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 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.
“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.”