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The X-Clamps on the Xbox 360 motherboard (Source: AnandTech)
Console service company Micromart will no longer repair Xbox 360 due to alleged design flaw

UK-based game console repair company Micromart has been fixing video game systems for over a decade. On its website it advertises that it will repair PlayStation 2, original Xbox, PSP and replace screens for other handheld systems.

Micromart, which used to repair the Xbox 360, recently posted a notice on its website that it “has now withdrawn from offering a repair service for the dreaded 3 Red Lights fault.”

The company states that, “This problem is endemic on the Xbox 360 console and the volume has made this repair non-viable.” Micromart will also no longer fix Xbox 360 consoles that display screen freezing problems. The company, however, will continue to support all other repairs to the consoles.

“We were seeing about 30 a week before we pulled the plug on the service,” said Micromart’s Jeff Croft to GamesIndustry. “We saw it over a period of several months and it was just getting worse. It began towards the end of last year. Once the twelve month warranty finished then we started to see more and more machines being sent in to be looked at.”

“The work we had done to the console lead us to believe that basically it was a fault with the motherboard and not something that could be resolved easily. And it wasn't going to go away,” continued Croft.

 “We're not taking that thing on board; we won't repair them. We originally did some work with it but it's labour intensive and it isn't really a feasible repair for us to undertake. We would probably end up charging GBP 100 [$202] for a repair and we still wouldn't be happy with the end result,” he added.

A recent investigation by DailyTech on Xbox 360 warranty returns revealed that up to a third of Microsoft’s latest console fail.

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RE: At what point...
By Oregonian2 on 7/3/2007 1:08:06 PM , Rating: 3
Nope, for multiple reasons.

One is that selling the console isn't big money maker, it usually is a loss leader. Planned obsolescence is something to make you buy a replacement, that's NOT what Microsoft wants even if they could.

If you've ever done MTBF calculations for a product (as an electronic engineer, I have for some products I've designed), it's a SWAG at best. It's very hand-wavy in terms of part specs and more importantly conditions under which even those numbers were made and how one corrects for the real conditions being different than that. About the only way to have accuracy is if one has a single part that has a really bad reliability so that it dominates, and even then only if it's well characterized for one's usage conditions. Trying to "hit" just-after-warranty is like trying to hit the moon with a bottle rocket. About the only way to do it would be to empirically modify the design using real failure rate statistics but the feedback loop is so slow the product would be obsolete long before being able to achieve the goal. Personally, my goal is to have the calculated be conservatively at least ten years and hope it's much better than that (my stuff might actually be used that long).

That said, consumer gear may tend to be made using parts where the maker says "MTBF? What's that?". May get crap, but still, it won't be a controlled-to-just-after-warranty failure sort of crap.

RE: At what point...
By mindless1 on 7/3/2007 4:51:36 PM , Rating: 2
There was no rational reason why others promoted the idea of it failing just after the warranty period ended. That was merely the point at which repair options shifted from manufacturer to 3rd party.

While it is unreasonable to think a manufacturer tried to make a hardware component fail at a given point, they can still willfully choose design, manufacturing process and parts of lower quality, not expected to last as long in a typical use. The lifespan of the product is expected to go down as they cut corners to maximize profits.

I don't mean to blame the designer and manufacturer entirely though, any moreso than we could blame any evolving tech for being imperfect. The rapid changes in the computing/gaming industry prevent adequate time to develop and debug. Unfortunately that's no consolation for the customer and IMO, at the very least the warranty period should be much longer on moderate to higher priced electronic goods.

RE: At what point...
By TomZ on 7/3/2007 4:57:05 PM , Rating: 2
If you think about the business model of the XBOX - why would they do that? They take a loss on the hardware sale in order to have as many customers with units so they will buy software, services, and accessories. Building a unit that falls apart after a year or two of use contradicts that whole model.

The only logical conclusion is that Microsoft and/or its contract manufacturers may have screwed up - it doesn't make sense that they cut corners on purpose.

RE: At what point...
By Belard on 7/5/2007 3:21:07 AM , Rating: 2
Well... perhaps they are designed to fail after a year? yeah, they could put some code in the XBOX that when you first turn it on - it starts its countdown to self-destruction... there is a computer in the Xbox360, afterall.

Not hard to do at all, and perhaps the early xbox models, the code was buggy and caused death too early ;)

ROD & overheating is the most I hear about Xbox360 - geez, theres about 10 different companies selling system coolers for xbox360.

How many for PS3? BTW: Sony says their failure rate of PS3 is under 1% - which maybe true.

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