Microsoft Wasn't Ready for the Xbox One Disaster

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Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) had just a seven-day head start on Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) in this month's video-game war, but it might have a bigger lead than that in the battle of consumer perception.

Microsoft may seem to be downplaying the magnitude of the defective Xbox One consoles that hit the market this weekend, but it's clearly bigger than the software giant is letting on. I should know. I was one of the unfortunate early adopters burned by a buggy console that would spit out discs like a baby refusing to eat a jar of creamed peas. Every game or optical disc that I would try to insert would grind, crank, and stall. A quick online search let me know that I wasn't alone in having paid $500 for a console that can't read discs. 

Things only got worse when I tried to get the matter resolved. 

"The issue is affecting a very small number of Xbox One customers," Microsoft explained in a statement to GameSpot. "We're working directly with those affected to get a replacement console to them as soon as possible through our advance exchange program."

The program is fair. Microsoft sends out a replacement system first. The owner of the defective Xbox One then has two weeks to return the original system. That's the right thing to do, even if it means that Microsoft requires a credit card authorization of $500 to set the process in motion. However, if this problem was so limited, why was customer service so hard to get yesterday? Microsoft offers several options, but it turns out that the only way to execute this exchange is by phone, since Xbox "ambassadors" and the support staff manning LivePerson's (NASDAQ: LPSN  ) online chat interface can't accept sensitive credit card information online. You need to speak to an actual rep, and here's where Microsoft dropped the ball. 

I was shocked to see that the wait time would be "less than 512 minutes" yesterday afternoon. Microsoft calls you back, but it's still an insane amount of time to be left waiting for a resolution. 

The LivePerson chat session I opened up had an 81-minute wait, but the necessary phone support was more than eight hours for the callback. It wound up being closer to six hours, but even after getting called back I was on hold for another 40 minutes before just hanging up. Thankfully I was bailed out by a LivePerson rep who was thoughtful enough to call me to complete the service authorization by phone. 

There's no way Microsoft looks good when you're telling people that customer support is backed up by nearly nine hours. If the problems are within the expected range, then it planned poorly in staffing support so thoughtlessly. It's almost better to admit that there's a larger number of defective Xbox One consoles out there than the mere thousands being suggested. At least that way it doesn't look like Microsoft didn't care in putting up bare-boned support during its launch weekend. 

The problem only gets worse from here. If you were a parent stashing away an Xbox One until Christmas, are you going to risk gifting what could start as a $500 paperweight if it, too, has the broken drive? If you didn't get your hands on an Xbox One on Friday, how hesitant do you now have to be to overpay for one on eBay or Craigslist? Microsoft burned a lot of its most devout fans this weekend with the defective consoles and its slow response, but the real damage here is that Sony just became that much more viable as the console to beat this holiday shopping season. 

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Read/Post Comments (30) | Recommend This Article (36)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 1:15 PM, Drichter wrote:

    None of the launch day adopters I know personally have had this (or any other) problem.

    All have glowing praise for the system.

    It's a small sample size - just nine people - but given that the only two articles I've found at a cursory glance complaining about how terrible the launch issues are were written by this single author, I suspect they might be exaggerating the problem a bit in their outrage.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 2:39 PM, catfashionslayer wrote:

    " If you don't have any nice thing to say about Xbox one that over a million people love then don't write it."

    Thats pretty funny.

    What a jerk this writer is, trying to hurt the xbox's feelings like that!! How dare he say something bad!!

    I guess the xbox one also has human emotions. That is one heck of a product after all.

    I'm not sure if this writer is in possesion of a 'tiny brain' but with statements like that I am pretty certain about your brain 'somesome'. I really hope your just a kid with strong product loyalty.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 2:52 PM, TenaciousB wrote:

    If this is your opinion of a "disaster" what is complete Armageddon? When you run out of milk?

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 4:23 PM, moopert wrote:

    Why the hell does Microsoft expect consumers to tie up ANOTHER $500 on top of the 500 already spent just to replace their defective units? That seems unnecisary

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 4:43 PM, KenLuskin wrote:

    MUTLEY FOOL living up to its reputation for allowing childish people to write articles.

    The amount of TRASH that is being published on the internet is simply overwhelming.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 5:00 PM, VegasSmitty wrote:

    PS4 Blue light of death is alot higher then any MS problem.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 5:36 PM, Mtowne32 wrote:

    You're inferring that the long wait time is due only to defective machines. Where do you get that idea? There's a lot going on with the One so it's possible customer support is tied up because people simply don't know what they're doing yet. This really sounds like misguided anger towards Microsoft. Until both companies come out and say what their initial failure rates are I don't think it's fair to say that the number of defective machines is high simply because you had a bad machine. Furthermore it's pretty apparent the media was willing to sweep Sonys blue light of death under the rug but yet they're ready to go straight to Microsoft with pitchforks and torches...

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 6:01 PM, Chevyisajoke wrote:

    @VegasSmitty. Yes it is a lot higher... But no one is talking about that. I know a ton of people who bought the XB1 and reported no issues at all. The 4 people I know that bought the PS4, ALL OF THEM had defective systems. There is no issue with the XB1.... at all... Just Sony idiots crying because the PS4 can't handle the already unstable DDR5.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 6:09 PM, kalykrill wrote:

    That's funny. Did you have a problem with your consol and decide thousands of others had the same problem you did? You just might be one of the lucky few. PS4 had a few thousand that didn't work either. I know first hand that my Xbox One is running awesome, and not one of my friends have had any issues either. You sir, just got lucky

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 6:11 PM, TMFBreakerRick wrote:

    Just to be clear, there have been many Xbox One complaints beyond the defective optical disc drive BUT most can be remedied without having to exchange credit card authorization for an actual swap. That is why the customer support staff wait was more than 8 hours, and that's why this was NOT an isolated incident.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 6:37 PM, spinod wrote:

    It'll be just like the 360, they will use these broken consoles to add depth to their sales. They got caught two or three times including replacement 360's in their sales numbers.

    Plus MS keeps saying "its a small percentage" well how small? 10 percent? 20 percent? At least sony came out and said the PS4 issues were less than 4 percent.....

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 7:23 PM, Speedyboy wrote:

    Was this article written by a 12 year old? Every system that launches has issues. Some people have a problem with their disk players, many others don't. Mine runs fine as does my other friends. Things happen, get over it.

    The PS4 bricked for some people. I say the same thing to that as I do the Xbox One, things happen. They get corrected and life is good.

    Bottom line, stop your crying.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 7:46 PM, Darrgoth wrote:

    I've personally seen far more than 2 articles stating this by several different big game based companies.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 8:23 PM, symbolset wrote:

    Obviously they have a seriously large call center manned for this launch, and launch bugs are expected. This has been years in the planning and they knew they were going to sell a million launch day units back in September. To have problems that overwhelm such resources for nine hours, well, it's just not possible there were only 10 people seeing the problem, is it?

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 10:22 PM, FIXMComputer wrote:

    I'm sorry, but how is that that you'd be willing to say that the number of One failures is irrelevant while you simultaneously admit the customer waiting time for support is 8 hours? 8 hours is UNACCEPTABLE nomatter what the support issue is. MS has completely bungled this roll out in terms of making adequate customer support available. Apparently MS has vastly higher numbers of failing units or higher numbers of customers who require "help" with what should be an easy to use game system. Either way it says bad things about Microsoft. Sony has not to my knowledge suffered such inexcusable wait times for reaching customer support for PS4, and they also don't require $500 ransom in order to get the problem resolved.. That's two bad marks for Microsoft. Customer support has never been their forte and obviously they have continued to carry on this bad tradition of quality in service is job none.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 10:47 PM, Candelas33 wrote:

    I plan on getting an Xbox one in about 4 months when they have worked out there problems I had bought the Xbox 360 when it first came out an also went through 3 of them in the 360 life span where my first ps3 still works like the day I unboxed I did go get the ps4 on launch day with a ton of my friends and none of us had problems so congrats to Sony on another well built system Xbox needs to stop putting out poorly built units just because there name is Microsoft and people will buy just because of the name

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 11:37 PM, techy46 wrote:

    Blah, blah, blah! MS shipped over 1 million devices so if they had 99.9% success they would still have 1,000 bad devices. Sony's had problems too and so have every product Apple's ever shipped. You Fools should find some better to blog and comment about.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2013, at 11:49 PM, gamedude wrote:

    you're the FOOL that bought one. me, I know to wait b4 buying microsoft's junk too early. besides the Kinect is a deal breaker

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 12:35 AM, Vitabrits wrote:

    Thankfully, Microsoft nor Sony are a six sigma company or it would lead to lots of heads rolling.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 1:04 AM, deputyspade wrote:

    Typical Microsoft crap! It appears they are trying to downplay their high failure rate of the xb1. Here is a post kotaku made showing it is a big problem.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 1:37 AM, freezy23 wrote:

    I think the main point is that MSFT blew it! Their call center should have triaged incidents like this to the top.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 1:40 AM, m7p wrote:

    Haha, its hilarious to hear you xbox lovers try to defend microsoft even after the pathetic 360. It's obvious you didnt own a ps3. I owned 2 xbox 360s and both ended up with disk tray problems and disk reading problems after about 3 months for one and 5 for the other, not to mention the graphics, user interface and quality were inferior to the ps3. Both don't work and are currently sitting in their original box in my closet. After the second xbox i bought a ps3 that i have owned for 3.5 years with absolutely no problems. User friendly, wayyy better graphics, and wayyyy better quality. Anyone who tries to make the argument for xbox 360 over ps3 obviously did not own them both. As for the newer systems, of course there are going to be bugs and problems with both. Thats why Im sticking with my 3.5 year old ps3 until the gen. 2 ps4 comes out. Microsoft just doesnt get it these days.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2013, at 12:46 PM, ewro wrote:

    Every company makes mistakes, but it's how they take care of the customer when mistakes happen that is the difference.

    A 512minute wait is ridiculous.

    Asking for another $500 on top for a repair is ridiculous

    Lying about the extent of the problem is ridiculous.

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2013, at 5:20 PM, zunguri wrote:

    Analysis based upon the anecdotal whining of a single Fool is worthless.

    It would be better to have less new content than this worthless content. To, please exercise more care in editing. To the author, please grow up.

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2013, at 6:20 PM, RedSoxFan1001 wrote:

    The bad XBoxes were probably connected to Obamacare!

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2013, at 6:30 PM, SonicFoolAz wrote:

    Your experience is your own... we also purchased one and have no issues and the TV aspects of the device are really nice. It's literally now how we access all things TV.

    Sounds like a bad unit... given that we live in the day of everything being made in china as cheaply as possible and companies not pushing quality control, the rate of poor quality control is epic across pretty much all consumer products..

  • Report this Comment On November 28, 2013, at 9:16 PM, TMFBreakerOrion wrote:

    I read something about this yesterday...apparently some people are saying that if you turn the device upside down, give it a couple of moderate wacks, then turn it upright and try again it will fix the problem and get a gear or something back into place. No idea if it will work...can't hurt to try since it already isn't functional. :::shrug::: Would be interesting to find out if that DOES work. I make no claims about the accuracy of this. Do additional research perhaps.

  • Report this Comment On November 29, 2013, at 12:59 PM, wishdom wrote:

    This article is a personal experience used to titillate the reader. It kind of ends abruptly in a pitch for Motley Fool product. It is really kind of a typical bait and switch article, a bit too typical of MF articles. Hmmmm.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2013, at 2:22 AM, Rowants wrote:

    I still play with my Atari 2600 I got a long time ago. In fact, I still have the first electronic game I ever got, a 'pong' game from Radio Shack. My wife and I play it on the weekends. Lots of fun and neither of us feels any need to compete with the 'Jones' for the latest and greatest (and expensive) game unit.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2013, at 1:22 PM, Soakee wrote:

    Competing with the Jones' is not what it's all about. If you think the Atari 2600 is fun, you'd be absolutely hysterical with an XB1 or PS4. Times change, and so do video game consoles.

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