So I mentioned this earlier, our Xbox 360, Paperweight Edition. I thought I would cover the epic journey from a boy’s craving to play Halo, to the realization that the Xbox is really just a black, plastic box taking up space.
Normally I have no issue with Microsoft. I have used Windows for years, never really having the desire to change to the many ‘better’ OS out there. I tend to buy, or upgrade, to the latest version about a year or so after release. This tends to result in getting a working OS with most of the major bugs worked out. I’ve never been one of those that hates Microsoft because of one of the various reasons that people hate the company. That said, whoever is in charge of their Xbox division, if there is a separate Xbox division, needs to be dragged out into the street and beaten with his own product.
Alright, our tale starts well over a year ago, when my son wanted an Xbox, so he could play Halo. Yup, one game, Halo. We’ll blame this part on Halo. So anyway, I advised against it, begged and pleaded with my son to ask for a PS3 because I knew that the Xbox was a bad console. Well, of course our preteen son knew better, his preteen friends knew better, and he was set on an Xbox. OK, I said, here’s the deal. If my son wanted to waste money on a console I knew was a bad product, then he was going to earn some or all of that cash. Through a year of fighting for good grades, working on chores, doing whatever he could to earn money, we finally got to a point where his grades were good enough that we were willing to make up the difference, but he did save up a very large portion of the purchase price.
So, we went off to the store and bought him, with his money and some of ours, an Xbox 360 ‘Elite Edition’ with a 4G HD (I think that was the size of it, it has no bearing on the story though). How our excited son takes it home, plugs it in, and a two month long fragfest ensues. Kid is playing halo with friends, online, all that good stuff. Then something happens that, on any other console, would be nothing at all to worry about. The Xbox fell from it’s ‘standing on side’ position to ‘flat on the floor’. This happened on carpet, something that has happened to my PS2 countless times, and all my other consoles before that. No big deal right? Apparently the Xbox, however, is made from fine china, egg shells, and tissue paper, because a couple days later nothing. Kid goes to play, gets nothing but a black screen and a TV saying ‘no signal’.
Thus begins our journey through the vast web of suck that is Xbox support. Now, for the record it didn’t suck at first. This very first experience with support was great. I called, after going to their site, got a hold of someone who took my information, sent in a ticket, emailed me a shipping label, and away went the console to be fixed. We awaited the appropriate amount of time, got the email updates about progress, and in short order we had a new (well not new, refurbished) console.
So, newly refurbished console is plugged in, and halofest resumes. For about two weeks that is. Then the screen flickers, and the Xbox dies. Again, same problem, ‘no signal’. This is where the support gets irritating. They are wanting me to check my HDMI cable, ok, checked. Maybe it’s my TV…but everything else works. I do some research and turns out the soldering used on the connections inside the console are done with a cheap, non-heat resistant material. I can buy a repair kit for $100 and fix it myself…wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft sells that kit. After a stressful phone conversation, support agrees to replace this one, with a new…refurbished one, and to call me to check on it, as they plan to expedite the service. Emailed shipping label, Xbox goes in the mail, and we wait. No phone call, and if anything expedite means 9 days instead of 10. YAY!
So, this one arrives. Gets hooked up, plugged in…DOA. Yup, that’s Dead On Arrival. The one they sent us was a dud from the get go. Now I’m more than pissed, the kid is upset and wishing he’d bought something else, the wife is stressed. We call them. Something needs to be taken care of right now, we tell them. We do not want a refurbished one, a rebuilt one, a repaired one, we want one that has never been so much as plugged in except for testing. After answer the same questions about cords and TVs, did we do this, test that, etc, they agree to send us a new console that has never been used, complete with warranty paperwork, and free Xbox live credits to make up for the lost months of subscription time without a box to use the subscription. Alright, this should do it right? A new console, heck yah. Oh, and they agreed to call us again, to check on the progress of the situation…no call.
We wait the appropriate, expedited time of 9 days (I think this one took longer), and finally shows up our new console. I could tell it was new because of the smell. Anyone that builds computers, or buys a lot of electronics knows what I mean. There’s a smell to new electronics, especially after you turn them on the first time. So, we hook it up, turn it on, and it works, woot! Halofest continues. This is now late summer by the way. My kid’s entire summer is wasted by waiting for a working Xbox, that he paid for (mostly). How awesome is that, right? So, anyway, the new one works. For about a week. Same thing, same issue, same irritation.
This time I am beyond any level of disgruntled I’ve ever felt with a company. I want my son’s money back, period. I call, and here’s where it gets extremely fun. I talk to support, who tells me they can’t help me with refunds. I need to call the Microsoft customer support. I get their number and call them. Oh no, wrong department. I need to talk to the warranty center. I get the number and call them. Warranty center says that all Xbox issues have to go through Xbox support…The FIRST PEOPLE I CALLED! Ok, so I call them back. The lady on the phone puts me on hold for a supervisor and uses the line that I was always told never to use in customer support “Sure, you can talk to a manager, but they will tell you the same thing I have.” I don’t care, get me a freaking manager! So, no luck, she can’t get me a manager so tells me one will call back in 24-48 hours…that sounds familiar.
I wait, 24-48 hours, and call back. No record of my call, no one knows what’s going on. See I have this little number that she gave me, my support ticket number, but for some reason it’s not in their system. That’s so odd (can you hear the sarcasm?). So anyway, I do get a hold of a manager, and talk to them, and what do you know? No refunds, no matter how many times we go around about this, no way no how am I getting my son’s money back. Putting out a working product, and standing by it is not the concern of Microsoft’s Xbox division it seems. They had our money, that’s all that mattered. So I stew on that for a bit, ready to just give up and take our losses. A new idea presents itself though, so we go into action.
We start the process of replacing the bad Xbox, get the shipping label, send it back, wait a few days, and in the mail comes another of the hated black boxes. We package it back in the original packaging, controllers, cords and all, and take it to an undisclosed game retailer to see what we can get for it. They give us $105 for the thing, and there’s a sale coming up on PS3s. So, after all of that, we will be buying the console I recommended all those months ago, and I am firmly entrenched in my vile hatred for Xbox. I will tell everyone I can to avoid that system like the plague.