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The Most Expensive Xbox 360 Repair…

Posted in Xbox 360 by Michael Pica on the February 3rd, 2010
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The situation has gone from frustrating to comical… so I thought I’d share..

December 6th 2009
I had been playing Assassin’s Creed II for a couple of hours, shut it down and got some food and when I came back and I turned it my Xbox 360 gave me an Error 74.

I was aggravated but I wasn’t worried, MS took good care of me last time. I called Microsoft and they took my info, and gave me a reference number, and told me they would email me a UPS shipping label so I could send my console to them, but I had to provide my own box; no problem. They also told me I would receive the console back within 2-3 weeks from the day I send it out. “Great!” I thought. “I’ll get it in time for my Christmas vacation, the 1 week a year where I get to relax and catch up on some gaming.”

As soon as I got off the phone I printed the label (UPS Ground) and packed the box. The console was wrapped twice over in bubble-wrap secured with packing tape and fitted into a brand new snug box with no room to move about.  UPS picked it up the next day.

Console shipped out UPS Ground to Texas: $15
Total cost to MS so far: $15

I found out a few days later by way of an article online that any consoles MS received after the 11th would not be returned until after the holidays. Unfortunately, mine didn’t get in until the 13th.

January 8th 2010
I picked up my package at the local UPS distro on my way home from work.

I get home and unbox it, glad that I’ve got a free weekend a head of me to play some games.

“Hmm… that’s odd the door over the UPS ports is missing”

Xbox 360 Damaged by Microsoft Repair Center

Now before I continue I should mention the care in which I take of my equipment. My console sits horizontally on a glass shelf with rubber isolators, it’s open air on the back and all sides and a good 6″ to the shelf above. the power supply sits on a separate shelf away from the console  to reduce the chance of heat soaking. It’s several feet from the next nearest heat source, and yes this is all intentional. My home theater room is kept at 60*F most of the time and brought up to 66*F when I’m in the room using the equipment; never any higher.

From the time I purchased this console until the time it gave me the red light, it had only been moved from this location once and that’s so I could re-zip tie all the wiring when I added a PS3 to my setup.

The only time I ever even touch the console is when my fingers brush up against the tray loading and unloading discs. Power and eject are all done by remote and I don’t even use a play-and-charge kit, all of my controllers are powered by rechargeable AAs, and this is all intentional too. It’s not special treatment for the 360, it’s the standard by which I treat all of my consoles.

Upon closer inspection I notice a crack along the opening of the door as well, removing the faceplate I confirm that it didn’t fall off or stick open and checking the package it’s no where to be found, this console was obviously NOT packed with the door on. The box is also is pristine condition, not even a bruise to the cardboard.

This gave me cause to scrutinize the rest of the console more closely. I thought “if the face plate is the only thing that’s messed up maybe they can just ship me a new faceplate?”. I notice some scuffs and scratches on the underside of the case, these weren’t present before I sent it either, no big deal though. Then while I was holding it I felt a sharp edge near where the hard drive attaches…

Xbox 360 Damaged by Microsoft Repair Center

What the hell did they do? Drop it on the floor and kick it around a few times? I I also notice the serial number sticker, while correct has been placed on the case crooked; it wasn’t that way when I sent it out. I Think to myself ” This obviously isn’t my old console, and if the outside has been taken care of with such disregard, how much abuse has the innards suffered?”

I called up Microsoft for the 2nd time, after clearly explaining the damage several times they apologize for the damage and tell me that I’ll have to ship it back. They also tell me that because of the delay with initial repair they’ll bump me up to a higher service level with faster shipping and that they’ll send me a box.

I appreciate the offer for expedited repair but I don’t really need a box since I have one, the box they just sent me with the console in it. I tell them this figuring it will save them money and me time but they tell me in order to get expedited shipping they need to send me a box. If that’s what they want to then, ok, whatever, maybe they don’t trust my packing.

Cost to repair the console: $110 (MS quotes as high as $160 but this is the amount it’s estimated to actually cost them)
Console shipped back UPS Ground from Texas: $15
Included 1 month XBL subscription card:  $8
Box shipped out UPS 2nd Day air from Texas: $20

Total cost to MS so far: $168
Total Gaming Days lost:  34

January 12th 2010
After receiving the box the day before, I pack it up and I drop off the package at my local UPS disto and it’s on it’s way back to MS for the 2nd time.

Console shipped out 2nd Day Air to Texas: $32

Total cost to MS so far: $200
Total Gaming Days lost:  36

January 22nd 2010
I picked the console up at the UPS distro on my way home from work. They had sent the console out Next Day Air; though, oddly enough, having watched the status change on Xbox.com the time between marking the console as “repaired” and actually shipping it out was nearly a week. Seems an enormous waste of money to pay for overnight shipping and wait a week to hand it to the delivery person.

I open the box when I get home and am shocked to see this:

Xbox 360 Damaged by Microsoft Repair Center

Even better, they didn’t fix the faceplate either.

At this point I am FUMING nearly 2 months of waiting and my console still isn’t properly returned to me. After calming myself down I call them up again, keep my cool on the phone, and the service person is actually very well spoken and understands my problem clearly, they bump me to tier 2 support person since it’s obvious my situation warrants it.

The tier 2 tech support person speaks horrible English and it took me nearly 15 minutes to communicate that “the area of the case where the hard drive attaches” is not the same as “the hard drive”. She also asks me four separate times if the shipping box is damaged, and I assure her every time that the box was not damaged, and it shouldn’t matter because the damage was recorded before the package was even shipped. UPS took far better care of my console than the Xbox repair center.

After I finally get her to understand what my issue is she tells me “there’s nothing we can do for you, we send you the console in the same condition we receive it” WHAT!?! First of all that complete BullShit; while I may have received the same faceplate back, those paying attention will notice that the crack in the side plate is not the same as the chunk missing the 2nd time I received it back. Also the serial number sticker is back on straight again and the scuffs on the underside are gone, it’s most definitely not the same console, it’s a different one, but similarly damaged.

I ask her calmly “Why then did your service department have me send the console back to get these things fixed?” She tells me that I sent it in for a RROD repair, I explain to her that I did ORIGINALLY but when I received the console back with “cosmetic damage” they told me to return it to have that repaired. She still doesn’t believe me and asks for my reference number. I give her reference number #2, and I get put on hold.

When she comes back she says that she will send out a replacement faceplate. “So what about the damage on the side of the console?” I ask. She’s silent for a few seconds and then tells me that I  will have to send my console back in for repair. Here is my surprised face -> -_-

I ask her what guarantees I will have that the console will be fixed this time, after all I’ve been waiting nearly 2 months now. She tells me that she will “flag it” and personally ensure that the repairs will be done. I’ll believe it when I see it, I get my 3rd reference number and am once again waiting for a box to be sent to me. I now have two pristine boxes with packing material perfect for shipping an Xbox 360 that they wont let me use.

Cost to repair the console: $110 (assuming the gave it a RROD repair AGAIN since they didn’t fix the case)
Console shipped back Next Day Air from Texas: $73
Included 1 month XBL subscription card:  $8
Box shipped out UPS 2nd Day air from Texas: $20

Total cost to MS so far: $301
Total Gaming Days lost:  44

January 27th 2010
Despite paying for 2-day air to ship me an empty box that I didn’t need, they waited a while to actually send the box out, meaning it took nearly a week to get it. Seems like a waste of money if you ask me.

Damaged Areas highlighted

Not confident in the assurances of my tier 2 service rep I decided to place some red tape on the console circling the missing USB door and the cracked side plate. I also included a small neon green sticky note affixed to the side that simply stated

This console has been
sent in to have
COSMETIC DAMAGE
repaired.
Please fix the
highlighted areas.

Thank you
~Mike

The next day I drop off the package at my local UPS disto and it’s on it’s way back to MS for the 3rd time.

Console shipped out 2nd Day Air to Texas: $32

Total cost to MS so far: $333
Total Gaming Days lost:  48

February 3rd 2010
I got home from work today to find a small box sitting on my doorstep. the box feels empty it’s so light, and I notice they used similar packing tape to what Microsoft uses to seal their console shipments. Jamie notices that it’s from Texas and a sticker on the side states “Xbox 360 Faceplate”.

I pull out a key to cut the tape and as I do so I say “I hope they realize they still have to fix and send me back my console… I’m going to laugh if this faceplate is white”…

Microsoft sent me a White Faceplate for my Elite

The faceplate was wrapped in a foam sleeve so I handed to Jamie to open while I took of my gloves and coat. She unwrapped the faceplate and then just looks at me and says “after all this did you really expect anything different?” To add insult to injury the faceplate they sent me is obviously used, while not as bad as the one attached to my elite this one has a scuff and a gouge below the disc tray opening.

Used Xbox 360 Faceplate: $5 (?? just a guess)
Faceplate shipped out UPS Ground from Texas: $14

Total cost to MS so far: $352
Total Gaming Days lost:  54

I haven’t called customer service over this yet. I’m still at a loss as to what I should do about it. Do I call them up about the face plate and risk confusing them and jeopardizing the repair, or do I wait to see what they send back to me? I’m open to suggestions.

As of this writing the console is currently sitting in “Repair In Progress” status according to Xbox.com. Keep in mind that they’re going to be spending another $73 to ship it next day air back to me. Honestly, it would have been cheaper if they had just cut me a check to buy a new console. Shipping would have cost them a stamp.

Hell, I would have been pleased as punch if they offered me $200 on day one toward buying a new console in lieu of a repair. I probably would have even spent the extra coin and got a Super Elite.

UPDATE:

February 10th 2010
After more than 2 months have passed and MS has spent nearly $300 in shipping costs alone. I received a package with a brand new console inside. As soon as I left the UPS facility I opened the box and was happy to see a USB door and unbroken plastic. Then I checked the serial number and noticed that the console had a totally new serial. Looking closer it had a manufacturing date of January 12th 2010.  Rather funny that the console was manufactured nearly a month AFTER my console threw the RROD.

I’m quite pleased with this result. I don’t know if I’d say the wait was “worth it” but it’s nice to know that I’ve now got a console that probably uses the new lower power consumption chips and will probably be a lot more resilient to RRODs in the future. It would have been nice if MS threw me a points card or something for my trouble. I mean if they’re willing to spend that much money on shipping what’s a 4000MP car REALLY going to cost them?

Regardless I’m happy that all is right in my home theater room and I can get back to playing my 360 and letting my PS3 get back to collecting dust.

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Too Real to be Fun, a Final nail in Tony Hawk’s Coffin

Posted in The Industry by Michael Pica on the December 14th, 2009
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I’ve been a fan and avid player of the Tony Hawk series since the series started. That’s not entirely true, it’s been more an on again off again relationship but I think now it’s safe to say it’s over…

I was introduced to the franchise in college when a friend of mine scored a pirate pre-release beta copy of THPS2  several months before the game was due to be released. I was instantly hooked, I got most of the way through the game then bought the official copy for Dreamcast once that was released. I played the shit out of it, that is to say I not only beat every last challenge in every last area, I also completed 100% of the gap list and essentially drained every possible once of gaming possible out of it. Once I was done with that I went and bought the original Pro Skater and did the same with that. I missed Pro-Skater 3 simply because they didn’t release a version for the Dreamcast and I didn’t own a Sony console at the time, but I bought Pro-Skater 4  and I conqued that with the same vigor that I had the first 2.

I consider THPS4 to be the peak of the series, by THPS3 they had streamlined the game mechanics to a fine science and begun to give the game some intelectual depth. Not a skater myself or even really interested in skating at all I learned all kind of information about different proskaters though the game, what they were known for, who invented what, and I even got a small sense of their personalities through thir in-game avatars.

Things then went down-hill with Underground and Underground 2. with these games they had basically decided that doing tricks similar to and learning about real life skaters was boring so they took inspiration from Jackass and Bam Margera with a nod to Saturday morning cartoons and totally trashed any respectability the series had built up to that point. I put up with Underground 1, it was bad but bearable and the only thing that caused me to pre-order Underground 2 was the fact that it was going to have online multiplayer. I was excited about the prospect of seeing how well I stacked up against players around the world. Unfortunately when I brought it home and found out that they had dropped that feature from the Xbox 1 version, and the immature “storyline” was worse than the first Underground game, I promptly returned it to the store the very same day I picked it up.

The next game in the series, American Wasteland didn’t really interest me, but I had just purchased an Xbox 360 and there were very few games, the game was supposidly “returning to it’s roots” and offered a single large open world to skate in. Any release in a franchise that claims to be “returningto it’s roots” is usually too far past jumping the shark to be redeamed. I did enjoy American Wasteland though. I was somewhat annoyed by the bad writing and even worse plot line, but it was bearable, the world was interesting and fun to play around in, and I enjoyed it enough to fully conquer the game the way I had the older entries in the franchise.

This got me excited for Project 8, the new graphics engine another fun and interesting looking world, and a storyline more similar to THPS4 than the the later games.

I was let down again, not by the story, or the world,  but by the core fundamentals that made the previous Tony Hawk games so fun to play. They screwed up the game mechanics, in all their graphic updates and engine re-writes they lost their way. I first thought maybe I was rusty, but after dusting off my lauded copy of THPS4 I found that it was no I who had changed… but the game itself. I finished the main story. Not only that but the difficulty of the challenges were by far the most difficult of any Tony Hawk game I had ever played. The broken mechanics with the added diffuclty made the game feel more like a job than the fun and challenging pasttime I had enjoyed in the past.

I held off on buying Proving ground, waiting for the reviews to come in, only to find out it was a lot like Project 8 but with the difficulty turned up even higher, I didn’t buy it until I foud the game on a discount rack some time well after its release… I still haven’t played it.

Now we arrive at RIDE, a new developer, a new gimmic, and a new release that sees even less interest in the series than the previous titles. Its interesting, I remember long before I even knew who Tony Hawk was I would play Sega’s TopSkate in the arcade, I loved that game and I always thought to myself “I wish someone would make this for a home console!” Alas it is here but strangely I’m not at all interested in playing it.

I guess the Wii made me realize that simulation games at home just aren’t that fun for a gamer like me. I do enjoy playing DDR and the various sit-down racers in the arcade, among other physically engaging activities, but when I sit down at home to play I’m trying to relax. the prospect of standing in front of the screen trying to balance myself on a hunk of plastic isn’t nearly as appealing as crashing on the couch after a long day for something that is more mentally stimulating than physically. If I want to spend the energy doing an exciting activity, I’ll do it in the real world as opposed to in front of my TV.

Tony Hawk is apparently bitter that people don’t like his new game and not giving it a “fair shake”. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but from my persective it is simply no longer the type of game I wish to play. It’s like falling in love with a certain model car, and buying a new model every few years, they make some changes here and there, some for the better some for the worse, and then all of a sudden they’re not making cars anymore and they want you to buy a motorcycle…. Well I just don’t want to ride a motorcycle, I have no interest in test driving one, nor does it matter how fast or well handled it is, so I guess I’ll buy my cars some place else.

At first I thought it’s me who’s changed, maybe my tastes are different now, but then again, the game is selling and reviewing like garabage, and the sales figures of most of the Tony Hawk games have seemed to reflect my own feelings on the series up to this point… so maybe it’s not me after all.

I think really this is a failing in the industry as a whole. The Wii brought the simulator home in a way that had never really been accomplished before, and even years later it’s still selling like crazy, the *music* Hero games have done the same in turn, but I think what the industry fails to realize is that the people buying these games aren’t the same who grew up on Mario, Grand Theft Auto and Halo, it’s a new group made up of soccer moms and single dads who wouldn’t otherwise buy video games before the Wii and <instrument>Hero. These kind of people might like playing pretend golf, and pseudo-classic-rock-star, but they’re not the kind of people interested in becoming a pro-skater.

I think the market of people who are interested in playing a realistic skateboard game, are out side practising on an actual board, if nothing else because it’s cheaper than buying the game, and probably more engaging too.

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Win Sukiyaki Western Django SteelBooks

Posted in Uncategorized by Michael Pica on the October 28th, 2008
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I was given the wonderful opportunity to hold a give away for collection of SteelBook cased copies of Sukiyaki Western Django. The contest is being held on my site CollectorsEdition.org.

If you’re not familiar with Sukiyaki Western Django then you should hit up the IMDB page for it as well as the trailer. It’s a spaghetti western with a nearly all Japanese cast Japanese writer/director Takashi Miike. It also stars Quinten Tarrentino and as an added twist it’s completely English language (no dubs, no subs). If you liked Kill Bill or Spaghetti Westerns you’ll probably love this film.

So check it out and sign up on Collector’s Edition for a chance to win a really nice SteelBook collectors set on release day.

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Microsoft Doesn’t Understand The Point of the D-Pad

Posted in Xbox 360 by Michael Pica on the September 16th, 2008
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It’s obvious that Microsoft JUST DOESN’T GET IT…

They obviously don’t understand why people use the d-pad and they obviously don’t understand the problem with the current one. All you have to do is look at how well the D-Pad functions toward it’s intended purpose to realize how epically their chosen design fails. (more…)

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How GameStop Rapes their Customers and Empolyees

Posted in The Industry by Michael Pica on the September 8th, 2008
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I happened upon this really interesting 9-part 90 minute behind-the scenes look at GameStop Practices. If you work or shop at GameStop you should definitely check it out, tell your friends, and shop accordingly.

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