Man vs. Eternally Broken Xbox 360: A Novel

Being a jaded Xbox 360 owner who’s watched his console give up the ghost five times, it takes a lot for a tale of Microsoft customer service woe to move me. And yet a reader named Gower accomplished just that by sending a novel-length soliloquy about his maddening run through Xbox 360 hell. What follows is the Cliffs Notes version (grab your hankies):

I had purchased an Xbox 360 about two years ago and during that time I had to send it to Microsoft four-five times for repairs under warranty for various things- red rings, cd drive not working etc.

Because of all the issues with the Xbox Microsoft extended the warranty to three years for additional issues, and in mid May my Xbox stopped working after giving red rings and error messages before having no video on the screen at all.

Gower called customer service and set up the repair. Or so he thought.

The next day I get a message from Sam saying he needed to talk to me further about the issue with no further explanation. All calls made to Sam to try to reach him went unanswered. I did get calls back from Sam at times I specifically said I could not be reached and he left messages telling me to call him back. This went back and forth for a bit until one day it looks like he made a mistake and called me when I told him I was actually available. So what does he do? He hangs up on me as soon as I answer! He then calls me back a half hour later, after I was at work and tells me that due to not being able to reach me he is closing my case.

I then resorted to contacting the BBB on May 26thand a few days later I was contacted by a supervisor named Sean at Xbox support. He apologized and said they would send a box out to return my Xbox through UPS and overnight it to me and I received a tracking number a little later.

Gower’s 360 coffin was shipped not to him, but to someone down the road who wasn’t there. He had to convince UPS to get the package to him at his proper address. Then he sent the 360 to Microsoft, which promptly told him he’d receive his refurbished unit in short order. Bet you can guess where it was shipped.

I checked the tracking number and it said they tried to deliver but nobody was home at another address that was not mine, again. I called UPS and told them again that they are trying to deliver to someone elses house and to deliver to the correct one tomorrow. I again told Sean about the shipping problems and he told me again he would contact them to straighten the issue out. I was a bit upset at this point as someone was being careless and I didn’t like the thought of UPS giving a $300 console to complete strangers.

I got the Xbox delivered to me the next day, however I was quite shocked to find the console was damaged! The USB door was missing from the console and the front of the console was covered in deep scratches like someone had dropped it on the ground several times, and there was the sound of something broken and rattling around inside the console. The box it shipped in had no dents or signs of damage, and there was no sign of the missing usb door in the box so it must have been damaged by the repair center.

Gower e-mailed his good pal Sean, who blamed the damage on UPS and said he’d get another console out to him. Guess where the package ended up?

I waited again for the box to come, and YET AGAIN no box showed up. I went online to check the tracking number and it said in the notes it was delivered to someone elses house yet again, but this time a woman accepted the package at this address and signed for it.

I called UPS quite mad at this point about the errors. It was at this time I found out that nobody from Microsoft called to report the shipping errors or the damage to the console! I emailed the supervisor Sean back relayed back what UPS told me, and he had the nerve to say he never promised to contact UPS about the damage, and that its not his responsibility to contact UPS about the shipping errors! First of all, Microsoft is the shipper so they are in fact required to contact UPS about the errors, as they should have anyways. Added to this, I have save email transcripts from Sean telling me that he would contact them. I even copied quotes from him about him promising to contact UPS about the damage and the shipping errors. So what does he do in response? He emails me back saying that arguing is not going to solve anything and he is ceasing contact with me and will send another shipping box to my address and will only send electronic updates once my Xbox is received and replaced. At this point I had to call Microsoft several times and report how Sean was treating me and handling the case and was able to get the case transferred to another supervisor named Michael who communicated from there on.

When Gower finally got his “like new” 360, which turned out to be the exact same console he had sent in, broken USB door and all. He contacted Michael, who acted as though he didn’t believe him and requested pictures. Michael said he didn’t know why the repair or replacement wasn’t made and sent out another coffin. Gower tried to escalate his complaint and sent two dozen e-mails out but got no replies.

I finally get yet another replacement box, ship it out, and after a week I get confirmation that my Xbox is being sent back. I check online while at work to see the status of the delivery, only to find the message says it was left on front steps of the house (whose, I don’t know) at 11:30am, at least seven hours before I get home. I am alarmed since all my other packages have required signatures and I don’t know whose bright idea it was to leave a $300 Xbox on the steps without a signature. Ive called UPS and Microsoft and each are placing the blame on the other and neither wants to help me now. Microsoft said they need to run an investigation as to what happened but I have not heard from them about what theyre doing yet. I did get a call from my supervisor Michael yesterday, but he address me by someone elses name (he dialed the wrong customers number). When I told him my name, he hung up on me. No apology or explanation, he just hung up on me. Wont answer his phone or return emails either.

It’s now two and a half months since I contacted Microsoft to have the Xbox repaired under warranty. I have resorted to buying a brand new console at the store since I have many Xbox games and HD-DVDs that are useless without a console to play them on. I don’t know what to do at this point…

It was the HD-DVD part that really hit home, because the obsolete high-def movie format is a symbol for all the trust Microsoft’s customers have channeled into its products, only to be trampled on. I once owned a bunch of HD-DVDs but ended up making the walk of shame to sell them at a used book store. And I’ve been through console repair misadventures. Most of us have. To suffer through poor customer service, dream of a better tomorrow and double down on your investments is the way of the Xbox 360 gamer.

(Photo: dirtyblueshirt)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.