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November 7th, 2007 at 12:59 pm
Posted By: Jay
Posted in: Rambling

Warning: This is a rant. But it’s one that any Xbox360 owner who ever had a problem will likely identify with!

Ok, so piss poor support is, like, the norm these days for every company. Certainly any I end up having to deal with, anyway.

So my console is broke again. I think it’s been well established now that the build quality of the Xbox360 is nothing short of appalling, so probably no surprise there. This, though, is the replacement they sent me only a month or so ago because my original died with the oh-so-common ‘red ring of death’. But actually, that’s not why I was ringing them today in the first place.

When they repair your console, they send you a complimentary 1 month subscription to Xbox Live presumably to make up for the month it takes them to get the console repaired/replaced and back to you. I only just got round to redeeming it yesterday after the last console repair. And then I got an email to confirm it had been added… along with a second one to say that they’d successfully renewed my Xbox360 Live subscription starting October 2008!

Since I’d just paid for my years subscription in September, which I can ill afford anyway since I’m currently unemployed and having no luck in the job hunting department, I called to make sure that they hadn’t in fact just charged me two years in advance for Live and charged me 80 quid in two months.

So anyway, I call, I explain. She doesn’t understand. I explain again. She repeats back a completely different version of events to clarify what I’m telling her, I correct her and explain again. She goes away confused, I get put on hold for 15 minutes. She comes back, still not really understanding what the problem is. Eventually I get her to tell me that nothing has been debited from my account in the last few days and that no, they aren’t expecting to bill me again for xbox live. So it seems they just send completely incorrect emails to confuse people.

Then she asks ‘is there anything else I can do for you?’. To which I reply that yes, I need to send my xbox360 in. Again. So we go through all of that, and she’s reading from a script that insists I tell her exactly what is happening with the faulty console right now. It’s not plugged in. It’s boxed up ready to send back because it’s feckin’ DEAD. But still she wants me to unpack it, plug it all back in and set it up on the tv and stuff to verify this because it’s in her script. I manage to talk her out of this, and we eventually arrange for the pickup of my deceased hardware.

Then she asks ‘is there anything else I can do for you?’. Well, if she’s going to keep asking…

So I complain about the also well established problems that befall Xbox Live users, and particularly those that spend Microsoft Points to buy downloadable content, when they have their consoles replaced after they send them back to Microsoft (MS rarely send you back your own console… despite knowing all about the problems I’m about to describe).

I have bought lots of download content – I’ve bought over a dozen Live Arcade games, and content packs to enhance some of my existing games. Now, though I still have the original hard drive they were downloaded to, and I’m still using the same Xbox Live account duly recovered to the new console, I (and tens of thousands of other people in my situation) am now faced with a completely different set of rules when it comes to my using that content I paid for, and they’re downright annoying.

When you buy an Arcade game, for example, you are able to use the full version of that game on your or any other account on that console. And you don’t have to be connected to Live to play. Once you’ve been fobbed off with a refurbished console, suddenly that all changes… you can ONLY play the full version on your account. Ever. Any other player who has an account on that Xbox360 is now locked out of that game. You can also ONLY play on your own account that downloaded the content while logged into Xbox Live.

That’s not the annoying part, though.

Content that you downloaded for games, such as Test Drive Unlimited, for which I’ve bought all the additional car packs, fairs even worse. Now, every single solitary time I start TDU and click ‘continue’ to carry on my career, it tells me that there is downloadable content in my save game that I don’t have. Which is actually the wrong message, really. What it’s really saying is that I have the content, it’s registered to my account, it’s right there on the hard drive, but it knows this isn’t the console I originally downloaded it to. I’ve Googled this and read extensively about people with similar issues, and they’ve ended up giving up and starting again. TDU is a progressive career game. I don’t WANT to start again because MS don’t know what they’re doing.

I did find a sort of solution, but it’s a major pain in the butt. When TDU tells me I don’t have this content, it takes me to the TDU downloads section on Xbox Live Marketplace… but doesn’t give me any indication as to what it thinks is missing. In fact, if I choose ANY of the download content and redownload it, and return to the game, which then reboots because it has to load and verify the content, I can eventually continue my game. Yes, every time. Every single time I want to play TDU, I have to load the game, go to Marketplace, redownload one of the content packs, reboot the machine, THEN I can play.

Xbox Live looks very slick, generally. Downloadable content is a great way to enhance your games and get new ones. And it all works great… until you get your faulty console replaced (and mark my words, your Xbox360 WILL die eventually!). Then you’re basically scammed out of the license rights to anything you’ve ever downloaded. But despite the fact that thousands of people have highlighted this and it’s talked about all over the web, MS steadfastly refuse to address the problem or compensate the gamer.

Speaking of compensation, back to the call I was on… so I finish telling her how all the content I bought on Live now effectively has completely new and very restrictive and annoying license terms through no fault of my own, and she says that someone will have to call me back on this one. But before I go, she says ‘because you’ve had your console repaired more than once, we’d like to offer you some small gift by way of compensation. I’ll just transfer you, ok?’. Nice sentiment… if she hadn’t then just put me on hold for over half an hour until I gave up and hung up. I think an hour and a half on one phone call with most of that spent listening to elevator music because ‘their systems are slow’ (they’re probably Windows, love) is enough, even on promise of compensation.

I am not a fan of Xbox360, Xbox Live or Microsoft right now, I can tell you. It’s almost enough to make you want to defect to PS3… (I did say ALMOST)

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