Returning An Xbox Elite Controller Is A Piece Of Cake

Returning An Xbox Elite Controller Is A Piece Of Cake
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Something awful happened to me on the weekend: my Xbox Elite controller broke. Well, sort of broke. It still technically functioned, but the right stick was no longer operating as normal. It refused to centre. It was stuck in place slightly to the left, or slightly to the right, or if you wiggled it around sometimes it’d just get stuck on the extremities.

But this is a $200 controller. It’s supposed to take more than a few months of hard labour. So I decided to wander into Sydney’s Microsoft Store to see if I could get it repaired or exchanged. Thankfully, the process was a breeze.

The gameplan was pretty simple. I put the Elite controller with all its bits and pieces — except for the USB cable, because I forgot and left it at home — in its carry case. I didn’t take the original box: I figured it’d be easier to just unzip the pouch to demonstrate what was wrong with the controller, rather than having to take the box apart in the store.

On top of that, it was raining at a decent clip too. I’d forgotten to take the umbrella from my desk, so anything that made the process as easy as possible was fine by me.

The Xbox Elite’s carry case

I walked into the store just after lunch time and stood next to two massive screens showing off the Xbox One. Two blokes were playing a game of FIFA 16 on four incredibly laggy screens, while the next set of screens was patiently sitting on the Xbox dashboard.

After a minute, one of the staffers came up to me and asked me if they could help. He was holding an Xbox Elite controller at the time, which was wonderfully convenient. “Excellent,” I said, “you’re holding just the thing I need help with.”

At that point, I took my Elite controller out of its case and then provided to explain the problem. I moved the stick around, suggested that the spring underneath the bearing had probably snapped; I wasn’t brave enough to take apart the Elite when it broke to identify the true culprit.

The store assistant then followed my lead, compared it to the one he was holding, and agreed: yup, my controller was a bit buggered. “Well I can replace it for you, would that work,” he asked?

Damn straight it would.

Image credit: Gizmodo Australia

I didn’t have a paper receipt on hand: I’d purchased the Elite controller through the Microsoft Store online, taking advantage of the free express delivery. That seemed to be a bit much for the Microsoft Store’s database, as it wasn’t able to locate me as a customer even though the receipt went to the same email as my Microsoft account.

Fortunately, all I had to do was bring up the receipt on my phone. The assistant looked to make sure my name and email address was the same one and that I wasn’t trying to be dodgy. Satisfied that I wasn’t, he grabbed a new Elite controller box from the counter and proceeded to manually process the exchange.

It was a wonderfully relieving experience, since I’d seen some suggestions online that Microsoft were less than helpful when it came to returns or exchanges for the Elite. I was also pretty unclear about how the process would work in person as opposed to the Xbox Online Service Centre.

If you’re getting your controller serviced via the latter, you’re not meant to send any of the removable parts in. “They will not be returned to you,” Xbox’s support page warns. “Keep all the removable D-pads, paddles and thumb sticks. You’ll receive a replacement controller without these parts, so you’ll need to use those original parts with the replacement controller.”

With that in mind, it’s better to handle exchanges and replacements in store. The whole process took five minutes, and would have taken less if a store manager didn’t wander over to ask the assistant to do something on his break. That ended up in a third round of playing with the broken right stick, but given how easy the process is I wouldn’t have minded if the whole store wandered over for a peek.

Regardless, the experience was worth it to know how robust Microsoft’s support for the Elite controller is. It’s a $200 piece of tech. That’s almost half the price of a brand new Xbox One, sometimes more if there’s a good deal. If you’re going to spend that much — or you already have, for a Christmas or birthday present — you don’t want to be screwed around when it comes to getting it fixed.

And Microsoft didn’t do that, for which I’m grateful. Now I just need to avoid the horrendous ignominy of stepping on the bloody thing again.


  • I busted a 360 controller after 3 months but didn’t have the receipt. Bought another one from EB and just put the faulty one in the box and got an instant replacement. Nowadays I don’t need to do that because EB keeps all my transactions against my card

  • I had the exact same thing happen to mine last night. Hopefully EB feel the same way as the Microsoft store.

    • I had my original day one controller fail a little over a month ago, similar issue but my character in Fallout 4 kept nudging forward off ledges, got worse when it started going up in menus. Went to EB to ask about it and he said bring it in and they will swap it out. So I did that and a straight swap. They looked me up on my EB card. Pretty easy. Only issue is this one doesn’t say Day One, but hey relatively simple so Kudos to EB.

      However the Microsoft Store is only great if you live in Sydney. I got a Band 2 from Sydney and I live in QLD. It recently had its 2nd failure the first of which happened within a week and was never fixed as the Microsoft store said the only way to swap it is to return it in store in person. I couldn’t ship it at all as it wasn’t available from the Online Store. The first failure had to do with massive issues with the step tracking, I persevered.

      The second failure was more of a deal breaker, there is some circuitry that goes past the bulk of the band into the strap, it acted a fulcrum and the strap tore against it. A design fault, now they will accept it via post as its available online but 5 phone calls and 7 BUSINESS days with an escalation just to receive the shipping label to send it down. I received an email this morning. My replacement has been shipped, however when you log in it only says its shipped. No tracking or shipping details to track the replacement. Very disappointed with the service I have received from the Store.

  • Wait wait wait – you stepped on the controller and then expected Microsoft to replace it? Good on them for doing so but I hardly think that falls under simple “hard labour” for a video game controller. Surely it should have been covered by your home contents insurance instead.

    • Expected? Not at all. My expectations were “I wonder whether I could get this repaired” — and was happy to pay, if necessary. But I didn’t have to, because I was offered an exchange for a new one outright. So I figured I’d share my experiences; for others that have problems (like the family pet chews the rubber up, some liquid falls in between the bearings and jams them up, hair triggers stop working properly) it might be worth knowing.

      • I don’t blame you, getting a free exchange for breaking something yourself is always the goal.

        I had one game (I forget which, was a new release at the time) that I was playing. My 360 got bumped (dropped) whilst the machine was on with the disc spinning. For some reason the game didn’t run after that, might have had something to do with a large circular gouge in the disc.

        I took it back to JB HiFi, said it was like that when I took it out the box. They looked at it for a bit, called another person over and the guy said something like “Yeah, that’s a really nasty gouge, something like that would have to be from the factory” and then they gave me an exchange.

        Moral of the story: If you break something take it back and try swap it for a new one.

        • Moral of the story: Have no morals


          Break something yourself, and hand the bill over to someone else. Yep, great stuff!

          • When the bill goes to some big faceless company that makes incredible profits then sure.

            Especially when the bill to them is more like $2 as opposed to $60 for me.

          • No. This is considered as a loss by the said company and the person who ultimately pays for this is the consumer, as the company hikes prices up to compensate for the losses. This also apply’s to theft.

      • Fair enough! Heh, re-reading my comment it came across a little harsh actually. Imagine I said it more nicely!

    • It’s not like Alex threw the damn thing on the ground and stomped on it after losing a life in match of Dead or Alive (like I have *blush*) – it probably fell off the couch and onto the floor, where feet usually are.

      Australian law covers goods for general use and acceptable quality. I think this falls well into the definition of regular use, especially considering they advertise and sell it as a “premium” controller and you’d expect a controller at that pricepoint to be able to take a few knocks.

  • …is a piece of cake “if you live in Sydney” ;). Honestly, I would have expected that showing your receipt at the store you purchased an item at would allow for an exchange etc. This is a very strange article in that there is a single Microsoft store int he entire country, how is it supposed to benefit any of the general pop outside of a super specific market…?

    • I definitely would have put that caveat. The fact that there’s a Microsoft store in Sydney makes this kind of thing relatively easy – just like when my wife’s iPhone stopped working about 3 months after we received it (no damage, just a defective battery). I walked to the Apple store which is a ten minute stroll from where I from work, let a Genius have a squiz, and walked out with a brand new phone half an hour later.

  • EB is a piece of cake with this as well. Took broken controller in (analog nub was popping up for lack of a better word), they gave me a replacement on the spot.

          • Actually they do! The laws state that you’re entitled to a refund/replacement in store, even if the only proof of purchase you have is on your bank statement. They also can’t require that you have packaging or that it’s in resaleable condition, or fob you off to the manufacturer either, and if they do really need to handle it for you on your behalf.

            There really isn’t much wiggle room to make it painful aside from breaking the law.

          • Mostly correct, but they do not have to provide you with an on the spot refund/replacement. Technically the product needs to be ‘assessed’ to determine the nature of the fault (which in a lot of cases means sending the product to a service centre).

            Once the fault has been confirmed and identified…THEN you’re entitled to your choice of repair/replacement/refund (assuming it qualifies as a major fault).

          • Also pretty sure a bank statement isn’t really enough. If you buy something for $99.95 at EB and then return a game broken, the bank statement likely won’t specify the product. EB would have a tens of things at that price, so there’s no direct proof you actually bought that product on that day.

            Unless you had used an EB card or had the receipt. But a random bill of x price doesn’t prove you purchased that item on that date.

          • @dingus Yep!


            Other types of proof of purchase include:

            credit or debit card statement
            a lay-by agreement
            a receipt or reference number given for phone or internet payments.
            a warranty card showing the supplier’s or manufacturer’s details and the date or amount of the purchase
            a serial or production number linked with the purchase on the supplier’s or manufacturer’s database
            a copy or photograph of the receipt.

          • @Lucas

            Okay, so you may have to combine a bank statement with something else that specifies the product?!

            “Sometimes you may need to provide more than one of these things to support your claim – for example, when a credit card statement does not clearly itemise the product.”

            Had to reply here, wouldn’t allow any more replies.
            Thanks btw.

          • @dingus

            Sorry for late reply, went to bed 🙂 And yeah you’ve got me there, unless the statement is itemized (almost never), or unless you could maybe correlate their own records against the bank statement (eh maybe), you’d need something else as well.

  • Bought a second hand PS4 from EB, got home, plugged it all in, had a quick game…noticed that the left analogue stick would register diagonal right upward as down for some strange reason. went back in a day later, no box, just receipt. Clerk goes ‘that’s weird, it shouldn’t be doing that…but here’s another.’ Didn’t even check the receipt, but it was the same guy who sold me the console so I assume he just remembered me.

  • A buddy of mine had a problem with a surface pro 3 a few months back, he called MS support and the next day a package for him to send it back arrived. 7 days later a new unit turned up at his place.

    I suppose when you make $4 billion US every 3 months in profit ya don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • FYI guys, warranties under Australian law don’t expire when the retailer or manufacturer say, but are deemed to last a “reasonable” amount of time given build quality and price. You should have no problems replacing a stuffed Elite controller for up to 2 years after the purchase date in Australia. I suspect anything on Reddit complaining about 3 month warranties etc are in the US.

    • This issue with this is what is reasonable? The ACCC wont give you a clearly defined time, as what’s reasonable to one person isn’t always reasonable to another, on top of that the retailer and manufacturer reserve the right (and the ACCC is on their side with this) to assess the product to deem the cause of the fault and what the issue is. Most of the time they want to keep you happy so its easier and less stressful for everyone.

      But if you go in screaming about consumer law and reasonable length of time that’s a sure fire way to ring the alarm bells with the retailer that they need to take a closer look at the product.

      Best way to go about a faulty product is, remain calm and polite, act the way you would like to be treated, state what outcome you would like and if the current employee is unable to fulfil the request (its not their fault they have to follow procedure) , or you are unhappy with the outcome offered, ask to escalate the issue with the manager.

      Having a good experience shopping is 50/50 with the retailer and ive seen it to many time where a customer/employee let their feelings get in the way of making it easier on the other while they shop 🙂

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