Andrew's Stuff

Yup, Microsoft Still Suck Quite Badly...

Posted at Thu, 16 Nov 2006, 11:05:17

So, last Saturday my Xbox 360 finally died. Ever since I first bought it almost a year ago it's done the infamous 3-red-lights trick when first being booted after a long period (a few hours) of being turned off, but it would boot fine on the second or third attempt. Not so, this time. It booted maybe 10% of the time, and even when it did manage to get to the Dashboard occasionally it would crash after a few minutes of trying to play a game.

Luckily Microsoft's Xbox 360 customer support line is open on Saturdays, so we phoned them, told them (an Indian woman - now isn't that surprising?) what was happening, she went through the usual troubleshooting routine containing all the exciting things that I had already tried, then fairly quickly (by customer support standards) said that they'd take it in to be fixed. Hooray! I then proceeded to spend the next forty-five minutes trying to give her my address details.

You see, apparently I had registered my console when I first bought it. I had forgotten this, so when I told her the serial number of my Xbox she said that I had already registered, and it came up with the old address which I haven't used for more than six months, but had forgotten to change. Fair enough, no big deal, we'll just change the registered address, which she did quite happily - though slowly. It's hard enough trying to tell people how to spell our road name at the best of times, but when we each have totally different accents and live halfway across the planet from each other it's even harder. Me not knowing the phonetic alphabet in its entirety and this woman apparently not having access to a postcode-to-address translator service didn't help matters, either.

So then she gets the service request sorted, tells me the service request number that I should write on the UPS shipping label (and which I subsequently forgot to write anywhere), then proceeds to mention my old address. "Wait, what?" I say. "This is going to be sent back to my new address, right?". "Oh yes," she replies, and reads off my new address to me. "Okay, good," I say, slightly relieved, but still deeply suspicious. She tells me that I'll receive a couple of e-mails "within the next 2-3 days" with instructions on what to do next and we end the call. A little over one hour later. I suppose it's a good thing that their phone number is an 0800 free-phone number, so we didn't have to spend any extortionate amount of money paying for her inability to understand me.

A few minutes later I do, indeed, receive an e-mail confirming that I had asked them to fix my console, then an hour or so later I get another with a link to a UPS packing slip. I click the link, and... the packing slip lists my old address. My suspicion deepens. "Hopefully that won't matter, and they'll ship it back to my new address regardless," I think to myself. So off I go to find a box to fit the console in, remove the Oblivion disc in the drive and the hard disk, pack it into the box, and stick a print-out of the packing slip to the outside. In a final attempt to ensure it's sent to the right place I type and print a little note saying:

"The return address for this console is <<snip>>, as is the address on my Xbox Live account, not <<snip>>, as the address on the UPS label seems to indicate. I was assured by the customer support lady I spoke to on the phone that it would be sent to the Cardiff address, but the UPS label has me worried."

All was fine for a few days. UPS picked it up, shipped it to Microsoft's repair place, Microsoft e-mailed me saying they'd received it, then they e-mailed me again saying they'd fixed it and were shipping it back to me and provided with a UPS tracking number. Actually they said that they had dispatched it on the same day we phoned them, but that made no sense, and I can only assume that it's a bug with their system which adds the date the support request was made in at that point of the e-mail, instead of the actual dispatch date. Overall the time taken to fix it was very quick and I was pleasantly surprised.

However, I checked the tracking number and, as expected, they had decided to send it to my old address instead of the new one. How many times did I check to make sure that wouldn't happen? Yet they still manage to screw it up. I'm inclined to believe that they didn't even open the box I sent them before sending off a new one, but that would mean that I could have just given them a box of bricks and they'd have sent me a new Xbox360. Sounds a bit far-fetched, so I'll have to assume that they're one of: incompetant, illiterate or merely unable to change the delivery address.

UPS were all very nice about it, though, and quite happily changed the delivery address to the new house, and delivered it there the next day. It seemed a bit insecure, actually; they only appeared to want to know the tracking number and the address to send it to instead. Never did they ask us for the address it was being sent to, our names or anything of that nature. They asked for my phone number as a contact number, but nothing indicated that was being checked against what they already had down. There may well have been additional checks, but I didn't notice any.

Anyway, I now have "my" Xbox360 back and it's fixed. I have "my" in quotes, like that, because it isn't actually my console. All they did was send me a refurbished unit - the manufacture date written on the back is the 16th January 2006 - over a month after mine was delivered and about two months after mine was manufactured (sometime in November 2005, I believe). No big deal, though. It works, which is the main thing. Its DVD drive seems to be noticeably louder than my original, but there's a higher chance of a refurbished unit working than if they had merely attempted to fix mine. I was half-expecting to find them sending it back with it still intermittently not working, so at least that isn't the case.

Overall, major flames to Microsoft for totally failing to ship it back to the right place, huge fluffs to UPS for being awesome enough to send it to my new address without problems and to mum for phoning UPS in the first place. Also minor fluffs to Microsoft for getting the console sorted rapidly and to me for actually spotting it was being sent to the wrong place in time for UPS to stop that delivery.

In not-even-slightly related news, I've transferred Web2Messenger to the new server, but apparently the bots need totally recompiling before I can start them, so I've kept the site offline until that can be done.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Archived Comments

Monolithic Corporations... by optiz0r at Nov 16, 2006 11:22:28 PM

... gotta love 'em.

XD by at Jul 5, 2007 11:30:41 AM

Sounds like fun

Ah, Microsoft Crap. by Ruedii at Nov 15, 2010 10:32:27 AM

On your pictures it's a known problem from when manufacturers hook up non-compliant video ram to an ATI chipset. It's a known problem with cheap 3rd party ATI graphics cards.

This is definately a manufacturer's defect regardless of what Microsoft says. Apparently their diagnostic doesn't run a video memory integrity scan.

What happens is if the ram forms bad sectors, usually due to overheating, often it will affect one color or the alpha, due to the 32 bit byte alignment of the textures and frame buffers, and all memory arrangements on ATI cards being based on powers of 2 over 32bits. Now, what is very interesting, is it will consistently affect one texture, one texture manipulation instruction or texture manipulation layer in highly optimized games. Resulting in the exact error you saw.

Knowing Microsoft they either used cheap video ram, used cheap heat sink compound on the video ram, an inferior heat sink on the video ram / chipset or most likely, all three.

Additionally this can be caused on the video chip itself by bad firmware. The firmware can even perminantly damage one particular segment of the offscreen buffers, which may be used for certain post-render effects, or high demand shaders that are done in that particular layer.

Obviously a basic automated video chipset diagnostic would be WAY to complicated for Microsoft programmers to write to determine if it is actually a defective unit. There is no way, they could run a series of alpha layerings on a set of pre-determined frames, and then compare the results. That would require a programmer that actually knows something about low level hardware, memory management, and protection routines; those are things that I don't think Microsoft has a single person on staff that knows how to handle PROPERLY, by the number of flaws in Windows.

Personally I don't even run any Microsoft OSs on my machine except in a Virtual Machine sandbox. Contrary to Microsoft's rumor's Windows runs 3D with less than 5% VM overhead under Linux, BSD, OS X or Solaris. Note that this has to be done with something with an shared memory GL 3.x driver like Parallels or VirtualBox.

Oh, Nice UTF-8 Support by Ruedii at Nov 15, 2010 10:33:22 AM

You might want to update your Blog to be UTF-8 compliant. :D Just a tip.