MY XBOX 360 IS FRIED AND “The Story of Ben”…

Friggin’ yay.  On this lazy Sunday, with nothing but copious levels of nothing to do, two fancy Cocco’s strombolis, and two Gamez ‘n Flicks games ready to be played (FIFA 06 & Ninety-Nine Nights), my roommate and I decided to spin up some 360 goodness.  I downloaded the Tony Hawk Project 8 demo first (EXCELLENT demo, btw, for those of you with working 360s; everything I wanted American Wasteland to be).  Upon launching the game, my 360 froze.  Thinking it was a buggy demo, I restarted my console.  Once getting back in there, we spun up THP8 one more time.  About 5 minutes into the demo, the 360 froze again.  This isn’t how I thought Sunday was going to go…

Thinking it was simply a buggy demo, I decided to dive into our healthy helping of rented games.  We fired up FIFA 06 (yes, for the achievements).  After wading through some painfully confusing menus, we finally got to the field, only to have the game lock up within 10 minutes.

Earlier in the year, I was having similar lockup problems, and it turned out to be a faulty hard drive.  (Not knowing this, I sent BOTH the console and the hard drive back separately, but that’s for another blog…)  I decided (at Rich’s recommendation) to pull the hard drive (after transferring Khidr’s gamertag to my memory card) and see if the hard drive went bad yet again.  Another 3 minutes of FIFA proved this to be untrue.

As sure as we were that the 360 was thoroughly shot, I wanted to test a game that I had previously seen working.  I spun up 5 minutes of PGR3, and completed my test.

After calling 1800-4MYXBOX, I followed the prompting to the “My system froze” leg of the IVR.  It asked me to try three different troubleshooting steps, including checking your system’s date and time.  Holding for a few moments more, I ended up speaking to Ben…in a word, wow.

Ben asked me for my name; once I spelled it for him, he commented that I sounded like a famous person, and informed me that he once spoke to Jack Black, but he obviously couldn’t verify that it was in fact Jack Black.  Deep, man…deep.

After some system issues (a few times on the call, Ben told me that his “server” was running slowly…), he finally found the account with my 360.  We proceeded to go through some inane and downright insulting troubleshooting steps, including, but not limited to:

– Checking the discs for scratches (yup, Tony Hawk’s Project 8 is a Marketplace download)
– Removing the Ethernet cable from the back of the console
– Clearing the cache (hold the “A” button down during bootup) of the hard drive.  Yes, I already had seen the console lock up with just a memory card.  But just in case, you see…
– Removing the A/V cable (“the one with red, blue, white, and yellow connectors”, which I assume meant the composite cable that I’m not using on my HDTV) and CLEANING THE CONNECTIONS WITH A LINT-FREE CLOTH.  The explanation for this was that the 360 is like a PC, and that if a PC video card isn’t plugged in all the way, it won’t boot, or might lock up…what?

After testing each one of these scenarios, and watching PGR lock up each time, he then asked us to put in a movie.  I don’t really know what this would tell us; would it not be so bad if I could only watch movies on my game console?  We watched the entire intro of Star Wars: Episode III (up until the Count Dooku encounter), and Ben declared time of death.  He put me on hold (I now have an intimate knowledge of the Xbox Support trance hold music), and came back to let me know that he had “the worst news”…we would have to send the console in.  After accepting defeat, I was then informed that his “server” still wasn’t working, and that I would have to call back later today or tomorrow to get my confirmation number.  I asked to be transferred to someone who could set up the repair order, and after putting me on hold again, Ben discovered he could now complete the order.  Magical.

I was told I would have to box the console up myself (last time I sent in my console, I was sent a box???)  I wrote down the return address and my confirmation number (Episode III locked up RIGHT there…insult, folks, on top of injury), and bid Ben a fair afternoon.

Thank goodness this whole ordeal happened before the end of November, when my newly extended one-year warranty would be expire!  I SO hope this turns out to be a quick fix…

Anyone have any fun stories about Xbox returns?

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