Microsoft Deep-Sixes Red Ring Of Death Coffins, Makes Customers Supply Their Own Boxes

Although we received an indication in March that Microsoft was phasing out its Xbox 360 return policy of sending customers padded boxes with prepaid return envelopes, gaming blog Joystiq confirmed that Microsoft quietly made it official in late May.

As of May 26 the policy was discontinued “in an effort to expedite the repair process.” Customers will have the option of receiving an e-label to slap on the box they ship their bricked consoles in, but the days of the “coffin” are now over. A Microsoft spokesperson tell us, “Customers can now ship their consoles themselves using an e-label provided by Microsoft and do not need to wait for an empty box to be shipped to them.”

Why, how thoughtful of you, Microsoft! We’re sure the move is all about customer convenience and has nothing to do with passing costs on to victimized customers who keep on having to return their breakdown-prone consoles to you for another breakdown-prone refurb.

On the plus side, I’ve never met an Xbox 360 owner who hasn’t had his machine give up the ghost at least once on him — I’m currently on my sixth 360 — and most everyone has so little faith that their console will last that they’ve kept at the ready the box the console was shipped back to them.

Microsoft kills ‘coffin’ policy, time to pack your RRoD Xbox yourself [Joystiq]
(Photo: Cheap Ass Gamer)

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  1. LJKelley says:

    Well technically if you already have a box, then this will be faster. Before you had to wait for the box to arrive, now you just print out a label you received instantly.

    Yes, Microsoft is reducing their cost, but its pretty normal to have to package your own items (I had to so when Target replaced my Xbox) and some places (like when me external HDD failed) require you to pay the shipping.

    • Kogenta says:

      @LJKelley: Wait, couldn’t you do this before? I know way back when my 360 RRODed, the CSR asked me if I had my own packaging because if I did they could just send me the elabel and I could have it sent in immediatly to expidite my repair, or if I did not have adequete packaging on hand, they would send me a box, however it would mean my repair would take longer since they had to send me the box.

      I was under the impression that you could e-label before. And this was WAY before this whole not shipping coffins thing started showing up.

    • PSUSkier says:

      @LJKelley: I second this. I have a 360 that so far hasn’t needed a coffin (fingers crossed) but in the event that it does, I’d much rather grab a box from work/grocery store/liquor store/anyplace that is a business and slap a label on it.

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    And by not using the Microsoft packaging, the ability to deny claim (not securely packaged) will increase to 100% of returns.

    • superhalo says:

      @SkokieGuy: Exactly why I opted for the box in late May when my xbox had the RROD.

      • MTBVibe says:

        @superhalo: I’m right there with you…I got my repair request for the newer of my 2 360s in just under the wire.

        Of course, the 360 arcade retail box is also perfect for packing/shipping the console back in – so I’ve one of those saved for additional backup. (Yeah, I’m one of those horrible packrats who keeps EVERYTHING in the basement…I still have the original packaging from my Dreamcast, for instance.)

  3. Darrone says:

    Look! You don’t need to wait, isn’t that the greatest? Now you can pay for your own packing materials. And if it isn’t properly packed, we’ll probably deny your warranty claim despite the fact that we’ve been making an inferior quality product for years.

    • PSUSkier says:

      @Darrone: I’m fully convinced that anyone who pays for boxes anymore are completely unresourceful. You can get boxes free practically anywhere (grocery stores etc).

      • Darrone says:

        @PSUSkier: Yea, its more about the packing. The xbox is very oddly shaped. Thats why the pre-formed foam was important. I guarantee they have some sort of rejection process for improperly packed boxes.

        • anduin says:

          @Darrone:

          I wonder what kind of profit margin they make on each 360 and what that in turn means if every other xbox is sent back for repairs. Had my ps3 for just over a year and its still great. Had a 360 for 6 months and it RROD’ed lol.

    • MooseOfReason says:

      @Darrone: USPS boxes are free. Just get some bubble wrap.

  4. Conrad says:

    Wow, I just missed the cut off then. I didn’t red ring, my disc drive crapped out. Still they sent me a box in may.

  5. Steve Phillips says:

    I bought my Xbox 360 shortly before GTA IV came out, and it hasn’t yet failed on me… but a pretty big chunk of the people I know have had theirs fail on them.

    • Krobar says:

      @Steve Phillips: same here actually.

      • woogychuck says:

        @Steve Phillips:

        I’ve had mine for 3 years no issues. I have 6 friends who’ve had 360’s as long as or longer than I, and not one of them has had an issue…

        I’m quite dubious of people who are on their “6th XBox”. I’d say it’s a safe bet that there is something else going on.

        • kingmanic says:

          @woogychuck: You have a sample size of 7. I have a sample of 13 where EVERYONE has replaced it once I am on my second whilst one of my friends is indeed on his 5th. He payed for the last 2 repairs.

    • ShadowFalls says:

      @Steve Phillips:

      I have had mine for over 2 years with no failure. I guess it is a matter of how people treat their consoles. Leaving them on for all hours or playing them for 18 hours a day probably doesn’t go too well without proper ventilation. It isn’t called the 360 because it is meant to be play 360 days of the year straight.

  6. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    “I’m currently on my sixth 360″

    are you freaking kidding? does the 360 shit gold bricks or something? what could possibly justify something that requires 6 replacements???

    • ShikhaCadimillac says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): He’s not saying that he has purchased 6 different xBox 360s, he is saying that he has had to return 5 xBox 360s due to malfunctions and is currently using the 6th xBox 360 while only having paid for 1 xBox.

      I am on my fourth xBox 360. I had one fail strait out of the box on launch day and I have had two red-rings-of-death since then. Each time, I have had the unit replaced for FREE!

      I’m not happy about it, but at least my xBoxes keep getting replaced for free.

      All of my friends that have xBoxes have had at least one experience with the red-ring-of-death and all have received the cardboard coffins and had their xBoxes replaced for free.

      • Murph1908 says:

        @ShikhaCadimillac:
        I have had 2 RROD and 2 failed lasers/drives.

        I actually considered myself lucky when the RROD appeared immediately after the second failed drive. Warrany vs. Non-warranty repair FTW.

      • Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

        @ShikhaCadimillac:
        A chemist friend of mine in the solder business blames this all on the European Union which demanded that MS use only lead free solder for everything.
        The problem is that lead free solder forms what they call whiskers in the solder biz & many are too small to see without a microscopic exam of the boards & because of this their are an unknown number of electrical connections that shouldn’t be there & cause shorts & other failures.
        He says they all hate lead free solder for everything but water pipes!

        • anduin says:

          @Greasy Thumb Guzik:
          every friend of mine that has a 360 has had a malfunction whether it was RROD or hard drive failure, its amazing that a giant like MS doesn’t get crucified for such a shoddy product.

    • KingPsyz says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I’m right there with you, how can anyone justify that down time for such a high profile piece of consumer electronics.

  7. Marc Melton says:

    I got a box last week, June 5th. Put in the request June 2nd. Clearly, something is not right.

    • dadelus says:

      @Marc Melton: Mine shot craps at the beginning of May and I was told I had to supply my own box.

      Although that is the only thing approaching a complaint I can make about the process. I shipped it off to the MS repair center in TX and turnaround was less than a week. So far I haven’t had any problems with the new unit.

      • b01000100 says:

        @dadelus: They will give you a box if you ask for it. I just sent in two of mine and requested boxes for them. This happened right at the end of May and I had no complaints from Microsoft. It takes longer if you wait for the box, but the repair times are great for RROD issues. Both of the ones I sent in were received, repaired, and shipped out on the same day.

        Be sure to request the box. I told them I wanted to be sure they were shipped securely and they said it would be no problem.

        • John Gardner says:

          @b01000100: Yeah, my brother’s elite just RROD the other day, and he got a box too… so i’m not sure how accurate all of this is.

          Maybe they’re giving out boxes until they run out of said boxen?

  8. mancide says:

    You guys once again are so quick to bash Microsoft you forgot to do some actual reporting. They don’t offer the box as the default option, however they will still send one if you request it or tell them you don’t have suitable packaging to send the console back.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @mancide: That’s what I remember from sending mine in. There was a separate request area for it. Then again I did this before the supposed cutoff, so maybe it’s different now.

    • Dennis Judd says:

      @mancide:
      Thank you. I was going to say the same thing….heck I’m all willing to jump on the hate wagon, but this is being blown out of proportion a bit I think.

      Heck for me it was a better choice to print the elabel (back in 12/08) and ship it with my own box.

    • anduin says:

      @mancide:
      I don’t bash them because of some box bs, I bash them because my 360 red ringed after 6 months of average play. Its just jokes that the system costs less but then you need a subscription, a wireless adapter if you’re modem isn’t close, bigger hard drive as more games become install mandatory all pushing the price well beyond a ps3 all the while trying not to break every other day. The games and system are fun but the way the machine goes all haywire for everyone is dissapointing to say the least.

  9. Sndtrkman says:

    My 360 Red Ringed last month (again for the 2nd time in 2 weeks) and instead of going thru Microsoft, I remembered I purchased the 2 year warranty from Best Buy. One of the best choices I made since I went there, exchanged the old 20 gig Pro (kept the Hard Drive obviously) and upgraded to their 60 gig version.

    All in all, took me about 15 minutes to swap out and the difference in price paid for another 2 years on my new 360 and I got $10 bucks back in Gift Card form to Best Buy. Thank god for extended warranties.

  10. Dustin Landgraf says:

    I “inherited” a broken launch console from a friend because the DVD drive was busted. I replaced the drive (obviously voiding the hell out of any warranty) and it still runs like a champ. Launch 360 with NO RRoD. I would like to know what the hell you are doing to these things to end up on your 6th. I know they have a high failure rate, but seriously, 6?

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @Dustin Landgraf: the RRoD isn’t drive related, it’s something with the GPU separating from the motherboard or something like that. You can open it up and reconnect it and spread some of that paste between the two and it will work.

      • Dustin Landgraf says:

        @downwithmonstercable: Oh, no, I understand that. I was just saying I have dealt with a drive failure, but NO RRoD on a launch box. I know they aren’t related (not directly anyway), and I also know how to fix a ringed box. My point was how the red ring issue seems to happen to the same person a bunch of times, and to other people (ie; me) not at all.

  11. MakinSense...ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Well, if the thing is already useless, why spend money on cradling it to return it? It’s like putting an automatic closer on the barn door AFTER the horse got out. Maybe now they can put that saved money towards fixing the newer units.

    • Taliskan says:

      @MakinSense…ForOnce_GitEmSteveDave:
      Well they typically don’t ship you a replacement console. They just repair your console (new drive, motherboard, what have you) and send it back to you. I would take care in shipping it then.

      And they did address fixing the issue with the newer units. :)

  12. Holly Leonhard says:

    My 360 crapped out for the first time during the 3rd or 4th week of March after about 2-3 years of some heavy game play, although i took care of my console. Maybe you groups of people going through six are laying the the box and power supply on the carpet and playing for 18 hours at a time or something but my box stood up to about 8-12 hours of gameplay 5-7 times a week. I had a replacement from Microsoft in about 1.5-2 weeks (including the time waiting for the “coffin) for absolutely no charge to me.

    That much being said, I am very satisfied with a process that was even easy online with the use of my LiveID. Like 30seconds easy.

  13. Holly Leonhard says:

    anywho at the time printing your own label and using your own box at your own expense were an option. did they make that the only option or is this a misunderstanding?

  14. Sean Beattie says:

    I’ve had my 360 for well over a year now, bought it off Craigslist, and it was a launch console. It hasn’t red-ringed on me once, aside from a power outage where I had to reset my tv to pick up the input.

    …and here’s where the haters’ heads all explode. Can’t help it if my 360 runs on an Improbability Drive.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @Sean Beattie: I bought mine six months after launch brand new, and it red ringed about six months ago. You might be one of the lucky few that didn’t get a bad one, but it might just be a matter of time.

    • Taliskan says:

      @Sean Beattie: Same.

      I got my 360 shortly after launch and it finally gave out on me almost 2 months back. And I use it A LOT. So, seems to be we lucked out in the batch with the Improbabilty Drives.

      Considering the extended warranty they tacked on, the quick turn around time, and how they used to pay for AND send out the shipping boxes (not to mention them paying shipping)… I like Microsoft did a good job in addressing the issue to make it easy on the consumer.

      And it’s not like MS suddenly forced the issue of consumers to supply their own boxes. There was always that option. Print out label, use own box, and send out.

      With the new models having purportedly fewer issues, I don’t see a problem with them taking a little back.

    • tcolberg says:

      @Sean Beattie: My console that was manufactured in Feb 2007 is still going strong with nearly daily use.

  15. jaya9581 says:

    After over 2 years, our 360 RROD’d last month. We got a box with no hassle, and got it quickly. I made the novel decision to SAVE IT (after the completed repair, of course) just in case it ever happens again.

    On an interesting sidenote, our 360 was shipped home to us the day after they received it, completely repaired. Talk about a quick turnaround.

  16. ReverendBrown says:

    Mine’s still kicking. I did see the dreaded rings a few nights ago when the electrics flaked out briefly, but a nice, refreshing reset later in the evening made papa not tear the walls down.

    I’ve kept the original box in the event I do need to ship it somewhere.

  17. steveliv says:

    is the red ring of death limited to the first few revisions? my xbox is one of those with hdmi ports. anyone know if those are susceptible as well?

    • williamgarzon says:

      The HDMI Xboxes are susceptible to the E67 error code, I have the first gen console that has RROD twice on me and my brother in law has a XBOX Elite model with HDMI that had the E67 error code, i believe its 2 red lights. His crapped out on him about 3 weeks ago, he purchased it about a year ago this month

  18. cash_da_pibble says:

    what slays me about the RRoD replacements is that after you’ve sent one in, you ONLY get a 1 year warranty on your box.
    So you better pray to god that if your box is going to ring, your box rings in that 1 year- or you’re Sh!t out of luck.

  19. Corporate_guy says:

    As long as they still will provide the box, what is the problem here?

    • ajlei says:

      @Corporate_guy: I think it’s not so much the box as it is the padding they supplied, which really made it more secure than packing peanuts or newspaper or air bubbles are going to do.

  20. pythonkid says:

    Boxes, are what, 4 or 5 bucks for a good one? at least they still pay the shipping. And quite personally, i’ve had my elite since the elite launched, and it hasn’t died yet. I get a bad feeling its getting close though.

    • ajlei says:

      @pythonkid: The bigger issue I see is the styrofoam coffin. It fit mine perfectly and I felt a little less scared handing it off to the UPS guy.

  21. Daniel Beahn says:

    it’s been a while back that they stopped offering packaging – I had to send a unit in for a friend last December (that’s about 6 months ago now). HOWEVER – if you ask, they’ll still send you the box.

    Since I had newspaper (expensive to use for packing material, I know) and an old Amazon box laying around, printing the label probably shaved a week or so off the repair time (I’d called on a Friday).

    I’m pretty underwhelmed with the fact checking on this story.

    I feel bad for the OP – I run with some hardcore gamers, but I don’t know anyone that’s ever had to have more than 2 replacements. I’ve heard horror stories of 3 and even FOUR replacements. But SIX? This guy must be the unluckiest guy on the planet.

  22. cartagenero says:

    I just sent my back like two months ago and didn’t see anything about them giving me a box. They just allowed me to print the label and pack gave a PDF of packing instructions. That’s it. So I think this started before May.

  23. sebastian_dangerfield says:

    My XBox 360 died about a year after purchase. I sent it back and kept bugging Microsoft support about when it would be returned, until they escalated me to VIP support out of (I think) Texas. The next Thursday I got a console in the mail. Then, the next day (Friday), I got another box – with another console. The following Monday, my wife called me at work – “You won’t believe what just showed up at our house”. Another console.

    When MS Support called to find out if I was satisfied with the resolution to my ticket, I said I was quite happy with my 3 Xboxes and did they want any of them back? Apparently there’s no room in their process for customers returning superfluous hardware, so I am the proud owner of 3 consoles (but unfortunately not 3 hard drives and power supplies, otherwise I could start my own gaming cafe).

    This has come in handy, as over the last few years every time one of my XBoxes breaks, I pull out one of the ‘spares’ to keep me occupied while I wait for the repair. And yet, last summer, there was a brief period of time where ALL THREE of my consoles had RROD and were out for repair at the same time.

    Just last week I had another RROD. I haven’t even bothered to send it back yet because I still have two spares. And yes, I make sure to keep the packaging!

  24. jpdanzig says:

    Sony must be sacrificing newbornes to the gods that the xbox is such an unreliable piece of junk; otherwise I have to believe that the PS3 would have already died, taking the once-proud electronics giant with it…

  25. gemetzel says:

    Why do people still buy these consoles? Worst investment ever. My PS3 is still alive and kicking and it’s a launch 60gig model. Never had a problem with it.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @gemetzel: You know, while my PS3 appears to be like, nigh invincible, I don’t find myself using it much to play games on. It’s been great for streaming media on, but beyond that, my 360 seems to be my primary gaming system. That’s not to imply that the PS3 doesn’t have a fair amount of great games worth playing or anything. I guess it’s just that for me, there’s just some sort of intangible quality about the 360 that makes it my go-to gaming system in spite of how shoddy the hardware is. That said, if mine comes down with a case of RRoD, I won’t have any problem sending it off for repairs and then selling the thing for some PS3 moniez. :P

  26. potzertommy says:

    I just had to return my red-ring-of-death-ed Xbox recently. If i had the option, I would have still packaged it myself anyways. Although i would prefer that Microsoft would sell me a product that didnt have such a high percentage chance of breaking, i had my Xbox back TWELVE days after i took it to the UPS store. From WI to TX and back to WI. I was impressed with the service.

  27. adamsummers says:

    I’m really glad that I kept the boxes from my last three piece of crap refurbs they sent me. At the rate my failures are going, I’m due for another red ring sometime this month.

  28. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Will all new units start being sold in the Coffin? You know to save time…

  29. Mecharine says:

    This makes sense. This is how Amazon does returns. I dont know how long it takes for a box from MS to reach its destination, but shipping the unit with a printout label surely takes less time,right?

  30. David Stanfield says:

    Just a word about the whole “I’ve never met anybody who has his original 360″. I have my original, got it three months after the 360 came out. So do several of my friends.

    I know what you’re getting at, but Microsoft has *some* complacent customers.

  31. jp7570 says:

    OK, stupid question time, which is the better system – PS3 or xBox? (Not looking at wii or any other platforms).

    • Mike8813 says:

      @jp7570: I have both, and I enjoy my PS3 more. My preference is really only for a couple of reasons:

      1. I really enjoy watching Blu-ray movies.
      2. My PS3 is whisper quiet, and the 360 is a jet-engine in comparison. Very important to me since I watch movies in a dark and quiet room.

      If that’s not important to you, then it’s really a toss-up that you can decide for yourself based on games exclusive to each console. (I like the PS3’s selection a little bit more, but you can find great games on either system)

      I have had one RROD, but honestly I don’t use my 360 that much, so the number could be higher with heavy use.

      • Cyberxion101 says:

        @jp7570: “Better” is such a subjective thing that it’s impossible to qualify it without knowing what appeals to you.

        See, my preference is completely opposite to Mike’s. I believe that not only is the 360’s library more robust when compared to the PS3’s, but it’s far more appealing overall to my tastes. Now that’s not to say that he’s wrong and I’m right. It only illustrates just how futile it is to ask a question that can only be answered subjectively.

        I think that you’re better off doing the research yourself and coming to the conclusion that works best for your tastes. ;)

  32. ngwoo says:

    What needs to happen is people need to stop buying the Xbox360. If this was any other product, the defect rate would be causing massive outrage and thousands of lawsuits.

  33. Rich Slutzky says:

    I’ve had the same 360 since July of ’07, and I rarely turn it off. I can happily say I got a good one, and that it hasn’t failed. :D

    I’m lucky, I think.

  34. Anonymous says:

    MS currently has my xbox 360 after RROD happened on May 29. I began the support process on May 30, and while the default option was for me to pack it and ship it myself, when I selected “Standard Shipping”, they sent me the box and the shipping label. According to the article, this behavior should have stopped on May 26. It’s on the way back to me as we speak, and hasn’t cost me a dime.

  35. Dan Pfeifer says:

    Hm. It says they phased it out in May, but my friend has his crap out in the beginning of June. He sent his request a little over a week ago and got a box + packing materials.

  36. jozhua says:

    Wow I just sent off for mine the last week of May. I originally wanted to print the E-Label but it would never generate one when I filled out a claim request. Very frustrating… I did it like 6 different times. Not sure what the issue was but other people were having the same problem as well. I finally opted for them to send me the box and it came about 3 days later. Real quick turnaround to get it fixed too.

  37. krunk4ever says:

    Like several others that have posted, I’m still on my 1st Xbox 360. Proud owner since June 2006. I’m not a hardcore gamer though, but my friends and I do get together on Fridays and play Rock Band or Halo 3.

    I’ve also been using it for Netflix Instant Watch.

    Though it definitely is a cost saving move. However, I also see the benefit of being able to print out a label immediately for those who don’t want to wait an extra week before shipping out their dead console.

  38. Holly Leonhard says:

    Oh yeah I also forgot, my new 360 came with a free entire month of XboxLive. Just b/c i couldn’t play for about 10 days. And i said the box was included, i didn’t have to make any special request. All i did was select the option to receive a box over the the first option of print your own label. And this was at the end of May. Maybe you guys are just clicking the first/default option?

  39. Black-Cat says:

    Just another reason to not own a 360. You are going to have to send it back no matter what. My brother is on his 4th 360, and is still trying to convince me to buy one. NO THANKS. I like my Wii; it works.

  40. argosreality says:

    Hmm, my 360 is going on 2yrs and haven’t had a single problem with it. Granted having said that it’ll probably shit itself tomorrow.

    Know quite a few friends with 360’s, about a 1/3rd have had one RRoD. No one yet has had more than one. Maybe you’re doing something wrong?

    • Black-Cat says:

      @argosreality: I personally believe that my brother’s problem with 360’s may be poor cooling of the unit/placement, but it’s always put away when I go over. Maybe he just doesn’t want me to play it… :(

  41. Bs Baldwin says:

    really why does microsoft need to have a dead system sent in a padded box?

  42. Cool story bro says:

    I’m still on my first 360. And it’s second hand.

    • Cyberxion101 says:

      @Dabby: I bought my first unit second-hand and it died three months later. You may be lucky, but I wouldn’t recommend to the average gamer to go with a used 360. It’s too much of a crap-shoot when you buy them new, and you’re almost asking for trouble buying used.

  43. mixxter says:

    I got a box in June for my dead 360. It did have the option to print the label yourself, but I chose the box and got it.

  44. Cyberxion101 says:

    I gotta wonder what folks are doing to their 360s to go through several of them. I know that they’re not exactly reliable, but I read stories where folks are still on their launch-day 360, and others were folks have gone through six or seven, and I wonder what might explain the disparity. @_@

  45. brianary says:

    Are these things STILL going bad? I assumed the newer ones were OK!

  46. SynMonger says:

    I’ve had my 360 since 2005, no RRoD yet.