redringdeathstar.jpgIn press releases and an open letter (see after the jump) Microsoft today announced that they are extending the warranty on the Xbox 360 to an unprecedented 3 years. What’s even more astounding is that it is retroactive and those customers who have already paid for repairs to their xbox will be reimbursed. The extended warranty only applies to those boxes suffering from the dreaded Red Ring of Death (RRoD), anything else is only covered for the original year.

Quoting from the press release:

“Any Xbox 360 customer who experiences a general hardware failure indicated by three flashing red lights will now be covered by a three year warranty from date of purchase. All other existing Xbox 360 warranty policies remain in place.

As a result of what Microsoft views as an unacceptable number of repairs to Xbox 360 consoles, the company conducted extensive investigations into potential sources of general hardware failures. Having identified a number of factors which can cause general hardware failures indicated by three red flashing lights on the console, Microsoft has made improvements to the console and is enhancing its Xbox 360 warranty policy for existing and new customers. “

With estimates of returns running at up to 30% and the UK’s service center already having to send consoles abroad to be repaired because they can’t cope, this move goes some way towards fixing the problem. Some changes have already been made to the hardware to deal with the overheating issue, and I would assume that they’re going to be incrementally fixing other issues as the opportunity arises.

Financial analysts predict that the expansion of the warranty program is going to cost MS somewhere in the region of $1bn, I find myself wondering if the cost of designing the console properly in the first place would have been anywhere near that amount. I can only hope that MS have learned a valuable lesson from this experience, and that the third iteration of the Xbox brand doesn’t suffer the same problems. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of MS generally, I won’t go into why as this is neither the time or the place, but I take my hat of to them for stepping up and taking this on the chin. They don’t go quite as far as I had suggested they should, but taking into consideration what a total recall and redesign would have cost, I wasn’t really expecting them to do that.

Open Letter From Peter Moore

To our Xbox Community:

You’ve spoken, and we’ve heard you. Good service and a good customer experience are areas of the business that we care deeply about. And frankly, we’ve not been doing a good enough job.

Some of you have expressed frustration with the customer experiences you have had with Xbox 360; frustration with having to return your console for service after receiving the general hardware error message on the console.

The majority of customers who own Xbox 360 consoles have had a terrific experience from their first day, and continue to, day in and day out. But when anyone questions the reliability of our product, or our commitment to our customers, it’s something I take very seriously.

We have been following this issue closely, and with on-going testing have identified several factors that can cause a general hardware failure indicated by three flashing red lights on the console. To address this issue, and as part of our ongoing work, we have already made certain improvements to the console.

We are also implementing some important policy changes intended to keep you in the game, worry-free.

As of today, all Xbox 360 consoles are covered by an enhanced warranty program to address specifically the general hardware failures indicated by the three flashing red lights on the console. This applies to new and previously-sold consoles. While we will still have a general one year console warranty (two years in some countries), we are announcing today a three-year warranty that covers any console that displays a three flashing red lights error message. If a customer has an issue indicated by the three flashing red lights, Microsoft will repair the console free of charge—including shipping—for three years from the console’s purchase date. We will also retroactively reimburse any of you who paid for repairs related to problems indicated by this error message in the past. In doing so, Microsoft stands behind its products and takes responsibility to ensure that every Xbox 360 console owner continues to have a fantastic gaming experience.

If we have let any of you down in the experience you have had with your Xbox 360, we sincerely apologize. We are taking responsibility and are making these changes to ensure that every Xbox 360 owner continues to have a great experience.

This will take a few days to roll out globally, and I appreciate your continued patience as we launch this program. I’ve posted an FAQ that should address some additional questions, and we’ll update it over the next few days.

I want to thank you, on behalf of all us at Microsoft, for your loyalty.

360 Extended Warranty FAQ
Press Release

Note: I know I used the Death Star image earlier this week but I like it, so sue me 😛

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