OK, I'm officially on vacation (I'm lousy at that) but the weekend has been ripe with questions since the press coverage and Peter Moore's letter on Xbox.com.

"What do you think about the Xbox 360 warranty extension?"

If you missed it... see the Wall Street Journal coverage or the coverage on PC Magazine. And if you have seen the three flashing red lights of death, you have no doubt called into customer service to get help with your Xbox 360.

First off, IMHO, this is an example of how the Xbox group focuses on doing the right thing by customers. I have had it happen to one of our systems at home, and had a good experience to get the system exchanged (without noting my employer and pulling the "hey, I'm an employee" card). The announcement last Thursday to take a charge and extend the warranty period to three years (and to refund customers who previously paid for a related warranty repair) was a decision in the interest of the customer, IMHO. (All of this is IMHO, of course.)

Here's what has been announced, from Peter's messages: we're providing a specific warranty coverage extension to three years for any console that displays the three-red-light error message. If you get that, we'll repair the console, free of charge, including shipping, for three years from the purchase date. And if you already paid Xbox to get your unit fixed outside of the warranty period, Xbox will retroactively reimburse you if you had that problem and had paid to fix your box. There's a good interview with Xbox's Peter Moore by N’Gai Croal from Newsweek in which Peter said...

"Business is strong; we're going to have a good E3, but to cut to the chase, there's something we haven't done so well, and that's that the rate of repairs that have been coming in showing the three-flashing-red-lights error message has been, quite frankly, unacceptable to us. So we've decided to take some steps to take care of that."

That's a pretty plain approach to the topic.

To me, three years seems like a reasonable extension. I recall the only products I own with longer warranties are much 'simpler' products, such as the lifetime warranties on my computer memory and SD cards. My wife's Dell laptop at home has a four year warranty but I paid for that extension, and the actuaries out there estimate that I'll replace the computer with a new one before the warranty expires. Our cars have three and four year warranties. But I don't know of another consumer electronic product with an out-of-the-box warranty longer than a year.

We have a couple of original Xboxes at home -- one that the kids use and truly hammer -- still running strong (knock on wood). My expectation is that the Xbox 360 should last as long as these old units given we use them for so much more (DVD playback and Media Center Extenders) and probably longer. Our TVs and ReplayTV DVRs are still going strong long after their initial one year warranties, with some units on their sixth year of life. (Disclaimer: the DVRs all have new, larger hard disc drives.) 

If you need help with an Xbox 360 hardware failure in the US, call 1-800-4MY-XBOX for customer support, or dial 425-635-7180. (See http://www.xbox.com/en-US/support/contact for more details.)

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