Editor's Note: I personally feel that Microsoft should be responsible for repairing any console that fails due to a design flaw or manufacturing defect regardless of the age of the system. Ross gives us some helpful tips to navigate this difficult customer service hurdle. -Jay
One piece of information that both Microsoft and retailers carrying the Xbox 360 probably aren't too keen on spreading is that, no matter what, you can get your console repaired free of charge when it red rings even if you purchased it used.
Yes, I said it. After over seven years in retail, almost five years of selling the 360, and countless calls to Microsoft's customer service line, I have been able to get my consoles, and those of my customers, repaired 100 percent of the time. It merely requires a little patience and some very simple knowledge.
First of all, since the 360 launched in 2005, gamers paying attention have seen a few changes in the manufacturer's warranty due to a large amount of hardware failures. Initially Microsoft offered a 90-day warranty. They later extended it to one year for all issues not related to abuse and then three years for the infamous red ring of death or E74 errors. During all of this, Microsoft took steps to soften the blow consumers receive when their machine fails. They include a one-month Xbox Live Gold subscription card upon return of your console, at the very least.
If you follow these simple tricks, you can make sure that, regardless of the circumstances, your console gets repaired free of charge.
1. Make your first attempt to start the repair process via the support website. (http://www.xbox.com/support)
You shouldn't have much trouble navigating this website. Enter the information that it requires of you and, if all goes perfectly, you never have to make the phone call to customer support. If at any point this gives you an error or tells you the console has already been registered, get your phone ready. You will need to do a little more leg work.
2. Next, you should gather all of the required information and be aware of some simple troubleshooting facts.
For this to go as smoothly as possible, you'll want to provide all of the same registration information you just punched into their support website. While you most likely have not forgotten your name, address and e-mail, you probably haven't memorized the console serial number.
Also, they will want to know what you have done so far, or they will try to help you troubleshoot the problem first. If you tell them that the power brick has a yellow light when the console is off, a green when it is on, and that with or without the hard drive you are receiving the same error, you will progress past this step much faster.
3. You're ready to make the call, but how do you avoid getting stuck in the automated menu?
In case you haven't found it yet, the phone number you'll need is 1-800-4MY-XBOX.
An automated menu greets you after you dial the number. You can just skip right by most of it by saying "customer service" the first chance you get. Now you face the toughest part.
4. Do not get discouraged and never give up.
Once you exchange formalities with the support representative, and they look up the information on you and your red-ringed buddy, the fun part is about to begin. If your console is less than three years old, and you are the original owner, you shouldn't have any problems. However, if both of these aren't true, keep the following in mind:
No matter what, tell them you are the original owner of the console. If they doubt you, act confused or even offended if they suggest you aren't telling the truth. When I call on behalf of my customers at work, this is easier for me because I can sometimes look up the original purchase data and say the original information is incorrect, or blame fictional past employees. If you know the store you originally purchased it at, you can even attempt to blame the employees there for the discrepancy.
As far as they're concerned, you would never, and have never used a third party accessory of any kind. Intercooler units may or may not be a good idea depending on who you talk to, but Microsoft doesn't want to hear that you own one. Just say "no."
If you feel like you are getting nowhere with whoever answered your call, just ask to speak with a manager. You should resist the urge to hang up. If you badger them enough they will pass you along to someone who might be better equipped to help you. If they hang up on you, or you get disconnected, you merely have more ammo for your return call. Though they will offer resistance, they don't actually want to argue with you. If you're persistent and stay on the phone for about an hour, they're more likely to agree to replace your console.
5. These final tips and discussion points may help.
Perhaps you'd like some tried and tested conversation pieces for getting what you need out of this experience. Here are a few lines I've had success with in the past.
Explain that you find it hard to understand why your console died when you have never moved or mishandled it.
Explain that you find it interesting that they offer a three-year warranty and are now refusing to repair your console even though Microsoft has admitted that the hardware has issues.
Discuss how many articles you've come across explaining the many failures that the Xbox 360 console has experienced.
Ask why a console that sold so many units has had so many hardware revisions due to the red ring of death.
At the end of this, you should have secured a shipping label, packed up your friend in a cardboard coffin, and wished it a safe trip. Don't forget to remove any games or hard drives from your console before shipping. Most likely, you will not receive the same machine you send away.
I hope I've convinced at least one or two people that they do not need to go buy another 360 to remedy a hardware defect. I've lost count of how many people I've tried to explain this same information to, only to have them reluctantly spend another $200. Also, while this will frustrate almost any retail associate, you can pretty much stop buying those extended store warranties. While they do offer convenience, you often have to give up all the hard work on your hard drive in order to redeem them. Sometimes, you even have to pay the difference if the console's price has dropped below what is currently available.
If you have any other helpful tips for navigating this customer service nightmare, please let me know. I'm happy to include them in this article.