Tristan tells Consumerist that his Zune was about two years old and out of warranty when it began leaking battery acid on his hand. Appalled at the options that regular customer service offered, he used techniques from the Consumerist toolbox and empowered himself. He used our guide to crafting an Executive E-mail Carpet Bomb, and found contact information for Microsoft executives on the site as well. Getting his case in front of a person with actual authority earned Tristan a free repair of his obviously defective Zune.
I just wanted to write you guys a quick note to say thanks. I had a problem recently with my 80GB Zune whereby it started unexplainably leaking battery acid. Thinking it was just some sort of water, I took off its case and wiped it with my hand, and shortly thereafter started to feel a small burning pain—like when you got some HCl on you in a chemistry lab. I at first didn’t know what to make of the feeling—thinking it must be in my head. Then after I gave it some thought—it dawned on me that the only way any liquid could’ve gotten into the case I’ve had it in since I bought it about 2 years ago is if it was already in the case—and the only liquid already in the case is battery acid.
I called tech support and I’ve attached the email I sent to Microsoft’s executives which about explains the story fully. I attached some pics that show my Zune, untouched by the world—and yet still with erosive damage on its lower left corner.
Not a day after I sent out that email, I received an email from a member of Microsoft Zune’s Level 2 Escalation team that said he’d call me on Feb 17th. He called and left a message just as he said he would. When I called Microsoft back later that night after classes got out, they not only moved my call to Level 2 at my request, they found the same gentleman who had initially called me and he personally handled my case.
He informed me he was worried about the liquid situation as the only liquid he could think of that would come from the Zune was battery acid. He said I should see a doctor to make sure I was alright, and further—that he would issue me a postage-paid box ASAP and waive all charges on the repair of my Zune.
I used my Live account, in case Microsoft filtered out certain providers (as I read mass emails sometimes got bounced back). And lastly, firstname.lastname@example.org did bounce, maybe he doesn’t work there anymore?
I couldn’t have done it without you guys, thanks for all the tips throughout the website and the email addresses of Microsoft’s CEOs.
Here’s Tristan’s great letter:
Dear Microsoft Executives,
My name is Tristan [lastname] and I am a student at the [redacted]. I have, for many years been an avid fan of Microsoft products,
owning a number of computers, two with Windows 7 Ultimate and two with Vista
Business, an XBOX, a Windows Phone, and a Zune, as well as enjoying the
quality of many of Windows Live services on a day to day basis. When I
worked with a company needing a solution to networking their corporate
computers, I also didn’t hesitate to push Microsoft’s line of software to
power their network. Recently I have begun to experience a problem with my
Zune, one which I have owned for 2 years. This is where my ghastly customer
service experience began.
On February 10th, 2010, I noticed a small amount of liquid in the Zune’s
clear case that I have kept it in since I purchased it. It was a small
splash on the lower left corner. I figured I had spilt something on it, and
that I would take off the plastic cover to clean it. When I removed it, I
wiped it with my finger to find that it was semi-gelatinous. I continued to
clean it until I felt a stinging on my finger where I wiped the substance.
Remembering safety procedures from Chemistry labs, I diluted the acid with
water and ultimately washed it from my hands, where it ultimately left a
small white mark on the finger I used to clean it.
I called customer service on the morning of February 11, 2010 and spoke with
R. at 11:54 AM ET (Case Number: [redacted]) about the problem. She
asked me for the unit’s serial number ([redacted]) and once provided it
she informed me that the unit was no longer in warranty and that I could 1)
Purchase a new unit, 2) Find a third party to repair the defective battery,
or 3) “Upgrade” my device. The upgrade procedure she described to me was
insulting. I was informed I could send Microsoft my current 80GB Zune
player and receive a refurbished 4GB model for the fee of 69.99 or a
refurbished 80GB model for 159.99. I was also told the refurbished models
would come with a 90-day warranty. I thanked her and we ended the call as I
was appalled that this option was even mentioned.
I called back at 12:32 PM ET minutes later and spoke with C. (same
Case Number: [redacted]) who informed me R. had incorrectly noted I had
spilt acid on my Zune which had caused the device not to work. I informed
her of the actual problem, and after a few minutes she informed me of the
same three options at which time I asked for her supervisor. At 12:43 I
spoke with Jean who stated there was nothing Microsoft could do for me as
the warranty had been expired. I told her I would like it noted that this
is a problem hazardous to my person, and in the event I was burned by the
acid I would be contacting New York State’s Attorney General to file with
them charges of negligence. Her response was the she would note that, but
that there was nothing she could do for me.
I can understand if a warranty against breakage expires after 1 year of
ownership. If I had dropped the player and the screen broke, I would not
expect any support from Microsoft. The fact is though, the battery does not
experience any wear and tear as it is protected by a case, the shell of the
player, and undoubtedly a good deal of padding. This defect, which is
hazardous to my person, is not what I expected from Microsoft when I bought
my player for 200.00 a little under 2 years ago and the service options I
received were insulting at best-paying 70.00 plus shipping to have Microsoft
send me a MP3 player 76GB smaller than the one I presently own which is in
immaculate condition with the exception of this defective battery.
I would like Microsoft to exchange this defective unit, whose shell and case
are being damaged as we speak by the acid which has leaked out since
Thank you for your time and help with this matter.
Great letter. Tristan outlined his relationship with the company, explained why the situation and Microsoft’s proposed solutions were unacceptable, and proposed a solution.