Customer Service Sucks For Those Inside The Gaming Industry, Too

Customer Service Sucks For Those Inside The Gaming Industry, Too

Console failures don’t just happen to the little people. No, they happen to gaming industry professionals, too, and we’re happy to report they don’t get a customer service batphone and valet replacement service just because they happen to work for a major publisher, as “Frank” does here. He gets to suffer through the same tale of woe as thousands of frustrated Xbox 360 gamers.

We were sent this and given permission to publish it without using “Frank’s” real name because his boss has, let’s say, a significant relationship with the console maker in question. Maybe it makes you feel better to know that people in a position of power or access share your experience or understand it. Maybe it makes you feel better to know that someone working for a large publisher is suffering through a console failure in his home. In either case Anger Management offers it here, verbatim, for your entertainment.

Day 0: I sit down for an evening of demon-slaying fun with Darksiders 2. As I’m wandering the Realm of the Dead, my Xbox 360 flips out and shuts down. Inconvenience, but nothing I’m not used to after a lifetime of gaming. I restart the console, jump back into my game, and it all happens again. Then the 360 suddenly shuts down and I see something extremely ominous — a single flashing red light. Fear grips my heart but I assume it’s a temporary blip and the console will be fine if I check back tomorrow.

Day 1: No luck getting the 360 to power up. Now I know what I must do: contact Microsoft Customer Support. Support departments are generally awful, but gamers know that Microsoft’s customer support sits in its own special area in the Seventh Circle of Hell. I decide to first go through an online agent because I assumed they would be a bit more savvy and easy to work with than phone support.

That was stupid of me.

After a two-hour conversation consisting of such oldies-but-goodies as “Unplug the console, then plug it back in,” and the cherished all-time classic “Try starting it up without the hard drive,” we came to an agreement that my console was indeed broken and would need to be sent in for repair. The most pressing concern is that as part of my job, I need access to this console. That’s a primary issue here, and one I’d like you to keep in mind for the duration of this rant.

The ensuing discussion was tougher than any breakup I’ve ever had. This was going to be a $US99 repair of hardware that failed through no fault of my own, thanks to the 0ne-year warranty for the Slim, as opposed to the three-year warrant for the more delicate Xbox 360 Pros and Elites. I pleaded for some kind of forebearance considering that part of my job requires me to have a functional gaming console, even if I didn’t play the “Well, I work for so-and-so harumph harumph harumph” card. The highly trained customer service professional gave me a case number and told me to call customer support if I wanted to continue the discussion. That’s it. No resolution, no further instruction, just “here’s your case number and goodbye.”

It’s a good thing there were no puppies nearby, because if there were I likely would have punched them.

Day 2.5: I get on the phone immediately with a customer service agent, lay out the situation and explain the predicament. At one point in the conversation we discuss the possibility of an advance exchange, where Microsoft will send me a “loaner” console while they repair my broken one. She promises to escalate my case and tells me I should expect to hear from someone in 3-4 business days. What a useful solution, and now I can get back to work! Thank you, Microsoft, for getting me back on track so quickly!

Day 3: I do not have a functioning console on this day.

Day 4: I do not have a functioning console on this day.

Day 5: I think you get the idea.

Day 6: Desperate, I turn to the famed Xbox Support Twitter team. The group claims to be the “Guinness World Record Holder: Most Responsive Brand on Twitter.” I tell them what’s up and after a brief back and forth they ask me to wait two more days for follow-up.

That is, indeed, a response. It isn’t a helpful response, but it meets the Guinness Book of World Records’ stringent criteria.

Day 8: No email, no phone call, so it’s back to Twitter. “Hey guys, no one ever called. Little help?” The response I got was to “wait until the end of the day,” because Microsoft Customer Support exists in a time zone you probably don’t know about where you can call someone nearly three full days after you say you will and that person will be cool with it. Doesn’t matter though, because no one ever called anyway.

Day 9: Called customer support (Did you lose my number? Are you playing hard to get? Call me maybe?) and am told their system is down so they can’t look up case numbers or really do anything but sit in their cubes and fantasize about having less-shitty jobs. OK, so they didn’t actually SAY that last part, but I was able to infer from context and tone of voice. I go back to the Twitter team and after four hours I’m told that despite being the Guinness World Record Most Responsive Super Action Happy Fun Team they can’t, in fact, really do anything. I’m told to call customer service again.

There is a great disturbance in the Force now. It’s as if a million faces were palmed and suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

Final entry: I call customer service and eventually discover the reason no one called me back is because my ticket was never escalated in the first place. The helpful agent I talked to over a week ago basically hung up with me, laughed at my despair and then decided to add to it by not doing the only thing she promised to do, which is pass the buck to someone else. It literally wasn’t even her problem anymore, she could have just sent me off to some other uncaring bastard and then gone back to her life of sounding as sweet as possible while not actually helping people.

The last thing I heard before my vision went white with rage was the new agent telling me “I’ll get this escalated right away and a specialist will contact you within — oh, dear [I swear she said this] — four days.”

I’m not sure exactly what happened next, I just know when I came to I was standing in a wooded area surrounded by bodies and what appeared to be the wreckage of a police helicopter. I heard armoured vehicles in the distance, but it actually sounds like they’re moving away. Man, I’d really like to get out of these woods, go home and play Darksiders 2. Oh wait, my Xbox 360 is broken, has been for a while now.

Well maybe someone will help me out; I mean, I’m in the gaming industry and need a console to do my job, surely they’ll help me get back on my feet right away and not waste my time, right?


Guys, why are you laughing?

Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Fridays. Let yours out in the comments.


  • I’m sorry, but if your job requires you to absolutely must have a console to do your job, why would you not go out and just get another one, and claim it on tax?
    Yes, the situation with MS wasn’t ideal, but I had no issues with getting my console repaired, and I too am in the games industry. I have a spare console here just in case.
    Like it or not, that’s my rant.

    • Exactly. Have backups of all critical hardware! If a console or screen or whatever dies and I don’t have a backup, I go out and buy one straight away, THEN I send the broken one in for warranty / repair… and voila, I now have a backup! Time is more valuable than most pieces of equipment in game development. It’s sometimes not even worth the time to chase up a warranty if the equipment isn’t very expensive, it’s cheaper just to buy a new one than spend hours with support, postage etc. I can’t stand people who don’t value their time and think it’s okay to spend the whole afternoon trying to get a $50 controller replaced! FFS, you just wasted half a day!

    • Yeah prob should have just bought a new one and saved your self the stress – than you could chase it up with them at your lesuire.

  • Expects better service because full time obfuscated job here gets same sla as rest of us. Hint buy a new console if you need for work or rent one….. #failgamerisfail

  • To be honest. Repair price of 99 you could buy a brand new Xbox slim console with no hard drive and accessories. You can just re use everything you had including your hard disc. Saves the trouble of transferring.

    • Sometimes I cbf with customer service as they have no idea what are they doing it saying at all. Just find the better solution yourself

  • Just like when you smash your car and wait a month for the fix, the smart option is to buy a 2nd-hand unit to get you by and then flog it off when the money or fixed item is returned.

    • Kinda, except in your example the smart option is to insure with a company that offers you “your choice of repairers”, then chose one that will give a courtesy car.

  • Yes this is Microsoft XBOX customer service I remember. I sent my 360 back for repair after twitter and phone calls when it was only 1 month old, I packed it up perfectly in its original box, its original plastic bags and cable ties, all beautifully packaged (because I keep my consoles well after their normal lifespan for my little collection room), and after weeks of waiting I get back an xbox in a cardboard box, no manuals, the headset looked a million years and was covered in grime, leaving me to believe I got sent somebody else’s repaired 360. When I contacted some very unhelpful, very heavily accented, nasally telephone support staff they told me it was my fault for sending back the box and accessories as the first telephone operator had told me to (send everything back to us in its’ box). I never got a call back like promised, they have the worst customer service on the planet. Their “most responsive brand on twitter” is great if you’re an idiot who wants to be patronised. I mean if you’re able to ‘tweet’ you’re probably tech-savvy enough not to need somebody to explain to you how to connect an HDMI cable. I’d recommend stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork, urinating on your old 360 and just go & buy another cheap & nasty piece of crap 360.

  • While I’ve never had to call MS support for a broken console, everytime I’ve had to call them for an issue, it’s been resolved pretty much straight away. Same goes for Sony and Nintendo as a matter of fact.

    I must live in this alternate dimension where customer service from major companies isn’t a complete nightmare 90% of the time.

    • What all the horror stories fail to tell you is that 9 out of 10 times (a stat i completely made up for the purpose of this response) the person calling the service department has an attitude that makes it harder to deal with them.

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