Friday, January 5, 2007

Zen and the Art of Xbox Returns

I have recently had a chance to learn something interesting about myself, thanks to Microsoft and Micro Center. This year I acquired an Xbox 360 for Christmas. I have been drooling over this system since well before it was released over a year ago, but in a previously-unprecedented show of restraint I didn't buy it until getting Christmas money from my family to offset the considerable cost. I bought mine from the aforementioned Micro Center because they were offering a great mail-in rebate. In hindsight that should have raised some kind of red flag.

I got the system home, plugged everything in, turned it on, and was greeted first by the Xbox logo and then by what I have come to call the Black Screen of Death. Stark white lettering on an otherwise black screen informed me that I had an E68 error code and should contact Microsoft support. A quick trip to www.xbox.com/support told me that the hard drive was bad and would need to be replaced. So, the next day I made the half-hour drive to the Micro Center in Fairfax, past innumerable Best Buys and Circuit Citys. Micro Center, to their credit, replaced the box with no fuss.

I got the system home, plugged everything in, turned it on, and was greeted first by the Xbox logo and then once again by the Black Screen of Death. Stark white lettering on an otherwise black screen informed me that I had an E69 error code this time and should contact Microsoft support. A quick trip to www.xbox.com/support told me that this hard drive was also bad and would need to be replaced. So, the next day I again made the half-hour drive to the Micro Center in Fairfax, past innumerable Best Buys and Circuit Citys. Micro Center, to their credit, replaced the box with no fuss.

I then drove with this box to the New Year's party, several hours later than I had planned as a result of this detour. We plugged everything in, turned it on, and everything came on just fine. I packed it back up, did a victory dance and assumed I had just had some bad luck.... Until....

The next night I attempted to make use of the 360's DVD player capabilities. I was also trying to get the remote I had bought for it to work, so it took a while to realize that putting a DVD in the box caused it to freeze in no more than 2 minutes. The handy and by now familiar www.xbox.com/support told me a number of possible solutions, none of which worked. The nice person I spoke to on the phone also tried several things, none of which worked. Having lost any faith I once had in Micro Center to sell me a working unit I took advantage of Microsoft's warranty and arranged for them to mail me a new unit.

In the meantime, since it's game play abilities appeared to be fine, I finally sat down to play one of my new games with my brother, who lives in Cincinnati, through Xbox live. Being able to do this was one of the main reasons I bought the system, so I was very much looking forward to it. However, there was a certain amount of initial confusion, because he could not hear me talking. Several phone calls later we determined that the headset that came with my system #3 did not work. Fortunately we have cellphones that allow free calling to each other, so we fired those up and still managed to have a great evening killing simulated monsters.

So far as I can tell, the only components that have consistently worked out of the systems I have been sold have been the cables. Every other piece has, in one system or another, been DOA.

And the truly strange part of all of this has been how little it has actually bothered me. While I have certainly been amazed and disgusted at just how poorly this has worked out, there has been very little actual anger. In the greater scheme of things nothing has been that big of a deal, just a little delay in getting my toy working and a few extra trips to Fairfax. Whereas in the past this kind of problem would have sent me frothing mad. Not that many years ago I definitely would have been "Things Not Working Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping" if I was a Horseman. Inanimate objects trembled at my name, and something I had waited so long and paid as much for as this not working would have had me seeing red for the entire two weeks now that it is taking to get it straightened out.

I don't miss being that person.

1 comment:

clarksburg said...

Iv been looking around the internet for some good quality scart cables so far they have either been really cheap and rubbish or expensive and good but I don’t want to be forking out loads of money every time I need a scart cable. I have ordered a few 1 metre scart cable for my TV and consoles. i recently borrowed a projector off my uni and played pro evo on it! amazing