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Anyone who’s been following the news (or rumors, as Microsoft would have you believe) knows that I have not been having much luck with my 360. From the general Xbox Live problems that many people are experiencing to the disappearing achievements that I supposedly made up, things are not working the way they should. Microsoft apparently didn’t appreciate my whistle-blowing, however, because they’ve decided to shut me up by having my 360 clipped.

Before I go any further, let me clarify a few things. I love my 360. I love Xbox Live. It’s for these reasons that I get so upset when they don’t work. I don’t write these articles to bring unwarranted negative attention to Microsoft or the Xbox brand. I don’t do this to give the Sony fanboys more ammunition and perpetuate the flame wars. I don’t just make stuff up in the hopes of generating attention for our site, or me in particular. I don’t do this just for the money.

I write these articles because I’m unhappy with the state of the 360′s world. If a horde of people were made aware of the problems the 360 is having, especially if it lets them know they are not alone in their Xbox woes, then perhaps Microsoft would find the proper motivation to actually fix them (the problems, not the people). I write these articles to let everyone know that I will not just sit around and let Microsoft (or anyone else) pretend there is nothing wrong when there very clearly is. Public outcry is a powerful force.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me continue.

About two weeks prior to writing this article, I wrote up a a nice little piece about Xbox Live’s service troubles.

I quickly followed that up with an article about why I love Xbox Live, where I sarcastically pointed out the things that are actually great about it but were not working properly like Microsoft claimed they were.

Then last week, I wrote an article about disappearing Achievements. This, like the stories before it, was written from personal experience with the 360 and Xbox Live. I didn’t write it based on a rumor or hearsay, but from living through it myself. This prompted numerous responses on our website and other sites such as News4Gamers and Kotaku. The comment sections were full of people corroborating my story with their own experiences with disappearing Achievements.

While I can understand people not wanting to believe the story based on the fact that I have no hard evidence to prove it, as well as the notion that I’m just some amateur no-name looking to promote myself, the fact that so many other people have reported having the same experience should make it somewhat more credible. Microsoft doesn’t think so. Their official position is:

Xbox LIVE is not erasing Achievements earned while playing on the service. If any member is having trouble with their Xbox LIVE service, we urge them to contact 1-800-4-my-xbox.

Well thanks, Microsoft. I was having a problem and I did contact 1-800-4my-xbox. It was your people that confirmed to me that disappearing Achievements was, in fact, a known issue and offered me a solution (that I have yet to attempt because it seems impossible). Had your techies known they were talking to the great Dan Landis, Ripten writer extraordinaire, maybe they would have sung a different tune to prevent me shouting it from the rooftops.

So now that I’ve given you enough context for this story and done enough self-promoting, let me continue with what’s new.

RRoD. To those of you that have never seen that before (which I find hard to believe), that stands for Red Ring of Death. It’s the current term used to describe the three flashing red lights on the 360′s face when it goes kaput. I just got it last night. This really isn’t that strange — it happens to a lot of us. So why am I writing an article about it? Well, it’s what followed that got me typing.

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All red and no green makes Dan a sad boy.

Not 10 minutes after I saw those beautiful red lights did I get a call from none other than Mike. If you don’t know who Mike is, you’ve got plenty of company because I don’t know who he is either. He claimed to be from Microsoft Consumer Relations.

“I was just calling to confirm your issue with missing Achievements. Specifically, I want to know whether or not our customer service agent has resolved your complaint so that we can help other people with the same issue. Is this still an issue for you?”

I tell him that the previous agent said I need to get another achievement in the same game to update my profile, which should then unlock my previously earned achievement that had disappeared. I don’t really see myself ever getting any of the remaining achievements because they are just too hard, so I haven’t even tried the supposed solution. Now that I already have him on the phone, however, I wanted to report that my 360 has died and needs repaired.

“Really? Well, that’s very unfortunate. I can’t assist you with that problem at this time because that is not my department. You’ll have to call 1-800-4my-xbox during normal business hours.”

Oh, right. It isn’t normal business hours right now. In fact it’s 2:30am. I ask him why he’s calling me now if it isn’t normal business hours, and he tells me that I had called them before during this time frame, so they base their callbacks on that. Then he thanks me for my time and hangs up.

Very strange. So it appears to me that Microsoft hired a Black Ops guy named Mike (obviously a cover) to stealth-kill my 360, and then call me to make sure the job was successful. Even if you aren’t a conspiracy nut, you have to find the timing to be more than just a coincidence.

Mike calls at 2:30 in the morning (strange) and asks about an issue that supposedly isn’t acknowledged by Microsoft to even exist (also strange). And this happens less than 10 minutes after my 360 dies on me (super strange). Either Microsoft is trying to send a message, some Xbox fanboy is upset with my stories and hacked my shit, or it really is just a strange coincidence. I’ll let you be the judge.

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Moving on. I go out to “24-hour store whose name I won’t mention because I loathe giving them my money” and pick up another 360. I’m working on a review of Kingdom Under Fire: Circle of Doom and, obviously, I need to play the game to do that. I’ve been wanting to get another 360 anyways, so this just gave me an easy excuse to justify it to my wife. Long story short, the power supply of my new 360 doesn’t work.

So I called 1-800-4my-xbox today during normal business hours and reported all of my issues. Apparently I can’t send my new power supply in the same box with my old 360 because it’s “harder to track”. The power supply needs a separate box that I have to pay to ship to them, even though it’s brand new and not my fault that it doesn’t work. I tell the woman on the phone (Rita) to forget it, that I’ll just take it back to the store and get a new one. She then gets confused and cancels the repair order on my 360. After about 20 more minutes, we get everything straight: repair my old 360, and I’ll replace my new 360 on my own.

Do I really think Microsoft or some hacker broke my 360? No, not really. It is a strange coincidence, but that’s probably all it is. I sometimes wonder if Microsoft cleverly designed the 360 to break after a year and make people like me buy a “backup” 360 to alleviate my worries. What a great way to increase sales! Surprisingly, none of the stores I called to get a replacement 360 (Target, Wal-Mart, Gamestop, EBGames) had any in stock, and the one I had purchased last night was the last one from that particular store. Have they really not received any shipments since the holiday rush? Are too many people buying new systems because their friends got one, or are that many systems defective that all those people are already needing replacements? Discuss.

Basically, the point of this article is to address the baggage the 360 currently comes with. It’s incredibly frustrating, and someone with less patience than me would quickly give up on it altogether. Someone on the fence about whether or not they should “Jump In” might decide against it because you’ve filled the pool with shit. Please, Microsoft, for the love of Mike — stop pissing off your customers and get it together.

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This was going to be a pool full of shit, but that would just be gross.