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The Man Who Went Through 11 Xbox 360s

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the that's-some-bad-luck-right-there dept.

Microsoft 428

1up is carrying the sad story of Justin Lowe. Just your average gamer, wanting to partake of the current generation of consoles. He's got a PSP, DS, PS3, and a 360. He really likes his 360 ... which is probably a good thing, since he's sent 11 of them back to Microsoft. He's now on his twelfth. The piece covers Justin's ongoing plight, and discusses Microsoft's claims of hardware failures being a 'vocal minority'. "Justin has not had a working system for longer than a month or two. The list of problems is almost comically large: three red lights of death, two with disc read errors, two dead on arrival, several with random audio and video-related issues and one that actually exploded. Looking at the situation through Moore's own standards, how has Microsoft performed? 'On a scale of one to ten, I'd rate them an 8... at first,' says Lowe. His [first] 360 broke in early January, just a few weeks after purchase."

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428 comments

Neither Sony or Microsoft are perfect (3, Interesting)

TheMadcapZ (868196) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679457)

I am on my second PS3 after the first had a firmware update which is claimed completed. Went to reboot and the system just hangs. Ended up sending it back to Sony and the shipped me a different one. So even though it wasn't a hardware issue, things happen.

No problems with the Wii yet, runs like a champ.

Some Wiis did have issues (1, Informative)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679763)

My Wii ran fine out of the box, but a friend of mine had to send her Wii back to Nintendo- some of the first batch of Wiis had some defect (I can't remember the details). This doesn't even include the stonger straps they had to add after some people broke theirs. Not to rip on Nintendo, just pointing out that it's nearly impossible to make perfect software/hardware.

Re:Some Wiis did have issues (0)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679931)

A friend of mine had to send his Wii back just a week after getting it also. His was overheating really bad and damaged the internal components. He's since gotten it back and is Wii'ing along with himself quite merrily now =)

Re:Some Wiis did have issues (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680259)

Although it's not "over"heating, and I haven't had any actual problems yet, does anybody else find that their Wii gets quite hot when you leave it in standby mode, with WiiConnect 24 turned on. I've only had my Wii about a month, but I really think sometimes that I should turn off the WiiConnect 24 because of how hot it gets, and I don't want the heat to get to it after a year and a half, meaning I'll have to buy another one. I really think they should leave the fan on. Or at least have it run intermittently. It's not like it's actually loud enough to hear.

Re:Some Wiis did have issues (1)

TheMadcapZ (868196) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680091)

Understood. I didn't mean to imply that the Wii is a perfect machine, just that I personally haven't experienced any problems with it and I hope I don't in the future either.

What do they all have in common? (2, Interesting)

no_pets (881013) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679463)

Other than all being Xbox360s, what else do they all have in common? Perhaps they all came from the same retailer which has a stockboy that liked to drop-kick the Xboxes? Or, perhaps, he has some seriously bad karma.

Re:What do they all have in common? (2, Interesting)

Richthofen80 (412488) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679549)

Perhaps they all came from the same retailer which has a stockboy that liked to drop-kick the Xboxes

This happens a lot; but more likely at UPS or some other freight carrier.

I had friends who worked their way through college by working part-time at a UPS sorting facility. There were a few employees who definitely took out their aggression on merchandise.

Re:What do they all have in common? (5, Interesting)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679865)

My parents run a small online retail store. When I would come home from college for breaks, I would help them with packaging and shipping. I used to handle every package like it held Ming vases, each of which was filled Faberge eggs, each of which was in turn filled with normal eggs.

And then one day I had to drive to the UPS facility. After that, it was more like footballs and sacks of potatoes - and that was an order of magnitude better than the care shown by the UPS employees. Pack your boxes well. They are paid to get your stuff there fast and cheap; 'gently' doesn't fit into that equation.

User Error (5, Funny)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679783)

what else do they all have in common?
They were all operated by Justin Lowe.

Re:User Error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679851)

Maybe he's just a destructive tinkerer who knows how to avoid voiding the warranty.

Re:User Error (1)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680257)

One of my friends is in the same clan as Justin Lowe, and said he didn't do anything to cause problems like this.

Re:User Error (2, Insightful)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680563)

Perhaps Justin has bad Karma, or God may have cursed him.

either way... the only constant in all of Justin's failed (console) relationships is Justin.

Re:What do they all have in common? (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679971)

Statistically, there is always that one guy. You know the guy; wins the lottery, gets hit by a meteor, eats a thousand big macs and doesn't die, gets rich of a get rich quick scheme.

Yea. That guy.

This is the "Guy who gets broken Xbox 360s." Out of all the people who have them, there's got to be one guy who always gets a bad one.

Still, MS claims the failure rate is around 3%, so that's pretty fricking improbable assuming that they're not lying...We're talking .03^11 (a 5.31441x10^-17 percent chance that you'd have 11 crap out in a row), though you're also taking that 3% with a huge grain of salt because it's a percentage of failures over an undisclosed period of time, which could be a month, a day, or a year for all we know. Obviously the percentage chance of failure would be 100%, given enough time.

If I were them, I'd start looking for an external factor. Does he live in an area with an unusually large number of electrical storms per year? Does he have bad wiring? Does he live in a really dusty environment? Is he a huge slob? Does he have the UPS guy from hell? Even if the failure rate on a 360 was 10% (which would be really hard to hide), the odds would still be 100,000,000 to 1 against getting 11 bad ones in a row...'Course they could be sending out refurbs to people who have problems, which very well may have a significantly higher fail rate...

Bah. Puppy needs more data.

Re:What do they all have in common? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680303)

First, I find 3% to be quite high. Having a 1:30 chance of a product you buy breaking isn't very good odds. Also, A lot of the time the stuff you get as replacements will be refurbs, an shipped by UPS who takes less care with the packages then the people who ship products for the retailers. Also, they probably aren't counting replacements on the replacements, just on replacements of original sales.

Re:What do they all have in common? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680105)

Perhaps they all came from the same retailer which has a stockboy that liked to drop-kick the Xboxes?

What else do they all have in common? The same customer.

Re:What do they all have in common? (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680111)

Probably sending him refurbed consoles from the factory. I've had it happen with Asus boards as well.

Re:What do they all have in common? Microsoft. (1)

Jeremy_Bee (1064620) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680569)

The simpler explanation for this whole thing is that it's Microsoft's fault.

Consider the fact that there have been at least three separate, major problems with the X-Box 360 hardware and that these have been fairly widespread, (especially in Europe and other non-US markets where problem items are sometimes "dumped"). Then factor in MS's policy (since changed), of replacing the brand new X-Box 360 you purchased with a refurbished item. Add to that the fact that MS has actually changed the design of the X-Box 360 at least once or twice in it's very short lifetime on the market, specifically to address hardware issues, and it really is no surprise what is happening here.

This fellow was unlucky enough to get one of the marginal units from the original shipments from the factory. The first two or three replacements were refurbished (i.e. - probably suffering form the same fault.), and likely were also from the original production runs of the product. This would make the first three or four failures out of eleven due to simple poor QA from Microsoft compounded by the foolish and underhanded policy of sending out refurbished replacements. All of a sudden the possibility of eleven failures makes more sense.

To those who are claiming that it's the user or his household electrical supply that is at fault, the original article contains this:

When his third 360 broke, one customer service rep suggested he look into the wiring at his house; electricity problems could have been causing the mess-ups. Problem: none of his other systems (not to mention his several computers and other electronics) have experienced any major problems, and his father is, coincidentally, an electrician. The specific suggestion was brought up by Microsoft customer service again after the eighth console repair. This time, just to be certain, Justin had a contractor come to the house and check the wiring, where he was told that everything was in order, with no abnormalities in voltage of any of house outlets. Nevertheless, customer service has continued to suggest this as a potential cause.
Some people have also suggested that he might have the X-Box "on a rug" or not adequately ventilated or something but this is a hardcore gamer with multiple gaming units, surely he would not be wrapping the thing in a blanket or anything, and short of that, the console should work as advertised.

I am sick of folks defending MS's crap hardware with statements like: "Oh, he should have it on a table all by itself with 14 inches of clearance around the fans and possibly a room fan pointing at it as well. Then it will work fine." WTF?

A product should just work when any reasonable person uses it in a reasonable way which it seems the fellow did.

Environment (4, Insightful)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679489)

There are probably environmental factors going on here. I'm not a gamer, but several friends who are have had no problems with their Xbox360 hardware.

Re:Environment (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679609)

There are probably environmental factors going on here

Yet another problem caused by Global Warming.

Re:Environment (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679689)

There has got to be some percentage of issues, and that means there's a non-zero possibility that somebody could receive many consecutive consoles with problems. The reason this is a story is because the issue rate would have to be pretty high, or this guy would have to be *really* unlucky to have this many systems with different types of issues.

There are definitely issues with some of these consoles. There always are when you ship millions of something. The question here is how common the issues are. You could know dozens of people who haven't had a problem at all, and the issue rate could still be higher than is acceptable. Additionally, the issue rate could be significantly higher for the returned/refurbished units. Whatever is going on though, it seems reasonable to expect some straight answers from Microsoft, preferably about what the issues are and how common, but at the very least about why they let the problem become so bad for this one guy before stepping in and making sure they had done everything in their power to fix his problems.

Re:Environment (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680375)

Something like 15,000,000 xbox 360s have shipped. Something like 1 guy out of that 15 million has had 8 360s fail. 1/15000000=(1/x)**8 => 1/7.888=1/x => x ~= 8, where 1/x is the probability that an xbox360 is bad. So around every 8th xbox is bad. Does that sound so far fetched?

Re:Environment (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680549)

I have to agree, I luckily have not had too many problems with my consol. Luckily he get the 1 month free xbox live cards too bad he has to go without his xbox for such a long time and so many times I just hope these new cooling add on the Microsoft has been secretly adding in will help.

wtf? (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679493)

Where the hell is he playing with these systems, the tub?

Re:wtf? (1)

_PimpDaddy7_ (415866) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679711)

Or in a room that's 95 degrees!

Seriously, you have to wonder what the heck the guy is doing?

Is he playing 12 hours straight? Is he leaving the console on all day? How's the ventilation around the Xbox? They can get hot.

Microsoft sending him 10 refurbished units?

You really have to wonder what his circumstances are in this situation.

I've had my xbox since January with no problems. *knocks on wood*

Re:wtf? (3, Interesting)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679951)

Hmm, I wonder if they're replacing everything or just the game unit itself. If he's using the same cords and such, that would be my first suspicion.

OS carrying over? (-1, Flamebait)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679505)

Back several years ago I switched to Linux because I was getting over 10 Blue Screens of Death from XP.... is this maybe a reflection of that level of quality (or lack thereof) translating from M$ software to hardware, considering M$ has really not built quality software products?

Re:OS carrying over? (1, Offtopic)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679629)

Back several years ago I switched to Linux because I was getting over 10 Blue Screens of Death from XP.... is this maybe a reflection of that level of quality (or lack thereof) translating from M$ software to hardware, considering M$ has really not built quality software products?
Here's an anecdote from a sample of two. I've been the casual computer geek, not liking Windows but running it since that's where the games are. A friend of mine has always been real nerdcore, never into gaming but massively into programming and serious applications. In other words, he's not the kind of idiot who goes about breaking things through tinkering and ignorance. Between the two of us, I would be the one you'd expect to see having squirrely Windows problems.

How did it really turn out? He was reinstalling Windows once a month. Didn't matter which computer he ran it on, what he did with it, a reinstall once a month. He had the Win95 key memorized. He switched to Linux in hopes of better stability but even got burned there. In desperation, he tried Macs and the mysterious problems went away.

I have no reasonable explanation for it. I've heard about funny crap happening with bio-electric fields and unexpected interactions with electronics and I'm not just talking about electrostatic discharge. I don't have any proof of it but I'm wondering if he just had a field strong enough to make Wintel cry.

Anyone else have any stories of weird crap like that?

Re:OS carrying over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679859)

I've been the casual computer geek, not liking Windows but running it since that's where the games are. A friend of mine has always been real nerdcore, never into gaming but massively into programming and serious applications. In other words, he's not the kind of idiot who goes about breaking things through tinkering and ignorance... How did it really turn out? He was reinstalling Windows once a month.

Sounds like your friend knew just enough to be dangerous. If you want to muck around in the guts of the machine, you have to accept the risk of the patient not surviving.

Re:OS carrying over? (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680193)

I've been the casual computer geek, not liking Windows but running it since that's where the games are. A friend of mine has always been real nerdcore, never into gaming but massively into programming and serious applications. In other words, he's not the kind of idiot who goes about breaking things through tinkering and ignorance... How did it really turn out? He was reinstalling Windows once a month. Sounds like your friend knew just enough to be dangerous. If you want to muck around in the guts of the machine, you have to accept the risk of the patient not surviving. That's just it, he wasn't one of those types. I've known several of the "just enough to be dangerous" types. Not him. He was a real RTFM'er. That's why I find it puzzling. If he were the type of guy you were supposing, I wouldn't find problems surprising in the least.

Re:OS carrying over? (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680007)

Work once gave me a laptop with a touchpad that went nuts whenever I tried to use it. The mouse would jump all of the screen while randomly clicking. It was completely unusable. Nobody else had the problems.

One day I discovered that I could hold my finger about and inch above the pad and by concentrating I could make the mouse start clicking repeatedly. I never could get it to move though. And I couldn't really control the clicking -- just turn the repeated clicking on or off.

Computers are like dogs and bees (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680033)

They can smell fear.

If you are a novice user alone with a machine it will crash, just to taunt you.

However, if a confident tech support person is watching, it will know not to crash.

Remember, your computer HATES you, and wants nothing less than your total mental destruction, meatbag.

Re:Computers are like dogs and bees (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680247)

They can smell fear.

If you are a novice user alone with a machine it will crash, just to taunt you.

However, if a confident tech support person is watching, it will know not to crash.
GMTA. I use a line similar to that with my end users.

end user: Well, the computer has been crashing when I do x.

me: Show me.

end user: (clicking about for a minute) I don't understand, it was crashing for me a few minutes ago but it won't crash when you're here. Why not?

me: *tilts head so fluorescent lights flash off glasses ominously* Because it wouldn't dare.

Re:OS carrying over? (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680231)

I'd say it's more likely the Mac was protecting him from himself, which is something Windows and Linux don't necessarily do. When I programmed on my MS machine, and installed lots of software, I had to reinstall all the damn time. Now? Every year and a half or so. I program a lot on Linux machines, but I'm super careful, and I always run as a user, not a superuser...Still, I've screwed 'em up a few times, just dicking around with non-standard libraries and custom compiles.

Mac? You just don't have those issues. Mac software installs are hilarious if you're used to Windows. It doesn't expose it's system files in userland, and it hides superuser access altogether.

Re:OS carrying over? (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680283)

I'd say it's more likely the Mac was protecting him from himself, which is something Windows and Linux don't necessarily do. When I programmed on my MS machine, and installed lots of software, I had to reinstall all the damn time. Now? Every year and a half or so. I program a lot on Linux machines, but I'm super careful, and I always run as a user, not a superuser...Still, I've screwed 'em up a few times, just dicking around with non-standard libraries and custom compiles.

Mac? You just don't have those issues. Mac software installs are hilarious if you're used to Windows. It doesn't expose it's system files in userland, and it hides superuser access altogether.
I suppose that's possible. He's also become a virtual machine evangelist these days. "Crashie, crashie, my buggy little machine. I don't care, I've got a clean version of you backed up!" he'd cackle. Yah, computer geeks are the hatters of the 21st century, I'm just not sure what's serving as our mercury. Maybe Mountain Dew production has been outsourced to China?

Vocal Minority (2, Interesting)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679571)

Vocal Minority my ball sack.

I had the three blinking red lights (first example voice prompt on the 360 support line!), and they proceeded to lose my freakin' Xbox. After two weeks of "here's your reference number, call back in a few days" I finally got a voicemail saying that they have the shipping reference . . . but they didn't, you know, leave the fucking reference number.

They sure seem overwhelmed given that they claim to have a below-industry-standard failure rate.

-Peter

Re:Vocal Minority (2, Informative)

Mex (191941) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679825)

There's a thread with over 400 comments here :

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/31956?from=0&co mments_per_page=30 [gamerswithjobs.com]

Dedicated only to poll people who have had a faulty 360, who have seen the 3 rings.

Some of them are actually on their second or third system.

It's the sort of thing that stops me from buying a 360. Since I'm in Mexico, the repair process would be especially annoying.

Say what you want about the PS3, but it seems like a much more solid piece of hardware. (Insert "Yeah it doesn't fail because no one ever turns it on") joke or something.

Re:Vocal Minority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19680083)

Since I'm in Mexico,

I thought everyone migrated North?

Re:Vocal Minority (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680533)

There's a thread with over 400 comments here

Microsoft has sold something along the lines of 10 million 360s. That thread has 400 comments (rounding to an easy number). That's a 0.004% failure rate (yes, I know that thread doesn't represent all customers with failed consoles). The industry standard failure rate is usually quoted as somewhere between 3-5%, which means anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 failed consoles out of 10 million is "acceptable". Only Microsoft knows what their true failure rate is, as extrapolating from internet bitching doesn't work.

The internet is a place for people to come and gripe. Nobody starts a poll thread saying, "My Xbox 360 is still working. Is yours?" The people with working consoles are playing games. The people with broken consoles are going on the internet to complain. Obviously it's going to look like a huge problem, because there's no opposing viewpoint in threads like what you posted. People aren't looking for explanations. They're looking to blow off steam.

While it sucks for the person in the article who has gone through 11 xboxes, statistics tells you that's going to happen to somebody. Sucks to be him, but if it wasn't him it would've been somebody else.

Just for the record, I'm currently waiting on my second repair to return. My launch window console finally threw a ring of death this past spring, and the replacement console's DVD-ROM drive died after only three weeks. But I'm not out on the internet bitching because it doesn't do any good.

All heat sink related? Probably not. (3, Insightful)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679581)

The article (yes, I RTFA) seems to point the blame at Microsoft and say, "See! See! They're shipping with an extra heat-sink! It MUST be all their fault!"

I have 20+ friends with 360s, and none of them have experienced problems with their 360s. I have a hard time believing disc read errors, separate audio and visual problems, DOA and exploding consoles are ALL caused by the lack of a heatsink. Like a customer that comes back to PetsMart with dead fish after dead fish, I have trouble believing after 8 dead fish that ALL of the problem is PetsMart selling defective fish.

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (5, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679701)

I have 20+ friends
Oh come on, now you're just exaggerating.

In fact, I have proof:

Stickerboy (61554) is all alone in the world.
http://slashdot.org/~Stickerboy/friends/ [slashdot.org]

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (2, Insightful)

GenP (686381) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679795)

Damn, wish I had modpoints on this story.

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679755)

Not that anyone would really want to buy the sickly animals from a major pet store retailer, that promotes the often times cruel breeding practices used to supply purse dogs and such...

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (2, Interesting)

internic (453511) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680509)

Puppy mills are a large problem, but at least at the PetSmart locations in the D.C. area they don't sell cats or dogs. They do have cats from local shelters there for adoption, though. There's a fee, but AFAIK this goes to the group running the shelter not anyone who bred the dogs.

There are, however, many other pet stores that do sell dogs from puppy mills. Also, I've gotten fish from PetSmart that had ick, so I'm hardly saying that all their animals are healthy or well taken care of.

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679801)

Like a customer that comes back to PetsMart with dead fish after dead fish, I have trouble believing after 8 dead fish that ALL of the problem is PetsMart selling defective fish.

Curses! Foiled again!

-Aquaman

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679821)

You do realize that if the failure rate was 5% there would be an excellent chance that you could know that many people that have a 360 and have no issues, right?

Even the anecdotal evidence doesn't add up. There are too many stories out there about people with dead 360s relative to the stories about other systems for this to be a non-issue. Personally, I know six people with 360s, and all but one of them have had to send at least one back. It's not the one guy who went through 11, or 14, or whatever that concern me. It's the many, many stories of the guys who have had to send one or two back.

Re:All heat sink related? Probably not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19680271)

Hey boys and girls, In an online community where the Methuselah ranged numbers usually don't talk about games - guess which side of the Astroturf war this asshat signed up with.

Come on , look at the post history people. All he talks about is games and the iPhone.

You know people like this are shills, right?

Any statisticicians out there? (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679615)

I understand that with so many people reporting problems, someone is surely going to have eleven bad units, and I don't doubt that he did.

But what is the probability of this happening to a given person, assuming, say, a 5% overall failure rate? (ignoring the "RMA pool effect" which makes you more likely to get a bad unit back)

And given the number sold so far, assuming people don't just give up and junk or sell the thing when the warranty runs out, what percentage of failure rate is needed for two or three people to have gone through 11 bad units?

(I slept through statistics in college, but I did learn enough to know that you can compute this kind of stuff, and compute the error factor too.)

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (5, Informative)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679841)

The simple math you ask is (0.05)^11, which is about a 1 out of 205 trillion probablility (or rather a huge improbability). To start having a more down-to-earth probability you would have to assume a huge 20% failure rate to bring the probablility down to 1 in 50 million. A 20% failure rate of course would not have gone by unnoticed and MS would certainly not have been able to dispute it.
So, unless this guy is driving the Heart Of Gold, there is something else going on here.

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

krzysztof (684977) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680041)

This is assuming each system is randomly selected from the sample, but they were mostly sending him refurbished units back, which presumably had a defect in the first place, to have been sent back for refurbishment. It's still quite improbable, sure, but not so much as your math makes out, perhaps.

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680285)

A 20% failure rate of course would not have gone by unnoticed and MS would certainly not have been able to dispute it.

You might be interested in this article [itwire.com.au]: "According to some reports Xbox 360's continue to experience hardware issues. A recent query put to an Australian game retailer puts the figure at a 30% return rate."

However, reading further into the article it isn't very credibly sourced.

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

dup_account (469516) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679919)

mmm statistics.....

There is a bridge in DC. Some calculated the probability of a breakdown given the length of the bridge, amount of traffic, number of overall breakdowns, etc.... It was like .00001% probablility. And yet, there was a backup and tow truck out there (almost) daily because of the volume..

So it may sound statistically small, but it is still possible given how man 360s have shipped.

Math (5, Informative)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679939)

Odds of getting 11 Failed XBox360s given a 5% failure rate: 1 in 20^11 or 204,800,000,000,000 (204 Trillion). If we assume a 10% failure rate we have 1 in 10^11 or 10,000,000,000 (10 Billion). Given that there are only about 12 Million units sold, and assuming that this guy was the least lucky person, but there were no enviromental hazards killing his 360s (which is a dangerous assumption), We can estimate a failure rate of about 23%. The error rate and confidence ranges will need to wait until another post.

Re:Math (1)

biffyboy (834017) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680097)

Keep in mind the failure rate of the refurbished ones they send out is likely much higher. Im about to get my 3rd 360 - first one worked for a few months then went to the red lights of death mode. I got my second one and it worked fine, then no games came out for awhile and I spent most of my time playing Wii, and PC games. A couple weeks after playing Guitar Hero on my second 360 I started getting the Red lights and freezing 30-60 seconds in again. I hope this one still falls under warenty =( I think I got it over a year ago... it collected quite a bit of dust while I waited for some decent titles, and now that there are games that I want to play, it breaks. =(

Anding and oring (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680035)

You can work out some basic stats by adding and multiplying the numbers together.

If you want the chance of something and something else happening, then you multiply the two numbers. If you want one or the other then you add them together.

The chances of 11 failures at a 5% random failure rate?

0.05 * 0.05 * 0.05 .... 11 times

Basically, it isn't random, not even with MS. Someone's fucking over the machines.

 

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680135)

Uh, p = 1/(20^11).

Pretty nasty. Indicates that this guy is unlucky on an astronomical scale, or environmental factors are to blame, or a lot more than 5% of the machines are defective. (Inclusive-or's)

Probability of n particular people getting 11 straight defective machines: p^n. So 2 people is 1/(20^22). There are lots of pairs of people among the population P of XBox buyers, so the probability of any two getting 11 straight defective machines is (P choose 2) * p^2. Any n is (P choose n) p^n.

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

HappyEngineer (888000) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680201)

I don't know how to do the more complex calculation you mentioned, but if we assume a 5% failure rate and if we assume that every person with a failed box gets it replaced then the chance of getting 1 bad box is 5%, the chance of two bad boxes is 5% * 5% (0.05^2). The chance of 11 bad boxes for one person is 0.05^11. Apparently they'd need to ship 200 trillion boxes in order for this to happen.

Either the error rate is a lot higher (like 15% to 20% which is obviously not the case) or there are environmental factors here.

Obviously, there might be environmental factors combined with him being the statistically unlucky one. Perhaps he acted nasty to the ups guy one time. Perhaps his neighbor likes to experiment with tesla coils in the room next door. Perhaps the electricity in his neighborhood deviates too much from 110v on a regular basis.

(That last one happened to me once. The lights in my apartment dimmed and my receiver started clicking. I pulled out a multimeter and found that the wall sockets were putting out 60v. I just shut off the breakers for a few hours until the power company fixed whatever it was that was broken.)

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680475)

The chance of 11 bad boxes for one person is 0.05^11. Apparently they'd need to ship 200 trillion boxes in order for this to happen.

No, they'd only have to sell one, and then replace it eleven times.

Now, assuming they could maintain an average failure rate of 5% over the lifetime of the console, you wouldn't expect to see this happen again until more than 200 trillion units had shipped, but the one occurence could occur anywhere within the first 200 trillion unit interval.

Yaz.

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (1)

hidannik (1085061) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680221)

Some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest this:

According to various net sources, MS claims the X360 failure rate is 3%. At that rate, MS would have to sell 39 quadrillion units for the chance of having a customer with 11 successive failures to rise above 1/2. They'd have to sell 56 quadrillion units in order to expect to have such a customer.

I don't know how many units MS has sold, but I suspect it is somewhat less than that. Let's suppose they've sold 100 million. In that case, the failure rate would have to be about 18% to have a 1/2 chance of an 11-failure customer, and about 19% to have an expected value of 1 11-failure customer in 100 million.

I've seen suggestions on the net that the failure rate may be around 30%. That puts an 11-failure customer well within the range of possibility, even with lower numbers of units sold.

Or it could just be a single point of failure problem, where every unit he gets as a replacement goes through something that causes it to fail (for instance, as suggested before, a careless delivery loader). Another single point of failure could be that he got back his same unit, refurbished (or someone else's failure refurb). Refurbs have a higher failure rate than newly manufactured units. Or (and I am hesitant to blame the customer here) something about his environment could be hard on the units.

Re:Any statisticicians out there? (2, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680401)

(ignoring the "RMA pool effect" which makes you more likely to get a bad unit back)

I know you were looking for theoretical numbers that excluded this, but keep in mind that this is likely a high source of failure for this guy. Of his 11 failed XBox 360s, he received new ones some of the time, but some of them (maybe half? from when I RTFA) were refurbished.

Reasons why refurbished products might have a lower MTBF:
1. Failure was just a symptom of a larger problem. Like, the solder paste used to build the PCB was a little dry, so the paste did not apply evenly or reflow correctly. The original return was for pins with clearly broken/poor solder joints, which were hand retouched. The person who receives the refurbished unit has to deal with all the other solder joints, which might be more susceptible to damage over time and with jolts and vibrations.

2. As another example of the failure being the symptom, perhaps a component in the power supply has an intermittent failure (like a damaged capacitor). When it fails, the voltage rail can temporarily spike. The original owner RMAd the unit for burnt ICs. I would hope Microsoft RMA would trace the root cause, but if they can't reproduce the intermittent failure they might not see it. The next owner could have the box fail in the same way.

3. Even if there was just one failure, and RMA fixed it, applying heat to a PCB always causes internal structural changes. Most PCBs go through two heat cycles (for top and bottom components). Each additional heat cycle wears on the board. After some number of cycles (assume 6 or 7 at best), the layers of the PCB will start to delaminate and there can be internal breaks on traces and vias. Microsoft RMA repaired the original bad chip, but the board was slightly overheated and the PCB separated. The second owner could find vias more susceptible to breaking with light shocks or vibration.

the power of suffering with fortitude (1)

Xjuan (827227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679627)

wow! this guy must has alot of patience, I would get berserk by the third one and smash the dam thing against the wall, would that void my warranty?

Glad I buy at Wal-Mart (2, Interesting)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679693)

I buy my consoles at Sam's Club or Wal-Mart. Broken 360? Drive to the store and exchange it. Not happy about getting 5th broken 360? Drive to the store and get my money back. No waiting for Microsoft to ship a working unit. No worrying about receiving a refurbished unit to replace the broken one (Some companies do this. Not sure about Microsoft). I personally came to this epiphany when people were discussing PSP dead pixel policies at several different retailers. People who bought from Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco or Target just took them back for exchange/refund. Costco is too far away and Target usually has a shorter return window so I'll go to Wal-Mart or Sam's.

Re:Glad I buy at Wal-Mart (1)

pianoman113 (204449) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680169)

As fashionable as it is these days to rip on "Big-box" retailers, I've generally had great customer service from them. While it seems price differentiation is vanishing between large and small shops, the economies of scale involved in accepting returns may be a huge asset to large and very large retailers.

Strangely Apt Quote... (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679717)

When I first read this, Slashdot's quote at the bottom of the page said:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.

Eleven in a row is to unlikely (1, Insightful)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679731)

The odds are just way to low for all those broken Xboxes being manufacturing faults. Even if 10% of all Xboxes Microsoft ships are faulty (which they aren't) the odds of getting eleven in a row is 0.1^11 = some really extremely super-duper small number. You are much more likely to win the lotterly many times in a row than that happening. The reason why he gets all the bad Xboxes must lie somewhere else. The delivery company might handle them badly. Poor Justin might live in an extremely dusty house with lots of cats and dogs. The power network in his area might have severe problems with power spikes. All more plausible explanations than eleven factory errors in a row.

5 natural 20s (1)

coren2000 (788204) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679831)

A friend of mine rolled 5 natural 20s in a row once, followed by a 19.

Re:5 natural 20s (1)

clem (5683) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680021)

Let me guess, they were all non-vital diplomacy skill checks, right?

Re:5 natural 20s (2, Insightful)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680051)

That's a one in 3,200,000 chance.

The OP's is a one in 100,000,000,000 - and that's assuming a truly massive failure rate of 10% globally. If you assume a 5% failure rate, the chance plummets to one in 204,800,000,000,000. That's one in 204 trillion.

There's clearly some common factor here, whether it's the UPS delivery man or keeping the XBox and its power supply under an overturned cardboard box while running.

Perhaps even purposefully. I can definitely see the motivation to go through so many XBox units as to get your name on the front page of Digg, Slashdot, and 1up.

Re:Eleven in a row is to unlikely (1)

Lord_Ultimate (1049752) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680005)

I hate M$ as much as the next guy, but sometimes odds do crazy things. For example, my ex-gf was playing hold-em last night and won a hand. It was the 2nd ever straight flush she'd ever had, AND the other guy that went all-in against her had 4 4's. Any guesses what the odds of a 4 of a kind AND a straight flush showing up on the same hand? I don't know, but I'm sure it's not good. I will bet against a second person showing up saying they've had 11 bad X360s in a row, though.

Re:Eleven in a row is to unlikely (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680295)

### Even if 10% of all Xboxes Microsoft ships are faulty (which they aren't)

What makes you think so? Given all the anecdotal stories about broken XBox360s, friends with broken ones and friends of friends with broken ones and very few stories of people actually being happy with their one and never heard about a fault, I would bet that the failure rate is at least that high if not higher.

One issue that might screw the numbers up however are the refurbished units, assuming that the repairs actually didn't fix the core of the problem, many of those failing XBoxes might be the same units, they just fail over and over again by different customers after being refurbished and send back.

Anyway, no matter if this story is true or not, there is no denying that XBox360 failure rate is way higher then it should be and unless Microsoft starts to talk a little truth in that aspect I am not going to buy one anytime soon, even so I would like to.

my 1st 360 died within 30 minutes of turning it on (1)

maynard (3337) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679743)

2nd one keeps working, though I don't play it as much as a kid would. Using three separate - and each critical - fans for venting heat is unbelievably boneheaded stupid. As was placing the DVD-ROM drive right above the hard disk. But, as a PS3 owner too, I have to admit that the damn thing has the games. And it plays them well. Dead Rising and Gears were worth the price alone. And Command and Conquer has been just silly amounts of fun. I'd say that unless you really want Blu-Ray for movies, the 360 (with an extended warranty) is more than enough horsepower, and has the better games to boot.

Fake (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679811)

Its fake. The guy sounds american and we all know that MS Techsupport outsources to India...

Plant of death (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679827)

Were they all made at the same plant?

Other factors... (5, Informative)

Julius X (14690) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679829)

I troubleshoot home theater electronics all day, every day. I have to wonder if something else is at work here. At least one person asked, what do these eleven units all have in common? The same working environment. There are plenty of Xbox 360s out there, and they certainly all aren't failures, and the chance that this one person has received every part from the 1-2% of doomed 360s out there that are failures would be nearly statistically impossible.

More likely is that some other factor is causing this, perhaps the powerstrip he's plugged it into has a badly grounded outlet, or perhaps the main outlet itself - or possibly any of another hundred or so electrical issues there could be - such issues tend to plague complex electronics in very odd ways, and not the same way every time.

If I were at Microsoft, I'd replace his unit, but advise this guy he needs to get some help looking for what other factors could be causing these malfunctions.

Re:Other factors... (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679961)

If I were Microsoft, I'd have someone replace the guy's machine in person and quietly send along an electrician to check the voltage and line quality at this guy's house. It sounds expensive, but it's much less cost than the cost of fixing bad publicity...

Re:Other factors... (3, Informative)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680223)

FTA:

Problem: none of his other systems (not to mention his several computers and other electronics) have experienced any major problems, and his father is, coincidentally, an electrician. The specific suggestion was brought up by Microsoft customer service again after the eighth console repair. This time, just to be certain, Justin had a contractor come to the house and check the wiring, where he was told that everything was in order, with no abnormalities in voltage of any of house outlets. Nevertheless, customer service has continued to suggest this as a potential cause.

Bah (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679871)

In spite of all of this, Justin is still behind Microsoft's console. "I still like Microsoft, as much as that may astound people. There's no real hate towards the company for what I have experienced."

This isn't the hate-filled microsoft bashing I came here to read, damnit.

I'd call this a comedy of errors but... (3, Informative)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679903)

I used to work at Western Digital in their support area and we saw the same thing happen to a tiny minority of users. I'm not excusing Microsoft for it, but for some reason it seems to happen to every company. We'd have someone have a head crash, 2 DOA's, 1 week working then dead, etc. It was strange but there was really nothing we could do about it. 99% of our replacement orders went out and worked flawlessly with no hiccups in the process but for whatever reason there's a certain percentage that are doomed for multiple failures.

The real tragedy here is that Microsoft management didn't catch this case long before this and flag it as a priority fix case - send him a new machine, have someone deliver it to his house, whatever it takes to get the problem fixed. The cost of doing that is FAR less than the cost of fixing the amount of bad publicity this will generate.

The day MS makes a product that doesn't suck (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679909)

It will be a vacuum cleaner.

Justin ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19679923)

GET OUT MORE!

Shitty wiring? (0, Redundant)

rocjoe71 (545053) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679927)

Maybe the guy's equipment is always failing because he's in need of a power conditioner.

A/C, old refrigerators, big TV sets, space heaters, guitar amps can all do nasty things to electrical equipment that is running in the same room/from the same outlet.

Shitty grounds.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19680121)

You left out ground loops.

Despair.com.. (2, Funny)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19679991)

Quote that may help him "The only consistent feature of your dissatisfying relationships is you." What else in your life do you break, buddy-pal-friend-o-mine?

Let's see a photo of his installation (1, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680003)

He probably has the thing in a hot spot, like on top of a big CRT monitor, in an enclosed space, in a location with air vents blocked, or next to a hot air vent. We know the XBox 360 has marginal cooling.

Re:Let's see a photo of his installation (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680211)

Indeed. When I borrowed my friend's 360 for a week, every time I would remove the DVD from the drive, it would actually be hot to the touch. Not enough to burn me, but enough that I didn't much like holding it, even by the edges. I bought one of those shitty fans for the back, then threw that away and rigged up a system to blow air by the system to help the fan a bit. (Helps my Wii, too, which gets stupidly hot while it's off.)

It's disgustingly easy to overheat a 360, especially if you put it in -any- enclosed space, or too near it's power brick.

The fact that most people don't do 1 of the 2 is some God-given miracle, I think.

Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19680039)

This has been sitting for a while with no posts.. What gives?

This one Goes to... Eleven?! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680053)

I admire his staying power. If a product proves to be that defect ridden I start getting pissed off the second time it breaks. If the third one went I'd probably ask for a refund and go buy a different console. Or, if I'm really pissed off, I ask the manufacturer of the defective product for a refund and a wii. Make them buy it. Just grind that humiliation in there...

advice for Xbox 360 owners (1)

senahj (461846) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680115)


Always put the box on a hard surface.
If you've gotta lay it on a carpeted floor,
put a book or a magazine under it to get the
bottom of the box up out of the carpet.

Don't let dust accumulate in the vent holes
or fans -- use a vacuum to suck it clean every
once in a while.

Re:advice for Xbox 360 owners (1)

Tol Dantom (1114605) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680539)

My brother had a nice space on the wooden stand under his TV that had lots of air on all sides and he still got the ring of death after around 10 months. If it really is faulty environmental conditions then the 360 is way too touchy and its ridiculous to expect consumers to comply.

MS deserves praise. (4, Insightful)

Cervantes (612861) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680155)

I'm sure I'll get flamed to heck for this, but really, MS should be praised for this.
Really, honestly, if a customer bought something, then brought it back broken, 11 FREAKING TIMES in a row, do you really think most retailers would keep accepting it back, over and over again? Eventually they'd be blaming it on you and refusing to take it back. Instead, MS doesn't seem to care much that this guy has the worlds worst mean failure rate, and aside from getting him to check his wiring, they keep sending him new ones without much question. My personal experience just trying to return my malfunctioning video card twice (well, the first time was the repair return, the second time was because they sent me back the exact same physical card, without repairing it first) tells me that most retailers are complete asshats, and will happily blame you if they can possibly get away with it.

Many other retailers would cut you off or make you start paying, and you wouldn't really have much success complaining "hey, I broke my xbox 10 times in a row, and now they won't send me a replacement for free!". MS keeps pumping them out. They get a +1 in my book for that.

A bit farfetched... (0)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680235)

I suppose this guy could have had a seriously bad string of luck. However, I would have given up on the console after the second, maybe third system failure.

I believe that some Xbox360s have had problems. I'll even believe the console has had a higher failure rate than the competitors. But 11 in a row? I can't see how this isn't anything but an issue with the user. The fact that Microsoft has replaced all these units implies to me that they're trying to avoid bad publicity.

This reminds me of the case in the 80s when certain Audis were supposedly spontaneously accelerating the second the owner put the car in drive. The same thing has happened with a few other cars. It turns out that what was really going on was that the owner unknowingly had the foot on the gas when they dropped it in drive. Think they've got their foot planted on the brake they keep mashing the pedal down. The source of the problem was that the pedals in cars prone to this were set a few inches to the left of those found in most cars. So people would instinctively put their foot where they expected the brake and ended up on the accelerator.

So I'm left concluding that this guy is doing something wrong. Maybe he's sticking his Xbox360 in a cabinet and keeping it closed. Maybe he lays stuff on the unit. I wouldn't be surprised. I've known people who've kept cloth draped over the vents in their monitor because they didn't want it to get dusty.

This could be a bad case of ineptitude on the part of Microsoft's service department, but this is a bit of a stretch.

Probably ... (4, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680459)

The replacements were refurbished broken X-boxes in the first place, which didn't get the same quality of service check on the way out the door as a new one might.

Who's to say, but it would explain why the replacements have been buggy, where a new one might not be.

Then again, maybe they were all new.

Bad power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19680491)

I rent a house and we had to start using a different room, and this room has burnt out a playstation e-eye (?) camera, caused a fluorescent light to catch smolder and spark, killed a tv, and burns out light bulbs very fast (sometimes within a day). There is obviously *something* wrong with the power, but the kill-a-watt reports everything is normal, the wiring seems to be connected properly... ground is connected, red and black look correctly wired up. And some electronic devices have worked fine for a long time in this room.

Maybe there's something intermittent, or some induction from nearby high voltage power lines?? Idk, but I would bet money on something similar happening to this guy rather than Microsoft's hardware being that bad.

Why is this so hard to believe? (1)

madpianoskills (783131) | more than 6 years ago | (#19680541)

Several people have calculated astronomical odds against what Justin is claiming (though, anyone who RTFA knows about the tech support call he recorded, verifying his claim). However, even if the odds are seven hundred and twenty one bajiggillyillion to one, there is still that one.

It's funny - if one person claims to have these problems, no matter how well documented, many don't believe him. If twenty people claimed the same problems, the same doubters would be cheering for a class-action lawsuit.
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