An Apple and a Lemon

I was told by a friend of mine that Microsoft would replace any broken XBOX 360 consoles that were purchased before January 2006. I was pleased to hear this. Our new XBOX 360 had died after 90 days of use.

I will compare my experience with defective Microsoft technology to my experience with defective Apple technology.

We had experienced a defective issue with my son’s MacBook Pro. The Sony battery deformed as a consequence of thermal damage. The battery was viewed as defective by Apple. And they replaced it.

I went on the Apple website. I populated the form with the serial number of the MacBook Pro and the serial number of the battery. The Apple site confirmed that the laptop and the battery were eligible for a replacement battery. I then populated my shipping address, pressed submit, and a confirmation email was sent immediately and it indicated that the unit would ship within the next 3-5 business days.

I received the new battery the very next day. Impressive.

The Microsoft experience was quite different.

My wife called the 1-800-4MY-XBOX number and went through the typical chain of automated voice menus. At some point she was put on hold. And she waited to speak to a support person. She told them that the XBOX had stopped working a couple of months after we purchased the unit. The support person told her that they had to troubleshoot the problem over the phone. She told them that the unit did not work. She was asked whether the green light came on. My wife did not know how to respond. The long and short was that I had to call to confirm that the XBOX 360 was indeed a dead console.

When I got home, I made the call and went through the same chain of automated voice menus and then put on hold for a support person.

“Can I have your last name please?”
“Sure. Cleaver.”
“Sorry, what did you say?”
“Actually, I can barely hear you. You are in one loud call centre.”
“Yes. It is busy.”
“Where are you located?”
“I can’t tell you. It is against our policy”
“United States?”
“But you can’t tell me which state?”
“No. What is your last name?”

I briefly reflected on the irony of having to reveal all my personal information, including my address, to a call centre that has some strange policy about telling me where they are located. Oh well.

“Can you spell that?”
“Ok. First name?”

You get the drill. I spent the next few minutes telling her my name, address, city, postal code and telephone number. Several times because she could barely hear above the din of this call centre located somewhere in the United States.

“Can I get the last four digits of your credit card?”
“So that I can authenticate you.”
“I have to.”
“My wife called earlier. I have a reference number.”
“Oh. Okay. That will do.”

So I provided her with the reference number. And then we got into the heart of the discussion.

“What is the problem with your XBOX 360?”
“It does not work.”
“Does the green light come on?”

Boy, these folks at Microsoft have some kind of obsession with that green light.

“No. The unit is dead.”
“Can you plug it in please?”
“Haven’t used it for seven months. And the reason why I stopped using it was because it stopped working. The unit is dead. No green lights. No yellow lights. No red lights. Nothing.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes quite sure. I tried to reboot the XBOX 360 but I couldn’t find Ctrl-Alt-Delete.”

I sensed my feeble attempt at humour was not working. So I started asking questions.

“How much longer is this going to take? I have been on the phone for over half an hour.”
“Not much longer. Please hold.”

At this point in time, dinner was being served in the Cleaver household. And so my wife took over. After all that time and interrogation, we ultimately received this email from Microsoft several hours later:

“” wrote:

Dear Xbox Customer: Thank you for contacting Xbox Customer Care. We have received your request for service. Please prepare your console and follow the instructions provided by our customer service department. You will receive an e-mail as soon as the next step in the process has begun. Thank you, Xbox Customer Care Note: This is not a monitored e-mail address.

After providing all that personal information my new name is “Xbox Customer”. I’m not sure what I am supposed to do in terms of preparing the console. Maybe I should be looking for a green light? I guess I will find out once I receive an email as soon as the next step in the process has begun. Only, just how many steps are there in this process?

Apple: simple, efficient.

Microsoft? I guess the email address says it all:

4 replies
  1. Michael
    Michael says:


    I had the same experience unfortunately.

    “So, is the green light flashing?”
    “I dont know, it is unplugged”
    “Well, how many green lights are flashing red?”
    “How many are flashing ?”
    “Wait a sec” (Plug it in)
    “3 red lights flashing”
    “OK, have you tried to boot it without the hardrive?”
    (Clueing in) “Yes, I have done that” (This became my response to all questions)
    “OK, the box will appear tomorrow, follow the instructions and we will ship you a new one”

    Now, I know that the above is journalistic ‘flourish’ .. but you are right, it was quite funny.

    As for the Apple comment. Give me a break. It is a battery … does the battery work is a pretty simply yes, no question .. it is not a full computing system. My friend .. balance .. you are, after all, one of those people that we look at for balanced opinons …


  2. Rob
    Rob says:

    I will add to your Mac story. My daughters first I-Pod, about 2 years ago, would not recharge. I went to a similar Apple site, entered the information and a new one was delivered to me, too, the following day. Also enclosed was a box and prepaid shipping to return the defective unit. Took me about 10 minutes all told, other than to drop the defective unit into a post box. All I could say at the time was – WOW!

  3. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:


    It wasn’t the battery per se… it was the process Apple used…. fast… efficient. There was very little “value add” in spending hours waiting on the phone to check for a green light on a dead XBOX console.

    And that is my balanced opinion 😉


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