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XBox: Ring of Death Repair Review

Reviewed by: Andrew Klose

2 Days to shipping

A prehistory, console #1
I originally bought my Xbox 360 in November 2006 and we had some great times together. Played some games, killed some zombies listened to 10 year olds complain about their math homework you know usual stuff. Then literally within minutes of beating Halo 3 single player for the first time I get the Red Ring of Death (aka RRoD). This actually didn't bother me too much as it was almost three in the morning and I had gotten it earlier in the year but on a reset it went away. So I went to bed deciding that it would be better to try out multiplayer the next night. To my horror the RRoD remained and I wasn't able to get rid of it, again I wasn't too worried as Microsoft had extended their warranty to three years from the date of purchase and this being early October 2007 I still had two years and one month to go. I called the 800 support number and after being told to do some bullshit troubleshooting (I was waiting for them to ask me to blow into the DVD tray NES style) I'm told that they'll send me a box to send my broken 360 in for repairs. Since I live in an apartment I have them send the box to my work address to make things easier. I get the box, send in my 360, wait about a month and I get an Xbox back at my work a month later. Even better it's a brand new Xbox (with a brand new serial number, this is important later) built on October 17, 2007 so I figure that all my 360 hardware problems were far behind me, oh how naive I was.

A prehistory, console #2
I happily played on my new Xbox, noting happily that it actually was a bit quieter than my old one, for about two weeks without any problems when all of a sudden pixels started to show up. Now mind you pixels showing up is usually a good thing as that is how televisions display pictures but these weren't any pixels these were random colored pixels that would show up all over the screen after playing for about 20 minutes, and these pixels evolved. Their evolutionary progression took place over the course of about three minutes usually, the first ones would start to show up, then they would multiply and cover the whole screen and then just as suddenly as they appeared they would evolve, becoming what I can best describe as "disco lights". These disco lights would again multiply until they covered the screen, and then with no more room to take up they would blend with each other until all I had left was a white screen with occasionally Cyan Yellow or Magenta spots on the screen. This might have not been so bad except that when I reset the console it would boot to an error screen and no longer continue. So here I was with a console that was less than a month old dead in my hands.

T-minus 3 months
With this second dead console I again called up the 800 support number, got a customer service rep, went through the same bullshit debug steps and had a new Box sent to my work office. A little bit of information that will be important later: I work at an office with thousands of gamers, and quite a few of them probably own 360's and I'm sure that more than a few of those 360 owners have had problems, and of those with problems some I'm sure have sent their 360's to/from work for repair. At no point in my conversation was this deemed a problem and I'm assuming that everything will go off as it did the first time.

A few days later I get my Box (coffin) in the mail but I'm in no hurry to get it set off, but eventually do get it sent on the 22nd of November 2007, the following is a detailed timeline of what has happened since.

November 22, 2007 Ship off my Xbox to Xbox heaven, McAllen Texan

November 27, 2007 My UPS tracking # says that my Xbox arrives in McAllen TX

On or about December 15 2007 I call the 800 number to just get an update and possibly get a tracking number if they've repaired it and sent it back already. I'm told that everything is going fine and that it should be repaired and shipped to me shortly. I'm actually going away for Christmas on the 19th, so I figure I'll just wait until I get back to the office on the 2nd of January and my 360 will be waiting for me at my desk having arrived while I was on Vacation.

January 2, 2008 I arrive back at my desk at work, no 360 waiting for me. I figure that it's probably in the mailroom and will wait for them to deliver it to me, however when it doesn't arrive by the afternoon so I call back the 800 number. When I get through to someone and explain my situation I'm told that my address has been flagged as there have been a lot of 360's sent from it and that as part of a new plan to cut down on warranty fraud they need to confirm that I am in fact the original owner of the 360 I sent in and in order to do that I need to fax in the original receipt I got when I bought the 360. I AM PISSED, apparently this new policy was enacted sometime between my first Xbox and the second so it was in effect when I called in to get my coffin and I was not told of it or the fact that I'd need my receipt if I was shipping from my company's address. When I try to explain the situation I just get "You'll need to send in your receipt" back. Fortunately I'm extremely anal retentive about these kinds of things and actually still have my original receipt so I decide it's not worth the effort and will fax my receipt in the next day. After getting off the phone I send an e-mail explaining the work address situation to a general e-mail list at the office to warn anyone else who might unknowingly suffer an even worse fate than me if they didn't have their original receipt.

January 3, 2008 I fax in my receipt and call in a few hours later, I'm told that it can take a day or two to process the faxes.

January 10, 2008 I call in again to check on my fax and am told that it has been received and (good news) that my 360 should be shipped back to me by the 15th of January at the latest.

January 16, 2008 Since I was previously told that my 360 was shipped the prior day I call in again to get a shipping number. I find out that in fact my 360 has not been shipped back to me yet. Due to how complicated my case is and how long I've been waiting I get assigned a rep who will handle my case personally from this point on. I get a special high priority number and an extension for him so that I can get straight to him if I need to, but that won't be necessary as he says he'll call me back with more information by the end of the week. By the end of the week I have not received a call back.

January 23, 2008 I call my rep to find out what's going on he tells me that there is some confusion, the serial number on my receipt does not match the serial number on the 360 I sent in. I tell him that I know that, the 360 I sent in for repair was a new 360 I got as a replacement. I'm told I'll get a call back by the end of the week, I receive no call back.

January 30, 2008 I call back again, and get my rep (which is getting really hard to do) I'm told that everything is a go and I should be getting a 360 shipped to me by the end of the week, I'm told that I'll get a call back by the end of the week to give me more info and probably a tracking number.

February 1, 2008 After not getting a call by the end of the week I try to call back again and am unable to get ahold of him despite leaving him messages to call me ASAP. Since he's only in from Wednesday - Friday I decide to call back to the main high priority number on Monday.

February 4, 2008 I call the high priority number and get an different rep, after about 10 minutes of explaining the situation to him and him getting info he tells me that my 360 was set to be shipped back to me COD on the 30th of January. I get him to cancel that, and I'm told that at this point things will take take 5 weeks. FUCK!!!

February 6, 2008 Called my rep again and told him about what happened on the 4th he tells me everything is fine and that it's just waiting final approval from the repair center and everything should be done within a few days. Again he tells me that he'll call me by the end of the week.

February 13, 2008 After not getting a call by the end of the week (sensing a pattern here?) I called in and wasn't able to get ahold of him. I left him a voicemail message saying to call me if he hasn't talked to me. After that I call in about a dozen more times but am unable to get ahold of him.

February 14, 2008 Tried calling again and left another "call me ASAP" voicemail. After not being able to get ahold of him I call the general number and get another rep. Rather than trying to explain the situation I get her to go and talk to my rep and she tells me that he'll be calling me back at 3:10 that afternoon, I try not to hang up my phone in rage. 3:10 rolls around and ... Surprise!! It's my rep calling me!! Great job guy you're what 1 for 5 now? He says that it's essentially the service center not releasing a console to me that's holding things up and he's escalating my case again and that he's as frustrated as I am. I tell him that's great and all but I've been waiting to get my console back and that it's been a day or two away from final approval for OVER A FUCKING MONTH NOW. (I didn't really say that, I've been surprisingly calm every time I've been on the phone) I pull the "well it's been in your hands for almost three months now what can you do for me" card and he offers up some games and controllers surprisingly easily, but I really want a wireless network adapter. He tells me that he'll try to get me that but there are no guarantees.

So that's the last I've heard. If I were a betting man I'd say that I haven't heard the last of "it's only a day or two away from approval" but at least now I have some ray of hope. Given that he's willing to give me hardware I figure that it's only a couple more weeks before I can say that instead of controllers and games I'd really like an Xbox 360 as compensation, and that they can just ship that to me right away, and I can play that until they ever get their heads out of their asses and send me my Xbox back.

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