Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thank You, Microsoft

Well, I'm back from my vacation, which I decided to make a vacation from blogging as well, since writing one of my longer posts can eat up entire afternoons. Believe it or not, this post's title is not sarcastic. My 360 is now officially a $500 paperweight, but, to quote an old Air Farce skit that I used to find far funnier than it actually was: "I'm not bitter." It lasted through my week off, as I hoped it would, enabling me to completely explore several swathes of Oblivion's intimidatingly massive overworld, putting me at roughly 50% done after 2-3 months of play. That is to say, 50% done exploring the overworld, including both above and below the water, although I have to say that underwater exploration has been difficult (slow, dark, and difficult to navigate) and unrewarding (only the occasional mundane chest or pearl-filled clams) enough thus far that I may abandon it altogether. For the moment, though, I'm still holding out hope for a sunken ship of some kind to explore-- Oblivion's been pretty good about throwing me bones like that whenever I start to get bored. For instance, the one thing of note that I did find underwater this week that kept me going was a crazy water-breathing mage just walking around on the bottom of Niben bay, who gave me a friendly "hello" before continuing on his merry way. Once the overworld exploration is done, I'll have to explore the hundreds of caves and mines and ruins and so forth that I've uncovered (which I think will only take me a couple of months), and then finally begin the main narrative in earnest. So, at my current pace, I hope to be finished Oblivion by Christmas, at which point I will gaze upon the dozens of games that have built up in my queue over the past year and begin sobbing uncontrollably.

Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand-- my 360 worked satisfactorily during my week off, but then simply refused to boot up properly on Sunday night, and I've not been able to properly start it up since. So, late last night (I've been rather busy this week), I finally buckled down and called Microsoft support to see about getting it fixed or replaced. Now, I'd been planning to do this anyway, and after my previous more-or-less satisfactory support experience, I wasn't dreading the call as I might once have, but I still felt no small measure of trepidation as I dialed the number. It turns out that I was worried about nothing, though-- if the previous call was a pleasant surprise, this call was a positive delight. I almost couldn't believe how well everything went. First, I navigated the phone menu, which was a much less involved process for hardware problems than it was for my previous inquiry ("You have selected... REGICIDE. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one..."). Then, I was connected to a support representative whose accent was mercifully penetrable, and described my problem. He walked me through a series of possible fixes that I'd already tried on the advice of the support website, but that I was perfectly willing (and expecting) to repeat. I was actually afraid that the fixes would work this time, since I knew my console wasn't in proper working order, and wanted to get it fixed or replaced. If it had fired up properly, I may very well have lied and told him otherwise, but fortunately, that wasn't necessary, and, five minutes later, he concluded, as I had, that it was focquered, and began to describe how I could go about shipping it to a service centre.

It is at this point that my mood brightened considerably. First, I asked him about the factory warranty, which I knew had only a week or two remaining on it. I had gone into this call fully intending to sign up for an extended service plan in order to play it safe, but he told me that Microsoft had more than doubled the default warranty, and that my warranty would not expire until October 20th (my birthday, incidentally... *nudge* *nudge*), which would be more than enough time to resolve my current problems. And I had no idea just how much more. You see, I've been fully expecting to be without my Oblivion for at least a month, by which time I would be a twitching, drooling shell of a man, but my expectations were apparently greatly inflated. He said that I should receive a postage-paid shipping box within four business days (if it hasn't arrived by then, I've been told to call again), and that the console will then be shipped to an in-province repair centre, from which I should receive either a repaired or brand new console within six business days (again, if it's late, I've been told to call). I almost couldn't believe my good fortune at this point, and actually asked him to repeat the turn-around numbers, which sounded just as good the second time.

However, there was one last sticking point that I'd been worried about that remained to be addressed. I was concerned that they'd want me to ship my 360 with the hard drive attached (which contains my invaluable Oblivion saves), but, again, I could not have been more wrong. Not only do they not want the hard drive; they don't want anything other than the very core system. They don't want the power supply, they don't want the A/V cables-- I was even instructed to remove the console's face plate, which I'd forgotten was even removable (you can switch it for various trendy designs, if that's your bag). And it's fortunate that the support representative was so thorough in itemizing what was to be removed, because if he hadn't I may very well have shipped it off with my Oblivion disk still in the drive. This wouldn't be as damning as losing my saves, since the disk can be easily replaced, but I gather that Microsoft would not have paid to replace it, and would have instead given me a free copy of Kameo or Perfect Dark Zero, which I'm sure would have made me absolutely livid. But, fortunately for me, the support guy had my back, so disaster was narrowly averted. My system disassembled, I earnestly thanked the fellow and then ended the call.

So, the stripped-down skeleton of my 360 is now sitting on the coffee table and waiting to be shipped off for much-needed repairs. My biggest fear at this point is that it may work perfectly when they receive it, as the problem has been intermittent, but I'm hoping that, if this does turn out to be the case, they'll open it up anyway and see if anything's wrong. At this point, though, I'm incredibly pleased, and, although this may be a bit premature (I'm having visions of problems and delays), I have one thing to say to Microsoft, given that hardware problems at launch are par for the course: thank you for making my particular hardware woes as painless as possible (so far).


Anonymous Mike said...

Dude's right... it's way more fun with you bitch.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Update: I have a brand new, perfectly functional 360.

Total time from support call to having the replacement in my hands: 8 days. It would have been 7, but we missed Purolator the first time that they tried to drop it off.

My reaction: Incredibly pleased.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Dude's right... it's way more fun with you bitch.
I'm well aware. It's a sentiment that I immediately echoed. However, I have unfortunately had a relatively pleasant couple of weeks. I guess I could bitch about my last couple of trips to the grocery store, but the stuff I'm thinking about seems petty even to me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 12:25:00 PM  

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