Yeah! My 360 Experienced the Red-Ring-of-Death – Just on Time!

xbox 360 red ring of death - rrod Yeah! My Xbox 360 finally experienced the dreaded Red-Ring-of-Death (RRoD). Over the last few weeks my 360 experienced random freezing-up while playing “Dead Space”. It crashed/froze more and more frequently until I couldn’t run the 360 for more than 10 minutes without a freeze. Many times it froze on the boot screen. Initially, I didn’t get the classic Red-Ring-of-Death.

[For an Interesting read on the causes of the RRoD see: The Truth about the Xbox 360]

[Update: On November 28, 2008 I received a replacement Xbox – see details below]

I called Microsoft support (1-800-4-My-Xbox – 1.800.469.9269), expecting to have to pay for a warranty repair.  Happily, while the support rep walked me through his trouble-shooting script, I experienced the Red-Ring-of-Death for the first time (see picture below – yes, that’s a Halo face plate on my 360 – sorry for the fuzzy picture). I was able to boot the 360 a couple more times after the first RRoD, but it inevitably failed to the Red-Ring-of-Death state within minutes or seconds.

Dale's xbox 360 with the dreaded Red Ring of Death (rrod) - just before 3 year warranty expired The reason I say “Yeah!” in the title, and why I’m happy about this, is because I was one of the ‘lucky’ one’s that purchased my 360 on launch day – November 22, 2005. Microsoft’s extended RRoD warranty lasts for three years from the date of purchase. My 360 RRoD’d just 19 days before the third anniversary of my purchase date. As a result, I qualified for the free replacement (see details below).

My Support Experience and The RRoD Replacement Process

The first time I called the support center I connected with a woman somewhere in India that couldn’t speak English well. I decided to call back rather than go through a half hour of translation hell. Thankfully the second support rep spoke English and completely understood my RRoD situation.

He walked me through the trouble-shooting, warranty process. He first took down all my info, including the 360 Serial Number. He asked me to boot up and shut down the 360 several times, asking what I saw, removing the face plate to confirm the specific three red-rings. He got me to remove the hard drive, boot, replace the hard drive, then boot up one last time.

He confirmed it was the Ring-of-Death problem. I was instructed to remove the hard drive and the faceplate and to ship the bare 360 back to Microsoft (no cables, power transformers nor chords need be sent back either either) via UPS according to the instructions which were to be emailed shortly after the call. Within an hour I received an email from Microsoft that included links to:

  • UPS return documentation and instructions;
  • a UPS mailing label with bar-code for printing out;
  • a receipt, tracking info and number; and
  • a map showing the closest UPS stores (one just a few blocks from me).

I put the 360 in its original box, printed off the documents, including the UPS label with bar code and walked to the UPS store. The lady at the counter knew exactly what to do. I didn’t have to fill out any paper-work at the UPS store. I simply handed over the box and the label/bar code. That was it.  I was in and out of the UPS store in less than a minute.

So, that’s it. I’m now waiting for a refurbished Xbox to arrive via UPS. The support rep said it would take two to three weeks. That sounds about right. That’s how long it took my friend to get his replacement for a similarly RRoD’d 360 last year.

No Receipt/Proof of Purchase Required

At no point in the process was I required to provide my original purchase receipt or a copy of it. I gather this was the case because, up until November 22, 2008, every 360, by definition, was purchased within the 3 year warranty period. After that, I expect Microsoft to start requiring proofs of purchase.

Falcon vs. Zepher Question

Does anyone know if Microsoft replaces RRoD’d boxes with 360’s that have the Falcon chip yet? Sites like this one and this one indicate that you know you have a Falcon-based Xbox if you see 175 Watts on the Xbox label (vs. the  203 Watts of the earlier Zephyr-based 360s). For obvious reasons I’d prefer the 65 nm Falcon-based units. But, since I am keeping my old power supply, which supplies the 203 Watts needed by the Zephyr, I’m doubtful that the old 203 Watt power supply could interoperate with the requirements of the 175 Watt Falcon? Any ideas?

Replacement Unit Arrives [Added November 28, 2008]

Twenty-five days after shipping my unit in for repair/replacement, on November 28, 2008, I received a replacement unit.

  • Replacement Unit: The manufacture date of the replacement unit is 2008-05-29. I presume it is a Falcon. I did not receive a new power supply with the unit. It appears to be brand new (not refurbished).
  • Much Quieter: The first thing I noticed was that the replacement unit was much quieter than the jet-engine sound coming out of my older unit. This is terrific. I can barely hear the replacement 360 when it is turned on. A welcome change indeed.
  • 1 Month Xbox Live Free: In the box was a card that gave me one free month of Xbox Live. Not much of a bonus given that my box was gone for almost a full month of my current subscription.
  • 3 Months Warranty: The replacement unit came with an additional three month warranty beyond the original 3 year warranty period that had just ended. The extended warranty ends on February 26, 2009 – 3 months from the ship date of the replacement unit.
  • Needed to Re-Download All Purchased Content: In order for my previously purchased Marketplace content (Halo maps, arcade games etc.) to be properly licensed I had to go to the ‘Downloads History’ part of the new XBox Experience Dashboard and re-download all previously purchased content. If you don’t do this, purchased content will not work when you are offline or attempt to access the content from another account on the same Xbox. Instructions on how to do this came with the replacement unit. This isn’t as daunting as it seems. You actually don’t download anything. All that seems to be downloaded is a new license. For each re-download, after 1% was downloaded, it showed download complete. it took only a few minutes to complete this process for all my previously purchased content.
  • Temporarily Lost: Normally the replacement process takes just 2 to 3 weeks. My unit was temporarily ‘lost’ for two weeks during this replacement process. Two weeks after shipping the unit in, I received an email from Microsoft saying they hadn’t received the defective unit – though I had shipped it out that day. A dozen phone calls and a week later they found it on the Don Mills (Microsoft’s Toronto repair center) loading dock. Turns out the original person I called (at the 1-800-4-My-Xbox number) typed the serial number into the computer wrong so the serial number of my shipped unit and the serial number that they had on record didn’t match. This resulted in my Xbox being shunted to a warehouse shelf for two weeks until this was sorted out. At week 3 a manager was assigned to the case, called me personally, gave me number to call him back at personally, helped find it and worked with me to expedite the repair and return process. While the repair/replacement process took longer than usual, I was happy with the quality of service to expedite things once the lost unit was found.