Now that the brief excitement about The Beatles becoming available on iTunes is over, I have your full attention to tell you the story of my resurrected XBOX 360 and the outstanding telephone support from Microsoft (though it had nothing to do with the resurrection).
So on November 12, 2010, my XBOX 360 caught a common “disease” like so many other consoles of that model before: three of the four lights on the front were lit red, indicating a general hardware error, better known as The Red Ring of Death. Of course that name didn’t come from Microsoft, but it was born out of the masses that experienced this error. I myself had only heard about this behaviour, but had never seen it happen anywhere. Then again, having to do with failing hardware almost every day, I had thought about the possibility that it might happen to my XBOX 360 as well, but hoped it would never do so.
I’m not gonna go into detail here. You can google this, look it up on Wikipedia, watch videos on Youtube, etc. I don’t blame anyone, because mistakes happen, or to be more precise: shit happens. I welcome Microsofts decision to extend the warranty of every single console of that specific model on this planet, therefore standing up and indirectly saying: “Yes, we fucked up.” Because nobody deserves my respect more than somebody who admits failure. Admitting failure is not a bad thing (like this guy demonstrates), but staying down and not tackling a failure is failure.
So I thought about replacing my XBOX 360 with a new slim model, not only because it would make less noise in our living room, but also because I thought about going all the way and getting a Kinect bundle. But that would involve spending a lot of money, which wouldn’t hurt my wallet that much, but still it would have been a considerable amount. So I dug up my receipt to find out, if the date of purchase lied more than 3 years in the past. Interestingly enough, my receipt said September 22, 2007, exactly 3 weeks outside the extended warranty.
“Tough luck”, I thought to myself, but tried out the online selfservice anyway. Entering my consoles serial number, it told me the warranty had expired in February 2009. That must mean it was lying around in stock somewhere at GameStop, waiting to go through point of sale, but the warranty clock was already ticking, despite not being in any customers hands already. The website told me, that if I disagree with this date, I could call customer service. So I did.
After a bit of number punching and waiting in line, I was greeted by Carsten. Knowing how it is to be in his position, I explained my situation in a clear and non-angry manner. Like expected, he looked up some of my information, said that he understands that my situation is frustrating, and explained that there is no wiggle room, even if it’s only 3 weeks. Fair enough, I asked him about the price of a repair and also how to transfer my data to a new console, should I purchase one. And this is where I give thumbs up to him and the supporters at Microsoft. Carsten was able to answer all my questions, give me exact numbers for anything to do with money and/or gigabytes, and remain relaxed all the way!
After this, I decided to look up a few auctions of classic XBOX 360 like mine, that would potentially cost less than a repair. But shortly after that, I was sure to find countless guides and tricks on youtube that showed how to repair a RRoD. Some of them were detailed, others were not. Some of them suggested opening the console and replacing the thermal paste and some screws, others did not. But all of the methods involved overheating at least the graphics processor in some way.
So I opened it up, staying grounded all the time (unlike all other electro-stupid people on the videos). Grounding yourself is important, dudes! Of course I broke the warranty seal, but it was worth it. At first, I just wanted to open and prepare my XBOX for thermal grease replacement, which I planned to get later. But after that and concluding from all the videos and different guides I had looked at, I decided to just go ahead and try overheating it without replacing the thermal paste, while the case was open. Sureley enough, that seemed to have sufficient effect already because after overheating (two red lights) and cooling off again, the green lights returned and my resurrected XBOX 360 proudly output the bold startup sequence on our 5.1 surround system and 47-inch TV!
I still have no idea what happened, but because hot material expands, I guess the overheating was to refasten some wire connection on the board that had broken, pushing and bonding it together again. Anyway, I’m glad it worked, though I have a bad feeling that this might only be a temporary fix. Let’s see what the future holds!