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Xbox 360

One thing that gets little attention in the mainstream video game discussion is customer and technical support. I’ve recently had to contact both Microsoft and Sony, and I can easily compare the services of the two.

A few weeks ago, I moved into a new house with an existing network owned by my roommate. My PS3 initially connected flawlessly to the PlayStation Network, but my 360 refused to connect to Xbox Live.

After about an hour of struggling on my own to connect to Live to no avail, I decided to contact tech support. I called a number and requested a call back. I put my phone down and played a demo on my 3DS while I waited on my call from support.

Roughly 20 minutes later, Don from Microsoft Tech Support called me and we got started working on getting my Xbox online. It took more than two hours. During that time, Don had me going through settings on my Xbox, on my router, and he even used Remote Assistance to connect to my Windows 7 PC to configure my firewall to allow the connection to the Xbox Live service.

While we waited for things to reboot, Don asked me about the games I was looking forward to and told me about what he had been playing; I felt like I was talking to another human being — a gamer no less. After all the hard work, we found a setting combination that worked. A few minutes later, I was happily connected to Live and killing zombies on Banoi with a friend.


Exactly one week later, my PlayStation 3 stopped connecting to PSN. I couldn’t watch Netflix or play any of my PlayStation Plus games.

I reset the network configuration, power cycled my network hardware, spent a half an hour Googling the problem, and nothing worked. I called Sony tech support; this turned out to be a big mistake and an even bigger waste of time.

I sat on hold, listening to the same ads over and over for 30 long minutes. Eventually a gentleman with a name I couldn’t pronounce and who obviously speaks English as a second language answered my call. He spent maybe 15 minutes with me while I reset my modem, router, and PlayStation.  He had me clear my network configuration (I had already done this, and told him so), and I could still not connect to the PlayStation Network. He told me that I would need to contact my Internet Service Provider and have them assist me.

He asked if there was anything else he could help me with and then tried to sell me an extended warranty for my console before I hung up on him. What an infuriating waste of my time.

Then I remembered a few of the things Don from Microsoft had me to do get my Xbox online. The first few things didn’t work, but when I set up a DMZ (de-militarized zone) that allowed all network traffic to my PlayStation, it happily connected within seconds. Thanks for the tip, Don. You fixed my PlayStation as well!

Later that day, I received a check-up call from Don. He wanted to make sure that my Xbox was still able to connect and asked if I had encountered any other problems. I hadn’t … not with my Xbox, at least.

Let’s examine the differences between the two experiences:

      Microsoft Tech Support       Sony Tech Support
  • Spent more than 2 hours with me until the issue was resolved.
  • Spent less than half an hour, didn’t even resolve the problem.
  • Call back feature allowed me to do what I wanted while I waited on an available agent.
  • Sat on hold listening to advertisements for the duration of the wait.
  • Called back a week later to see if there were any additional problems.
  • Tried to sell me a service over the phone.
  • Well-spoken and friendly.
  • I had to ask representative to repeat things because I couldn’t understand him through his thick accent.

I would have to say that Microsoft really knows how to treat their customers. If I could have left Don a tip, I would have.

What do you expect from customer and technical support? What do you like and what do you hate about your experiences with support? Does the quality of support affect your attitude toward a company? Please let me know in the comments.

*This post originally appeared on my personal blog Psychic Tentacles.