Friday, 20 March 2009

DanO vs XBox 360 and 3 Red Lights Part 2

Well, it finally happened - a couple of in-game lock-ups followed by three red lights that just won't go away. As I mentioned before, Microsoft have extended the warranty for the Red Ring of Death to three years, so even though the standard warranty is over, registering the console with Microsoft (via still allowed me to request a repair.

Sending back the XBox

Depending on where you live and how old your XBox is one of three things will now happen, either:

A: You'll receive the return packaging from Microsoft.
B: Microsoft will post you the UPS packaging slip.
C: You'll be emailed the link to a UPS Packaging Slip and a delivery receipt.

In my case I received the link to download the prepaid packaging slips. Once you've printed them out you'll need to find a box big enough to hold the XBox (don't use the original XBox packaging as it won't be returned) and something to keep it securely in place.

When you've packaged it up neatly (and remembered to write your name and the customer service request ID on the outside of the box) it is time to phone UPS and arrange a time for them to pick it up, or to be more exact a day that they can collect it as they refuse to be narrowed down to a time, and they won't collect on a weekend.

You can track the package at the UPS website. From the UK it takes around two days for the package to make its way to the repair center at Frankfurt.

As well as checking the UPS tracking status, you can also check the repair status with Microsoft, again via the XBox Live website. A word of warning to the impatient (like me): there is likely to be a delay from when UPS delivers the parcel and the status changing from "Waiting for device" to "Device received". In my case it took a worrying 20 hours. I'm guessing it depends on just how busy they are.

Of course, you don't have to keep checking as Microsoft will email you once the status changes.

The next email should be when the repair has (hopefully) been completed.

A couple of days later. . .

After checking the repair status today I found that my repair status had changed from "Device Received at Service Center" to "No pending repair". . .


As I haven't had an email to state that the console had been repaired or replaced this is more than a bit worrying.

I decided to contact Microsoft's customer support (0800 587 1102) and see what had happened.

After negotiating their phone system and finding out that the voice recognition system isn't keen on a Northern accent ("Check status. . . I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. Check Status!. . . I'm sorry, I didn't understand that. CHECK STATUS!!!") I was transferred through to a customer support agent.

Apparently my 360 has been replaced and is being shipped back to me as we speak - along with a one month gold card for XBox Live. Hopefully I should get an email and tracking number later on today - and all being even the console before the weekend.

I'd also like to mention that the customer service guy was extremely helpful and very thorough in dealing with my request - so full marks to Microsoft there.

Later that afternoon. . .

Still no email from Microsoft, but the repair status has now changed to "Device shipped to customer - Your console has been repaired or replaced. We are shipping it back to you," and there is a tracking number for UPS too.

Something else has changed too. The console has gone from being "out of warranty" to "in warranty". It is back under full warranty until June of this year.

A couple of days later. . .

UPS came to visit today, "Hi, here's your XBox." Yes!!!

So I've finally got my 360 back! Well, not my original 360 but a refurbished one. How can you tell that it is a refurb? Look at the tag on the back of the console. A console that has never been repaired should have a "manufactured date" on it. A refurb has a "serviced date" instead.

Also, the documentation that comes back with the console states that the console is a refurbished one, and that it has a different serial number to the original one - although all warranty / registration details will be automatically updated for me.

So how long did it take? From being collected by UPS on a Tuesday afternoon, I received the replacement back the following Thursday. Nine days isn't a bad turnaround in my opinion.

I've quickly tested the console out - and so far, so good. It actually sounds less like a washing machine on the spin cycle than the original 360 did, and has played the games I tried it on without any problems.

So is it worth sending your 360 back, I'll say a resounding YES to that. For Gods sake if you have any warranty left send it back before trying to mess around with the "alternative" methods.

The benefits of sending it back?

1 - You get a properly repaired 360.

2 - You get an additional three months of warranty on the repaired / replaced machine (longer if your machine was still under the regular warranty).

3 - You get one month's XBox Live Gold subscription as a "sorry" from Microsoft.

It certainly looks like Microsoft are starting to get their act together when it comes to dealing with customer issues, although there are some things to look out for.

Don't take their word for it about getting confirmation emails. Although I got the one to say that they'd received the console - that was it. I had to check to website to see how things were progressing (and eventually phone customer services).

The customer services phone system stinks, but once I'd got through to him the customer services guy was pretty good.

Overall - not a bad experience, although not without its problems.

Update: I've just received an email from Microsoft telling me that my XBox 360 has been shipped and should be with me within the week, the same XBox that arrived yesterday. . .

One of the things in the email was that all licenses should be automatically transferred from the old console to the new one, this would enable me to use my paid-for content when not online. All I should need to do would be to re-download the content. Unfortunately it didn't work.

There are a couple of things you can do at this point. One is phone customer support, another is to use the license transfer tool on XBox Live. Using it is actually quite simple. When you run it for the first time you are shown how many xboxes have your content is assigned to, all licenses are transferred to your live account, then when you log onto your live account from your xbox all licenses are transferred back.

After I'd run though this I redownloaded Space Giraffe, logged out of live and was still able to play the full version of the game.

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