My friends teased me after I bought my XBOX 360. “Seven in ten die of the red ring of death. It’s only a matter of time,” they said. “It’s working great. I’ll be one of the lucky ones,” I replied in answer to their smirks. They knew me, however. They knew what luck I had with previous technologically inclined purchases (particularly from Apple) and that it was true, that it was only a “matter of time”.

I became an avid gamer and lover of the XBOX 360 and XBOX Live. After a while, the DVD ROM drive would fail here and there, but I figured it might be humidity or something on the lens and ignored it. Finally, in the middle of a session of Mass Effect, the curled up its toes and died. Three red lights, the red ring of death, oh well; I guess I did not really think that I would win that lottery.

I call Microsoft and get a friendly, English speaking person whom I had a great deal of fun talking to. He even had a gamer tag that started with “Frost”, so we had something in common. After I did all of the necessary troubleshooting checks, he sent me the box, I sent it back, they “repaired” it, and I received it back some weeks later, no problem, no foul, everything is great and happy and wow, Microsoft, what great service!

Because I had been intending to buy an Elite anyway, I went and bought one and was using that instead. One of my closest friend’s father wanted an XBOX 360 so it was a good opportunity to get him one on-the-cheap. They gave me a reasonable amount of cash to call it gift from all of us and, delighted, the ol’ man opened it and started playing it. It worked great for about an hour and a half. Then, it promptly decided, “To hell with this,” and died the same, horrible red ring of death.

Rather upset, my friends called me and I promised to take care of it with Microsoft. I call them up and I get a person named “John”, who obviously was not born with such a name because his accent was so thick that he would have to move to India and live there for at least 25 years to get it. I explained to him the situation, and that I did all the checks again as well, but he did not listen to me. Instead, he started reading from the script. I responded, “Oh boy,” and hunkered down for a long night. After he finally decided that it needed repairing, he promised to send me a new bigger box to include the XBOX and the power-supply and it arrived at my apartment when I was not there, but at least they left it. I was interviewing in another city and I had to wait to send it.

I sent it and called them up later to change the return shipping address because it is unlikely that I will be here at the same address in a few weeks, given how well the interviews have gone. I got another person named Samir (I think, it was hard to tell, it might have been Sahith or something). I explained to him that I had to change the shipping address to a friend’s house and he put me on hold. Then he said that he is not sure they can do that, put me on hold again, and I was disconnected. Okay, I thought, these things happen. He obviously wasn’t terribly bright and phones are kinda tricky to begin with.

I called back and got another person named “John”. I started thinking about how amazing it was that there were so many Johns in India. I went through the same explanation and he put me on hold. He answered and said, “Another two minutes.” He kept doing this for about 40 minutes, in neat 2-minute intervals. Finally, he tells me he has to transfer me to his supervisor. I asked him how many two minutes it was going to take for that now and he laughed and put me on hold. I was getting pretty tired of the music from Halo crackling over my phone until I got a person named “Carlos”. Naturally, he had to ask me all of the information the previous people asked me, since they do not communicate at all with each other. Ten minutes later, he tells me he has to put me on hold. I told him, “Listen, this is obviously going to be too much effort. Perhaps I should work this out with FedEx instead?” In a thick Indian (and certainly not Hispanic) accent, “No, no, no sir, we’ll take care of it. To be honest, we had a mess-up in our system and apparently your order was cancelled. We’re fixing it right now.” “Okay, but I have been a Paragon of Patience and will be without the box for 8 weeks now.” “We’ll take care of it, I promise.” He finally put it in the system, but told me that they would call me sometime this week to confirm. Then he changed his mind and decided I should call them this week.

Bottom line? Although I will have my own XBOX 360 Elite because I forked out the cash for it, my friend has lent his XBOX 360 to his father and will be without it for another 3-4 weeks. He already had HIS in the for the same problem, so really, he’ll be without an XBOX for up to 8 weeks. I have no confidence whatsoever that it will be fixed when it comes back and dread the idea of calling them this week to confirm that they have done their jobs. I do expect them to have the address wrong, or perhaps to have even forgotten to change it in the first place. My confidence and love for Microsoft’s gaming division is gone (and it was high to start with).

I’m looking over at that Playstation III over there and stroking my chin.