ll see that it’s not just a 360 related issue

    From what I’ve witnessed, discs that end up scratched, without the system being ‘bumped’ or ‘shifted’ are usually left in the system as it’s powered down. For some odd reason, that is where the fault lies. MS actually places a sticker over the cd tray on new 360s which read ‘do not change system orientation’ and IIRC they mention that you should not turn off console with disc inside too.

    Suing over a scratched disc is really lame, thanks for contributing to our already congested legal system. Good one, all you really had to do was take it to Wallymart and claim you got it as a gift and it came scratched, for a replacement. They’ll take anything back, who in turn will make MS take it back at their expense.

    FWIW I’ve had my 360 since January 2006 and I’ve never had a single scratched disc. Mine is positioned horizontally, because I’m not gullible enough to believe that vertically optically drives have nothing to do with scratching.

  17. djlistro says:

    This problem was reported earlier before by Kassa.

    Check out their Video
    [www.youtube.com]

  18. FordPrfct says:

    @Skyoodpov: Just a hint: If you were taking a math test, and missed 33% of the questions, you would have scored a 67%, which would be an F.

  19. FijianTribe says:

    When the XBOX (not 360) came out I purchased mine at Costco getting it for cheaper than Best Buy offered. However a few months later the CD ROM drive wouldn’t work anymore. I got a replacement and soon found that it had scratched a semi-circle into my Halo 2 disc.

    This time I bought my 360 at Best Buy (although never in my life would I take my computer there) and got the “Extended Insurance” including insurance on the games I bought. Its like $2-3 a game if I remember and they dont seem to offer it if you buy on-line, only in the stores.

    So far I’ve had to replace my X360 once, and have not had disc issues.

    I would understand charging $2-3 by any company, including DVD movie manufactures, but anything more than that is just ripping off a consumer.

  20. Oh its definitely a fact that X360’s scratch disc, but then again, from what I understand that typically happens only if the unit is moved while the disc is spinning. Something which could be caused by only 2 things: The end user moving the console while it is operational or a natural disaster, the latter of which is unlikely. But in realistic terms, this is old news. 360’s do scratch disc. I have an old video for proof of such. Either way, its more money for M$ to lose considering they are shelling out 1 billion to cover 33% of failed units… Damn, that makes the Sony PS2 D.R.E. look light weight…

  21. Thrust says:

    The disc scratching is a symptom of inferior parts and outdated technology. My car’s CD player never skips nor scratch discs, and the car is bouncin quite a bit from all the crap I hit on the road (potholes, train track crossings, the elderly). The XBox ain’t even moving let alone being jossled about. MS and Sony use archaic old drive construction to save money, whereas the Wii uses a drive very similar to a car CD player.

    Oh, and my PS2 has never scratched a single disc and it’s been vertical most of its life.

  22. Lazlo Nibble says:

    @slapstick: If running an Xbox 360 on its side is a “no-no”, maybe Microsoft should stop putting product logos on the unit that are only visible and oriented properly when the unit is sitting on its side, putting little surface-protecting feet on it that are designed to protect those surfaces when it’s sitting on its side, mounting it on its side in their in-store demo stations, and showing it running on its side in pretty much every promotional image of the thing they’ve ever distributed.

  23. MaximuM_MayheM says:

    This is one of the most annoying problems with the Xbox 360. It happened to me once, with Rainbow Six Vegas, and I had to pay $20 for a new game. Now why is it I could shake my computer or PS2 furiously and the most that may happen is some minor but not destructive scratches, whereas with the Xbox, if you even move it slightly the disc is almost completely unreadable. If MS can get it’s act together and fix the Red ring and the POS disc drive, then maybe they can get their PR back to respectable levels.

  24. ZonzoMaster says:

    @mac-phisto: I heard the same thing, and saw the proof on a disc. It may have flaws, it’s a shame, i took my time to buy it for the same reason, but i just love the games of the 360 better.

  25. ShadowFalls says:

    OMG total bs!

    Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said, “Out of the millions of Xbox consoles in use, Microsoft has not received any widespread reports of Xbox 360s scratching discs.”

    There is widespread reports for Gears of War. People have found it common for a disc read error to occur. It is not the refurbished units going through a full cycle, it is a design flaw. For hardware failures, let us just say it doesn’t have a good track record.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    @alhypo: do a little readup on m$ & how little they care about being sued. the EU was fining them $1 million/day & they didn’t care. $5 million for some discs? that’s pocket change. they’ll send their lawyers, win or lose.

    @ZonzoMaster: you don’t have to tell me. you see the lineup for august & september? i’m a little peeved i’m not gonna have my box to play some of those games. halo 3 – who cares? there’s gonna be a dozen games that i haven’t even touched by the time that comes out.

  27. Eran9000 says:

    Mac-Phisto: Microsoft cares about being sued now…it seems it is a lot more than $1M/day now. There are more problems than just the scratched discs. Microsoft may have costs in the beginning billions for warranties’ coverage claims, for malfunctions. You may read more at (from a week ago):
    [www.bloomberg.com]
    It seems that Microsoft may have been “negligent” as was said above. Wanting to compete with Nintendo and Playstation, the required tests may have been scaled down, and now they must pay.

    The mass is speaking out.

    Eran

  28. mac-phisto says:

    @Eran9000: interesting article – i didn’t know m$ sub-contracted the manufacturing of the console. the whole thing’s probably running on poison toothpaste & tainted dog food.

    it’s really chinese dollars though (no pun intended – funny nonetheless). their hardware division may be hemorrhaging money, but they’re making it up tenfold in their MGS division & elsewhere. GoW alone sold 4 million copies in less than 6 months – that translates to a quarter billion dollars gross for ONE (albeit a popular one) GAME!

  29. RonJeremy4Pres says:

    My brother’s 360 does this and he’s STILL too lazy to do anything about it.

  30. Maeg says:

    I work for a [undisclosed] video game store, have since last Christmas, and have seen my fair share of used games and defective 360’s. Stating that, I must echo some of the things that were stated above – the same things I tell my customers, day in and day out.

    I don’t care what all the imagery and advertising says that MS put out: Standing the 360 on its side is just asking for trouble. Not only is that the less stable base, AND optical drives shouldn’t be vertical, but see all those holes neatly punched into that flat surface? THOSE ARE VENT HOLES!

    Many of the returned 360s that we get in my store, broken with the Red Ring of Death, have been problems with overheating. You lay the thing flat, give it space on all sides for the air to circulate, and you stand a much better chance of beating those 1:3 odds.

    Scratched discs? I’ve seen them, plenty of times – ALL from customers who kept their systems vertical. One little jostle of the console, the entertainment center it sits on, hell just LOOK at the thing crooked, and you run the risk of scratching the disk. Again, common sense – there’s nothing to stabilize the game in the tray if its tilted on its thinnest edge.

    Datapoint: I waited 9 months to get my 360, because I knew the first systems would be buggy as hell. I have not had a single issue with it.

  31. arachnophilia says:

    didn’t microsoft get sued over the first xbox too? ALSO over the disc drive?

    why can’t they just say, “you know what, we’re building a $500 system here, but lets go the extra mile and use something above the bottom of the parts barrel?”

  32. THKO says:

    If you have an Xbox 360 Console that has scratched your discs and you would like more information about the proposed class action lawsuit filed, please visit the Plaintiff’s attorneys’ website at http://www.Xbox360Litigation.com.

    In the lawsuit, the Plaintiff is asking the Court to certify a nationwide class and create a fund for all individuals that have had discs damaged by an Xbox 360. The Plaintiff has alleged that the total minimum amount of damages incurred by all of the individuals combined is at least $5,000,000.00. To be clear, the Plaintiff is not alleging that he or any individual member of the class is entitled to that amount of money. The sum recovered by individual class members will be significantly less than the total damages incurred by the proposed class as a whole.