Microsoft UK Slammed By BBC Consumer Show

BBC’s Watchdog reports on 360 faults... updated

Posted by Staff
Watchdog presenter, Nicky Campbell... probing...
Watchdog presenter, Nicky Campbell... probing...
By Adam Hartley

Consumers’ ally, BBC TV’s Watchdog finally got round to doing a report on the ongoing problems with faulty Xbox 360s (known as ‘the red ring of death’) last night. The program claims to have received over 250 complaints about Xbox 360s breaking down outside of the 12-month warranty period.

Aside from the faults, which have been ongoing for some time now, the program concentrated on Microsoft UK’s policy on returns. Whereas Microsoft in the US has pledged to replace all Xbox 360 consoles manufactured before January 2006 regardless of how long they have been owned, the company’s UK division is still asking customers to pay for faulty machines to be repaired if they are over a year old (the units, of course, not the customers).

Microsoft UK has responded this morning with a lengthy comment, which we are reprinting in full at the end of this story. Its first paragraph, however, is telling:

"The vast majority of Xbox 360 owners are having an outstanding experience with their systems. That being said, we have received a few isolated reports of consoles not working as expected. It’s important to note that there is no systemic issue with Xbox 360 - each incident is unique and these customer inquiries are being handled on a case-by-case basis."


To say that each incident is unique strikes SPOnG as mighty suspect - at best it looks like classic double-speak with "case-by-case" basis actually meaning, "There is no way that we're going to set a precedent!". At worst it suggest that the 360 is so riddled with faults that neither consumers nor Microsoft itself can replicate any single error.

During the program a number of gamers told presenter and champion of the right to buy stuff that doesn’t break, Nicky Campbell, about their consoles failing them - outside of Microsoft’s 12-month warranty period.

A statement from Watchdog’s producers claims that, “The Xbox 360 was a global phenomenon when it was launched in the UK in December 2005. The world's richest man and Microsoft boss Bill Gates called it the Ferrari of home entertainment. But we've had nearly 250 complaints from people who think it's more of a clapped-out old banger.

“Worse still, you've been telling us that some of the problems with your faulty Xbox 360 consoles occur when the one-year warranty has run out. That means you have to fork out to get it fixed.

“Alex Ainsow had no problems for a year. But, just after the warranty ran out, his Xbox 360 wouldn't stop crashing. He had to pay £85 for the repair. His second Xbox 360 lasted three days before it got the 'three red lights' – a hardware failure known in the gaming community as the 'ring of death'. Once you see them, the box can't be fixed.”

If you or anybody else you know have had or are having problems with the 360 red ring of death then please let us know in the forum below. SPOnG is (obviously) on the side of gamers and consumers’ rights and we are more than happy to assist anybody with a genuine case who has been short-changed by any company.

Full Microsoft Statement

“The vast majority of Xbox 360 owners are having an outstanding experience with their systems. That being said, we have received a few isolated reports of consoles not working as expected. It’s important to note that there is no systemic issue with Xbox 360 - each incident is unique and these customer inquiries are being handled on a case-by-case basis.

“The return rate is significantly lower than the CE industry average of 3-5%. Customer satisfaction is our highest priority, and we do everything we can to take care of gamers who may be having problems with their consoles - anybody having an issue with their Xbox 360 console should call customer service immediately so that we can help. Microsoft voluntarily provides customers with a one year manufacturer’s warranty in the UK which operates over and above the legally required retailer warranty for all consumer goods.

”The US has an Xbox 360 warranty policy that is in line with the European policy – a one-year guarantee (extended from 90 days in December 2006 to be in line with other Xbox territories). Any hardware issues that occur within this one-year window are repaired free of charge, in line with consumer electronics industry standards. Costs for repairs needed after the warranty has expired are borne by the consumer, again in line with consumer electronics industry standards.

“The exception is for consoles manufactured before 1st January 2006. As part of our standard and ongoing process of analyzing repair data, we noticed a higher than usual number of units coming in for repair in North America. Upon further investigation, it was further discovered that the bulk of the units were isolated to a group that was part of the initial manufacturing run of the console.

“Returns for repair were coming in for a variety reasons and it was a higher rate than we were satisfied with. We made the decision to comp repairs for consoles manufactured before January 1 in North America, and provide refunds to the small group of customers who have already paid for repairs. Europe was not impacted.”



† “The Red Ring of Death” is a generic name given to range of faults and issues with the 360. It refers to the circular indicator light, which is made of four individual segments, on the front of the unit. In normal operation, this appears green. However, when things go wrong, each or all segments glow red. A different issue results in a different segment going blood coloured.
Companies:

Comments

hollywooda 14 Feb 2007 12:08
1/19
250 Complaints...... damn only a 110 out!
Alvis 14 Feb 2007 12:50
2/19
My 360 died on me a couple of days ago due to the ring of death, fortunatly i had 3 days left on my warranty so they've sent a replacement - not tried it yet tho so fingers crossed.
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Tim Smith 14 Feb 2007 13:09
3/19
Alvis wrote:
My 360 died on me a couple of days ago due to the ring of death, fortunatly i had 3 days left on my warranty so they've sent a replacement - not tried it yet tho so fingers crossed.


Let us know how this went for you.

Cheers

Tim
Alvis 14 Feb 2007 14:33
4/19
will do.

*Doffs cap
TigerUppercut 15 Feb 2007 01:28
5/19
A statement from Watchdog’s producers claims that, “The Xbox 360 was a global phenomenon when it was launched in the UK in December 2005. The world's richest man and Microsoft boss Bill Gates called it the Ferrari of home entertainment. But we've had nearly 250 complaints from people who think it's more of a clapped-out old banger.


Of course, the sale of every new Ferrari goes perfectly, with buyers never left by the side of the road for the ridicule of other motorists...

It's obvious that Gates was trying to give customers an honest outlook on the reliability of their machines! ;-)
tyrion 15 Feb 2007 08:41
6/19
TigerUppercut wrote:
It's obvious that Gates was trying to give customers an honest outlook on the reliability of their machines! ;-)

If Clarkson's experiences are even half as bad as he has said, then I think Bill should have compared the 360 to a Fort GT! :-)

Disclaimer for PreciousRoi: I don't actually believe what I just wrote, it has a smiley and was intended as a joke.
DoctorDee 15 Feb 2007 09:02
7/19
tyrion wrote:
If Clarkson's experiences are even half as bad as he has said

I'll be upfront. I think Clarkson is a hypocritical oaf (his let's all drive 9 litre V16 SUVs - but "oh! wasn't that hurricane bad" schtick was nauseating), and a neo-nazi (it's all there in any of his books/collections of rants).

But where the GT was involved, he outdid even himself. His "problems" were minor. He basically had buyer's remorse over buying a car that was never aimed at very tall, very fat family men who live at the end of a dirt track. He abused his position to return a car over nit-picking. He had no case, but used the MASSIVE negative publicity his position enables him to create to force Ford to accept his return.

He's a f**ktard.

If his experience was five times as bad as he said, the car should merely have been fixed under warranty. And expecting that to be done quicky on a masively limited edition special edition import supercar is, frankly, unrealistic.

TigerUppercut 15 Feb 2007 23:17
8/19
I detest Clarkson.
I think he makes a good telly show though.
Top Gear saw off (an admitedly ailing) Big Brother final. That's quite something for a specialist show about cars.
zoydwheeler 15 Feb 2007 23:26
9/19
I mainly hate the fact he is from Doncaster :(
Alvis 19 Feb 2007 10:41
10/19
Got my 360 back on Friday so i thought i'd write up exactly what happened and what it took to get a working replacement back into my sweaty hands!

Basically it all started on Friday the 2nd after firing up Dead Rising. During the first cut scene the machine froze. "No big deal" i thought - but how wrong i was...
After trying to restart the machine i got the three red segments on the power up button and having read up on the problem a few days earlier i new i'd just had a hardware failure :(

After nearly breaking down in front of my girlfriend, (yes, some of us geeks do actually have girlfriends!) i decided to get on the blower to Xbox support and see if they could sort the problem, albeit for a price. To my astonishment i still had 4 days left on my warranty (this revelation only disappointed me that i wasn't one of the first to own a 360 on launch last year), so, after i few jokes at my expense about my 'red ring' the lovely german girl on the end of the phone told me that she'd send me - via email - a UPS returns labels to attach to my lovingly packaged 360.

I got back into work on the Monday to find said email and a UPS returns number to ring to arrange pick up. The nice lady on the end of the phone asked me what hours i worked and if i'd be there all week. I was then informed that at some point during my working week a delivery guy would arrive to pick it up.

Five minutes after putting the phone down UPS arrived and i was forced to hand over the hub of my entertainment system - no - my life, to a burley looking bloke covered in prison tattoos. I waved off what could have been the last i'd see of my pride and joy as the surly ex-con swaggered off into the distance with my xbox under his 'roided up' arms.

The next day i was informed by email that the xbox had been received and that a replacement would be dispatched within the next 15 days.

13 long days later my new, probably refurbished, xbox arrived (i say arrived, it was actually left on my door step unattended to whilst i was at work) and although it's still early days it's been running perfectly.

All in all i've received a great response from both Microsoft and UPS customer support - they didn't even get sick of me ringing up every other day to see if my replacement was on it's way. I realise that customer support for any company can be a bit hit and miss. I guess i was just lucky to get a friendly german girl that must have moistened at the sound of my manly deep voice. Either that or she mistook me for comedy genius and king of the jungle Joe Pasquale.

Al.
RiseFromYourGrave 19 Feb 2007 22:24
11/19
haha, riiiing stiiiing. you run the risk of having the phone put down on you, cracking that brand of comedy. luckily you found the second ever documented German With A Sense Of Humour
Barbsi 5 Jun 2007 22:03
12/19
Hi

I had my original x box replaced last december (06) just before my warranty ran out. They couldn't fix it and as a result I was given a new one. Now this one has experienced the "ring of death" and when I phoned microsoft I've been told I'm out of warranty and will have to pay 85 quid! They said I was only entitled to a 90 day warranty on the new xbox??? How does that work?? Surely with a NEW xbox as a result of a known problem their side, should surely come with a new 12mths warranty???

Have I been given the correct information and if so how can this be true!!!! I should be entitled to a new 12 mth warranty on a new xbox!!!

Any advice would be appreciated!

Cheers
Ditto 5 Jun 2007 22:32
13/19
Barbsi wrote:
Have I been given the correct information and if so how can this be true!!!! I should be entitled to a new 12 mth warranty on a new xbox!!!


I think that most warranties are from the date of original purchase, so you wouldn't get a free warranty extension. I've never heard of this happening.

Indeed most vendors will replace electronic equipment from reconditioned stock rather than new.
barbsi 6 Jun 2007 07:02
14/19
Adam M wrote:
Barbsi wrote:
Have I been given the correct information and if so how can this be true!!!! I should be entitled to a new 12 mth warranty on a new xbox!!!


I think that most warranties are from the date of original purchase, so you wouldn't get a free warranty extension. I've never heard of this happening.

Indeed most vendors will replace electronic equipment from reconditioned stock rather than new.


Adam - thanks for your reply. My original warranty on the original xbox would have ran out on the 17th Dec 06. My 1st xbox broke just before this date. The xbox that replaced it wasn't my original xbox - I checked the serial numbers.....therefore to me it was a new xbox - reconditioned or not........it wasn't the original product that I bought therefore how can I only be given a 90 day warranty on a new product? If it was my original xbox being refurbished I could understand but it wasn't. Thats why I don't think they should be allowed to offer a 90 day warrranty on a completely different xbox 360. To me thats just not fair with a known default. Every single one of my friends has had at least 2 xbox 360's since they were released, one of my friends is on his 5th one!!!! I think its a disgrace to be honest!

Thanks
DoctorDee 6 Jun 2007 10:07
15/19
barbsi wrote:
Thats why I don't think they should be allowed to offer a 90 day warrranty on a completely different xbox 360.

They are giving you a new Xbox to honour the warranty on the OLD one. Your warranty is for 12 months from the date you bought the original Xbox - and by law, you are not entitled to a replacement - only to a repair. It is easier for Microsoft to replace, but you are not entitled to a new warranty, so by giving you 90 days, if those 90 days extend beyond your original one year they are actually exceeding the requirements of UK consumer law.

Think about it, you pay your money, and you get an item, and a 12 month "guarantee" that it will continue to work... You may have a "new" (to you) Xbox, but you haven't paid any more money, so why are you entitled to any longer "gurarantee".

Of course, the existence of a known fault sort of messes this up - but you need to argue the known fault on different grounds. You are clearly not entitled (under established UK consumer law) to an extended warranty, and if you argue on those grounds, you are bound to lose. But no company should refuse to replace an item that displays a well documented fault.

Ditto 6 Jun 2007 14:09
16/19
DoctorDee wrote:
Of course, the existence of a known fault sort of messes this up - but you need to argue the known fault on different grounds. You are clearly not entitled (under established UK consumer law) to an extended warranty, and if you argue on those grounds, you are bound to lose. But no company should refuse to replace an item that displays a well documented fault.


Actually, I believe the Sale of Goods Act says that goods should be free from fault for a resonable period of time.

How long would you expect your console to last? I would expect at least 2 years - Nintendo give a warranty for 3 years from purchase (on Gamecube).

Considering the price of the system and the fact it's previously broken (and compeitors are offering 3 year warranties) it may be worth talking to the CAB (www.citizensadvice.org.uk) about whether or not the faults you describe would be covered by the Sale of Goods Act.

EDIT:
Info here:
http://www.dti.gov.uk/consumers/fact-sheets/page38311.html

Sounds like it only applys to faults at purchase but I would still talk to the CAB :).
Lee. 6 Jun 2007 18:09
17/19
Haha, my A level Revision will come in handy!

Under the Sale of Goods Act:

For the first 6 months after purchase you are entitled to a repair or replacement if the product was sold with a fault. It is up to the retailer to prove it wasn't sold with a fault (ie. you get a replacement no matter what).

For up to 6 years after the product is purchased you are entitled to a replacement or repair if the product was sold with a fault as long as you can prove that it was sold with a fault (much harder to prove).

Don't know if that will help in any way. Hope it does.
Lee. 6 Jun 2007 18:15
18/19
(Sorry to double post)

Just looked up a little bit more and you cannot get a replacement if you have had the product for more than a trial period and it develops a fault (obviously warranties change this a bit), however you can claim 'reasonable compensation'.

Try www.tradingstandards.gov.uk
Jake Worrall 6 Dec 2008 22:18
19/19
RROD here and tried to register console with microsoft website and guess what?

It said the country is no longer supported...

How typical, if a console breaks soooo much is it worth buying? Why no consider a play station 3?
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