Nintendo Goes Above and Beyond for Globe-Trotting Gamer

When you have a Japanese Nintendo DS and it breaks while in America, who do you send it to? Reader Drew expected high repair fees, but got a surprise when he spoke to Nintendo of America Representative, Amanda.

Drew was just an exchange student in Japan when he bought the DS, so she charged Drew for the repair, then immediately processed a refund for the same amount. Drew got his DS back in under ten days, fully repaired for free. This is customer service – rather than negotiating through international Red Tape, a company took care of a loyal customer. Good show, Nintendo.

(Photo: DuncanDavidson)

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  1. visualbowler says:

    is anyone else confused by what happened in this story?

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @visualbowler: Drew contacted Nintendo of America, they charged him for the repair but immediately refunded it, and then had his fixed DS back to him in 10 days. That is all.

    • Jthmeffy says:

      @visualbowler: Drew was in Japan as an exchange student when he bought his DS. When is time in Japan was up, he came back to the US. After he had gotten back home, his DS broke. Nintendo could have caused a big stink about the Japanese product trying to be turned in under warranty in the US, but they didn’t.

      IMO, it shouldn’t matter where the fuck you bought the goddamn thing… If it’s under warranty, they should fix it. If they don’t, it is just a way for the company to put loopholes in place with their products to ensure that at least some warranty repairs wont have to be honored. This is a very shitty business practice, and unfortunately most companies get away with it.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        @Jthmeffy: The main reason for the shenanigans most of the time is because companies put in place widely different prices for the same exact device in different areas. So, companies would sell an item at a low price in low-cost regions and sell the exact same item at a high price in a relatively rich region. The market in each region holds a maximum profit point so this helps maximize profits without minimizing market penetration.

        So-called “gray market” goods are often purchased in the bargain regions and reimported to the fleeced regions at prices that undercut the prevailing prices while still providing profit to the middle men. Dangling warranty on a string is just a way to discourage such acts. “How dare they take OUR DESERVED PROFITS away?!”

        It’s still bunk, though. Price fixing and region locking are crap.

        Now I’d be real impressed if they had this kind of customer service repair for a region locked Wii.

        • parad0x360 says:

          @Applekid: This is exactly why you used to see guys go into a store and buy 15 Playstation 1’s at a time.

          These days they are doing it with Wii Fit, Wiimotes and Nunchucks. They buy as many as they can get away with and then sell them at a higher cost in another country. Normally in South America.

          One would think these people are just ebaying it but thats not always the case.

          • mzs says:

            @parad0x360: Exactly, I know a person that buys video games and systems and travels to Brazil. Then she comes back with jeans and shoes. It so similar to what was going on behind the iron curtain back in the day. plus the jeans are fantastic.

      • Powerlurker says:

        @Jthmeffy:

        Typically to deter grey market imports where you unofficially import an item (usually electronic) from a country where it is sold for less than in your own market, companies will restrict warranty coverage to the country it was originally to be sold in. So if you buy that grey market camcorder or camera lens from a sketchy electronics shop in NYC that originally intended for sale in Thailand or The Philippines or such to save a couple hundred dollars, the manufacturer may either deny a warranty claim outright or force you to ship it to a claims center in the original country of purchase.

      • Pixelantes Anonymous says:

        @Jthmeffy: “IMO, it shouldn’t matter where the fuck you bought the goddamn thing… If it’s under warranty, they should fix it.”

        Tell that to Western Digital. I bought an external hard drive of theirs from Dell.com (coupons rock). They have a three-year warranty, from what I could gather.

        One of the drives inside broke at 11 1/2 months. Western Digital is claiming the drive is out-of-warranty, because “it was sold in Europe”.

        No more WDC products for me.

      • ceilingFANBOY says:

        @Jthmeffy: One of the problems with that when looking at gaming companies is that Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Japan almost act as completely different companies, similar to how Verizon and Verizon Wireless act almost as different companies or Sprint and Nextel sometimes act as separate companies.

  2. The Cheat says:

    that’s not such an amazing story. my nephew tore his (first gen) DS in half along the hinges and Nintendo replaced it for free stating that there was no way a 6 year old could have done that.

    • Parapraxis says:

      @jcostantino:

      Is your nephew Bruce Banner?

    • blackmage439 says:

      @jcostantino: The amazing part of it is not the repair or issue with the DS. The point is a company with separate divisions (Nintendo of America and Nintendo [in Japan]) actually WORKING TOGETHER. Most companies, and Apple is notorious for this, care not for how things are done across the pond. They only care about what happens in their respective regions.

      If you purchase an Apple computer in Britian for example, you need to ship it overseas to be repaired by Apple Care. This guy bought his DS in Japan and had it repaired in the States, with less than two-weeks turnaround, no less!

      • SudhamayiKabong says:

        @blackmage439: I’m not so sure it’s as impressive as we’re making it out to be. DS hardware is universal. There’s no region lock on it, and no real difference in hardware between regions. It’s a nice thing Nintendo did, but eh, that’s their MO. They do this sort of thing frequently.

  3. Swizzler121 says:

    nintendo’s always had great customer service, they fixed my ds even after I had opened it and broke the power button off, no questions asked. just wish the rest of the company was that good… stupid causal gamers…

    • Beerad says:

      @Swizzler121: So…very…confusing…

      1) I don’t know what a “causal” gamer is.
      2) Assuming you’re blaming casual gamers for… something, why are you blaming Nintendo for appealing to a broader market? You’re upset that Nintendo has widespread appeal, because… I give up.
      3) It’s probably due to that widespread casual gamer popularity that Nintendo has such fantastic customer service, so where’s the problem again?

      • LeoSolaris says:

        @Beerad: I think he meant (and this is just my two cents) that Nintendo’s game selection is based around the casual gamer who plays games for short periods, and doesn’t want a long involved story, rather than the “hardcore” gamer, who usually wants a detailed and involved storyline. Sort of like the difference between Pacman and Final Fantasy.

        By focusing on one, they actually have a narrower focus rather than broader appeal. By then again, this is fairly normal for Nintendo’s systems. They start off focusing on kids games and casual games, while third parties introduce more complicated games and deeper story lines. It’s just that the third parties haven’t turned out many popular “hardcore” games for the Wii, yet, which is a little unusual.

        • Frankie23 says:

          @LeoSolaris: Frankly, I think the person who plays Pac-Man to the point of getting ridiculously high scores is much more hard-core than the person who hits X over and over till the next pretty cut-scene. FFVII was the beginning of casual gaming in North America; populist, skill-free, and shiny.

  4. skc15 says:

    I have to say, the folks at DS customer service are great. Totally pleasant to work with. I had a broken DS, they sent me a label, I mailed it in, they fixed it and mailed it back. Done and Done.

  5. El_Fez says:

    Actually I’m not all that shocked. Nintendo has always had good customer service. When my gamecube died 3 months out of warrantee, the customer service rep said no problem and covered the repairs, and when I needed new cables and the rep saw that I was local to headquarters, he suggested to save myself the shipping costs and just swing by and pick one up in person.

    They’ve always treated me right.

  6. BrianDaBrain says:

    Yay for good customer service. I don’t really use your products, but good job Nintendo! And, Alex, it’s nice to see you back for the day.

  7. Stoli says:

    Being a former Nintendo employee, and not necessarily liking a lot of directions the company is going, I can still say that they have excellent customer service.

  8. ShariC says:

    Apple is similarly cooperative about international repairs. Back before Apple stores made version swapping easy, I used to get Macs from the U.S. (mainly for the English keyboard) and they were serviced for free (if under warranty) in Japan.

    We tried to get a Dell serviced on our own dime in Japan and it was almost impossible even when we were going to pay for it because they have some byzantine system where you have to have some special number based on where you bought the system which must be changed if you are abroad (and it takes 2 months to process).

    • jamar0303 says:

      @ShariC: On the topic of Apple, it’s a whole different story in China. US-purchased PowerBook (this was pre-Intel), broken in China. Spent $1000 because the Chinese Apple repair center refused to believe that the damage wasn’t caused by me (DVD drive refused to eject discs). I’m still very unhappy about that one.

  9. Ein2015 says:

    Have I mentioned that I love Nintendo?

    Seriously. No Microsoft gaming consoles for me. I used to hate the playstation but the PS3 looks nice. HOWEVER, I still want a Wii. Can I have both? :)

    I didn’t know Nintendo’s customer service was this good, though. Thanks for sharing!

    • kathyl says:

      @Ein2015: I have both a Wii and a PS3. It depends what kind of gamer you are, but they both fill a different role. They are complimentary, if you are drawn to the kinds of games that tend to be made for either/both platform(s).

      And I really like Nintendo, too, though the mechanics for social gaming on the Wii could be more sophisticated.

    • xnihilx says:

      @Ein2015: As far as gaming devices go in my house “You name it we got it.”We like to game at our house and it really doesn’t matter with what. Not trying to brag it’s just that each console offers its own perks. The Wii just rocks, kicks all kinds of butt at everything and is awesomely fun and has console specific games, Xbox360 had exclusive games to it that we like to play, and the PS3 while maybe lacking a little in exclusive games is also Blu-Ray player so when Wal*Mart ran a “pre black Friday” deal we picked it up. (good thing our tv has lots of inputs!)

      Our collection goes beyond that and we’ll go from the DS, to PC games to playing Commie 64 and Amiga.

      No game system is really “better” or “greater” then another it’s all objective and depends on what you like.

      Though I will say that Nintendo does rock in general. The DS is cool and offers all kinds of fun. I think that they’ve come out with something with it and the Wii that is just so different that no one else can compete right now.

  10. AngerMan007 says:

    I have to say, reading this article only makes me want to scream in anger. I have a US (NTSC) Nintendo Wii which bricked itself after a system update only 2 months after I bought it. There is NO physical damage to the console, so repairing it should be a breeze for Nintendo. However, since I don’t currently live in the US, no one was willing to help.

    After tons and tons of calls to both Nintendo US, and Nintendo Europe, I was getting nowhere. I had the console, I had the original receipt and warranty card, yet it wasn’t doing me any good. At the end, after a few months, I just ended up buying a new Wii, and the old one is still sitting in my living room today collecting dust.

    So, reading this article means NOTHING to me. Nintnedo has already screwed me more than once.

  11. kathyl says:

    And I bet you that the next time that customer is considering game systems, he will remember that experience with Nintendo.

    (I’ve only contacted Nintendo’s customer service once, with a minor Wii-related issue, and the person I spoke to was really helpful and kept assuring me that if we couldn’t solve the issue over the phone, Nintendo would be happy to take care of it with a repair at their expense. When my daughter is old enough for a handheld, you can bet I’ll remember that phone call.)

  12. Sean Salisbury Steak says:

    Nintendo’s customer service is out of this world. I had a few Wii Remotes break on me and they repaired them all free of charge, no questions asked.

    This story is another example why I am a Nintendo customer for life.

  13. Mazda Eric says:

    Good…customer…service? I do not understand this concept…

    Great to hear there are still companies (Apple, Nintendo) that care about their customers – whether they are first timers or lifers.

  14. Corporate-Shill says:

    Nintendo is Nintendo.

    Nintendo USA or whatever they call themselves is a wholy own subsidiary of Nintendo Japan.

    IF Nintendo USA had refused to service the product… well, to be blunt, somebody would have been fired.

    Now, Nintendo USA does not have to fix Nintendo Canada etc as they are sister companies responsible for their own tasks.

    • disneyninja says:

      @Corporate-Shill:

      The call centers in the US and Canada work together to set up repairs for the five repair centers across the two countries, two in Canada and three in the US. Those call centers handle all repairs, replacements, and troubleshooting for Nintendo products.

  15. TechnoDestructo says:

    Nintendo has never region-locked any of their portables. (And most of their consoles have been at least software-compatible…the cases were the only impediment.) Considering how travel-friendly that makes their stuff, their equal treatment of overseas hardware is just icing on the cake.

    • mzs says:

      @TechnoDestructo: DSi is region locked.

      • satoru says:

        @mzs: Downloadable content on the DSi is region locked. However the physical cartridges are not even on the DSi.

        • Zorantor says:

          @AngerMan007: Since when does the Wii come with a “warranty card”?

          Odd that the machine would brick itself after an official update, as well. You didn’t mod it at all?

    • shepd says:

      @TechnoDestructo:

      I won’t argue that Nintendo handhelds are generally region free, except to say that the DS wifi/multiplayer compatibility is reduced between alternate region systems.

      However, region-free for consoles:

      NES: Yes. Although it still had the infamous 10NES lockout chip, it wasn’t region specific.
      SNES: No. CIC chip.
      VB: Region-free. Although only 22 games were ever made.
      N64: Lockout chip present, but appeared to be optional. Only some games use it. ( Sources: [en.wikipedia.org] and [www.chronicgames.net] ).
      GC: Checks the disc, definite region lockout.
      Wii: Same thing as the GC.

      If we include the VB, they’re shooting 2 for 6. Maybe 3 for 6 since for the N64 it seemed to be optional.

      • Zorantor says:

        @shepd: It makes no difference which region your DS system is from; they’re all identical save for the packaging. The compatibility issues arise in some instances of linking multiple copies the same game but from different regions.

        To my knowledge, the primary “region protection” that actually got used on the N64 was a piece of plastic. N64 systems had a piece of plastic inside the cartridge slot that would line up like a key with a like-shaped notch on cartridges of the same region.

        All it took to “region-mod” an N64 was an exacto knife to remove the piece inside the machine.

  16. jamar0303 says:

    This makes me much less worried about buying a Japanese DS Lite (seriously, is it so hard to release an all-blue DS in North America?).

  17. shifuimam says:

    I love Nintendo. I’m not all that jazzed about how they’re making it harder to run homebrew games on the Wii these days, but I’ve had wonderful customer support experiences with them.

  18. Raekwon says:

    Go Nintendo. Best customer service I’ve ever experienced.

  19. unobservant says:

    I have a DS Lite and a Wii (besides our Nintendo and Super Nintendo systems), my baby sister has a Wii, and my older sister is getting a DS Lite for Christmas. With the exception of the “Blow Syndrome” that affected my original Nintendo out of warranty, I’ve never had a problem with any of them. I’m glad that, if I did, I can get my issues dealt with so efficiently.

    Now, if only the same could be said for our 360 (we’re on our third – damn you, RROD!)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Same thing happened to my friend. My friend bought a ds from japan when they came out. At one point the hinge cracked and nintendo replaced it for free, no questions asked.

    I’ve also had my ninendo ds in for service because of 1 dead pixel. I think it was gone a total of 10 days. This includes the time it took to ship the ds to nintendo,the repair, and the time it took them to ship it back to my house.

  21. iDuckie says:

    This isn’t a big surprise. Nintendo has awesome customer service. We had a GBA and hubby called and complained that the screen was too dark. NoA sent him a coupon to buy a light for the screen and a free video game. Their customer service is excellent.

  22. satoru says:

    This isn’t such a big problem with the NDS that has no region lock for games. So essentially giving a person a US or Japanese NDS isn’t a big difference for the user. I’m somewhat surprised they did the repair, though I might want to look over the repair/warranty statement. Because there isn’t any ‘grey’ market for NDS in general, it might make where you bought the NDS moot in terms of warranty validity.

  23. Angryrider says:

    I’m not surprised considering the systems have no region encoding, therefore they sell the same types of system around the world.

    And why should anyone post about awesome Nintendo service? This is always a given.

  24. maneki neko says:

    This exact issue happened to a friend. Nintendo was happy to repair his Japanese DS (in navy blue) once he was back in the US. When it turned out the entire system needed to be replaced, he sent in his old one and they gave him a new one for $90. I’m not familiar with Nintendo’s policies – is this a worse deal than you would get if you had a DS from the United States?

  25. Anonymous says:

    I just had to send my youngest’s DS back to the big N. There service is always top notch. I called about the problem on Sat. on Wed. I had a refurbed DS at my door.

  26. Frankie23 says:

    Just to add to the choir, Nintendo are *amazing* when is comes to service. I was trying to find a specific limited edition DS for my girlfriend one Christmas; their customer support staff did a search of stock at all the local stores and helped me track down one of ten left in the lower mainland. If that’s not above and beyond, I don’t know what would be.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar experience with Nintendo. I bought my DS lite in Japan (the US didn’t have pink yet) while studying abroad two years ago, and the mic stopped working a few months after I got back to the states. I registered w/ Nintendo, and eventually made a call to the service center. They sent me a shipping label and all I had to pay for was the box I sent it in.
    The lady I spoke to even apologized for the fact that it wouldn’t be a Japanese DS.
    No hassle, no confusion, and it got back to me in about ten days. If I hadn’t already been a big fan, that would have done it.

  28. Zorantor says:

    Nintendo is definitely great in their customer service. My DS broke out of warranty, so I should have been charged about $80 for the repairs, but the person I spoke to on the phone was able to reduce the charge to $30. Not bad at all, I think.

  29. JB4GDI says:

    Similar situation: Got a Japanese DS that I have now in the US. The hinge cracked, and they were more than happy to replace it. The only problem was that they don’t make an Ice Blue DS here in the States, so they would have to give me another color.

    So I ended up not getting it replaced, but maybe one of these days they’ll sell the color here and all will be well.

  30. wiggatron says:

    Typical Nintendo. “Sure, we’ll fix it, and we’ll do it for free and within the blink of an eye”. What bastards.