Being in the IT world I have a frequent love/hate relationship with Microsoft - sometimes they do things well, sometimes they drive you mad with the things that they think they can get away with. But this week I have to conclude that I am once again impressed with their Customer Service for the Xbox and Xbox 360.
When the Original Xbox came out we had one reserved and picked it up that first morning and took it home. My son, who was only 10 years old in 2001 when it came out, did okay considering the garguantian controllers that the original came with. It didn't take him long to learn to beat me in Amped: Freestyle Snowboard, but I could hold my own in Project Gotham Racing. And for a young kid, his hand/eye coordination was pretty good for Halo. After a few months we had some troubles with one of the controllers and had to send it away for repairs. They replaced the controller and had it back to us in under 2 weeks. Then eventually the unit died - and 2 weeks later we received the new one by courier.
When the Xbox 360 came out, once again we picked one up on opening day. It hooked right up to the hi-def (well, medium-def, 720p, component interface) TV and was light years ahead of the PS2 and GameCube (both of which we also own). The new, smaller controllers have a different button configuration than the original controllers (which we still use on the original Xbox!), but were light, wireless, and rocked! My son, now almost 13, had significantly increased his gaming skill and it was tough to beat him on almost everything - except racing games.
Flash forward to just a couple of weeks ago. My son said that the 360 was acting up and doing strange things. I gave it a try and received an error - E74. Couldn't find much on the internet about it, so resorted to calling the Xbox Support line...
Several of my son's friends have had terrible luck with Xbox customer service, claiming that it took almost two months to get their unit back from repair, so I was dreading calling - I know how my son can't live without his console! But I gave it a try anyway.
Went through the troubleshooting steps with the young man online, and determined it was faulty. Considering it was a first-gen 360, I wasn't surprised to hear that it was out of warranty and I would have to pay in advance to have the repair done. I was fine with that, so pulled out the credit card and he started to process it. He put me on hold while it did that as it was taking a while.
And put me back on hold again.
And asked for me card number again as he had to try it once again...
Finally, before we both got extremely frustrated, he asked me to call back the next day as there was obviously a problem.
Again, I was fine with that. (I'm pretty easy going anyway)
I called back the next day and ended up talking to a young lady out of the Texas call centre - I believe that Carmin was her name. She couldn't find my info, so I had to provide it again. When I mentioned that I was from Canada she became very surprized because I was her first Canadian customer (I failed to ask her how long she'd been in that role though, it might have been her first day!). She asked me if I lived near "The Falls", and I sort of both amazed and disappointed her when I told her I was a couple thousand miles away and hadn't been there myself. She used to live in Chicago as a young girl and their family visited Niagara Falls several times. It was really nice to strike up an enlightening conversation with someone who was so bubbly and personable while waiting for the system to look up the details about my system. As she was giving me the details of where to send the system for repair, and how to package it for the courier, I asked her if she needed my credit card number. Confused, she asked me why? I said that the unit was out of warranty and I explained my previous call. She told me it was still in warranty and that there would be no charge. Wow! Coincidence that the credit card transaction didn't work the day before - or just Karmic Payback? I'm thinking Karma - or The Secret at this point.
The next day I sent the unit off via Purolator who said it would take a few days to get to it's destination - I went with the less expensive Ground option over the quicker Air option. Then I wished it to be returned to me promptly, and put it out of my mind.
My wife was sick on Friday and stayed home from work. In the afternoon a courier showed up with a drop off. Fortunately she was home to accept the delivery - and it was A REPLACMENT XBOX 360! Now, let me count. I dropped it off on Monday, March 5th, and it was delivered on March 16th! That's 11 DAYS, less if you don't count the weekend. This is nothing like the 2 month wait that others have had.
Thank you Microsoft, your repair/replacement team in Ontario, and especially Carmin in your Texas call center! And Carmin, I'll try to get to "The Falls" this year as long as you keep your promise of trying to visit the Canadian Rockies this summer.