On Thursday 28 February Amazon delivered my shiny new Xbox 360. On Saturday 2 March it exploded during Gears of War. Okay, exploded is a little dramatic, but it froze and then when I tried to restart all I got was the 'ring of death'. The three red lights that scream "You've had it, I'm bust for good."
I would estimate that I'd had less than ten hours total use out of it and probably less than five of actual gaming. As you can imagine, I was gutted.
The next day, once I'd stopped crying, I emailed Amazon to tell them it was broken. Within minutes I had a reply saying "we'll send you a new one". On Monday 4 March, just 24 hours after I told Amazon about the problem, a new 360 arrived.
Credit where it's due, Amazon is one hell of a retailer. I've never experienced customer service like this before from any company. It's harder to persuade high-street stores to take back broken things, even when you're standing in front of them with your bust electrial item and a receipt. Amazon is also incredibly chilled about the return of the old unit. They give you a label to post it back, they pay for everything and all you have to do is let the courier know what day to come.
One company I won't be so complimentary about is Microsoft. Like many people, I was aware of the ring of death issue long before I bought my 360. I just assumed it would never happen to me. Looking at the Xbox, I have a feeling it's because of the way the console is ventilated. Basically, at one end is a vent and at the other is the hard drive. If you stand your Xbox on its end, it's effectively blocking the vent. It strikes me this is poor design -- I couldn't say for sure it's the cause of the problem, but it certainly won't help.
The good news is my new Xbox seems fine, although I haven't been brave enough to play Gears of War again...