Big Business Bully

Posted: October 18, 2007 in Video Games

My Copy of Phantasy Star UniverseBehold my favorite game.  Phantasy Star Universe for the Xbox 360.  I’ve owned this game since it’s release back in late 2006 and have since that time, enjoyed and looked forward to the times I actually get to play it.  I’ve also owned my Xbox 360 since it’s release back in 2005.  Over the last two years I have read numerous articles, blogs, and rants about the hardware problems that plague this system but had never experienced any myself. 

Was it the red rings of death?  No!  A few days ago I became the victim of the Xbox 360’s disc drive.  While playing Phantasy Star Universe just a few days ago the game suddenly and without warning froze up.  Now you’ll want to note that my 360 is kept up on a shelf above the TV as to keep it out of the reach of my young daughters’ hands.  I reset my 360 in hopes that it was just some random freeze.  When the console rebooted and I tried to restart Phantasy Star Universe, the console told me that the disc was unreadable.  This made me think that it was merely dirty and needed to be wiped clean.  I ejected the game disc from my console and took a look at it.  Right away I noticed that the problem wasn’t dust, smudges or some random blemish that you normally see plauge CD’s and DVD’s.  There was a huge and deep scratch in a circular pattern all the way around the playable side of the game disc.  I knew right away that this scratch wasn’t fixable and I tried to play the game one more time.

This time the game actually booted up and I was able to play, to a very limited degree offline.  When I travel to various locations (it seems to be random) the game will freeze along with the 360.  If I accept or try to play certain missions the result is the same, total lock up for both the game and my console.  For this reason I can no longer enjoy my favorite 60 dollar game and I decided to contact Microsoft about the problem in hopes that they would offer a replacement or voucher for the retail amount of the game.  As this scratch is the same scratch you can see and read about all over the Internet I knew that it was the faulty disc drive that Microsoft had used for it’s Xbox 360.  You’ll also want to note at this point that when the game first froze up no one, not even me was within 5 feet of the console, there was no earthquake to jolt the console, and I did not have my controller plugged into the USB port for charging, so this was not a case of user error or accident.  This image is not my disc but my game bears the same type of scratch.  I tried taking pictures of my game disc but the glare kept ruining the picture.

scratched disc

I really won’t try to duplicate my conversations with Microsoft and even Sega.  Instead I will copy and paste my emails to them and their responses to this this problem.  As you will plainly see Microsoft has turned a blind eye to a problem their own hardware has caused.  They are aware of this hardware issue and many people have complained about this same problem and I foolishly thought that Microsoft might do the right thing and help a faithful customer out.  Read on….

My Original Email To Microsoft Regarding My Problem

Hello, I am an Xbox 360 owner who until recently had not suffered through some of the hardware issues that have plagued this console.  I am an avid Phantasy Star Universe player and just a few days ago while I was playing offline the game and the console froze up.  I walked over to my 360 which is kept on a shelf away from people and turned it off.  When it rebooted I tried to play Phantasy Star Universe again.  The game at first would only work when I left it on the title screen and then after a few more console reboots would it allow me to play offline to a limited degree.

When it finally did allow me to get back into the game I found that it would constantly freeze up when I selected certain missions.  At this point I ejected the disc to find that the game disc had been severely scratched!  The scratch itself is in a circular pattern and after doing a bit of online research found that many Xbox 360 users had experienced this same problem with many of their games.  I am well aware of the problem and understand that it is caused by the consoles disc drive.  What I would like to know is if Microsoft is prepared to help me out.  My Xbox 360 scratched my favorite 60 dollar game, which is now virtually unplayable as it freezes up somewhat randomly and during certain parts of the game and is functionless online.  My 360 is kept above my TV on a shelf away from people who may bump or nudge the console during play so this ruined game disc is not the result of human contact or error.  It is obviously related to the same hardware issues many other gamers have had.

Can Microsoft offer me a replacement copy of this game?  As the problem is related to the hardware in my 360 I don’t feel as though I should have to replace this game disc.  Is there anything you guys can do for me? If needed I can provide you with pictures of the scratched game.  Thanks! Look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

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First and Only Reply From Microsoft

Hi, Scott!

Thank you for writing Xbox Customer Support!

I’m sorry to hear your problem and as I understand, you want to have your game disc replaced. 

Please check if you’re the game is currently available for exchange on http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/systemuse/xbox360/gameplay/discreplacement-games.htm.  Please go to http://www.xbox.com/support/systemuse/xbox360/gameplay/discreplacement-program.htm and print the Microsoft Game Disc Replacement Order Program, complete the instructions and mail the form together with the discs that you want to replace.

This offer is only available to countries where the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system is sold at authorized retail locations.  You can pay for the exchange by using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express (AMEX) credit card.

To view the full terms and conditions, visit the following Web site: http://www.xbox.com/support/systemuse/xbox360/gameplay/discreplacement-program.htm

If the game was not published by Microsoft, please contact the game publisher for possible disc replacement policies.

If you need to reply to this e-mail, please reply ‘with history’ (include any previous e-mail) so we can expedite our service to you.

You may also call Xbox Phone Support at 1-800-4MYXBOX (1-800-469-9269) at your earliest convenience, and we’ll be happy to help you. We are open everyday from 8am to 12mn US Central Time.

To expedite service, please provide Service Request Number 1047220618 when you call.

NOTE: You may now check warranty and repair status for your XBOX console by going online at http://service.xbox.com/ using your Windows Live ID account.

Thank you for visiting Xbox.com. If you should have future questions on Xbox products or services, please be sure to revisit our Web site as we are continually adding information to enhance our service.

Sincerely,
James
Xbox Customer Care

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Letter to Sega About This Problem

Hello, I recently wrote to the Xbox 360 support team because my copy of Phantasy Star Universe was scratched due to faulty Xbox 360 hardware.  Below is the email I sent to them.
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Hello, I am an Xbox 360 owner who until recently had not suffered through some of the hardware issues that have plagued this console.  I am an avid Phantasy Star Universe player and just a few days ago while I was playing offline the game and the console froze up.  I walked over to my 360 which is kept on a shelf away from people and turned it off.  When it rebooted I tried to play Phantasy Star Universe again.  The game at first would only work when I left it on the title screen and then after a few more console reboots would it allow me to play offline to a limited degree.

When it finally did allow me to get back into the game I found that it would constantly freeze up when I selected certain missions.  At this point I ejected the disc to find that the game disc had been severely scratched!  The scratch itself is in a circular pattern and after doing a bit of online research found that many Xbox 360 users had experienced this same problem with many of their games.  I am well aware of the problem and understand that it is caused by the consoles disc drive.  What I would like to know is if Microsoft is prepared to help me out.  My Xbox 360 scratched my favorite 60 dollar game, which is now virtually unplayable as it freezes up somewhat randomly and during certain parts of the game and is functionless online.  My 360 is kept above my TV on a shelf away from people who may bump or nudge the console during play so this ruined game disc is not the result of human contact or error.  It is obviously related to the same hardware issues many other gamers have had.

Can Microsoft offer me a replacement copy of this game?  As the problem is related to the hardware in my 360 I don’t feel as though I should have to replace this game disc.  Is there anything you guys can do for me? If needed I can provide you with pictures of the scratched game.  Thanks! Look forward to hearing from you. 🙂
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I have thoroughly scoured through their websites and now understand that although they apologize for the destruction of my game disc they have no intention of replacing it simply because they are not the publisher.

My question to you is can Sega do anything for me?  Sega is not responsible for the scratch as my email indicates but Phantasy Star Universe is published by Sega so I would like to know if I can send you my ruined game and get a replacement?  If this is possible will you please send me instructions how to do so, and if this is beyond your authority, please direct me to someone with a higher authority so that I may address this with them.  Thank you for your time.

Scott Jarvis

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Reply Back To Microsoft

Hello!  First off thank you for your quick reply. Your information was helpful to some degree.  On the other hand I am appalled that Microsoft is not willing to help a faithful Xbox 360 customer out when it was their hardware that caused my game disc to become scratched.  I have contacted Sega as they are the publisher of this game and I realize that all of you in Customer Service are simply following company policy by not providing a way to have my game replaced.  Microsoft cares not about its customers, in this case a gamer who’s favorite 60 dollar game was destroyed by the faulty hardware (disc drive) that Microsoft chose to use in their 360’s.  I guess my question is why should Sega be required to replace or provide me with a new copy of the game they publish when it was not their fault the game was scratched. Shouldn’t Microsoft offer a voucher for the retail amount of any game their console ruins?  I think since Microsoft has chose to shrug off responsibility for these types of problems, they could at least provide us with links to pages for various publishers and/or contact information. I have a strong suspicion that my cries for help will fall on deaf ears both with Microsoft and Sega.  It’s so nice to see companies screw over individuals to save face and to save some money.  Thank you for your help.
 
Scott Jarvis

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My Second Reply To Microsoft (I had a bit more to say)

Hello, I’ve already stated my case in my last email and expressed my discontent with Microsoft’s stance on disc replacement.  I have included in this email Sega’s response to my problem.  I don’t really expect anyone in Xbox support to read this email nor do I expect it to be taken seriously by the company but I need to voice my discontent with Microsoft once more.  As you can see Sega is not willing to replace or even discuss replacing my copy of Phantasy Star Universe for my 360.  They really have no responsibility to do so as it was the hard drive in my 360 that caused the destruction of my game, and it’s a shame that Microsoft has chosen to thrown someone like me (with a problem caused by a Microsoft product) out like yesterday’s trash.  They feel that they have no responsibility for this because they didn’t make the game?  Well they made the choice to put that drive in their 360, a drive that has caused more than just a few people to have the same problem I did.  Thank you.

Scott Jarvis

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All of these emails with the exception of the first email to Microsoft where sent and received yesterday.  This is such an injustice and I am still having a hard time believing that Microsoft has chosen to sweep this problem under the rug (perhaps they don’t believe that their customers are honest) and that there are no laws to protect people that have problems like this.  My software was damaged by the hardware that runs it, plain and simple, shouldn’t someone have to answer for this and be responsible?  My dealings with Microsoft have reminded me that large corporations aren’t ever held accountable for their actions.  In this case they are refusing to replace a game I paid 60 dollars for, for use on their console which I paid 400 dollars for.  They claim that they only replace games they publish.  Why Microsoft?  Are you really willing to sacrifice good customer service to save such a large company a few dollars, so that a small number of wealthy executives can take home a few extra thousand dollars at the end of the year?  Oh maybe you’re afraid if you acknowledge this problem and replace one disc (whether you published it or not) the flood gates will open and you’ll have to spend money fixing a problem that you are responsible for.  I’m really beside myself right now over this.  Another corporation bullying the little guy.  We don’t matter, we never will and who cares if they piss off some guy who’s out 60 dollars…they’ve got billions of other dollars coming in.  Microsoft, this is not Sega’s responsibility.  It was not their fault the game got scratched, it’s yours.  You chose that drive and although you may not have been aware of this issue during development it persists now and you should be held accountable for this problem.  Why don’t you care?  Is there anyone I can turn to for help?

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