Yeah, I know what you will say. This is obviously some guy lying. That's exactly what I thought too. I know the failure rates are too high, but 12 for one person? Poor guy though, he still says he loves his 360, even though most of the time he hasn't had it in his posession. http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3160603
Average, Aggravated Gamers
Justin Lowe is your average hardcore gamer. He's fully embraced the HD era, owning both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and loves his Nintendo DS and PSP for gaming on-the-go. He even helps run Aggravated Gamers, an indie gaming podcast. What's special about Justin, though, is he's currently on his twelfth Xbox 360.
"I'm no fanboy," he says, but there's no doubt he's a 360 fan. He purchased his first machine a month after the console launch, but, since then, Justin has not had a working system for longer than a month or two. The list of problems is almost comically large: three red lights of death, two with disc read errors, two dead on arrival, several with random audio and video-related issues and one that actually exploded.
Looking at the situation through Moore's own standards, how has Microsoft performed? "On a scale of one to ten, I'd rate them an 8... at first," says Lowe. His 360 broke in early January, just a few weeks after purchase. For the first six months, Microsoft customer service was polite and replacements sent very quickly. Since then, things have slowly but surely taken a turn for the worse. As the reported number of problems with 360 consoles increases (Microsoft writes them off as "vocal minority"), shipping has started taking longer and customer service less helpful.
As Justin garnered more experience with 360 repairs, he discovered something. The consoles consumers sent back by Microsoft are often refurbished, rather than brand-new. Justin found out that, with enough problems and by specifically making the request, Microsoft would send out brand-new consoles as replacements. Midway through his ordeal, he began doing this, but quickly found the downside: new consoles can take even longer to send out, with up to two weeks spent waiting for Microsoft approval. Microsoft has compensated Justin to some degree. A month of Xbox Live service, replacement headsets, some free Microsoft Points and at least one free game were offered at various points. He claims to have never asked for anything beyond the Xbox Live time.
When his third 360 broke, one customer service rep suggested he look into the wiring at his house; electricity problems could have been causing the mess-ups. Problem: none of his other systems (not to mention his several computers and other electronics) have experienced any major problems, and his father is, coincidentally, an electrician. The specific suggestion was brought up by Microsoft customer service again after the eighth console repair. This time, just to be certain, Justin had a contractor come to the house and check the wiring, where he was told that everything was in order, with no abnormalities in voltage of any of house outlets. Nevertheless, customer service has continued to suggest this as a potential cause.
If Justin's story seems too crazy to be believed here on 1UP, it's unsurprising to learn that's how message boards responded, too. He posted his plight at both Cheap Ass Gamer and NeoGAF and was promptly called a liar by many, before he decided to record a call with Microsoft's customer support.
In an MP3 that Justin shared with 1UP -- which you can listen to below -- he asks a service representative to read off his support/repair request numbers. After opening the account, the rep lets out an audible laugh. He reads them off and confirms they are under Justin's account. Just to be sure, 1UP called into Xbox Live support with Justin's contact info and asked for the same information. Again, the person on the other end laughed when they accessed Justin's account, remarking, "It looks like you have a lot of numbers."
To the various internet commentators and those manning Microsoft's customer service phone lines, it seems an unbelievable joke, but, to Justin, each one of those numbers represents another little headache and two or three weeks without his console. "I am still a huge fan of the 360, even with all of the problems," he says. "It's just the 360 is where the games are at right now." Justin owns nearly 20 games for 360.
Justin's eleventh 360 sports an all-new problem that popped up shortly after 1UP originally contacted him. This time, it's a sound-related issue, causing loud, experience-ruining crackles that pop in and out of games. Justin just recently received the box to ship this console back for his twelfth shot at something that works, but initially held off to take part in the Halo 3 beta and check out Forza Motorsport 2.
Gamers, We Have a Problem
1UP contacted Microsoft -- including an Xbox AOC Escalation Lead Justin interacted with -- before running this story. "We are disappointed any time we hear about a customer having a negative experience with our products or services. Justin Lowe's experience is highly unusual and we are actively investigating the situation further to ensure that we are taking responsibility where we need to," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "You will be pleased to hear that Justin is back to playing his favorite Xbox 360 games now that he has received a brand-new console."
That's true. Justin confirmed to us Microsoft shipped him another working console, but Microsoft continually dodged 1UP's attempts to specifically discuss Xbox 360 failure rates and attributed some of the public disdain to dissatisfaction with customer service, not the actual hardware. Changes to the customer service program were rolled out in April, said Microsoft.
|I would go back and say the vast majority of people love their experience. There is a vocal minority out there|
But, bad luck aside, is this reflective of a larger problem with the Xbox 360 console itself? In an interview at The Mercury News, Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president of the Gaming and Xbox Products Group, attributed the complaints over hardware to be a "vocal minority" and nothing more. "I would go back and say the vast majority of people love their experience. We continue to go back and address all of these issues on a case by case basis," he said.
When asked if Microsoft still agreed with Holmdahl's comment that complaints were just a "vocal minority," they did. "Yes, Microsoft stands by Todd's statement," said the company.
When specifically asked about the additional heat sinks appearing in refurbished Xbox 360s and how customer service determines if a consumer receives a brand-new machine or a refurbished one:
1UP: Microsoft won't comment on these second heat sinks showing up in refurbished Xbox 360s -- which, as far as we know so far, are not in the retail units -- so how does customer service determine whether someone should receive a "new" machine and an internally "refurbished" one?
Microsoft: In either an in-warranty or out-of-warranty situation, most customers will now receive their original console back from Microsoft so there is no need for customers to reload profiles, games or other content previously stored on their hard drive. This is part of our ongoing-effort to improve our repair warranty program and enhance our customer service operations.
Similar dodging occurred a few weeks ago, when asked about the heat sinks. Despite the visual evidence, Microsoft refused to confirm their existence.
1UP: Reports are surfacing of users getting refurbished Xbox 360s with additional heat sinks installed in them...can Microsoft confirm?
Microsoft: In response to your inquiry, regularly updating console components is commonplace within the industry and is a standard aspect of the business for a variety of reasons including cost reduction, improved manufacturability and improved performance. We do not provide details on these updates.
1UP: But, will they appear in on-shelf Xbox 360s?
Microsoft: Again, regularly updating console components is commonplace within the industry and is a standard aspect of the business for a variety of reasons including cost reduction, improved manufacturability and improved performance. We do not provide details on these updates.
In spite of all of this, Justin is still behind Microsoft's console. "I still like Microsoft, as much as that may astound people. There's no real hate towards the company for what I have experienced."
The MP3 is available in the link. It seems authentic to me. So the guy obviously enjoys the 360's robust game library, at least when the system is in his posession. Does this show some real signifficant issues though? I mean, he seems to be honest about this. He doesn't dislike Microsoft or the 360, he is just stating his experience. How bad can these failure rates be? Are they actually even WORSE than they appear on the internet due to fanboys not wanting to admit their favorite system has some issues? Will smaller chips fix the problem? I'm interested in your thoughts on this.
And remember, the vast majority of people love the box.