And that is why they call it the 360
TomChick - News - 05/14/06 - Link

So my Xbox 360 broke. As soon as the good games started coming out, it decided it was going to lock up regularly. After some troubleshooting and then a call to 1-800-4MYXBOX, the conclusion was as follows: it was indeed broken. I've been through this before -- twice -- with the Xbox 1, so I know the drill. The customer support folks overnighted me a shipping box that will deliver my 360 to the Microsoft Repair Center, where dreams are patched up and sent back to the people who paid a few hundred bucks for them.

Except that this shipping box wasn't overnighted so much as sent 3-day UPS. So a few days later, I packed up my Xbox 360 and returned it to Microsoft for repairs. Their shipping label was for 3-day air, of course. At the UPS place, I asked how much it would have cost to overnight the package. They said it was a difference of $40. That's how much Microsoft is saving by tacking on an extra week of downtime for those of us with busted systems. Hopefully, those savings will be passed along in the form of cheaper peripherals for you and lower licensing fees for developers.

So two weeks later, my repaired 360 arrives! Via 3-day UPS, of course. It shows up on the last day of E3, which is just in time for me to collapse onto the couch and decompress with some Tomb Raider: Legends. Maybe I'll join some folks on the forum for a bit of GRAW, or work on my ranking in Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Heck, I might even pick up where I left off with my Oblivion character.

Within the first hour of play, the repaired [sic] Xbox 360 has locked up a half dozen times. Which is exactly what it was doing when I sent it in. And that, my friends, is why it's called the 360: I'm right back where I was before.

Actually, I'm not being entirely fair. The repair folks did manage to change one thing. They broke the little panel on the face plate that's supposed to snap shut if you don't have a controller plugged in. So now it's perpetually open.

"Oh, look, a nice little dust trap," one of my friends remarked while we were hooking it back up. At that point, I didn't really care. What's a little dust hole so long as I'm able to finally finish up Tomb Raider?

So with the same problem I had last month, I again called the helpful folks at 1-800-4MYBOX. They really are helpful. I'm not being facetious. They're gracious, polite, and prompt. They don't force me to go through a bunch of troubleshooting stuff once I explain to them that I've already done it. They did ask me to call back after I'd tried playing without the hard drive, which I then did, but to no avail.

And they're very apologetic, even when they have a hard time going off script. For instance, I was trying to find out if there was any provision to cross-ship me a working 360, since they didn't manage to fix it the first time (perhaps it was mistakenly send to the Break Your Faceplate Center instead of the Repair Center).

But in a very round-about way, the woman on the phone said 'no, they weren't going to just ship me a working Xbox 360 until they'd looked at my still-broken Xbox 360 and determined that it wasn't repairable', but she did extend another offer.

"For your troubles, I can compensate you with a game," she said.

"You mean, like, send me a free game?" I wanted to ask if they could maybe send me a free game for a working system, like something for the PS2 or Gamecube, or maybe my PSP. But I didn't. I'm too polite.

"Yes, sir," she said.

"Well, there really aren't any that I want that I don't already have," I said, "But thank you anyway."

I later kicked myself. I could have just given it to one of my friends. Not that any of them have Xbox 360s. And, in fact, I'm not even sure I was going to get to pick the game. Maybe they just had a stack of unsold copies of Whacked! back there and they were going to send me that. It might even be backwards compatible.

She then offered to overnight me the shipping box. And this time I checked to make sure "overnight" wasn't shorthand for "3-day UPS".

So the Xbox re-broke -- or rather, I discovered it was never repaired -- on Friday night, they'll send me the shipping box on Monday, I'll receive it Tuesday and send it out the same day, they'll get it on Wednesday and then we'll see which department it actually reaches. Maybe the Scratch Up Your Case Center or the Paint Awesome Flames Along the Side Center or the Jam the Disk Tray Mechanism Center. Or maybe it'll actually be the Repair Center.

But ideally, a week or so from next week, I'll be ready, nearly a month after the thing broke the first time, to actually finally enjoy some really sweet next-generation gaming.

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