One recurring knock against Microsoft's Xbox 360 has been that the hardware can be unpredictably flaky, with even properly cared-for units falling prey to the "red ring of death" for no apparent reason. While the company has already taken steps to address the situation, today it announced further changes to its warranty program to make the process of repair and replacing a broken system faster and easier than ever.
Right out of the gates of its November 2005 launch, Microsoft's Xbox 360 was beset by reports of malfunctioning consoles. While the company downplayed reports of faulty hardware for the better part of a year after launch, it eventually acknowledged that its original batch of systems was failing at an unusually high rate. As a make-good, Microsoft extended the system's standard 90-day warranty to one year, and promised to reimburse all those customers who had already been made to pay for repairs.
Today's revisions are aimed at addressing a number of complaints Xbox 360 owners have levied against the repairs process. First of all, Microsoft will no longer charge shipping on repaired consoles, and will send out postage-paid containers for customers to send in their broken units. On top of that, "most customers" will now receive their original console repaired and returned to them instead of a refurbished replacement, whether the repair took place within the warranty period or not.
Microsoft is also standing by its repairs longer than before. When repairs are made on systems under warranty, Microsoft will now cover the repaired system for the balance of the original warranty period or 90 days, whichever is longer. Repairs made on out-of-warranty systems will be returned with a one-year "repair warranty."
Finally, Microsoft has committed to putting more manpower behind its repairs process. The company said it is increasing the number of customer care representatives and supervisors, improving its training, and hiring a "customer care champion" to hone practices and policies for the benefit of users.