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XBox (Games) Government The Courts News

XBox Owner Sues Microsoft 935

drusoicy writes "Reuters is reporting that Sean Burke has filed suit against Microsoft because his XBox system stopped reading discs (games or otherwise) after less than one year of use. Many XBox owners can relate, as XBox hard drives are known for crashing. 'The defective XBox's stop working after minimal usage, after unreasonably, unconscionably, unusually and unexpectedly short amounts of time,' the lawsuit said. The suit will probably become class action, and seeks to represent anyone who has purchased an XBOX since the 2001 launch."
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XBox Owner Sues Microsoft

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:26PM (#10663922)
    Does the world really need another lawsuit?
    • Precisely - what's wrong with taking it back to the shop and asking for a new one? This is just someone out to try to make cash from MS and I don't think it should have been posted on Slashdot, as it will no doubt aid their cause.
      • by McKinney83 ( 687821 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:30PM (#10663979)
        Do you think a store would take a product back after a year?
        And give you a replacement?
        • by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:41PM (#10664142)
          If you got the extended warranty, yes a store will take it back AND give you a replacement. (Though it'll be a 'refurbished' one.)
      • This is just someone out to try to make cash from MS


        Let's see, $150 XBOX.

        Best possible reward:
        -Attorney fees
        -Court costs
        = -thousands of dollars

        The lawyers will make plenty of money... but the guy whose XBOX broke will be lucky if he gets a coupon for some games that still won't work in his defective XBOX.
        • by sgant ( 178166 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:46PM (#10664223) Homepage Journal
          Really, I can't see the guy actually filing this...I'm sure it was his attorney that got ahold of him and saw "class action" written all over it and is just using this poor slob as a springboard.

          Class action lawsuits are for attorneys, not clients.
        • The lawyers will make plenty of money... but the guy whose XBOX broke will be lucky if he gets a coupon for some games that still won't work in his defective XBOX.

          Sometimes class actions of this particular type the remediation is just that the machine gets fixed. I had an Aiwa stereo of one specific model that had a defect where the CD drive would consistently break after a couple of years. There was a class action, and the settlement was that everyone who bought this particular model got a coupon to go g
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:28PM (#10663950)
      Does the world really need another manufacturer producing bad goods?
    • You miss the point. You give them an inch, they will take a mile. Then a lightyear. Its less about getting money/new xbox and more about "quit selling garage"
    • It's been over a year. The store is not liable, the manufacturer is.
    • by badriram ( 699489 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:30PM (#10663986)
      No.... This happened to me to, barely a year after my XBOX started giving me the disc is dirty erorrs on new video games. What what pissed me offf the most was that there were a ton of people this happened to, and MS charges a 130$ to fix a problem that really is a hardware fault.

      This is not one of those McDonalds Hot coffee lawsuits
      • I had some problems with my XBox and a cleaning disc really helped. I had no idea that such a thing even existed for DVD players.

        Having said that, XBox won't play a lot of the Netflix discs, presumably because of their wear and tear.
      • by CGP314 ( 672613 ) <CGP AT ColinGregoryPalmer DOT net> on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:38PM (#10664115) Homepage
        This is not one of those McDonalds Hot coffee lawsuits

        Neither was the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuite [lawandhelp.com]

        -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
      • I had the same problem, too, then I discovered this huge web forum and discovered that I....wasn't alone :|

        Following the forum's advice, I notified Microsoft of the problem, and they "unofficially" replaced it for free, even though it was out of warranty.
        My take on it was that Microsoft clearly knew about the problem early on, but figured it was much cheaper to make discrete replacements to complaining customers, than formally announce a recall.
      • If you have one of the notorious Thompson drives you can spend on tenth ($13) of that $130 price tag on a replacement lens. We bought one a couple of weeks ago off Ebay, opened up the optical drive and removed the old lens and replaced it with our new piece. It's not any harder than piecing together your own rig or seating a CPU. And every self respecting geek has access to a soldering iron any way.

        Since then it's worked great, even better than when we first got the Xbox. No skipping, it loads and reads qui

  • PS2 Class-action (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <`slashdot' `at' `liselle.net'> on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:26PM (#10663927) Journal
    I didn't think history would repeat itself so soon. How many people remember the class-action lawsuit against Sony? They had the infamous "Disk Read Error" on the 1st generation PS2s. If I recall correctly, Sony has to repair or replace the affected systems, even if they are out of warranty (I'm sure someone will correct me if I am mistaken).

    Reputable links are pretty sparse, but a quick Google search revealed a FAQ [ign.com] that has surfaced in several places. I usually despise class-action suits, they tend to only make lawyers rich, but as the owner of a failed 1st gen PS2, I have to say this might be a worthy use of it. IANAL, etc.
    • Re:PS2 Class-action (Score:5, Interesting)

      by destiney ( 149922 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:31PM (#10664009) Homepage

      I took home 3 PS2s before getting one that worked. And even it is so ultra-sensitive to tiny amounts of household dust that I have to clean it 3 or 4 times a year for it to work.

      I remember the old days with my Atari 2600. That thing took a beating and never stopped working.

      • by 3terrabyte ( 693824 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:37PM (#10664090) Journal
        Except the joysticks.
      • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) * on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:46PM (#10664211) Homepage
        I remember the old days with my Atari 2600. That thing took a beating and never stopped working.

        You were lucky.

        Mine had a habit of turning "Combat", "River Raid", and "Pitfall!" into "Vertical Lines and Shrill Tone". That game sucked.

        ...on the upside, this meant I got to play "Blow The Gunk Out of the Cartridge" for free. I also got to play "Whoa, Dizzy!" a lot.

        Good times.

        • Re:PS2 Class-action (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Falrick ( 528 )
          That's funny. "Blow The Gunk Out of the Cartridge" is known as "Deposit Corrosive Agents On Metal Contacts" in my house.

          Until recently, I was a devoted to cleaning my nintendo cartridge via a quick injection of air, err, blowing on the cartridges. Then I read a knowledge base article at Nintendo. It said that when you blow on the cartridge you're actually making the problem worse by coating with metal leads with fine particles of spit. Mmmm. Spit.

          Makes sense when you think about it. The layer of spit may
    • Yep, and you can actually get a free PS2 out of this because they don't require that you send your old one in.

      You just need to

      1. call in and report the incident to Sony.
      2. file a complaint with your state's Attorney General.

      When Sony gets the complaint, they will look up your record to see that you did in fact call (and when you call, 99% of the time they'll ask you to send it in and will charge you, just decline).

      They will ship your PS2.

      Believe it or not, it's that easy... just like with the MS optica
  • by stecoop ( 759508 ) * on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:26PM (#10663928) Journal
    Rest assured that MS doesn't want their Xbox to die after a length of time. As /. has speculated in the past, MS is selling them at a loss. Supposedly, the money is in the support services and gaming. I bet it will get repaired if it is wihtin the warranty period.

    Also, MS has rolled out the media center for Xbox. I speculate that MS is trying to enter the Movies Over IP (moops from Seinfeld ;). I thought that Xbox needed a TV turner but now I believe that the new market is going to be TCP/IP movie center rather than Rf coax.
    • Maybe I am just being silly... but why would an Xbox need a TV tuner when its hooked up to a... TV. Im sure the TV works just fine with what its got
    • Xbox warranty is only 90 days. Suck0rz. But they do offer an extended two-year one, which you have to buy at the time of purchase I guess. I don't know. I never have had a problem with any hardware, even my 9/9/95 PSX. -Chris
  • by edsarkiss ( 755418 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:27PM (#10663940)
    '...unreasonably, unconscionably, unusually and unexpectedly short amounts of time,'

    is he being represented by Jackie Childs?
  • What about Sony? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveCBio ( 659840 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:27PM (#10663941)
    Bitch all you want about the Xbox, but the PS2 is just as bad and the older models were worse. Between crapped out pickups and fried power supplies quite few people are on their second or third PS2.
    • The failure rate for hard drives, particularly in a machine that's liely to be perched precariously on a coffee table in a den full of rowdy teenagers, is far higher than for optical drives. Microsoft should have made provision for replacing the drives.
  • by macshune ( 628296 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:28PM (#10663960) Journal
    Is like shooting a .22 at Godzilla.
    • But in PR terms (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phorm ( 591458 )
      It's more like shooting a bazooka. With XBox2 coming out, the last thing MS will want is tons of people bitching about how their XBox was an unreliable piece of crap within a year.

      Other things to consider:

      a) Sony has similar issues with disc read errors (see previous comments) and will fix PS2's with this defect for free. Somebody must have pulled the guns on them for this to happen too

      b) MS wants to sell games. Supposedly the consoles come at a loss. You aren't selling many games to somebody with a p
  • Warranty? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LEgregius ( 550408 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:28PM (#10663964)
    The article says nothing about the warranty on the xBox and if Microsoft is willing to repair or replace the unit. What is the warranty?
    • Re:Warranty? (Score:5, Informative)

      by retro128 ( 318602 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @01:01PM (#10664433)
      The warranty is crap - Only 90 days. Obviously, the two biggest weak points on that thing are the HD and the DVD reader. I never understood why the decision was made to install a hard disk. I mean, it's a console - Kids play with it, and the thing is subject to a few bumps and drops. Not good for an HD. If you don't have the thing chipped and your HD fails you are basically screwed, unless you want to pay blood money for repair. If you're chipped you can just take that 10GB junker out and put in a $50 40GB drive.

      As far as the DVD reader goes, there are sites on the net [llamma.com] that sell replacement lasers for them and have tutorials for repairing the drive. [llamma.com]

      • by Hockney Twang ( 769594 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @01:27PM (#10664805)
        Speaking of "kids play with it," a friend of mine, in a drunken fight, picked up his Xbox and used it to beat an offending drunkard into submission. Magically, the hard drive survived the savage encounter. In fact, the machine still works fine to this day, despite living in some of the most hostile conditions in which I've ever seen a computer placed.
  • by Letter ( 634816 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:28PM (#10663967)
    Dear XBOX User,

    That's what you get for using the mod-chip.


  • Dammit I knew we shouldn't have picked up that lot of IBM Deathstar drives off eBay...
  • Warranty (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bobbis.u ( 703273 )
    Surely X-Boxes are covered by at least a one year warranty? Couldn't this just be a warranty claim? Or is he going to claim "mental anguish" at the loss of his gaming time in the meantime?

    I dislike MS as much as the next Slashdotter, but suing them because his particular X-Box broke seems ridiculous. I suppose people could claim that they have suffered with the loss of their saved games if the HD failed, but that isn't the case with this guy.

  • if this is successful, PS2 owners should pursue similiar damages against Sony. My PS2 stopped reading older games and some DVD movies. Having read about problems like this before, i knew what needed to be done. Fix it myself, since Sony won't recognize it as a defect in the system and repair it for you. Unless you want to shell out a ton of dough for shipping and repair costs, which almost cost as much as a new PS2 would. It is a common issue with the PS2s, and its simple to fix. Yet sony wont accept t
    • I believe there's been a class action suit against Sony for this exact reason already. They settled by giving free repairs for PS2s with DREs (disk read errors). Everyone I know has been able to get free repairs for DRE-related problems when their PS2s failed. You do have to pay for shipping, however.
  • Numbers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:31PM (#10664004)
    I work in retail, for a company that sells both x-boxes and PS2s. I know there are a lot more PS2s than X-boxes, but I probably see 20 PS2s to every X-Box being returned due to being defective, and we honor manufactuer's warranty. I know that PS2s have had cooling problems in the past too, but I've never heard anything about a specific reliability issue with X-Boxes. Basically, are there any numbers or points that show otherwise?
  • by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:32PM (#10664018)
    Among the first things an xbox modder does is check out the dvd drive. Generally speaking, the phillips drives are the worse. The thompson drives can be okay, but the samsung drives are considered to be the best because they will allow for the widest reading range of media (cd-r, dc-rw, dvd-r, etc.)

    In my experiences, the phillips drives are the hardest to read with, even just slightly scratched or dirty dvds give it problems...the thompson and samsung drives are able to read the same discs with no problems most of the time (some discs are just play unreadble). My thompson drive will read cd-rw disks but only from select media vendors, the samsung drive seems to read everything (hence the reason I've upgrade the 2 phillips drives with samsung drives).

  • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:33PM (#10664026)
    A friend had his son's Xbox catch fire. I don't know if there was actual flame, but there was snapping and smoke. Of course, calling MS support, he found out that the warranty was voided because he opened it up to see what might have burned up. So he is basically SOL, and has to buy a new one if he and his son want to make use of the games they bought. He can certainly afford it, and he actually bought another one the next day. But he checked on the net and I guess this wasn't the first time this has happened. I think the PS blew out or something. Kind of scary.
  • by cymraeg ( 578870 ) <sean@NOspam.full.vu> on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:33PM (#10664035)
    i return my hardware when it develops a conscience.

    the last thing i want is my xbox wondering about anything but its own meagre existence.
  • by Recoil_42 ( 665710 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:39PM (#10664120) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft fixed mine for free after i complained, but many people have problems with these drives, and i'm very happy that this guy is suing MS.

    The problem stems from the Thomson drives used in the Mexican factories -- the chinese factories use Philips and Samsung drives which have no problems, but Thomson drives are notorious for failing in the Xbox community.

    Just one look at the official xbox forums reveals hundreds of complaints about dirty disk errors, and on eBay and Xbox parts dealer websites like llamma.com, DVD lasers are the most often sold parts.

    From what i understand, the drives themselves aren't really defective -- they're built fine, the problem is that the resistor on the laser is set too high, and as a result, the laser is too weak to read the disks -- thomson drives refuse to read CD-Rs, for that very reason.

    Microsoft still won't acknowledge that this problem exists, but over the past few years, they've slowly but surely shifted to using more samsung drives, and less thomson drives, so i'm sure they're at least aware of the problem internally.

    My old Mexico-Thomson Xbox works fine now after the repairs -- they replaced the drive with another thomson, which has given me no problems since. But it still doesn't read CD-Rs, whereas my Chinese-built Philips xbox has no qualms whatsoever reading the crappiest of CD-Rs..
  • by toetagger1 ( 795806 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:39PM (#10664122)
    Sign me up!
  • by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:42PM (#10664159) Homepage
    But why isn't anyone suing Sony for the same thing?

    I wish those console sales trackers would publish statistics on reliability. I know it would be impossible to do it perfectly. Maybe do a test study to get some idea, because I have a feeling that the true market share numbers are much different than the % purchased that they give now.
  • by rufus t firefly ( 35399 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:45PM (#10664200) Homepage
    I had a friend who bought an original XBOX (v1.0), and after using it for a few years found that the DVD drive would only sporadically read discs.

    Upon taking the case apart and starting the box, I found that the top plate of the DVD drive had warped over time, and was no longer pushing the top spindle down on the disc. This was causing the disc to fail to spin with the motor. It was fixed by removing the top plate of the DVD drive and bending it back into place, then using some foam to sit between the top of the XBOX case and the top plate of the DVD drive. As hacky as this sounds, it actually works, and his XBOX hasn't given him any problems of that nature since.

    I wish I had bothered to remember the brand of drive. In their defense, I don't think he ever left the XBOX off ...

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:53PM (#10664333) Homepage Journal
    You can have it >Cheap, >Good, >Fast. Pick any two.
  • What do you expect? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gone.fishing ( 213219 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:56PM (#10664358) Journal
    Why, if MS software crashes, shouldn't MS hardware do the same?

    I don't own an X-box and really can't weigh in on facts because I don't have any and don't care enough to make 'em up (unlike many of our politicians).

    But I can float some questions:
    1. Has MS ever delivered a reliable gen 1
    2. Is this a through and through Microsoft
    product or are they just the marketers
    of someone else's (custom) design, built
    in a contract manufacturers plant?
    3. Why are so many slashdotters buying
    Microsoft X-Boxes?

  • by AgentJose1 ( 826421 ) <tcuadrado@adel p h i a . n et> on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:57PM (#10664380)
    Of course I know that hard drives and drives will fail. Especially with drives that use a laser to read the information off the disc, eventually the laser would burn out. It happened to me literally a year and one month after I had purchased the xbox, so my "warranty" had expired...(Maybe it's because I left it on for 80 hours straight once...not always playing but when I would go somewhere I would pause it and just leave it running) But I called up Microsoft and they said "Sure, it'll be $100 + shipping" to fix it! I was like "You're kidding...well, don't you guys have an extended warranty?" "Sure, it costs $50." So I hung up the phone, called back, purchased an extended warranty and then said "I'd like to enact my warranty please." It covers me for 2 years *and* I only had to pay like $8 in shipping. Better than spending $149 clams(at the time) for a new xbox. Normally it would have been more adventageous to throw out the xbox, but I own more than the cost of the xbox in games, most of which I play fairly frequently. What I *do* have a beef with, is the way in which their communicator for xbox live is designed. If you've never seen it, the earpiece/microphone is attached to the headband which holds the unit on your head by a flimsy piece of plastic. So far I've had 2 of them break on me by just picking them up and having the communicator cord snag on something. I was *really* mad about that, because that's not excessive abuse, it's just normal use. I called MS and told them their product was defective, and they said "Well, sorry, there's nothing we can do about it." My solution: Buy a third-party xbox live headset. Logitech sells one for not much more than the xbox one, and it looks a little sturdier. Of course, I need something called "money" to buy one, of which that is really scarce at the moment.
  • un (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @12:57PM (#10664381)
    The defective XBox's stop working after minimal usage, after unreasonably, unconscionably, unusually and unexpectedly short amounts of time

    I can't believe they missed out understandably, unashamadily, unauthorized, unavoidably and 614 other possibilities!

  • Bad wording (Score:4, Informative)

    by hollismb ( 817357 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @01:11PM (#10664560) Homepage
    Technically, the article is all wrong. I've never heard of an Xbox hard-drive crashing, although I'm sure it's probably happened. Specifically, it should be referring to the faulty disc drive, which is a common problem, and normally refers to Thompson drives that were in most launch Xbox's. The warranty is 90 days, just like on most consumer level electronics. Why file a lawsuit though, when he could have just called Microsoft and bitched about it? I've read many accounts where people have complained about a faulty disc drive a few times and gotten their Xbox fixed for free.
  • by nwbvt ( 768631 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @01:58PM (#10665215)
    ...but come on! He is suing because his toy broke. Thats it. This is the world when even 12 year old kids have ambulance chasers, er, lawyers following them around and filing lawsuits whenever something happens that pisses them off.
  • UK law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rikkus-x ( 526844 ) <rik@rikkus.info> on Friday October 29, 2004 @02:02PM (#10665285) Homepage
    As far as I am aware, if you buy something in the UK (not services, or some other things that don't count, but goods) then legally you can to take them back to where you bought them within one year and you have the right to a full refund or replacement.

    If I'm right on this, why is there no such thing in the US?

  • by hipster_doofus ( 670671 ) on Friday October 29, 2004 @02:17PM (#10665522) Homepage

    While I certainly have sympathy for this guy, I don't think a lawsuit is the answer here.

    For starters, most "low-end" consumer electronics are not covered by what I would consider to be a long or extensive warranty, so this should come as no surprise to him that the warranty was already expired. Most of these devices are made to be disposable and/or have a fairly limited life span.

    Most /.ers have read Bruce Schneier and know that he talks about trade-offs in security. Well, product cost vs. quality is a trade-off, too. Microsoft could probably sell me a $500 XBox that would have a 2 or 3 year warranty, but they know that I probably don't want to spend $500 for an XBox. Therefore, they decide to use lower-quality components in order to sell an XBox to me at a price I'm willing to pay. I might also add that since MS is selling the hardware at a loss, they have no incentive to use higher-quality components. This is also an area where extended warranties attempt to give consumers an option. If you pay me $X, I will ensure that you have a working XBox for the next X months/years. Depending upon the cost of the goods and your financial situation, an extended warranty may or may not be a good purchase, but I won't go into that here.

    I don't think that this guy has a case against Microsoft because he was the person that made the trade-off that led him into this position (i.e. - not buying an extended warranty, not checking to see how long MS' warranty was before he chose not to buy the extended warranty, etc.). Being upset because something broke is understandable, but filing a lawsuit is simply not the answer - especially given the relatively low cost of an XBox when compared with many other pieces of home electronics. All he's going to accomplish by making this a class action lawsuit is enriching himself (possibly) and some lawyers - he's probably not going to do others in the class one bit of good.

    To be blunt: expecting things to be cheap, always work, and be of high overall quality is just not realistic. There has to be a balance in the equation and for game consoles, price is what sells. The fact that he got burned this time around should be no surprise to anyone - himself included. He should just do what any other person would do: try to have it fixed, or just buy a new one. He's already wasted more than $150 of his time by getting a lawyer involved with this process.

  • repeat after me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dougnaka ( 631080 ) * on Friday October 29, 2004 @03:21PM (#10666336) Homepage Journal
    I will not file frivilous lawsuits regardless of the unfair amounts of cash I could get. I look down on those who perpetuate the deplorable state of the legal system in this country, especially the lawyers who gain the most from the abuse of this system. I will vote for change, recommend change, and work towards change for the betterment of the people. I understand that lawsuits are often the only recourse of an injustice and I support their use for these purposes. I do not support the use of lawsuits to pass my responsibilities onto others, and I accept full responsibility for my actions. I understand the inherit risks in daily life and that there are things that nobody is responsible for. I recognize that coffee is generally served hot, nobody can see around blind corners, complex medical procedures involve a certian risk, if I eat more calories than I burn I will gain weight, if I eat foods high in sugar/fat/cholesterol it is likely that I will suffer health consequences for this, if I smoke cigarettes I will increase my risk for cancer, and if I drink drano I will likely die.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"