I was midway through chasing down an egg thief in Spyro Reignited Trilogy on Nintendo Switch when I noticed my aim was completely off. I’d try to run towards the egg thief and steer Spyro to victory, and he’d go running off in the wrong direction. When I played Murder By Numbers, a similar thing happened — my cursor would run off on its own and keep moving after I’d pushed it.
As I noticed these things, I felt a growing knot in the pit of my stomach. Joy-Con Drift. After years of writing about the phenomenon, my poor Nintendo Switch Lite was suffering the same fate. And in the middle of a pandemic, when I’d been spending more time on my Switch than usual!
I knew I had to send it in for repair if I was ever going to catch my egg thieves, but I was dreading the prospect of being apart from my Switch. Plus, the whole repair process seemed really, really daunting. But I put aside my apprehension and sent my Switch away to the Nintendo Parts and Repair Store.
Now that I’m on the other side of the process, I can’t believe how easy it actually was.
If you’ve been following the Nintendo Joy-Con drift saga for a while, you’ll know we’re pretty lucky in Australia. Hearty consumer laws mean we’re well protected when it comes to repairing or replacing goods, and that extends to products that are technically ‘out of warranty’.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, goods must last a reasonable amount of time — and the vague nature of this description means consumers get some leeway when asking for repairs.
My Switch was at the year-and-a-half mark when it was hit by Joy-Con Drift, but despite technically being out of that one-year grace period, Nintendo replaced it with no questions asked and sent back a fresh new Switch in its place. (To be clear, I didn’t mention Kotaku at all or that I use my Switch for work.)
There was no faffing around, no back-and-forth emails. All I did was submit a repair form on the Nintendo website, package up my Switch, send it away and wait.
How to get your Switch repaired by Nintendo
If you’ve purchased a Switch or Switch Lite in the last two years or so, it’s likely Nintendo will repair your console free of charge. This does depend on your circumstances (i.e. if you caused the damage, you’re liable), but for matters like hardware failure or Joy-Con drift, the fix should be relatively easy.
All you need to do is head to the Nintendo website, click the ‘Send in a Repair’ button and fill in the provided form. After that, you’ll get an email with details about where to send your Switch.
Like any parcel, you should then carefully pack it (with bubble wrap and newspaper, if possible), label it with the provided address and send it off via your local postal service. You will have to pay for shipping to Nintendo (it’ll cost between $9-15), but you should receive it back in the mail with no further drama or cost to you.
As long as you include the provided details and send it to the correct address, you should have your console back within a few weeks. For me, it took a month — but that was due to the pandemic.
All I did was send it off and sit back to wait. There was no further communication with Nintendo outside of the initial email, and one day the new Switch turned up at my door.
It was the easiest, lowest effort thing in the world — and if you’re hesitating about doing the same, you shouldn’t. Really, it was the best repair I’ve ever had.
What you should do before you send your Switch off for repair
As easy as it was to get my Nintendo Switch Lite repaired, there were a few things I wish I’d known before I sent it away. If you’re planning on doing the same, there are a few things you should consider.
The first thing you should check before you send it is that the Nintendo Parts and Repair Store is open. Sadly, I chose to send mine away just as the coronavirus pandemic closed the repair store, meaning it took a little longer to come back to me than I expected. This wasn’t Nintendo’s fault — the store just ended up being shut right as my Switch was sent to them.
Still, it arrived at the warehouse and was kept safely until it could be replaced and sent back.
As of writing, the Parts and Repair Store is still closed, so you should hold off on sending your console until the pandemic eases. But once the service is back up and running, don’t hesistate to use it.
The other (arguably more important) thing is to make sure your game data is backed up on the cloud before sending your Switch off. Whether your console is being repaired or replaced, it’s likely Nintendo will wipe all your data from the system. And backing up your data isn’t as simple as just storing it all on a MicroSD card and putting it back in your Switch when you get it back. If the Switch is replaced or wiped, your console will detect the MicroSD as belonging to another system — and it’ll force you to wipe everything on that card, including any save data.
To avoid this, sign up to Nintendo Switch Online before you send your console away and manually back up save data for the games you want to keep playing. It’ll cost you $5.95 a month for the service, but it’s worth it to keep your save data safe. When you get the console back, all you need to do is access your cloud data and re-download it onto your fresh console.
Other than that, the process is fairly simple!
Nintendo is well aware of issues with Joy-Con drift at this stage and their repair policy is fairly lenient. A trip to the post office is the only real hassle you’ll encounter, and even then it’s not much drama. And while it’s painful being away from your Switch, playing games without the terror of Joy-Con drift is worth it. If you’ve been holding off on a repair for any number of reasons, reconsider once the repair store is up and running again. It’s such an easy process.