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Microsoft Entertainment Games

Customer Loses Xbox 360 Artwork During Repair 330

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the customer-disservice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Consumerist is reporting that one unlucky individual had to send his Xbox 360 in for repairs. The catch is he had spent a great deal of time getting signatures and artwork on the outside of the console from notable members of the gaming industry. He specifically asked and even sent a letter along with his console requesting that the outside of the case be returned intact. When he got it back it was once again, plain white. Assuming that this is a genuine claim, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the missing/cleaned case Microsoft should at least apologize to the guy."
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Customer Loses Xbox 360 Artwork During Repair

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  • He's an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:31AM (#22608206)
    If the signatures on the outside of the box were so valuable, he should have bought a brand new XBox rather than run the risk of having the "valuable" one stolen, damaged, or defaced.

    As for the concept behind getting signatures in the first place, it may be cool to get XBox developers to sign an XBox, but what's the point of getting "notable members of the gaming industry" to sign a product that has a guaranteed maximum lifespan? Wouldn't taking a polaroid and having them sign that be a better way to preserve those memories?
  • by calebt3 (1098475) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:33AM (#22608220)
    ...that it was an entirely new console.
    I just can't decide if the old one was discarded or some repair guy decided that he really liked the case and kept it.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ilikepi314 (1217898) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:37AM (#22608236)
    To me, an XBox is the equivalent of an engineer's "work of art". I see nothing wrong with getting authors to sign their books (paper doesn't last forever), or artists to sign their paintings (the paint does all sorts of nasty things over time), musicians sign CDs (don't let CDs near small children, or leave in sunlight), so the development team signing their final product (which is quite a marvel technologically, even if it may not be functional for 100 years) seems reasonable to me.

    Now, on the issue of whether he should have sent it or not, you're probably right in that he should have kept that one and bought a new one. But maybe he couldn't afford a new one at the moment and made an unwise decision.
  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:45AM (#22608260)
    I really feel for this guy. I really do.

    However, you can never rely on an agent for anything. They really can say anything, and generally are not held accountable. You have to go up to supervisor level and above, get employee identification information, and to some extent, get a written letter of intent from the company.

    It's like asking the sales guy for technical information on how stuff works. Bad Idea. Go to tech support to talk to the guy instead.

    That being said, it seems pretty clear from the article that somebody at Microsoft may have been mean and spiteful to "wash" the case. I say that only since we do not know what processes go on inside. It may be possible that multiple people are responsible for the repair, and the person taking the unit out the box and reading the letter just lacked the appropriate standing or ability to communicate anything down the line. The person that washed the case, may have been simply doing his job, and may have even had reservations about doing it. That employee may have had nobody to talk to either, or even the time and the "empowerment" to do so. It is entirely possible that the whole operation is so big, that expecting this kind of interdepartmental communication and cooperation is just unreasonable, and a little naive.

    That is what I believe. That kind of operation must be so huge, given the volume, that for the systems and policies to be implemented to track this incident from its creation to its conclusion is just too costly of an undertaking. You would have to believe that they could create a RMA and from the very beginning include dynamic handling instructions that would be passed throughout the entire process. Most business fail at this already.

    If anybody is truly responsible, it is the agent for making that representation in the first place. That agent, by their representations, implied that such abilities do exist.

    Of course it would be interesting to know if there are policies in place to retain cases and artwork. On the surface, it is easy to condemn M$ overall for this, but there are just too many unknowns in the story.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:51AM (#22608280)
    The "notable members of the gaming industry" presumably have a guaranteed maximum lifespan as well (medical advances not withstanding).

    If you could go back in time and get the autograph of Leonardo da Vinci, would you have him scrawl it some paper or would you have him write it on a bale of hay? The value of an autograph is arguable, but the medium upon which it is recorded is important as well.
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:56AM (#22608318) Homepage
    No, it's easy to condemn MS in general, even without the unknowns.

    Someone asked a specific question of a customer service representative. That representative gave a clear and unambiguous answer. Either that answer was incorrect, or a serious mistake was made internally.

    It doesn't matter which of those was the case. If you bring a car to an auto shop, and they rip out your engine, do you let them get away with "oh well someone made a mistake"? "Our customer service representative wasn't authorized to make that promise"? "Our company's just too big man, there's nothing you can do about it! These things just happen."

    Fuck that.

    Microsoft support screwed up. I don't know what section they screwed it up in, but I honestly don't care. The details don't matter. Microsoft support screwed up and should take responsibility - figuring out where the mistake was made is their problem.

  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nametaken (610866) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:10AM (#22608368)
    what's the point of getting "notable members of the gaming industry" to sign a product that has a guaranteed maximum lifespan? Wouldn't taking a polaroid and having them sign that be a better way to preserve those memories?

    Seems a silly question. Let me ask you this, would you rather have an original Nintendo signed by the people who made Super Mario Bros., or a long-since faded polaroid picture of a Nintendo with scrawl covering the picture?
  • Sorry But... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:15AM (#22608380)
    He should have paid for the repairs out of his own pocket and located an authorized local service center, where he could carry in the XBOX for service. Maybe Microsoft XBOX repairs don't work this way, but if it meant so much to me, then I would have done everything possible to make sure that I found a certified local technician who would do things my way, even if it meant paying for the needed repairs instead of having the machine repaired free through the warranty.

    Sometimes things that suck just happen and the problem can't be fixed.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:16AM (#22608384)
    Probably was just bad communication. So I'm guessing under normal procedure, you don't necessairily get your old Xbox 360 back. They may send you a different one they reconditioned (or perhaps a new one if that isn't available). That way if your problem ends up being something that takes longer to fix, or ends up being something unfixable, you aren't sitting around waiting for a long time as they figure that out.

    Now that'd be pretty normal procedure for returns. Quite often when I've had to return something, I've gotten a different unit returned to me. They recieve the part, verify that it is defective, that the warranty does cover it, and then ship out a replacement so I don't have to wait. The one I sent in then gets sent over to the repair shop to look at and they do with it whatever they wish to. I'm happy since I have my item back quickly. In fact some companies even allow for cross ship. eVGA will allow you to buy enhanced warranties so that they'll ship you out a card, then once you get it you ship the old one back. Cuts down on your downtime that way.

    So, I'm guessing that is MS's normal procedure. Now in this case, they got it noted that the guy wanted his orignal box back and said "no problem, we can do that." However, the reason he did, or maybe even that he did, never got sent down the line. So it goes to repairs, gets fixed, and then there's some guy who's job it is to clean them up and make them look nice. He hasn't been told this picture is supposed to stay, for all he know somebody's kid was scribbling on it. His job is to clean up the boxes, which he does.

    The shipping department then gets the box back from repairs, matches it up to go back to the original owner since they have instructions to that effect, and he gets his unfortunately cleaned 360.

    I really doubt that anyone would have done this out of spite. All other MS conspiracy theories aside, they LOVE the Red vs Blue guys. They've had them do promotions for launches and so on. This isn't a case of a Tux penguin or something that might go against their corporate culture, this is something that is supportive of MS all the way.

    I'd just bet on bad communication in trying to do something that isn't normal procedure.
  • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:20AM (#22608400) Homepage

    Many of the companies with service centers would like that to be true, but that doesn't mean that it is. As always, in the *only way* to know your legal standing in a case like this is to talk to a lawyer.

    If that were true in this case then it would make it *utterly* obvious that someone at Microsoft was ethically at fault. If such an agreement were assumed then the letter included in the case indicated a lack of acceptance of that arrangement - in which case doing anything other than shipping it back untouched would be obviously unacceptable.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:25AM (#22608410)
    That is SOP for every shop I've ever dealt with for exchanges. In 99.999% of cases what the customer wants is a working replacement as fast as possible. They don't care if it is their unit, they care that it is a working unit that arrives quickly.

    In fact with some premium support packages, it is explicit. For example at work we contract with MPC to provide our computers. Part of that is we get good support. Something breaks, I send them an e-mail saying "This part on this serial number is broken, I want a new one." They then send me a replacement, via next day air. I install it and get it working, then send them back the old one (which they pay shipping for) when I've got time. Net effect is we get computer fixed for people much faster. I don't care that it isn't the same motherboard or RAM or whatever that was in there before. It just needs to be one that is the same model and thus does the same job.

    A case like this is very unusual. Most people are made the happiest by the fastest turnaround in getting a fixed part, which often means giving them a part you already fixed.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:55AM (#22608488) Homepage
    Personally, I'd have him autograph one of his inventions. You know, like his now-obsolete flying machine.

    Having an artist autograph their current chosen medium seems reasonable to me. Yes, the XBox 360 is going to be obsolete - but that won't mean that, retroactively, Red Vs Blue wasn't made on an XBox 360. That way you get both the autograph and a nice slice of history.

    "Yessiree, this is an actual autograph by one of the creative minds behind Red Vs Blue! And even better, you're looking at a real XBox 360, just like the one Red Vs Blue was made on!"

    Same argument goes for any game developer or designer, obviously.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:57AM (#22608494)
    That's an interesting question.

    I actually have a signed copy of The C++ Programming Language [amazon.com] as well as a signed Polaroid of me and Bjarne at an old tradeshow. I also have a signed polaroid of me with merlyn.

    The book is obsolete and deteriorating. The pictures look fine. The pictures are worth more to *me* than the signed book. Pictures can't be made obsolete because there is nothing in them that can be made obsolete.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lena_10326 (1100441) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @02:59AM (#22608510) Homepage

    The value of an autograph is arguable, but the medium upon which it is recorded is important as well.
    Plastics have a lifespan of several hundred years, which is considerably longer than the paper on which autographs are signed. Longer than acid-free archival paper as well.

    It's also longer than oil based paint used on the great paintings by the masters, which often sell for millions. Longer than the canvas used for those paintings as well.

  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @03:49AM (#22608664) Journal
    Engineering works of art don't break as often as an Xbox 360.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @03:49AM (#22608666)

    what's the point of getting "notable members of the gaming industry" to sign a product that has a guaranteed maximum lifespan? Wouldn't taking a polaroid and having them sign that be a better way to preserve those memories?
    Seems a silly question. Let me ask you this, would you rather have an original Nintendo signed by the people who made Super Mario Bros., or a long-since faded polaroid picture of a Nintendo with scrawl covering the picture?
    Good point for sure. I would want the real NES with signatures.

    However, I would also never ever mail that NES anywhere without the expectation that it will be lost forever. If it had any problems, I would buy a new one. The new one would be acceptable to mail in for repair, but not the signed collector one.

    Yes, MS fucked up big time for lying to this poor guy.
    However, while I wont go as far as to say he deserved it, he obviously did not care enough about his valued collector item to take care of it properly.

    This is just how it goes when you turn something into a collectors item like that.
    While MS deserves pretty much all of the blame for lying (claiming they could and would return the exact same unit intact) when that was not a promise they could keep, I just hope the guy turns this around into a positive and learns to take better care of his belongings.

    For the standard slashdot car example:
    There are a lot of people out there that enjoy buying older historic cars, restoring them, and possibly taking them to shows and what not.
    However the ones that care about their investment do not drive that historic car around all the time like it was their only vehicle. Doing so puts needless extra wear on it, which lowers its over all value.

  • by saladpuncher (633633) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @03:57AM (#22608712) Homepage
    Come on marketing and PR department of Redmond, even I know the answer to this one and I haven't ever taken a class in marketing or sucking up.
    1. Issue a statement of apology explaining that you will get to the bottom of the problem.
    2. Go ahead and look for the Xbox (but secretly you know this is futile and the box is next to the Ark or was really cleaned).
    3. Contact the complaining customer and ask him what signatures were on the Xbox.
    4. Contact the artists that signed the box. Make a big PR festival out of it! Have Bill Gates (or heck...anyone famous will do) take a brand new Xbox to each artist and have them sign it.
    5. Send the Xbox back to the kid. No wait, have Bill Gates deliver it in person. Film the whole thing and put it on youtube, etc.
    6. PR disaster averted and gold stars for everyone.

    The media would eat this up and the free publicity would be worth its weight in cheetos.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @04:04AM (#22608730)
    General rule of dealing with humanity:

    Never ascribe to malice what could as easily be caused by incompetence, stupidity, or forgetfulness.

    This is true in dealing with large corporations, and it is extra true in marriage.
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @04:16AM (#22608760) Homepage
    Honestly? It's still the company's fault. If the company says "yes we can do this" then it means they should do it, I don't care if it was person #1 or person #20.

    If you ask me to sign a contract, and I say no, and you ask another 20 times and I finally sign it, am I exempt from it because you asked me a lot? Not in the least. Same deal here. If the company said they'd do X, and they didn't do X, I don't see any excuses.

    (I don't actually know if they did say so. But I'm assuming that they did.)
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @04:31AM (#22608778)
    Sounds like a Microsoft phone droid did his job, saying "yes, yes" to everything over the phone so he could close the support ticket in minimal time and keep his manager happy. And then the Mexican repair shop droid did his job, treating the Xbox just like all the others so as not to annoy the manager or otherwise engage in troublesome independent decision-making.

    Does anyone expect otherwise from Microsoft?

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:29AM (#22608916) Homepage
    It's as simple as that.

    The whole idea of sending a customized anything to a central repair place screams out for a "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag. The box may be special to you, but it isn't to them. You can't expect major manufacturers to spend extra time/money on you just because you decided to paint your box a different color. The world doesn't work that way.

    Buy a new Xbox, swap the innards. Xbox all fixed.

  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oktober Sunset (838224) <sdpage103&yahoo,co,uk> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:38AM (#22608950)
    does anyone expect otherwise from any big corporation?
  • by mpe (36238) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:56AM (#22608998)
    I doubth the first person he asked said "I promise they won't clean it". He probably kept calling until he found someone who would say what he wanted to hear. I've worked in the biz, happens all the time. idiot calls in time and time again, gets the same answer. finally calls in and gets the answer he likes, then screams "broken verbal contract" when the first dozen calls he made gave the correct answer and the last call gave the wrong, desired answer.

    This is called "negotiation". The only idiot here is the corporation in question. Part of the whole deal of corporations being "people" is that they can change their minds.
    What do you expect would happen if the boot was on the other foot with a customer or supplier stating "my original answer is the (only) correct one"?
  • Re:dur (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neumayr (819083) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:59AM (#22609010)
    I guess a lot XBoxes that get sent in for repair have paint or stickers covering the case in a way that decreases airflow, causing it to overheat.
    As another poster pointed out, the consoles are repaired by badly paid assembly line workers, who're supposed to blindly follow instructions. Assembly line workers usually lack education, so the instructions must be kept simple - instead of 'remove any paint/stickers obstructing airflow', it probably says 'remove any paint/stickers'.
    In most cases, removing paint and stickers probably is more cost-efficient than replacing the case, and those assembly line slaves aren't going to argue - why would they, they're treated badly, and most likely don't care about their employers finances.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:53AM (#22609134)

    If you ask me to sign a contract, and I say no, and you ask another 20 times and I finally sign it, am I exempt from it because you asked me a lot? Not in the least. Same deal here. If the company said they'd do X, and they didn't do X, I don't see any excuses.
    That really depends on how you ask those 20 times. If you say tied him up and smacked him with a shovel to the groin each time he said no then that is duress and the contract is void.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:36AM (#22609216)
    isn't it terrible that we don't?
  • by loganrapp (975327) <[loganrapp] [at] [gmail.com]> on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:48AM (#22609236)
    Just buy a second case.


    You're intending to keep this for a long time, so for a couple of years you just have an empty case. When the XBOX 720 or whatever comes out, 360s will be a lot cheaper and you can put your old 360 in there or buy a new one to fill out the case.

    I haven't looked into it deeply, but I saw that custom clear cases were $50 or so. How much could a stock case really cost?

    Just poor planning, really. If you wanted to get signatures of all major developers and felt it important to preserve that, then, y'know, put that thing in a protective box and never open it.

  • by S.O.B. (136083) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @09:42AM (#22609484)

    This sucks, but I think the guy was being a bit naive personally. If he went to a small time local repair shop and got this treatment I'd be more surprised. When you're dealing with a system that is made to handle a high volume of requests you can't expect personally-tailored service - that would be much too expensive for a company to maintain.

    Probably the issue tracking system and everything else down the line lacks the ability to account for personal requests: You send in a broken box, they send back a fixed box. I wouldn't even expect the same physical unit to come back, personally. I'm curious how purchased content is handled, though, in the case of a drive failure.


    I would agree with you if he hadn't contacted Microsoft beforehand. That fact that he called to verify if they could satisfy his request shows that he wasn't naive. I believe the call centre rep that told him it would be OK was where the mistake was made. I think everyone else in the repair chain did the job they were trained to do.

    Anyway, I think the guy had an unrealistic expectation, but then again maybe I've just lowered my expectations of big companies too far. I'm left wondering how this made front page news on slashdot, too.


    If a story makes Slashdot then it's on the front page. Unlike a newspaper websites don't have a "back page" in the traditional sense.
  • by 26199 (577806) * on Saturday March 01, 2008 @09:44AM (#22609492) Homepage

    This is unfortunate ... but perhaps an opportunity to discuss how to write for results.

    Actions that you are requesting need to be immediately obvious.

    The rest of the letter can be junk. The first few lines should have said "please do not clean or replace my XBOX cover", probably in bold.

    You can't expect people to read a story. (In this case even a clear letter probably wouldn't have helped, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt).

  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darundal (891860) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @10:39AM (#22609696) Journal
    Yeah, because everyone has $279-$449 just lying around.
  • by magus_melchior (262681) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @01:22PM (#22610434) Journal
    He didn't buy a new Xbox because he couldn't afford one (or wanted to keep the stats on his old box), and switching cases with a new box would have voided the warranty on both— this is not something you'd want to do on a shoestring budget. He's not a Comic Book Store Guy-type collector, so he didn't get two boxes to begin with (which would've made the signed box CSR-proof).

    That said, surely he heard of all the RRoD horror stories, so perhaps working toward a second box should have been in his plans?

    If there's written evidence from Microsoft that promised him they wouldn't touch the signatures, there's no doubt that they are liable. It'll be quite a bit harder to prove without that.
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday March 02, 2008 @01:42AM (#22613902) Journal
    Does the fact that this is expected make it any less disgusting?

    No, seriously, are we that fucking complacent that we just accept bullshit just because it's a corporation???
  • Re:He's an idiot (Score:1, Insightful)

    by that this is not und (1026860) on Sunday March 02, 2008 @11:25AM (#22615498)
    You're right. We'd better replace that mid-5-figures piece of equipment because 'the world is going digital.' We clearly need to take the lead from what the sales dweebs say at Best Buy. I'll "chat with my guy" about it Monday.

The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell. -- Confucius

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