This is an article that I have been very reluctant to write. Despite all the troubles I’ve gone through (over 48 hours trying to resolve a simple issue), I’m still an Xbox 360 man at heart. I just want things to be made right, but Microsoft has made this very, VERY difficult for me.
I am a good customer. A very good customer. Videogaming is my weakness (at least my wife says so.) I buy everything new, I don’t trade my games in or sell them on eBay, and I have enough disposable income to support my habit. Here’s the breakdown:
Amount spent on Xbox 360 Premium: $399.99
Amount spent on Xbox 360 retail games (22): $1319.78
Amount spent on accessories for Xbox 360*: $801.25
Amount of XBL points purchased: 48,000 ($599.76)
Total spent on Xbox 360 related products: $3120.78
*3 Wireless Controllers ($49.99), 2 Plug and Play kits ($19.99), 4 Battery packs ($11.99), 4 Faceplates ($14.99), 2 Years of Xbox Live ($49.99), 1 Xbox Live Vision Camera ($39.99), 1 Wireless Headset ($59.99), 1 Steering Wheel ($149.99), 1 Dead or Alive Arcade Stick ($69.99), 1 64MB Memory Unit ($49.99), and 1 Messenger pad ($34.99)
My (Sob) Story
I bought Xbox 360 #1 on launch day, 2005, from Best Buy with a 2 year product replacement plan. I did not have a single problem for well over a year, but then it died in March of 2007. I returned my first Xbox 360 to Best Buy and later realized that none of the content purchased online would work for any profile other than my primary Speaker Ender profile. No one other than myself (I had 3 other profiles online including my wife’s) could use any of the Xbox Live content that was purchased on Xbox #1. I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX and found out that because the Xbox 360’s DRM, XBL content only works either A) for anyone on the console it was originally purchased on, or B) on any other console, but only while the purchasing profile is connected to Xbox Live. Unfortunately, there was no way to transfer ownership to a new profile, but they had a workaround devised. They provide me with codes to refund all the points I had spent (25,600 points, or $300+ worth), which I was then able to redeem on a silver account and re-download all of the content—thus tying it to the new console and anyone playing on it.
Three months later, on July 2nd, Xbox 360 #2 died and I called 1-800-4MY-XBOX, to see if I could avoid a repeat of this ordeal with the points. They assured me that since that time, they had developed a method of transferring ownership of XBL content to a new console, but only if they exchanged it themselves — Best Buy was not an option this time, or all my content would be forever broken again. So, I sent my Xbox 360 back, and a month later, on August 2nd, I received a replacement. When I test the XBL games, I discover that none of them work and call Microsoft again. After a lengthy (11+ hours!) of deleting every bit of XBL content, and re-downloading it again from my download history (which records every demo, video, XBLA game, etc. that has been downloaded, so I had 500+ items to sort through), I discover that the problem was partially fixed. Everything that I had purchased on Xbox 360 #2 now worked, but everything that I had purchased on Xbox 360 #1 still didn’t work. I call back and explain the situation, and the agent tells me that he will escalate the Service Request, and that I will receive those points again, so that I can re-download everything again. It’s somewhat of an arduous process, especially since I spent a month without an Xbox 360 in hopes of avoiding this, but I am more concerned about the $300+ worth of XBL content that does not work properly because I was victim of TWO defective Xbox 360’s.
I receive a callback, to fix an error that had been made in the Service Request, and am told that I will receive a call back in 5 to 7 days with my refunded points.
What follows, however, proves that being the perfect customer merely meant that I had the most to lose throughout the 1-800-4MY-XBOX customer service process. In over two months, I have NEVER received a callback regarding this issue. I have spoken to customer service agents from all three tiers of the customer service department. I have discovered that the notes attached to my Service Request instruct customer service agents to blow me off whenever I call. I have been put on hold for over an hour and then hung up on, only to call back and ask to be transferred to the same agent and then be hung up on again. I have spent over 24 hours on the phone with customer service. I had my THIRD Xbox 360 die (that’s right, SR#DDDDDD9324 has outlived Xbox 360 #3). And most recently, I was told that since August was when I initially called, Microsoft no longer offers refunds for Xbox Live content that no longer works after a console is repaired, and that I am basically out $319.87.
During this all, I have come to a few conclusions. First, 1-800-4MY-XBOX has some serious problems when it comes to following through on promises they make to their customers. Second, Microsoft’s DRM’s are quite restrictive and can lead to customers having hundreds of dollars worth of content broken along with their Xbox 360. And finally, that Microsoft’s customer service infrastructure lacks any sort of flexibility for unusual or extraordinary situations. The classic binder with a series of "say this if customer says this" (rinse and repeat) is a script to be followed, and a process to be adhered to. When those scripts and processes fail to resolve a situation, there is nothing further to be done. Without the binder, it is like they can’t form conguative sentences anymore and have no communication skills to speak of.
Below is a list of every call between myself and 1-800-4MY-XBOX over the last seven months. I have tried to make it as concise as possible, and changed all the SR#’s to make them easier to follow (and harder for anyone to call in and pretend that they are me!).
My Experiences with 1-800-4MY-XBOX
March 20th, 2007
Xbox 360 #1 died. I take advantage of my Best Buy product replacement plan and exchanged my Xbox 360. I wasn’t able to swap out my HDD, but I was able to salvage a few saves on a memory card at my buddy’s house.
March 27th, 2007
My wife informs me that she can no longer play Lumines Live! or use the downloadable Oblivion content. I test every item that I have ever downloaded and then call 1-800-4MY-XBOX to inform them that 25,600 points ($319.87) worth of content purchased by my primary gamertag (Speaker Ender) no longer works for any of the other profiles in my house. We begin SR#AAAAAA1464, and after a couple hours on the phone troubleshooting, I fax over a copy of my Best Buy receipt to prove that I had, in fact, exchanged it there.
March 28th, 2007
I call back to check on the status of SR#AAAAAA1464 and am told that I will be called within 3 to 5 days with codes to refund all 25,600 points and re-download my content.
March 30th, 2007
Three days later, I receive a call from Microsoft customer support to inform me that the points will be issued in 3 to 5 days. He asks if I would prefer them emailed, and I tell him that I would.
April 2nd, 2007
I receive an email with codes for all 25,600 points. It takes me 5 hours to download everything again under a new silver account, but it all works when I’m done. I have to hand it to Microsoft, they really came through with some quality customer service there, and I was quite impressed.
July 2nd, 2007
Exactly 91 days after my second Xbox 360 arrived, things fall into place and it dies. Three lousy months! It’s kind of a busy week with work, I don’t get to call for a few days.
July 5th, 2007
Since I had been told previously that the whole reason my XBL content did not work was because I had exchanged it at Best Buy rather than through Microsoft support, so I decide to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX this time. I call and SR#BBBBBB3078 is born.
July 10th, 2007
I receive my prepaid box in the mail, package up Xbox 360 #2, and drop it back off at UPS on the same day.
August 1st, 2007
Xbox 360 #3 arrives. (On a side note, they included a 1 month Xbox Live card with the refurbished Xbox 360. I can’t be TOO excited about this since I went a month without being able to use my Xbox Live Gold membership, so I am really just getting reimbursed for the month of service where I was out of commission.)
August 2nd, 2007
The first thing I do when I get my new (to me) Xbox 360 is unplug the Ethernet cable and test my arcade games — they don’t work. I call into 1-800-4MY-XBOX again, I am told to delete a game and re-download it and see if it works. It works on Alien Hominid and so I hang up and proceed to do that for all 49 games I have at that point—deleting, re-downloading ONLY BY GOING THROUGH MY DOWNLOAD HISTORY and testing each one. This process takes me 11 hours. I narrow it down to the fact that this solution fixed every bit of XBLA content purchased on Xbox 360 #2, but all the content purchased on Xbox 360 #1 still does not work.
August 3rd, 2007
I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX and am told that I will be refunded for those points and that I should be called with 5 to 7 days. SR#CCCCCC4022 is started.
August 5th, 2007
I receive a call back and am told that SR#CCCCCC4022 was set up incorrectly, "didn’t do jack ****," a phrase which he repeats multiple times as he sets up the new SR#DDDDDD9324. Yeah, real professional — this was the one agent (except for the lady who hung up on me 2 months later) who I felt was truly unprofessional and quite frankly, insulting. I was told again that I would be called with 5 to 7 days with codes for the points to repurchase my items AGAIN. I am definitely not looking forward to spending another 11 hours doing this, but I am more concerned about getting my content to work properly.
August 13th, 2007
I did not receive the promised call back, so I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX. I confirm that I deleted and re-downloaded each item, and I am told that it had been sent to Microsoft and that I would receive a call when they had looked at it. I ask for an ETA, and since he cannot give me one, I am escalated to a Tier 2 representative who tells me that I should be called by the end of the week.
August 17th, 2007
It’s nearing the end of the day on Friday, and I still have not received my promised call, so I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX. I spoke to a number of agents, all of which tell me that there are no updates. After speaking with a number Tier 1 agent and a Tier 2 agent, I am transferred up to a Tier 3 agent. This supervisor informed me that my case had been forwarded to Microsoft for investigation, and that I would be called when an investigation was complete. Apparently, I’m now under "investigation"???
He assures that the turn around time for this is usually under 10 business days and I inform him that it has ALREADY been 10 business days. He tells me that it could be any day when I get my call.
August 30th, 2007
It has been two weeks since the last call, and I have STILL not received a call from Microsoft, so I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX again. I get the run around and after multiple lengthy holds while the agent consulted his supervisor I was told that there was no update, but that I should receive a callback within a week. I ask repeatedly to speak to a supervisor, but his supervisor refuses to speak to me and tells him to tell me that "I will receive a call when Microsoft completes their investigation."
September 10th, 2007
STILL no call from Microsoft, so I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX again! At this point it has now been over a month, and I am very frustrated! I spoke to an extremely helpful agent who was actually very sympathetic and helpful — and shocked that this was still unresolved. He also informed me that it was written in the notes to "Tell this customer that he is being investigated by Microsoft and we will call HIM when there is an update." So basically the notes instruct the customer service agents to BLOW ME OFF!! I was very impressed by this particular agent, though, who spent over a couple hours on the phone trying to help me find resolution, but unfortunately, there was little he could do, and his supervisor refused to allow me to be transferred to a higher tier. His supervisor told him to tell me that it should be settled in a week, and to call back if I did not receive a call by then (knowing full well that when I called back, the odds were slim to none that he would have to talk to me again!).
September 17th, 2007
Another week, and another broken promise for a callback. I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX and am on hold for over 40 minutes before I can even speak to an agent. I am blown off again, and told that I am scheduled for a callback by Friday. Twenty minutes after hanging up the phone, XBOX 360 #1 BEGINS FLASHING THE THREE RED LIGHTS!!! One week before Halo 3 comes out, and my THIRD Xbox 360 dies on me!
September 17th, 2007 (again)
I call back and begin the process of getting Xbox 360 #3 sent in for repairs. I explain to them that I want to start a new SR for getting my 360 repaired, but I want to leave SR#DDDDDD9324 on the system since that issue was never resolved and it will still carry over to the new console. Since this has now taken nearly two months, I don’t feel like starting over.
The agent starts SR#EEEEEE6784 for me and tells me that a box will be sent out and I should have it in 3 to 5 days.
September 20th, 2007
I just had a feeling that things were not going to go smoothly this time, and given in between calls to my buddies to let them know that my Halo 3 party was cancelled, I decided to call 1-800-4MY-XBOX and get the UPS Tracking # for my prepaid box. The agent tells me that no box was sent because SR#EEEEEE6784 was linked to Xbox Live instead of to my console, and so it was lost in the system. I ask why I wasn’t notified, or called and how long it would have sat there if I hadn’t followed up, and he tells me that it had no follow up date scheduled and I would have NEVER been called. He sets up SR#FFFFFF4375 for me and tells me that a prepaid shipping box should arrive in the next 3 to 5 business days. I missed the weekend cutoff, so it will not be until the following week.
I then ask to be transferred to the Xbox Live department to check on SR#DDDDDD9324, and see if my Xbox Live points will ever be refunded. I end up speaking to a rep over there who starts a new SR#GGGGGG5679. I explain to her that, no, I already have an SR set up regarding this and I have been trying to resolve it for 7 weeks. I eventually have to talk to a Tier 2 agent and am able to convince her to leave SR#DDDDDD9324 and close SR#GGGGGG5679. I am told that I should be called within a week, but I don’t believe her.
September 25th, 2007
I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX to get the UPS Tracking # for my prepaid box on SR#FFFFFF4375 and am told that they cannot give me an update and that it will be 6 to 10 business days before I receive my prepaid box. I ask him multiple times if this is correct (since every other agent has told me 3 to 5 days), but he insists. Apparently now it can take up to TWO WEEKS to receive a prepaid box!?!?! I then have him check on the status of my points refund (SR#DDDDDD9324), but of course, there is still no update. Once again, I ask to be escalated to a higher tier agent, but after he reads the notes on file, he dutifully blows me off.
I am getting pretty upset by this point with the combination of the lack of customer service I have received over the past two months, and I mention that I am going to attempt to get a chargeback through my credit card company, since I cannot even be given a time frame for when Microsoft will complete its "investigation" or any sort of contact information for the office where the "investigation" is being conducted.
September 27th, 2007
I call again, just to check and find out that not only was SR#EEEEEE6784 setup wrong on September 17th, but the replacement SR#FFFFFF4375 was "lost in the system." No box was shipped, and no box ever would’ve shipped if I hadn’t called back myself. I am VERY frustrated at that point and ask to be transferred up to a Tier 2 agent. I am on hold for a while and the agent comes back and connects me to his supervisor who refuses to transfer me any higher.
The supervisor cannot tell me why I have had to have three SR’s set up in order to get my prepaid box shipped out, other than that there "was a system update." She sets up SR#HHHHHH5811 and GUARANTEES me that the box will go out tomorrow, September 28th, via UPS ground and I should have it in 3 to 5 days. I inform her that I WILL call back tomorrow night at the same to get the UPS tracking number, and she promises me that it will be available by then. I have been on the phone nearly two hours by this point, and I decide not to check on the status of SR#DDDDDD9324.
September 28th, 2007
I call that evening to get the tracking number, but am told that it shipped, but they don’t have a tracking number yet and that I should call back tomorrow. I am tired and frustrated and I don’t even want to check on SR#DDDDDD9324.
September 29th, 2007
I call again and am told that it has been submitted to UPS and that the tracking number was 1z05w3581224XXXXXX. I checked the status and it said "Billing Information Received," rather than "Shipped," which means that the agents I had talked to the previous day had lied to me when they told me it was already shipped.
October 1st, 2007
I call AGAIN, because the UPS tracking information STILL says "Billing Information Received," with no mention of it actually shipping. She assures me that it shows as being shipped in their system, so it MUST be an error in UPS’s system. She reminds me that it should arrive in 3 to 5 business days, and since Thursday is 5 business after September 28th, she cannot help me until then. I remind her that Thursday will be 14 business days since September 17th when I first called.
After this conversation, I ask to check the status on SR#DDDDDD9324, and after speaking with three agents, manage to get escalated to a Tier 2 agent named Kateryna. After speaking with her for nearly an hour, I tell her that I insist on speaking to a Tier 3 agent and that I will not get off the phone until I get either an ETA on when Microsoft’s "investigation" will be complete or contact information for the person or department who is doing the investigation.
She refuses to transfer me up any higher, and I say (in these exact words), "I am not going to hang up until I speak to the person above you." she says that she will is going to put me on hold and try to get a Tier 3 agent on the phone. I am on hold for 30 minutes before I realize that I am not getting the usual "Sorry for the long hold, I am still trying get someone on the line," updates that you usually get while on hold. It then occurs to me that she is going to leave me on hold indefinitely in the hopes that I hang up. I decide to wait it out, since there is NO way that she would dare hang up on me. After one hour and 5 minutes, I hear the line pick up and then go dead. SHE HUNG UP ON ME!!!
October 1st, 2007 (second call)
I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX again, and explain that I was hung up on after being on hold for over an hour. The agent transfers me back to Kateryna, and after being on hold for about 20 minutes, the line picks up and then goes dead again. Now, it could be a glitch in the phone system, where whenever I am connected with Kateryna, the call is dropped, but it’s MUCH more likely that I just got hung up on twice by the same agent!
October 1st, 2007 (third call)
I call back, again, and Marcos agrees to immediately escalate me to a different Tier 2 agent, but told that it will probably be a long hold. I am on hold for about 45 minutes when my phone’s battery finally dies. I hadn’t thought about it until then, but I’d spent nearly 4 hours on the phone with 1-800-4MY-XBOX. Since I don’t have cell reception at my house, or another home phone, I can’t call back that night.
October 2nd, 2007
I call back the next evening with a freshly charged phone battery and try to get the status of SR#DDDDDD9324. I joke with her that it is the 2 month anniversary of this SR# and that I couldn’t imagine spending the day without calling 1-800-4MY-XBOX. I tell the agent that I am certain that this SR# has been lost in the system and that I need to speak to someone about it. I eventually get to speak with a Tier 3 agent, who tells me that she will re-submit the issue as SR#IIIIII0817 and that I would receive a call within 30 days. I inform her that if I do not receive a call by November 2nd, 3 months after my initial call, I will be filing a small claims suit.
October 4th, 2007
It has now been 5 business days since SR#HHHHHH5811 was set up (17 days since I first called in), and the tracking information still says "Billing Information Subitted," and I have not received my prepaid box. I call 1-800-4MY-XBOX to find out what’s going on. The agent tells me that it shows up in the system as shipped, but by now, I do not have the utmost confidence in their system.
October 5th, 2007
The prepaid box arrives on my doorstep. I package up Xbox 360 #3 and drop it off at a UPS shipping center. Its tracking # is1z052358897251XXXX.
October 6th, 2007
At 8:30am, I am woken up by my first call back since August 5th. I am excited because I believe that I will finally have my points refunded, but am sorely disappointed when I find out why they called. Apparently, the agent who set up SR#IIIIII0817 should have entered in the serial # of my console. Since I just sent in Xbox 360 #3 the day before, I do not have the serial # of my console and ask if she can look it up in my notes. She says that she can, but unfortunately this SR# will probably be closed since I no longer have the console that it was opened under and I will have to start over.
I explain to her that I have been waiting two months for a my points to be refunded, and then she tells me that Microsoft no longer issues refunds for points and so I will likely never have my points refunded, since it is in their terms of service that the content is tied to the console it was first purchased on.
October 10th, 2007
I receive a SECOND prepaid shipping box, and I am not really sure what I am supposed to do with it…
So Where Does This Leave Me?
Well, as it stands, I have sent Xbox #3 back to Microsoft and am awaiting a new console. It has now been nearly a month since it broke. I have still never received a call back from Microsoft regarding my non-functioning Xbox Live content. Apparently, my case is still being "investigated," but no one at 1-800-4MY-XBOX can give any indication as to when this indication will be complete, and I have now been told that I will likely NEVER receive a refund. My credit card company is unable to help me since I purchased the points so long ago.
I am pretty upset by all that I’ve had to go through. I have to say, that before now, no one sang Microsoft’s praises louder than I did. I praised Microsoft all across the internet, from forums to blogs to game sites and on. I do not believe Microsoft owes me anything for being a great customer or being excited about their products — I believe Microsoft owes me because I paid for products and content that does not work, and the warranty has not been honored. If I walked out of a store with a Television that stopped working 2 months later, I would take it back and exchange it, but in the digital world of Digital Rights Management, this is no longer possible. My content is "broken," yet I have no recourse at this point short of a small claims suit.
And, I have not even been able to play my copy of Halo 3, yet.
So here’s where I stand as of now.
Number of Xbox 360s that have died on me: 3 dead Xbox 360s
Number of lights that I’ve encountered: 9 flashing red ones
Number of calls to 1-800-4MY-XBOX since March: 22 calls
Number of callbacks promised: 15
Number of callbacks received: 3
Number of SR’s started: 9
Number of SR’s closed or replaced due to being set up incorrectly: 5
Number of SR’s closed due to issues actually being resolved: 2
Most Number of times I was asked my name and phone number during a single call: 11 times
Number of times I was told "Microsoft will contact you when the investigation is complete": 40+
Number of times that I ended up on the Spanish language hold line: 8
Total spent on Xbox 360 related products: $3120.78
Amount of XBL content not working properly: 25,600 points ($319.87)
Total time spent on the phone with 1-800-4MY-XBOX: 1 day, 2 hours, 55 minutes
Total time spent trying various remedies*: 1 day, 9 hours, 55 minutes
TOTAL TIME TRYING TO RESOLVE ISSUES WITH MY XBOX 360’s: 2 days, 2 hours, 50 minutes**
*This only includes actions that I was instructed to do by agents at 1-800-4MY-XBOX such as deleting content, re-downloading content, and steps to try to eliminate the three red lights. It does not include time spent cleaning the console, hitting it, staring at it blankly or attempting to force it to work using only the force of my will.
**Some of the time spent trying various remedies was spent while on the phone with 1-800-4MY-XBOX and so that time was not counted twice.
With still no resolution, it’s interesting to look and see exactly what I’ve gone through, so far. If anyone has any idea as to how I can get Microsoft to do something, ANYTHING, I am definitely open to suggestions. Head on over to the discussion thread and share your thoughts and, if any, personal experiences with 1-800-4MY-Xbox.