Microsoft Scrubs All The Valuable Signatures And Artwork Off Your XBOX 360 Case

We read a lot of stories about companies doing boneheaded things but rarely do we read anything like what reader Nathanial sent in.

An avid gamer, Nathanial carried his XBOX 360 around to various events, collecting signatures and artwork from members of the gaming community. When his XBOX finally died, he contacted Microsoft to make sure that he could send the console in without having the exterior case replaced or damaged. Microsoft ensured him that his request would not be a problem.

Nathanial included (along with his XBOX) a letter explaining the markings on the case and requesting politely, but firmly, that he receive his original case back.

And he did.

Unfortunately, someone at Microsoft took it upon himself/herself to scrub the exterior of the box until the signatures were completely removed. This just seems spiteful. Trying to picture the person who thought that giving someone’s signed XBOX a bath was an awesome idea makes our brain hurt.

We read complaints for a living and can’t help but wonder why gamers given so little respect by the companies that make such exorbitant profits off of them. The complaints we get are insulting. From retailers who allow their employees to “check out” products before selling them as new, to consoles and games crippled with broken DRM, gamers are consistently treated like children, or worse, criminals by the companies that benefit from their loyalty.

(I say this purely from observation, as I’m not what anyone would call “a gamer.” The vast majority of video games give me motion sickness, to be perfectly frank. I’m quite fond of Lego Star Wars, however.)

Here’s the letter Nathanial sent in with his XBOX:

To whom it may concern:

Enclosed in this package you will find one Xbox 360 console, serial number 610537654806. I pre-ordered this machine months before the Xbox 360 launched, and I’ve been a proud owner ever since it arrived. Although the original warranty for my machine has expired some time ago, I still keep the sales receipt and original retail box.

I have taken this unit along with me on some of my travels over the past two years, and during that time I have acquired a number of signatures from notable members of the gaming community.

Among those signatures are several members of the Rooster Teeth Productions staff, certain members of the Xbox 360 team, and some of the staff from Bungie Studios. Those signatures are also joined by custom artwork by Rooster Teeth Comics artist and Halo fan artist Luke McKay. This console represents some special memories–of which I am quite fond–from the past two years of my life. As you can imagine, this particular unit has a great deal of sentimental value to me and is quite possibly of reasonable monetary value as well.

I am well aware that in many cases new replacement units have been returned to those who have sent their consoles for repairs. I would be displeased if this were to happen to me. When I put in the service request for my unit, the agent that took my call assured me that the same unit I have sent to you would be shipped back to me. If you must send a different unit back, please put my original case on the replacement unit. Having put the above information forward, it is logical to conclude that I would be most disappointed should I receive a different console with a plain white case in return.

Please take care in handling the case, as despite the fact that the ink is permanent and has had plenty of time to set, the possibility yet remains that it may be smudged.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Here’s how he received the box. The few marker smudges that Microsoft failed to eliminate are circled. You can read a more detailed description of the events here.

Another Gamer Screwed by Microsoft [Hawty McBloggy]


Edit Your Comment

  1. punkrawka says:

    That is just absolute shit. I feel for this guy.

  2. IssaGoodDay says:

    What. The. F**k.

    M$ needs to make this right. At the very least, send him a new Halo 3 Edition, signed by ALL the members of the Dev team, and a formal letter of apology.

  3. chrisfromnl says:

    I wonder if I send in the pants I ruined a few weeks ago if Microsoft will remove the permanent marker stain.

  4. crabbyman6 says:

    Ouch, that sucks. They can take your sharpie, but they can’t take your memories.

    At least he’s probably pretty buff from carrying his XBox and its brick around to all those places, he can probably go all The Rock in Walking Tall on them and starting whacking people with 2x4s.

    I’d be surprised if he got any kind of apology or restitution from MS over this.

  5. AstroPig7 says:

    I can understand (but still be upset by) a situation where Microsoft replaced his unit, but why would they feel the need to wash it? It’s not as if this was a case of a single, unobservable signature; the artwork takes up most of one side of the case! I agree that this appears to have been done purely out of spite.

  6. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Is he absolutely sure? Is it possible to replace that panel without changing the serial numbers? Because I’ve tried to get permanent marker off of consoles before and that shit is tenacious. And they got it off almost without a trace! Also, just eyeballing it, it doesn’t look like there were any signatures or artwork close to the edge where the smudge is.

    Still sucks, but the poor guy would probably feel better than thinking someone sat there and actively rubbed them off.

  7. PhoenixLE says:

    Unbelievable. That’s not just poor customer service that’s downright spiteful and borderline on criminal. Microsoft owes this guy one serious letter of apology, along with an XBox Signed by Gates himself.

  8. Asvetic says:

    And to think he as worried that the ink might get smudged… Boy, was that a misnomer.

    I agree, it’s one thing to deal with the BS that the RROD causes, but to then have to worry your prized signatures (that you spent countless hours trying to obtain) might get ruined in the transfer process, Microsoft has some esplaining to do.

    Where’s the gaming community? Kotaku better post this!

  9. rwakelan says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Check the link for the story. The other side of the Xbox is covered in signatures, including both spots that have smudge marks in the picture.

  10. MissPeacock says:

    That’s just MEAN. I feel awful for the guy. How spiteful of the MS employee!

  11. stageright says:

    I can’t believe Microsoft wouldn’t do something about this. EECB time, plus I’d post this all over the interwebtubes.

    Microsoft is going nuts trying to protect the 360’s place in the console market – this is REALLY bad PR for them.

  12. Dibbler says:

    I find this whole article confusing. Why would he send something this “valuable” to a MS contracted repair center to fix and take the word of a near minimum wage person on the phone?

    I have a couple 360’s and both have been in for repairs. Last year MS announced that ALL consoles manufactured in 2005 (launch date) would be replaced with a new unit because the manufacturer used a lot of substandard parts. Since he pre-ordered his console it would be one of these 2005 units and therefore he wouldn’t get the same unit back from the repair center. I have a unit made in early 2006 that’s been in for repairs 3 times and they just keep sending the same one back. When the 2005 unit broke they sent me a shiny brand new unit. I think he needs to recheck those serial numbers and report back.

  13. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Okay, I nomiated MS for worst company…and I think this kind of acting, going out of their way for NO APPARENT REASON, to screw over a customer, means they deserve the award.

  14. UX4themasses says:

    @sourc3: I don’t think replacing the signatures will help.

    He needs something from M$ that represents the equal emotional value of what he lost…not sure that can be replaced.

  15. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @rwakelan: Ah, I see. Need to get me whatever they used to scrub it off…they did a great job! Wrong job, but a great one nonetheless.

  16. kris in seattle says:

    Oh fuck. That sucks.

  17. sgodun says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

    It’s Microsoft, after all. What do you expect?

  18. mgy says:

    This is the single most bizarre story I have read this year. I know how people, when told to do something, will quite often do the exact opposite, but they never have to work this hard to do so. I bet the poor guy scrubbing that marker off had to put in some overtime hours.

  19. I’m sure this is standard practice.

    Think about it – they’ve had tons of these consoles come in, and the one you send in is rarely the one you get back. I’ve gone through this process myself and I received a pristine console in return for the red-ringed pile of junk I sent it. I assume it’s protocol to clean the systems etc. in the course of the repair, and the random Indian or Texan making a few hundred bucks a month just followed the process.

    This guy is owed, however, and I’m sure Microsoft will make him whole now that you’ve reported this. Their Operations process was not as flexible as they told him it was over the phone.

  20. opfreak says:

    hmm, If it was so valuable, why send it in? just buy another one.

    I just wouldn’t have mail it in, This was bound to happen.

  21. Typhoid says:

    Er, it takes a lot to scrub off permanant marker, even if you use a chemical to burn it away.

    I’m more convinced that someone STOLE the cover, replaced it with a blank one, and put some smudges on there to hide the theft.

  22. Happy13178 says:

    Wow. Just wow. If anything like that ever happened to me I’d want to go find the guy that did it and put his head through a brick wall and sign with a permanent marker whatever part of him wasn’t bleeding. I don’t believe everyone that works at these companies is an idiot, but really, when stuff like this happens, the company should make it right and just fire the employee. People like this deserve to be on an unemployment line in perpetuity.

  23. Pylon83 says:

    I agree. I’m not sure that’s the same case. I can’t imagine how difficult and how long it would take to get all that permanent marker off of the case. I think that’s a new side, or new case. While I agree that not everything companies do makes sense, having an employee spend countless hours scrubbing and scrubbing the permanent marker off just out of spite? I just can’t believe that. Maybe he can call and see if they still have the original case. I will say, when I worked at a large electronics manufacturer, we told people not to put notes in with the units, and that we couldn’t guarantee that any notes we put on the repair would be read/honored. Those departments are simply too busy to read each and every note that comes in, and it’s rare that one is really and truly important. That being said, I think that they still need to fix this for him, by either trying to hunt down that original or sending him some free games, etc. As far as the “emotional” bs, I don’t think that’s worth anything. He doesn’t deserve cash, but there’s no reason they can’t hook him up with a handful of new games, or some accessories.

  24. @Happy13178:

    Good thing you’ve never made a mistake!

  25. hubris says:

    @ADismalScience: Really? You think scrubbing off permanent marker is standard practice? Why?

    Fuck, Sony won’t even repair your console if it’s got dust on it.

    MS is handling the RRoD in the worst possible way, waiting until there was a near deafening cacophony before actually extending the warranty. Fuck’em.

  26. savvy999 says:

    We hope beyond reason that we don’t lose our data when we send our PC to GeekSquad, or that our son’s ashes won’t get nicked when put them in our checked luggage, or we that don’t lose our valuable case art when we send our 360 into MS, but it happens. Especially more for commodity goods like PCs and gamer boxes being sent to nameless huge corporations.

    If it was that precious to him, he should have insured it under his personal articles policy, or sent it back in with an old dummy case he got off eBay for $20. Boo on MS for not following through on what they said, but a little risk reduction would have been smart on the consumer’s side too. We don’t cry for the pearls lost behind the luggage carousel, why cry for this?

    FWIW, I don’t think that’s even the same case. In the photo, the ink smudge marks aren’t in the same place as the original art/sigs.

  27. edrift101 says:

    I would be pissed as hell, if this happened to me. Wonder if he can sue for damages? Seems like Microsoft destroyed a collectors item/piece of art to me.

    On a side note – I will NOT be replacing my 360, if it ever breaks down. Can’t trust the product, nor the company behind it.

  28. Rask says:

    I really feel for the guy. Completely sucks this situation.

    You can be sure that once Major Nelson sees this he’ll probably get something done to make this right.

  29. Youthier says:

    I feel bad for this guy, I really do and I swear I am NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM but… I cannot imagine packing up something that had a lot of value to me and shipping it off to a large corporation that’s just dying to screw me over. It’s probably a good lesson to everyone that no matter what precautions you take, there’s always risk involved.

  30. gamehendge2000 says:

    Get off the couch son, find a girlfriend/mail order bride/hourly sex industry worker to play with your rumble stick once in a while, and you won’t miss the video gaming community autographs so much.

  31. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Acetone will take that shit off so fast it will make your head spin.

  32. zibby says:

    @Typhoid: I agree. From what I can see from the pictures provided, I think the original was stolen – and sadly, the letter itself was proably what made someone think is was valuable enough to steal.

  33. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    @Pylon83: Acetone or gasolene will make “permenent” marker run off of plastic like water.

  34. Jaysyn was banned for: says:

    @savvy999: Or you could try to read the article & discover that the other side of the Xbox still has art on it.

  35. moore850 says:

    With all the sick jokes about eating puppies and stuff, I honestly never thought I’d see something as wholesale mean as this. I’ve collected signatures on items before, and they transcend their original value and become like holy relics once you do that. To imagine receiving my prized possession back defaced in this way would make me think 7-figure lawsuit for sure. I’m not saying it’s worth 7 figures for the signature, but the cruel damage it does to a person’s psyche to lose a prized possession like that is definitely a life-altering event.

  36. Daniel-Bham says:

    I see several possibilities.

    1. Someone who works at the repair center is laughing their asses off and has a new memento to show friends after replacing the side panel.

    2. Someone who works at the repair center is a dick and wanted to ‘stick it’ to those people who keep sending in X Box 360s because maybe this will stop the endless flood.

    3. Bill Gates heard about this and ran down to the repair center with a mad look in his eye, a bottle of cleaner and a rag (silk of course) so that he could have fun ruining something of value his company produces like usual.

    All that being said, I’d like to see Microsoft go above and beyond to make this right. I do not believe there was any company policy at work here. This was just an employee being a jackass.

  37. zibby says:

    @Jaysyn: Don’t forget good ol’ WD-40.

  38. adamsummers says:

    I’m really in amazement over how craptacular Microsoft customer service is. What a kick in the balls for this guy.

  39. Elvisisdead says:

    Why in the hell did he send it in? If it’s that valuable (read: more than the guts of the thing), then just buy a new one and swap the case yourself. Once he had it signed and decorated, it became art, not a console.

  40. strangeffect says:

    I’ll be the zillionth person to say “that sucks”.

    I wonder if it was a result of spite or of incompetence. I tend to think incompetence, as in someone not reading instructions and instead just repeating the same cleaning task for 50 machines a day regardless of what’s on there.

    This though… this would be dedicated incompetence.

  41. Zgeg says:

    I think that was the last straw.. Today is bonus day and I was planning on going to get an xbox 360 after work today but after this total disregard for their customers I think I will pass.. Now hopefully I can find a wii!

  42. strangeffect says:

    @Elvisisdead: I somewhat agree with you here. I’d love to assume that explicit instructions would be enough to prevent this from happening, but hey, here we are.

  43. camille_javal says:

    mr. clean magic eraser?

  44. savvy999 says:

    @Jaysyn: A 360 case comes apart, one side could be swiped out independently of the other. []

  45. The Porkchop Express says:

    @moore850: Really, life altering?
    I feel for the guy and I know it took him hours to get all of the sigs and what not. But, I doubt he was about to stop going to the conventions and other events. He can actually replace these things, they may not be exactly the same but still replaced.

  46. zentex says:

    well…looks like Luke@Bungie took note and posted a snippet on the OG article page (comment #61). If Luke is willing to do something, I bet Nathaniel will orgasm when all is said and done.

    Personally, I would be paying a visit to the Microsoft campus had this of happened to me.

  47. marchhare22 says:


    Umm.. are people missing the part that says:

    “When his XBOX finally died, he contacted Microsoft to make sure that he could send the console in without having the exterior case replaced or damaged. Microsoft ensured him that his request would not be a problem.”

    He called them and made sure the case would not be REPLACED OR DAMAGED which they said would not be a problem. I’m sorry but if you call a major vendor and put in a specific request like this along with a letter, Microsoft owes you big time.

  48. IrisMR says:

    Damn that sucks. What the hell got into them to do that? The marker was not gonna hurt anything inside their sody console, who’s the asshole that thought he should do that? Or wait, perhaps the employee that did it was just exactly being an asshole.

  49. Maulleigh says:


  50. PinkBox says:

    That is seriously. Seriously. Fucked. Up.

    Microsoft definitely owes him. The signatures and artwork upped the value a great deal, and they destroyed it’s value – AFTER promising that no harm would be done.

    Maybe someone swiped it and made it look like the original had been scrubbed. :P

  51. stradric says:

    @Dibbler: Read the full article. The serial #s match. This is the same box with a cleaned case. CLEANED not replaced. F’d up.

  52. bunch.of.wackos says:

    … the guy felt it comming, I think that’s why he enclosed the
    letter and was very carefull.. he knew he could not trust MicroSoft…
    yet he went against his instict and sent the system.

    about the employee that took the time to scrub that, i work with
    manufacturers and there is no such policy to spend time/money cleaning
    the outside of a system… if I were his manager i’d probably suspend
    or fire that employee…. for damaging a customer system & second
    for slacking off cleaning a system instead of doing his work

    makes me wonder why more and more people stand by consoles… you don’t hear this kind of issues with PC’s

  53. savvy999 says:

    @marchhare22: I’m not saying it doesn’t totally suck. This guy had something valuable to him, trusted MS with it, and now it’s gone.

    I like to buy and trade in vintage concert posters/handbills from the 60s and 70s, some going for hundreds of dollars each. I could use one to mod up a 360 case something awesome– permanently glue it to the side– would make a badass retro machine! But do you think regardless of some company’s assurances over the phone, that I would ever send it in that way?

    Hell no, unless it was either insured for full value or I removed the art from the case first.
    It’s a shitty lesson to learn: if something is valuable to you, you take the extra steps to protect it. A phone call or 2 by the original gamer maybe made him feel like he was securing his property, but it really wasn’t.

    Main problem is that this gamer guy is trying to be an amatuer collector of gaming memorabilia– sigs, artwork– but he didn’t understand or know how to protect his hard work and investment.

  54. stacye says:

    @Lo-Pan: Agreed. But unless you get to a small gathering of developers, then you have to wait in several lines for a LONG time to collect these signatures. It’s really a pain. Not to mention the $50+ dollars you spend just getting into the place.

  55. Wormfather says:

    @AlteredBeast: Actually, I will never be mad a company for something an individual did, unless it was via gross negligence on the part of the company, ie hiring a sex offender to do house calls, etc. But I will judge them on their response to this matter.

  56. cmdr.sass says:

    I don’t buy the premise that these signatures were in any way valuable.

  57. Buran says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: If you’re using water, it’s very hard. Acetone wipes that stuff off with nearly no trouble. And it’s not hard to get acetone. I know this due to having accidentally marked myself too many times at work.

  58. @omerhi:

    I had a console repaired. I sent it in to a postmarked box that got mailed to Texas.

    The system I got back had a new serial number, wasn’t synched to my controllers, and was BLEACH WHITE. I also got it back really fast – it went through a “repair process” of less than a day according to the timestamps on my UPS tracking numbers.

    Now, let me blow your mind with some Sherlock Holmes shit. First, list what we know:

    1.) They’re getting millions of these, because it was a widespread manufacturing defect and they’ve offered to repair for free.

    2.) The repair process is very short – a few hours from opening my box to shipping out a new system.

    3.) The Xbox I got back was extremely clean.

    What I conclude from this is that they take the machines in, scrub ’em up, drop in a new board and ship out to a list of customers based on the receipt of the old hardware. This is probably the best way to keep the SLA down – just repair the damn things and fire new ones out as quickly as possible. This “scrubbing” process is a likely consequence of that procedure – they’d have to make it look like all these refurb systems were new to keep customers happy.

  59. b612markt says:

    Gosh, I have to agree with Consumerist. I’m not a gamer, I don’t play games, I don’t own a console, I don’t even play games on my computer; and I think gamers are treated like shit. I’ve seen it happen at Worst Buy and my friends who are gamers relate bad experiences to me as well. What is wrong with the industry? Doesn’t the gaming industry make more money than Hollywood? Don’t these gaming folk deserve as much respect as any other media consumer?


    Oh, and Microsoft sucks.

  60. evslin says:

    @cmdr.sass: Not to you they aren’t.

  61. trinidon2k says:

    Once you open the case, your warranty is voided. If he bought a new xbox and switched cases, then the new xbox RROD’d, he is SOL.

  62. shadow735 says:

    I feel sory for this guy but if that case meant that much to him he should have never sent the old game in and just bought a new game box and replaced the cover on it or at least removed the case and replaced it with a temp case(that he would have to buy). stuff like this happens all the time because people in corporations are idiots without a ounce of common sense.
    Something like that cant be replaced and trusting a coporation like microsoft has always been proven to be a bad thing

  63. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @moore850: You my friend are why BA agreements exist. This was a damn shame, and I tend to agree with the posters who thinks this was a tech guy who decided to keep the case, but how is that worth a “7 figure lawsuit”?

    (one thought, I wonder if they mark the systems themselves when they get them in. That would make sense that they would mark the unit with what needs to be repaired and the customer name and address before it gets taken apart. After its fixed and the packing slip is filled out they automatically wash it off. I know this is unlikely, but I worked for a car dealership that used to mark every repair that came in that way)

  64. thebaron says:

    Micro$oft should have never made the offer, if they were not willing to ensure that the consumer’s needs were addressed. He was not asking much and art/signatures was not the work of a younger sibling. They owe him big time, but gamers get no respect, even if Hollywood and the Music scene are dying still.

  65. Geekly says:

    The mistake he made was that he put his trust in MS to do right by him. That’s all. The signatures on his box were obviously important to him, and he new he was taking a risk sending it in, otherwise he wouldn’t have enclosed the letter. His concerns turned out to be very valid. But, none of that makes it right what they did to him.

  66. brianala says:

    Rubbing alcohol will pull permanent marker off just about any hard surface easily. There’s always the chance it spilled and ruined the side of the case and nobody was brave enough to admit what happened.

    Not saying it’s right, just refuting the idea that it would have taken someone a lot of effort to remove the permanent marker. I used to work at a video store and we’d mark all of our CDs and electronics with our store code in permanent marker, but when we received discs or equipment from other stores we just removed it with rubbing alcohol and wrote our own info instead.

  67. MPHinPgh says:

    @ADismalScience: Good thing you’ve never made a mistake!

    What the repair facility did was NO mistake, in my opinion. It was intentional and done out of spite. I say that because I’m certain it took quite an effort to remove the permanent marker. If the case had been _replaced_, that would have been a mistake…

  68. marchhare22 says:

    @savvy999: Right I totally agree with you about his methods of protecting his investments were not… sound. But none the less when a company lies to its customers making false promises this is a problem (sort of the idea behind this site), and a problem that will be repeated unless methods are in place to prevent future occurrence’s.

  69. aka Cat says:

    I have to wonder how long his letter stayed with the unit. Personally, I’d have taped heavy shipping paper over the artwork, labeled “PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE”.

    (But I’m probably a bit more paranoid than average.)

  70. mir777 says:

    I agree that this was quite unfortunate, and the gamer was clearly wronged. However, I found it odd, almost disturbing, that people commenting on the original post were ‘crying’ as if this were apocalyptic. Maybe I’m just a cranky old Tempest-playing child of the 80s, but isn’t that a wee bit of an overreaction?

  71. ancientsociety says:

    Sounds like it’s time to trade in that XBox for a PS3 or Wii, eh?

    Granted Sony or Nintendo aren’t paragons of the cnsole gaming but I just don’t understand why ANYONE who owns an XBox at this point has any faith in M$. They’ve shown time and again just how little they value their console customers.

    @brianala: Even if rubbing alcohol spilled on it (certainly possible as most electronics repair places use it constantly), it wouldn’t have removed ALL of the marker. Plus, the smudging looks like someone deliberately WIPED it down.

  72. ARPRINCE says:

    Looks like the cover was replaced if not, most likely the whole unit. They do that for a fast turn around. Remember, they do get a gazillion units for repairs in a month.

  73. boss_lady says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Removes Sharpie for rlz.

  74. sis says:

    Wow, that is completely unacceptable. I’d take them to small claims court if they don’t respond with good compensation.

    Also, all those saying “This is Microsoft, what’d you expect?” Isn’t this the same company that comp’ed all those Zunes, without being asked, because of shipping problems that may have caused the Valentine Zunes to arrive after Valentine’s Day? Short memory here, I guess…

  75. chazz says:

    I think someone at MS stole the cover. Then doctored another cover to make it appear someone had erased the permenant marker.

    Adrian Monk

  76. The Bigger Unit says:

    Two things:

    (1) The serial numbers match, so they washed the unit, clearly.
    (2) Did anyone look at the graffiti on one side? It basically pokes fun at how shitty 360s are…so, it would stand to reason that MS didn’t like this and washed it the hell off.
    (3) The guy is a nerd. These are game developers dude…not movie stars.

  77. sis says:

    @ARPRINCE: That’s what I’m thinking happened as well and the smudge marks are just coincidental.

    It doesn’t matter though. A robot didn’t open the box, a support rep did. And upon seeing the letter and art work/sigs on the case, they should have escalated it instead of running it through the normal process. It’s just inexcusable.

  78. Ryan Duff says:

    The problem with his letter he included is this sentence:

    “Having put the above information forward, it is logical to conclude that I would be most disappointed should I receive a different console with a plain white case in return.”

    The person that serviced his XBox obviously hates his job and that sentence practically egged him on to send the XBox back sans artwork.

    I feel sorry for this case but next time don’t tell them that you’ll be pissed off if they do (fill in the blank).

  79. The Bigger Unit says:

    Make that three things. Threw in the nerd bit on a whim.

  80. sis says:

    @The Bigger Unit: The serial numbers would match if they replaced the whole unit though.

    (And since when do movie stars deserve to be idolized? It’s all irrational, at the end of the day.)

  81. pine22 says:

    i think someone from the repair place stole it, it was his original console but perhaps the repair guy put a new case around it. it wouldnt make much sense for some guy just to wipe it off for no reason.

  82. consumerd says:

    I am hinging my money on the cover being replaced. I will bet they probably damaged or kept the original cover.

    One thing that might keep in mind when you are at a bench for a living fixing Xboxes the techs there probably takes pride in his work or was probably not informed of the letter. They probably figured “I will make it look just about like new for the guy”.

  83. lemur says:

    @savvy999: Ah, I was wondering when the “blame the victim” dance would begin.

  84. cruster says:

    Thanks to Micro$haft for helping me make up my mind – for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking that I’d be shelling out for either a PS3 or a 360 soon. I can write-off RRoD stories – all manufacturers have QC problems (although yes, M$’s seem to be worse than most) – but this…is just spiteful.

    Between the widespread reporting about 360 failures and the underwhelming public response to Vista…it’s an interest time to be Micro$haft.

    To whom I say: F you.

  85. sis says:

    @cruster: I’m guessing you never really were on the fence. But let me take the bait:

    Do we honestly believe Microsoft (that’s Micro$haft, cruster, in case you were wondering who I mean), do we believe that Microsoft has a policy in place that says “If you see a console come in with signatures and art work, immediately erase it?”

    If it was indeed erased, then it was done so by an immature, malicious, and spiteful support technician who should likely be fired.

    My bet is still on whole unit replacement, which is still not excusable. But at least the intent here is laziness on the support reps fault and not anything malicious.

    But I think it only fair to see how Microsoft responds to this issue first, before judging them on it.

  86. howie_in_az says:

    @cruster: I’m in the same boat — the fiance wants to play Halo, I want to play BioShock and the two racing games, but I also don’t want to be sending in the console every other month after it dies… and GT5 is looking pretty awesome.

  87. UpsetPanda says:

    I’d be crying if I got that kind of treatment. Only, why would I send Microsoft comic books and why would they try to wash them?

  88. whatdoyoucare says:

    It was probably outsourced to someone who can’t read, let alone read english. Sorry dude.

  89. Trai_Dep says:

    @Dibbler: “I find the article confusing”

    That’s because you have the reading comprehension level of a fourth-grader if you can’t grok the story. Shrugging off this malicious outrage proves you’re a troll. Please go away.

  90. Trai_Dep says:

    And to those suggestion he should have replaced his kewl, lovingly-customized cover with a blank one from eBay, or insured it (ha! – good luck with that), etc., it’s a fair bet that he would have, if the customer service rep would have told him, “Sorry, but you’ll have to take your chances.” Which they didn’t.

    He then went through the extra effort of explaining his situation. Only so some MS rep could snicker while buffing off the artwork with steel wool and alcohol.

    Peter Moore (X-Box’s Prez) needs to personally intervene, canvass the hallways of Bungie, Microsoft, Valve, Xbox and every other Xbox hallway of note and deliver the poor guy a replacement case of such staggering kewlness that the poor guy is mollified. A free year of XBox Live would be such an insult…

    Their Exec Staff must make this a challenge of their personal creativity (or their assistants) and effort that it becomes industry legend. Or they deserve to die a flaming death.

    And all this said as a guy that doesn’t even like console games that much.

    Obscene. Just obscene.

  91. adamsummers says:

    @Trai_Dep: FYI, Peter Moore left MS for EA some time ago. He headed out right around the time that Microsoft extended their warranty to 3 years due to massive console failures.

  92. pfeng says:

    @gamehendge2000: Oh, fuck you and your stupid prejudices. Some of us are in sexual relationships and go outdoors and don’t eat pizza 24-7. Some are even female. (OMG! WTF!!!11) Dipshit statements like yours help explain gaming is so expensive: clearly it’s done only by lonely ugly people who don’t spend their money elsewhere (like clubs, clothing, showers).

    He had a valuable (to himself if nobody else) item destroyed after being assured it would not be. The last thing you should offer is sexual gratification as a replacement. Should I come to your house, smash your [thing you love] with a crowbar, then offer a hooker as compensation?

    Fuck you.

  93. snoop-blog says:

    one MORE reason to boycott microsoft game consoles. they know they are shit and breakdown, and then provide complete crap service and treat the gamers like shit.

    i’ll stick with my sony consoles. never had a playstation EVER breakdown.

  94. pfeng says:

    @snoop-blog: my Playstation One after 8 years of service… by which point it was pretty cheap to replace with a brand-new one anyway.

  95. cryrevolution says:

    @Trai_Dep: I agree. They would make news if they could somehow obtain these signatures or signatures from someone equally worthwhile. It would be great press for them. And to add, permanant marker isn’t as hard to get off as you think. Regular nail polish remover can get it off. They have those Mr. Clean Magic Eraser things now too. Seeing as the serial #’s matched, it looks like someone just did this out of spite. It’s pretty horrible really, that someone would go out of their way to rub off the markings, with or without a letter.

  96. Kevmas says:

    Is XBOX Live the only successful MS product in the past couple years or what? Vista and the rate of failure of MS’s xbox and the service around the xbox seem to be some major shortcomings on their part.

    I haven’t bought an xbox yet thanks to the roommate having one, but I think that Microsoft has screwed me enough in the past with their OS software alone.

  97. Kevmas says:

    @The Bigger Unit: Those games developers bring in more cash then those druggie movie stars. Plus the movies today are either a poor hollywood adaptation of a video game (gasp!) or some horrid remake of something they did already.

    I think 1.18 BILLION in January alone ads some credential to the signatures.


  98. artki says:

    > A.W.E.S.O.M.-O at 09:23 AM

    @rwakelan: Ah, I see. Need to get me whatever they used to scrub it off…

    100% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol does a good job on permanent markers. A lower percentage works but it takes more scrubbing.

  99. iamlost26 says:

    @artki: ditto.

    i work in a lab, and we use ethanol to take sharpie off all the time.

    maybe they spilled a little bacardi 151 on the case, and when the guy saw the marker streaking, he freaked out and just wiped it clean. don’t wanna get caught drinking at work!

  100. thalia says:

    Oh man…that really REALLY sucks. Sorry, man. I’d have gone completely apeshit!

  101. John Gardner says:

    A similar thing happened to me!

    I bought a 360 signed by Steve Ballmer at a charity auction ([]), and before i sent mine in for its RROD, i asked if i would get a replacement or a repair. Customer service said it would likely be a replacement, so my wife contacted Mrs. Ballmer about getting another signature if they did a replacement (my wife indirectly works with mrs. ballmer), and she said that she could do that.

    When i sent mine in ([]), i taped a note onto the top of it saying that it was a charity auction 360 and to give me back the case without damage if possible.

    When i got it back, the top had apparently been washed, so the signature was faded to about half its brightness, but it isn’t gone. I’ll have to take a pic and post that here too.

    I’m probably going to have to send it in again (disc read errors), and i’d presume that it would be gone….

  102. reznicek111 says:

    @david_consumerist: I agree; I don’t think that’s the original case the OP sent in. Doesn’t matter what cleaner/solvent you use it would be hard to do a near-immaculate job removing both the signatures and the graphics.

    Not to blame-the-poster, but anyone else have a funny feeling the letter Nathanial (sp?) sent in explaining the provenance of the signatures,

    [a]s you can imagine, this particular unit has a great deal of sentimental value to me and is quite possibly of reasonable monetary value as well.

    …might have given someone in Repairs the bright idea to steal the case? I bet someone marked the new case with a few strategic scuffs corresponding to some of the signatures to make the owner believe he received a scrubbed version of his old case; after all it’s harder to make a case against Microsoft for “cleaning off ink stains” than stealing memorabilia. I really feel do bad for the guy. Unfortunately I think his strategy backfired. Nathanial, keep a close eye on eBay!

  103. Andr0 says:


    the whole ‘who fucked up’ issue aside (as it seems there’s a concensus), I’m getting really peeved off by all the ‘guy is a nerd/geek/lamer, there’s no value in those signatures’ bullcrap.

    If you were a car collector, and if you had a car with personalized signatures of its chassis designer, engine designer or guy who made the custom interior, you bet your scrawny ass you’d consider it worth a ton. Just because initial value of something is measured in hundreds, instead of tens of thousands of dollars, doesn’t make such ‘personalized enhancements’ worth proportionally less – or nothing. Hell, compare it to a record signed by the singer. Oh, suuure, singer is a ‘superstar’ – yeah right. Guy who has crappy education, sings about rape and drive-by shootings and dresses like a moron deserves my reverent adoration, but someone who can produce hardware or software so complex your brains can’t even begin to imagine how it works aren’t?

    Wonderful system of values there….

    Rant off. Sorry.

  104. rawsteak says:

    i think you would have to be an underage, illegal immigrant worker from mongolia to have to washed this xbox. even then, a spiteful person to see a drawing and think, “ew, this isn’t xbox drawing. me erase for you no charge.”

    someone stole this kid’s case, and their planning to sell it.

  105. rawsteak says:

    *they’re planning to sell it.

  106. KashmirKong says:

    I still can’t wrap my head around the reason why anyone would buy a 360 in the first place.

    The system is a bloody lemon. Breaking down has become a standard feature. Maybe I’m just old in my 28 years on this Earth, but I remember a time when this kind of shit wouldn’t fly.

  107. SquallSeeD31 says:

    Did you bother to read the comments posted in the original newspost on this topic by a real Microsoft repair employee?

    While he admitted that he was only a lackey and had very little control or oversight of anything, he *did* mention that all repairs for North America are serviced by a third-party contractor in Mexico.

    He further added that it was standard operating procedure to clean consoles TWICE when they are being repaired, otherwise whiny consumers might complain about their console being returned dirty.

    If you’re working in a Mexican hell-hole and don’t speak or understand English, you’re not going to be able to comprehend the carefully-written note, and may not realize the sentimental value of the artwork and signatures.

    Granted, it seems like common sense, but even if the worker IS aware of the value, do you honestly believe he could afford the time it would take to seek approval to skip washing just this one case amongst a sea of assembly line protocol and quotas? It’s much easier to establish a blanket policy that applies to everything, asinine as that may be.

    The only one who was truly wrong here was the person who assured him his console would be okay. And even then, how clear was he with his choice of words? If he asked to receive the same unit back in mint condition, not a replacement, the customer service rep could confidently and accurately assure that!

    What happened sucks. I’m not fighting that, I don’t think anyone else is. My heart goes out to the guy for losing some priceless memories, regardless of the circumstances. I just feel a lot of the hate here is completely misdirected.

  108. mmbb says:

    “Sorry, but I thought you ordered the ‘Supreme Car Wash,’ which includes interior detailing and new-car spritzing, tire dressing, and hand-buffed waxing…”

  109. gotbock says:

    Did anyone bother to read what was actually written on the case? I know I’m going to get the “don’t blame the victim” reponse here but I guess I don’t care in this case. Once comment on there was “XBOX360? More like three shitsty” and the other said something like “don’t write too much on me or I might overheat”. I don’t think the Microsoft employee who erased this stuff was right to do so, but I also don’t think it’s right or a good idea to send in a product to a company with insults of their products scrawled all over them. Based on all the reports, these comments are probably deserved, but it’s still rude to send them directly to employees of the company who are trying to help you.

  110. MrEvil says:

    It’s not very difficult to get sharpie off most surfaces if you have the proper solvents. I got a couple cans of stuff at home here that’s meant for softening old rubber rollers on laser printers. It’ll remove any type of ink that it comes into contact with. Haven’t found anything it can’t cut through. It also won’t do a darn thing to paint.

    I say Microsoft owes him something awesome for this mistake. I’m sure once Burnie and the gang at RoosterTeeth hear about this they’ll probably want to do something as well as the folks at Bungie.

  111. ClankBoomSteam says:

    Wow, Microsoft — you people are assholes! I can’t think of a more petty way for you to express your disdain for your customers than this, unless you start including the phrase “fuck you” in your official literature. Food for thought though, eh? Just make sure to credit me when you do it.

  112. CumaeanSibyl says:

    A magic eraser will take marker off no problem.

    I think he should get in touch with the more important people who signed his case and tell them “man, I was really excited when you signed my case, it was so great, but now it’s been scrubbed off…”

    See if maybe some higher-ups at Bungie throwing a massive fit would get some results.

  113. TreyTable says:

    The main problem is in this matter is to where the 360 was sent to. If like mine, was sent to McAllen, Texas, then it could have been a communication breakdown, since 90% of McAllen is Spanish/Mexican-American and most people speak English as a second language, if at all. So the person who cleaned the system may have thought they were following instructions because he/she is illiterate, or that their basic English is so terrible that they read it wrong. This is in no way an excuse for this action, and is just yet another example on how stupid Texans are.

  114. cde says:

    Gamer, this is Spray Paint Clear Coat Sealer.

    Spray Paint Clear Coat Sealer, this is Gamer.

    You two should get to know each other.

    But I digress, seeing how it was not just a pen mark, but a drawn and signed box, why would someone erase it.

  115. galatae says:

    @everyone wondering about pen remover products, I don’t work for them, and I don’t know how it would work on an xbox, but Amodex makes one helluva ink remover: []

    Got a referral to them from Uniball when one too many pens went through the laundry and it works.

  116. xix36 says:

    a bit of WD-40 works wonders on magic marker, especially on a non-porous surface. Just spray some on, and let it sit for about 20 minutes, then wipe away. Sometimes it can take a few applications of WD-40, but it gets the job done. . . I know this because long ago I got the fun task of cleaning up after my little sister who decided to take my permanent marker and draw all over the walls…

  117. The Marionette says:

    I think it’s pretty stupid that they decided to scrub it enough to remove (completely at that) permanet ink from it. Another reason for me to hate microsoft.

  118. cryrevolution says:

    @TreyTable: Lets not get into any Texas hatred. It being it TX does not have anything to do with the situation & there are many TX readers, all well educated might I add, that might take offense to that comment. Besides, if you haven’t lived in McAllen, TX how would you know what the Spanish to English ratio is? Now, back on topic.

  119. cspariah says:

    Just for purpose of comparison: Back in 1994, I had a red L.L. Bean backpack. I’d carried this backpack through four years of junior high school and three years of high school, and it was covered in tons of permanent marker signatures, drawings, etc.

    Well, the zippers gave out. L.L. Bean has (or had at the time) a lifetime warranty on their products, so I mailed it back to them. I included a note that the backpack MUST NOT BE REPLACED and that I’d rather have the old busted one back if they couldn’t fix it.

    Well, L.L. Bean replaced the zippers — and some of the stitching! — on the old backpack, mailed it back to me, and then MAILED ME A CHECK FOR THE POSTAGE IT COST ME TO MAIL IT TO THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    THAT is customer service! I still have that backpack today.

  120. Arrngrim says:

    As a Valkyrie Profile otaku, if I had a specially designed PS2 for a game I loved, and it died, I would NOT trust anyone to fix it. That sucker would get shelved, displayed, and a new unit would be purchased to PLAY the games. The risk for stupidity is too great in our society today.

  121. shades_of_blue says:

    I bet the inked comments ‘I might overheat’ and ‘more like three-shitsty!’ are what caused his system to get scrubbed. Either that, or the repair technician never read his attached letter.

    In any case, it’s a shitty thing someone at MS’s repair center did. MS should give the gut a new Halo or Elite edition with some big name signatures as a token of good faith. Hope he CCed links of both blog topics to I’m sure his assistant would love to pass this story onto him.

  122. MCShortbus says:

    @Jaysyn: Yea, and so will the acetone fumes.

  123. Raiden47 says:

    I highly doubt if the case he received (back) is the one he sent in. Why the shit photo quality otherwise?

  124. Poopchutes-n-Ladders says:

    I cant see why anyone would out of the blue decide to “clean” it. Its not like it was dirt or paint splatter that may have accidentally got on the console. Its obvious to anyone with a sliver of a brain that the artwork and sigs were there for a reason. It was probably just stolen, with the thief doctoring up a panel to look like it was cleaned.

    As for comments about value, what you may consider important or rare or a collector’s item I may consider trash as I may not be into the same things you are. You might have a mint condition copy of superman’s first appearance nicely polybagged with an acid free backer board and all I’ll see is some reading material to roll up and take into the crapper.

  125. mexifelio says:

    Geez, I’m sorry but something of that much value SHOULD NOT have been sent to any company.
    It’s like mailing in your bank card with the pin number for replacement and expecting a lowly minimum wage drone to not have a field day at your expense with it.

    Was the cost of a NEW XBOX more expensive than the artwork?

    Did he REALLY expect Micro$natch to follow his instructions and comply with his request? If you call in to customer service and present your issue to the rep and they tell you that you are in good hands, you better damn well near have the conversation recorded, their first and last name, employee id, name of their supervisor and the name of the call center they work out of.

    I kind of get the feeling the unit was received in a factory where service technicians are most likely told to discard anything other than the product. Heck, I wouldn’t even be surprised if someone that doesn’t speak or read English saw the letter and threw it in the trash.