EECB Over Xbox 360 Keeps Getting Bounced Back As Spam

Those wily Xbox 360 gremlins are at it again, and this time they’re cracking Michael’s game discs in little spokes along the inner ring of each disc. His customer service call went nowhere, naturally, so someone on the Penny Arcade forum where he posted his story suggested an Executive Email Carpet Bomb. The only problem is, it keeps getting sent back as spam.

Is this the latest stage in an EECB arms race, or is there something he’s doing wrong to trigger the spam filter? Here’s his email; what do you think is the problem?

Dear Sirs/Ma’ams,

I am writing to you to inform you that my Halo 3 Xbox 360 console, which I obtained around October of 2007, has begun cracking game discs that I put into it. So far, it has cracked 2 of my games, which are Halo 3 and Rock Band 2. It has begun to crack a third game, Fable 2. All 3 of these games have the same exact crack pattern, which I have detailed in this internet posting:

http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showpost.php?p=8809840&postcount=1

I have tried to get your customer support line to assist me in this manner, but they either stonewall me or deny the Xbox is capable of doing this. I keep my games in their boxes, and take care of them. This has started to happen over just the past couple of weeks. I cannot get your customer support line to even consider fixing my Xbox, let alone replace my games. Losing over 180$ worth of games because my Xbox decided to break them is not a fun idea. If I cannot get them replaced, I am not going to rebuy them just to have them broken again, and I am not going to spend money on another Xbox to replace a manufacturer defect. There is also the fact that I cannot buy a new Halo Xbox 360, as they were a limited run.

As a side effect of this, I can no longer play my hundreds of Rock Band DLC tracks, and cannot buy anymore without spending 60$ to replace the Rock Band 2 disc.

I look forward to a reply on this matter,
#########
########@gmail.com
(402)###-####

Comments

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  1. ZekeSulastin says:

    Three guesses:

    1) They’re autoblocking the mass e-mail or freemail account
    2) Maybe the forum URL?
    3) What else did you expect to happen when you touted EECBs as the Solution to Everything? Do you really think they ask you first before they submit one?

  2. Razorgirl says:

    No mention is made of what the subject line of the email he is sending looks like. This could possibly factor in.

    • Cocotte says:

      @Razorgirl: As someone who has worked with spam filters, I can say that URLs can definitely trigger read flags; also definitely some sending domains. Try removing the URL.
      The one bad thing about trying and failing repeated times is that every fail reinforces the spam score of the sending host.

  3. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    That really sucks. I’d suggest that it may be because he has his Xbox in a vertical position, and to try and see if the problem still exacerbates with it in a horizontal position. This is probably being caused by the disc head being misaligned with the disc which is much more likely to happen with the disc in the horizontal position.

    I don’t know what to do about MS spurning your well written complaint letter, though. Just keep trying and good luck!

  4. Fishy007 says:

    I’m pretty sure the filters are kicking up a fuss over the URL. Take it out and see what happens.

  5. zentex says:

    Larry Hyrb/MajorNelson (in his auto reply when you email him) says that URLS in emails will cause it to automagically NOT get to him.

    Perhaps dude needs to remove the URL, paste his story and try it that way.

    Giving a link in your initial EECB is bad form if you ask me.

    • zentex says:

      @zentex: also, this could be from improperly removing them from the case.

      I prolly shouldn’t, but with games I play on a regular basis I just stack them on top the TV on a DVD box and stash the gamecase on the shelf. The games don’t get messed up and are in easy reach.

  6. summerbee says:

    Emails with sir/ma’am or madam written in it tends to go to my junk folder on Gmail…even legit mail. (Although there aren’t too many legit emails that I’ve received in my life that have the words “sir” or “madam” in them.)

    Granted, that’s Gmail. Most of the sir/madam emails are Nigerian scams, for me. Maybe they have a block for those words?

    • funnymonkey says:

      @summerbee: That was my first thought. He should either figure out who he is emailing, send it to one email address at a time (copy and paste the same letter each time), and address them by name (Mr. Jones, Ms Smith) or just drop the intro and jump right into his story. If he doesn’t know who he is writing to, the “sir/ma’am” doesn’t help any, really.

      The URL is probably also a problem. Summarize the story as part of the letter, and hold off on telling them you are bad-mouthing the company until they’ve really earned it.

      • Osagasu says:

        @mynameisrita:

        Another thing he can try is “To Whom It May Concern,” which is a formal way of addressing a letter when you’re not sure of the gender of the recipients.

    • pbwingman says:

      @summerbee: I have had Gmail mark emails as spam from my school account, for which I have star/labeling filters in place. EXTREMELY frustrating. I couldn’t register for one of my classes due to not catching the error in time. Argh.

  7. ludwigk says:

    He is out of warranty, and this isn’t a RRoD issue which has the 2 add’l years of coverage. It’s not that surprising to me that customer service brushed him off.

    It is kind of interesting to see that M$ has developed anti-EECB technology, although, this is what I’d always expect companies to do in response to EECB’s: a sort of ‘pre-emptive disarmament, if you will”

    Good luck with round two.

    If your efforts continue to fall flat, you might look into replacing the optical drive yourself, which is probably cheaper than replacing your console entirely. Also, check with the software publishers to see if they’ll replace damaged disks for a fee. The only company I know of that does this/used to do this is Blizzard, who would exchange a bad disk for $10.

  8. muchenik says:

    Yup, the link is what is boucing it back. Many mail systems will either drop the links or drop the mail for security reasons.

  9. ThickSkinned says:

    Along with the disc scratching problem, this is a known issue. And Microsoft has publicly stated there is no way their console could be doing this. Your only course of action is to spend another $20 to have a replacement disc sent. Seems like it has class action written all over it to me.

    [en.wikipedia.org]

  10. nucwin83 says:

    Agree on the URL. That raised a red flag just by my glance. I’m sure no executive wants to waste time reading over a forum post.

    Include all the information in the email instead of giving links, and send it. If the attachment photos get kicked back, tell them that you’ll gladly send them photos upon request in the email and try again.

  11. FyreWulff says:

    I removed the URL from the email and tried to send it, it still got blocked.

    The subject is “Xbox 360 is cracking discs, cannot get help from Tech Support”

    • zentex says:

      @FyreWulff: email one at a time then.

      • Knippschild says:

        @zentex: part of the power of EECB is that all the corporates high&low ranking can see that all the other execs got it too, and they probably shouldn’t ignore these emails, especially if their boss got it.

        • downwithmonstercable says:

          @Knippschild: That’s totally true. I know when emails with a hierarchy going in the CC list go around, people answer.

          FyreWulff, how many people are you sending it to? If it’s a big number, maybe try cutting it in half, or mix and match a some names and send separate messages?

    • Plates says:

      @FyreWulff: It could be that you e-mail got blacklisted because of the initial e-mail tagged as spam. Try sending without URL from another e-mail account.

  12. sirwired says:

    As a random side note, that is the exact pattern I get with DVD boxes that have the center spindle too stiff.

    SirWired

  13. elurstoidi says:

    welcome to the club. tuesday night we’ll have punch and pie.

  14. John S. Kliemann says:

    It might have something to do with the fact that he openly stated that he made a copy of one of the games. Probably not, but that leads one to believe that he has a modified console, and if that’s the case he is SOL

  15. Anonymous says:

    We have that happen with a few other orgs we work with. I think it is just a really strong spam filter that blocks emails going to more than X email addresses at one time. He should try sending to each email address individually and see if that works.

  16. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    Well, it is spam, all EECBs are when you really think about it.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @Pixelantes Anonymous: Absolutely not. Well maybe if you’re sort of a dick about the interpretation of Spam, but unlike most spam, these actually serve a purpose other than to sell you a nigerian windfall.

  17. Knippschild says:

    I’d say it’s the URL, but you said removing that still had it blocked. So back it’s the word *crack* – maybe?

    Or, it could be their filtering system blocking the email of many accounts on their domain at the same time from a free email provider. Many spambots send emails in bursts on the same domain. For example, a lot of my spam in gmail has like 10 other accounts on email. So it’s likely that.

    If you want, I could provide you with an email address on my domain that doesn’t fit the “free email address provider” criteria. Just get in touch with me. If that doesn’t work, then I have no idea what kind of strict settings they have set up.

  18. dr1024 says:

    This is strange. Suspected spam emails do not normally get returned to the sender. The spam filter just eats them and they disappear. The exception to this is if your whole mail server is black-listed for some reason. Then a bounce message is usually generated so those managing the blocked mail server can find out and can eventually fix the problem that got them blocked in the first place.
    It would be odd for MS’s spam filter to tell you, “hey we didn’t like your spam email and we blocked it. Please try again to get past our spam filter.” This is why spam is normally just delete by spam filters with no bounce message. That and it would generate another email out on the Internet for every spam message. (huge overhead, as spam accounts for about 90% of all email.) And there is no way to know the return address is good (in spam it almost certainly isn’t) so the spam filter could end up spamming other innocent people with its bounce messages.
    So I’m very suspicious that the email was even bounced back by MS as spam, as apposed to be bounced by his own mail server, or for some other technical reason.

    • FyreWulff says:

      @dr1024: I thought it was strange that it did in fact tell me it was rejected, but I have both rejection emails stating that it bounced from MS’s server due to “objectional language, attachments, or spam-like patterns”

      • Coles_Law says:

        @FyreWulff: Two possibilities:
        1) Does your gmail address have anything obscene (or easily mistaken for obscene)?

        2) Try changing ‘assist’ to ‘help’-they may be reading ‘ASSist’ and blocking it.

  19. Icayrus says:

    I had to send an EECB this weekend to Microsoft and I didn’t get a bounce back. I only sent my email to 3 execs (steveb@microsoft.com, khogan@microsoft.com, robbieb@microsoft.com) at Microsoft and 3 Execs at the Insurance company I’m dealing with and have yet to hear anything, but that’s understandable considering I sent my email on a Saturday night and it’s only 9:06am in Washington. I’m not sure which email addresses you tried to send to, but try the three I did and see if you get the bounce back.

  20. GMFish says:

    I agree with everyone else here. Get rid of the url.

  21. lotussix says:

    neat. 402. i am from nebraska too. except i play on ps3.

  22. downwithmonstercable says:

    I know emails I send to my buddy’s work account get filtered out if something like Youtube is in the body of the email somewhere. Also – maybe send a separate email to each address? My yahoo account will even flag stuff as spam if the message is going to more than five people, even if it’s a forward from a friend. You might want to paraphrase your post from the forum in the email if you can cut it down to a couple sentences.

    Just some thoughts.

  23. Xerloq says:

    Here are some suggestions:

    1. Change the subject to: “Assistance requested: customer service unresponsive to hardware failure” or something similar.

    2. Address the email to the highest executive responsible for your issue (Balmer isn’t going to help), and get rid of the “sir or madam” line. Your letter will carry more weight if you know who you’re talking to.

    3. Remove the URL. It’s minutiae that execs won’t care about, but you can share (only if necessary) with whoever they choose to help you.

    4. Massage their pride a bit. Show them that you were happy, but that things have changed. You can still get your point across without beating them with a stick.

    Here’s a suggested rewrite:

    I love my special edition Halo 3 Xbox 360; however, I’ve found evidence that the console may be damaging discs. I’ve exhausted every effort to resolve this through customer and technical support, and yet have no resolution. I’m confident that your assistance will aid me in obtaining service to repair my console.

    I’ve owned my console since October 2007. I’ve noticed in the last two weeks that the Xbox appears to crack discs in the same pattern despite my efforts to care for them. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on the games, accessories, and DLC which may be rendered worthless because of an apparent hardware failure. I expect that without repair the issue will continue, and I would lose additional money replacing the already broken discs.

    Please assist me in arranging a repair for my console so I may continue to enjoy my games.

    I do not wish for this to be my last experience with the Xbox, but I cannot afford to waste money knowing the problem will reoccur.

    Thank you for your prompt reply.

  24. chemicalpink says:

    Regarding Rock Band 2, you should phone EA about it (no, seriously – their phone support is okay, their email support sucks). I had someone tell me when I called about a similar issue that if I can provide a reference number from Microsoft that indicates their console caused the damage (not always possible, I know) they’ll replace it at no charge.

    Even if you can’t do that, their out of warranty disc replacement program will get you a brand new copy of the game for (I believe) $20.

  25. paladyn says:

    I’d also try changing instances of crack to damage or something. It might be flagging it for “cracking” or “cracked”.

    • FyreWulff says:

      @paladyn: I’ve resent the email, with the link removed (for the second time), and all instances of ‘crack’ changed to damage or variants thereof. I’ve also sent it to each person, one by one. About an hour later and I haven’t gotten the spam warning.. yet.

  26. krunk4ever says:

    I was going to say, maybe it has to do with his outgoing email server. Typically, smtp servers are flagged if they’re untrusted.

    Given that he uses gmail (or so claims his signature), I doubt that was the issue, unless he’s using a personal smtp server (i.e. mail.personal-domain.com), but stating his email address is *@gmail.com.

    As you can imagine, that doesn’t jive well with spam filters.

  27. coren says:

    While I can’t suggest how to get your email through any better than what’s already been said, I might look into whether a RROD will get your Xbox repaired or not.

  28. DustoMan says:

    Take the e-mail address out as well as the URL. Even the e-mail address will trigger their filter. The e-mail has to be completely plain text and cannot contain anything that can be parsed into a URL by an e-mail client.

  29. DustoMan says:

    BTW, Microsoft has a mechanism to get game discs replaced that they publish. You’re going to have to call EA to get the RB2 disc replaced.

  30. DustoMan says:

    Oh and Comsumerist, thanks again for another Microsoft hit piece. Now how about making a post about how the PS3 is suddenly starting to run rampant with disc read errors that require fixing by Sony?

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @DustoMan: Oh God….

    • kyle4 says:

      @DustoMan: My PS3 was scratching/damaging discs from something inside rubbing against it when it ejected discs. I had to send it in twice to Sony to replace, and they were cooperative, nice and replied/fixed the problem finally. I’d write Consumerist, but they handled it properly.

  31. kilde says:

    Now how did you obtain the Xbox 360 in 2007? If I’m not mistaken warranties and the like are only applicable to the original owner.

  32. shepd says:

    Time to protect your investment by modding the console and playing backups. On the way to doing that, pick up a replacement drive, they can be had for about $40.

    You know, since MS isn’t caring about you, you should just stop caring about them. And if you don’t use the mod to pirate games, you shouldn’t even feel bad about it, although you’ll probably be upset when you’re banned from live…

    Just my 2 cents.

  33. BurnZ_ says:

    And yet another reason to not by the crap that is the xbox.

  34. digitlanalog says:

    I’ve worked in a game store for a few years and yep, I’ve seen a ton of this. But to be honest, I’m going to put most of the blame on Microsoft’s packaging rather than the system. (yes the system chews giant rings into the disks) but, I have yet to see how it could actually cause a crack to start on the disk considering that the disk sits loose in the tray.

    I have however seen people prying and bending their disks to remove them from the boxes because the inner peg that holds the disk in place is very large and tight on the disk. Most people don’t even notice the inner cracking until it moves into the data layer of the disk anyway. The lines are very fine and usually cannot be seen from the graphic side of the disk.

    It’s sad but the only solution I’ve seen is to keep the disks in either paper sleeves inside the boxes or in some type of media case.