The family’s quest to get their Xbox 360 console repaired under warranty — which I first wrote about last week — ended Thursday after a full two months of frustrating calls, e-mails and a letter to the company’s top executives. A repaired console arrived at their home in the small town where the Iditarod Sled Dog Race ends via UPS delivery man Al Burgo (pictured).
Kim Galleher tried for weeks to get Microsoft to send her an empty shipping box so she could return her 13-year-old son’s Xbox 360, which suffered the Red Ring of Death, a hardware failure that cost Microsoft at least $1 billion through an extended warranty program announced in mid-2007.
The way it’s supposed to work is Microsoft sends an empty box, the customer sends in the broken console and a few weeks later, a functioning box arrives.
But that chain of events was disrupted by the simple fact that where the Gallehers live, there’s no house-to-house mail delivery.
Readers of my story on the family’s plight were familiar with what happened next, because it’s a common enough hassle for those living in small-town America, be it in remote Alaska or Preston in east King County.
In comments on the story and e-mails, they described the maddening back-and-forth of getting all sorts of companies, including Microsoft, Amazon and others, to ship a package to small communities where people get their mail only in a Post Office box.
The companies can’t ship the item to a post office box, so they ask the customer for a physical address for shipment via UPS or FedEx. But the companies’ shipping software doesn’t recognize the address because it’s not in the U.S. Postal Service database that the software is typically tied to.
Explaining this relatively obvious problem and then getting someone at the company to override the software and ship it anyway turns into a nightmare.
The Gallehers were contacted promptly by a Microsoft “advocate” last week after I sent the company an inquiry about their specific case. It still took some more explaining, but Microsoft went ahead and sent them a repaired Xbox 360 directly, instead of making them go through the process of shipping in the broken one first.