Though Microsoft bowed to a gamer backlash and gave 3-year warranty protection for the widespread Xbox hardware failure known as “The Red Ring of Death,” it seems another debilitating malfunction, “The Red Light of Death,” hasn’t become enough of a PR fiasco to merit the same treatment. Let’s help it along with reader Steve’s story…
Microsoft’s extended warranty for the Red Ring of Death was the “result of what Microsoft views as an unacceptable number of repairs to Xbox 360 consoles.” Apparently, the number of Red Light of Death repairs is acceptable.
Ben and Company,
I have been reading The Consumerist everyday for the last year, it’s the first site I visit every morning. Thank you all for a great service. This is the first time I have written in with a tip/complaint.
Microsoft recently extended all warranties to 3 years for all Xbox 360’s dealing with the “Red Ring of Death”. What you have to read in the fine print though, is that the extended warranty only covers the very specific “3 red lights”. No more, no less.
Three days ago my Xbox took a turn for the worst while playing a game of Team Fortress 2. During the match my screen started rapidly flashing green and vertical lines appeared. I figured it was just a glitch so I shutdown the Xbox and restarted, I still had the problem. I tried several different games (Oblivion, Orange Box, Rock Band, GoW, Condemned 2) and every single one of them has lines in the screen. I tried 2 separate LCD TVs and 2 separate video cables. All had the same result, lines in the game-play.. Here are some screenshots.
I then went to turn the Xbox on the following morning and received a flashing red light and an error code on the screen. I looked up the error code online and found this: E74: There is high chance it’s a scaler chip problem (the “ANA” or “HANA” chip near the AV cable connection) it can also be caused by a faulty AV cable so check that first. In some cases it is a problem with the GPU
I believe the problem only occurs in areas of the screen that are being rendered 3D by the on-board video. Its pretty obvious that the video and/or motherboard are malfunctioning in some form. If you have a look at the screenshots you will see that all 2D graphics (in-game HUD, dashboard) are all fine, only 3D rendered graphics have the issue.
I called Tech support and they said the new 3 year warranty will not cover this issue. I thought this was pretty outrageous. The Tech said I would have to pay to have the unit shipped and pay to have it fixed. This is obviously a defect in the Xbox. This is my second box (First one RRoD) and has been working with no issues for just over a year.
So now my wallet in $107.00 lighter, and I will be without my console for a month. I have been nothing but an Xbox 360 fan and evangelist. I was the cornerstone for 5 of my friends purchasing the console, and now I have been let down. They took care of my first console with defects but refuse to take responsibility for an obvious manufacturers defect on my latest box.
I think that when its working the Xbox 360 is a great product, anyone trying to decide which console they should buy should take Service and Support in to consideration. My experience has let me down.
Although the extended warranty announcement clearly states that “[a]ll other Xbox 360 warranty policies remain in place,” we question the wisdom of not including a similar hardware failure in the repair program. The Red Light of Death, which Microsoft calls Error 74, “occurs when the Xbox 360 console experiences a hardware failure.” Microsoft admits that the Red Ring of Death does not result from a specific issue and is simply an indicator of a “general hardware failure,” so it makes little sense to cover one large group of hardware failures and not extend similar protection to a similar failure.
Some suggestions for Steve and others who experience the Red Light of Death: call the escalated Xbox support line; if that doesn’t work, call Tier 3 escalations. You can also try these executive email addresses; if that doesn’t work, email the big guy himself. He might not like it, but it should get results. If none of that works and you paid with a credit card, check if you have extended warranty coverage or if you can use your buyer’s protection plan to get a replacement.