Another Gamer Screwed by Microsoft
February 28, 2008 771 Comments
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved video games. This boy bought an Xbox 360. Two years later it broke. The boy had no choice but to send it in for repairs. It was then that Microsoft decided to screw him over. A very big bend on over so we can give you the royal treatment sort of screwing. This is his story.
A passionate gamer by the name of Nathaniel purchased an Xbox 360 at launch. After working reliably for over two years, his faithful console companion finally kicked the bucket. It was then that he faced a major quandary. Should he send it in for repairs or attempt to fix it himself? The obvious answer would be send it in for repairs but Nathaniel’s 360 was not like yours and mine. Oh no, it was special. “Was” being the key word.
Nathaniel’s Xbox 360 was his trusty traveling companion. Throughout their joint adventures, Nathaniel acquired several signatures from notable members of the gaming community, all collected directly upon his console with permanent marker. Signatures from several members of the Rooster Teeth Productions staff shared space with signatures from members of the Xbox 360 team and also staff from Bungie Studios. He even had custom artwork by Rooster Teeth Comics artist and Halo fan artist Luke McKay on it.
This console adorned with things representing very special memories held great sentimental value to Nathaniel as you can imagine. Not even taking into account that it had monetary value as well, it was simply a console that he adored. That is why shipping it off to the repair center was not the easiest choice to make. But between that and trying to repair it himself, it was the better option. Taking it apart would have voided the warranty so if his attempts at fixing it had been unsuccessful, he would have been screwed. Unfortunately he still got screwed, but he didn’t know that would happen at this point.
Obviously concerned about his prized console’s case, he called Xbox support to discuss the possibility of getting a different 360 sent back to him and the importance that he get the same exact console and case back. He was assured his console would get repaired and they would ship the same console back to him. They gave him a reference number for the call and that was that.
Nathaniel carefully packaged his beloved 360 into the coffin, including this letter :
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.
So he called beforehand and was told he would receive his exact console back. He also included a letter just to cover all his bases. I bet you think you know what happens next. If you were to guess that Microsoft sent him a different plain white console back, you would be wrong.
They sent him his Xbox 360 back. The front serial number and the back serial number match up exactly. So what is the problem then? Someone at the repair center took the time to clean his console case. Despite the fact that the repairs that needed to be done were inside the console, someone wiped down the outside of the case. Wiped it down so well in fact that all of the signatures and artwork are completely gone. All that is left are some smudges and the unmistakable purple-ish hue of diluted permanent ink.
Permanent marker does not rub off that easily. Someone put a lot of work into making sure they erased all of the rich history that was built up on that console. There were not scribbles all over it, there were signatures. And pictures. Is there any way you could see a picture of Master Chief and think it wasn’t there on purpose? I am at a loss to understand how an employee looked at that console and thought it would be a good idea to scrub off everything on it.
Despite the fact that Nathaniel called beforehand and got assurances that everything would be ok, despite the fact that he included a very detailed and clear letter with his console, despite the fact that it was no fault of his own that his console broke in the first place, Nathaniel is just another gamer to get screwed over by Microsoft in a rather unique way. My brain simply can’t understand how an error of this magnitude happened. I do hope they take the time to make this right. But what are the chances of that, right?
02.29.08 – AM UPDATE
Nathaniel wanted to share his story for this reason (his words) :
It is a cautionary tale to those 360 owners sending a console out for warranty repair.
He doesn’t want people to make the same mistake that he did. In retrospect does he realize he shouldn’t have sent off his console? Absolutely. However when you call their customer service number, share your story with all of the details, and are assured that your console will be returned to you safe and sound, you should be able to believe that. There was a communication breakdown somewhere along the way that resulted in a tangible loss. It’s unfortunate, and lessons were learned.
I agreed to carry the story because Nathaniel wants to discuss this with Microsoft, but all of his correspondence has continued to go unanswered. Last time I checked in with him, he still had not heard back from them. Not everybody wants to sue and receive some sort of compensation. Sometimes all it takes to feel like a valued customer is an acknowledgment of a mistake and a simple apology.
02.29.08 – PM UPDATE
Microsoft has responded to Nathaniel personally. They are looking into the issue and working to correct the situation.