Microsoft Takes My xBox And My $20

11 November 2010
Microsoft, how do I hate you? My beautiful xBox 360, that I used to slaughter heathens, chat with my friends, and hear prepubescent boys swear like sailors died a few weeks ago after a brief and fatal struggle with e74. That is the red ring of death. I packaged up my console and shipped it off for repair. Three weeks later my xBox was returned to me! I finally completed the sojourn beyond the television and quarried out all the cables to reconnect the console a few days later, but to my distress the xBox had contracted a wheezing fan malady that caused it to whine horribly whenever it was turned on. So, I dejectedly repackaged my xBox, schlepped it on my back to a UPS pickup point, and mailed it off again for more repairs. Then it occurred to me, I was paying nearly $20 a month for Live! membership, so I could play games online, while my xBox was off for repairs. That didn't seem fair so I called xBox support. I have to hand it to the folks in the call center, they have the most comprehensible accents of any big box support center I've spoken to recently. They listened to my complaints with faux sympathy and apologized profusely from their flow chart canned response prompters, but informed me that they could not credit my account or refund my money. Instead I would get a card in the repair box for a free month of Live! membership when my console came back. What's this? I pay Microsoft for a service I cannot enjoy and they give me a coupon that I have to hassle with when my annual subscription expires next year? I'm sure they're betting big on me losing that card, which could happen, or having some expiration clause hidden in there. Why not simply credit my account with an extra month? It would be greener, it would eliminate the need to sequester the special card for seven months, and it would make my life easier. I am further suspicious because I got an e-mail a few months ago offering me a 20% discount on my next years membership if I signed up for auto renew. Guess what had to get turned off so I could input the month credits from the little cardboard cards being sent to me? Microsoft is truly insidious. What genius to have my console die due to shady hardware outsourcing just in time to cause me to lose my service for a month, take my money during that time, and dangle cardboard coupons before me as remuneration! Why, if they'd only agree to pay the poor Bangladeshi children who install the fans for $5 a day in these xBox consoles we probably wouldn't have an issue (OK, I don't exactly know where the parts are installed, but based on the heinous history of issues I'm sure it was a low bid). It seems, however, that Microsoft has found a win-win. That is, they win by making and selling an overpriced hunk of junk that implodes so often a class action lawsuit gets filed against them. Then they win again by forcing me to loan them money for the month and a half they have my console, during which time I can't use it. They refuse to refund my service charge because, apparently, they don't have that power in the remote call center. Perhaps the miracles of networking haven't reached that far yet. Oh well Microsoft, you win this round. If you can't inspire customer loyalty at least you inspire awe at your conniving and grift!