Bricked Xbox 360 leads to $5M lawsuit against Microsoft

Bricked Xbox 360 leads to $5M lawsuit against Microsoft

Summary: Back in early November I covered a story about a Microsoft Xbox Live update which bricked at least one console. At the time a few readers commented saying that they wouldn't be surprised if this ended up in a lawsuit - well, they were right!


Back in early November I covered a story about a Microsoft Xbox Live update which bricked at least one console.  At the time a few readers commented saying that they wouldn't be surprised if this ended up in a lawsuit - well, they were right!

Kevin Ray of California claims that his Xbox 360 was bricked by the Xbox Live update on November 1 and claims that Microsoft would not fix his console unless he paid up $140 (it is a little hazy whether Ray's console was modded or not).  Ray then filed the class action in a Washington federal court.  This seeks over $5 million in damages and free repair of all Xbox 360s damaged by the update.

[poll id=51]

It's hard to see if this case is going to go anywhere.  On the one hand Microsoft claims that the number of affected consoles is tiny, while lawyers for Ray say this isn't so and that "a Google search of the terms 'xbox 360' and 'brick' or 'bricking' shows over 15,000 results."  I've done similar searches and it doesn't prove anything - I just did a search for "poodle bursts into flames" and got 69,000 hits, but that doesn't point to a defect in poodles which causes them to spontaneously combust.  What's more interesting that Googling about the problem is keeping an eye on Xbox related sites such as Major Nelson.  The chatter there does seem to indicate that both the Fall update and the late November 1080p update caused a number of users a significant amount of grief.

This isn't the first Xbox 360 related lawsuit - The first was filed in Illinois by Chicago resident Robert Byers on December 2, 2005, just weeks after the console launched.  Byers claimed that the Xbox 360 was "known to Microsoft to contain a design defect," when it was discovered that some consoles ran too hot and overheated.  The two cases share one similarity - the lawyers filed suit without having any real evidence for the scale of the problem - websites, blog posts and forum threads just isn't the kind of evidence a judge wants to see.  On top of that, the lawsuit didn't even claim that Byers had himself encountered any problems with his console.  The upshot of this case was that on March 29, 2006, Byers filed for voluntary dismissal.

My take on this is simple - if a Microsoft update trashes an unmodded console, it should pick up the tab for a fix.  Period.  Maybe the real design issue here is that it's too easy to trash the firmware in the first place and that it's too hard to fix it - pretty much the same problem that BIOSes had a few years ago.  A simple recovery routine that allowed the user to reflash from USB key or disc would dramatically reduce on downtime and the number of returns under warranty - everyone's then happy! 

As for the lawsuit, I think it's another example of frivolous use of the courts.  All hardware is prone to problems, but this problem didn't cause any loss of life, injury, damage or loss of property so asking for $5 million is extreme to say the least.  If I could get $5M for everything that went wrong around me ... well, I'd be blogging from my own personal Hawaiian island.

Topic: Legal

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  • I think there is a problem here

    Is it possible, when staging a vote with 2 possible choices, for one choice to have 100% and the other 30%?

    Once again this proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that this site is littered with anti-MS zealots and very few objective people trying to get reasonable information on any IT forum whether it include MS or not. What a waste.
    • I'm seeing ...

      84%/16% with 19 votes - which sounds OK to me.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Apparently it was fixed when you looked then

        it was showing 100 to 30 when I posted.
      • I'm seeing.....

        391 votes. does that mean you were lying when you posted??

        In fact, when I posted you had to vote to see the totals...which were as I stated....unless you want to say otherwise?
    • 5 Million?

      Ridiculous. What for? The laywer fees and loss of a nightlife? He's probably already one of those auto injury lawyers trying to squeeze what he can.
    • Ummm. 84% plus 16% equals 100%

      Your pro-Microsoft religious zealotry is making you look like the fool you are.
      • you got me good

        I was lying that it said 100% and 30% when I posted. It's part of the MS training to lie even though you'll be found out.
        even still, it's nice to see the vast majority of those here are linux and apple shills. As I've stated many times with fools like you saying I was wrong.
        By the way, I'm not in favor of any one OS and I use, recommedn what works. But on the other hand your moniker clearly shows the man behind the mentality....a moron.
        • Sarcasm...

          I've heard that sarcasm is the lowest form of humour, and irony must be right beside it.

          I guess that shows how little it takes to amuse me, because I can't stop chuckling...

          Does anyone know what the highest form of humour is? Slapstick perhaps?

          Men of yesterday used to solve these problems in a way that prevented people from repeating thier mistakes.

          I wonder what good it is if it is bricked? My guess is no good, right?

          I am surprized that some person with a anger management issue hasn't delivered a unit back to the head office through a glass covered mail slot (window...). Of course I wouldn't condone this kind of act, how could I, but when people aren't treated properly they usually get irate and bring the issue to a speady solution. That is (after all) the joy of living in the USA. Everyone gets a vote, whether it is on the ballet, with their dollars or through their discontent.

          Why do we have to get the court involved when MS provides a non-functioning unit?
  • That Sucks

    If the XBOX was truley rendered useless because of the update then MS should definately repair it. However it was because the user moddded it or some other hardware defect then no the user should pay. The console comes with a 90 day warranty just like every other console and if failed hardware is the cause then it could have just been pure coincidence.

    But regardless, $5 Million is a little rediculus don't ya think. Its just an XBOX. This should be settled in small claims court not on this big of a level. If a failed XBOX is causing him $5M in pain and suffering then this guy has bigger problems and should see a therapist or something.

    Gee, I thought part of the whole advantage these consoles had over computers was the fixed hardware/firmware and a lack of these sorts of crashes/lockups/failures...

    M$ screwed up the guy's XBox with their update, and refuse to make good, I say he should be awarded the $5Mil, just to send a mesasage to fat-cat corporations...
    • exactly

      MS is an entity unto itself. It pays no taxes and employs no people! It is only pure unmitigated evil, which causes products to develop themselves and poof out of thin air.

      Five million bucks because your game console quit working under nebulous circumstances is stupid, and anyone who STILL refers to MicroSoft as M$ has already pretty much punched their idiot ticket with me.
    • What's so funny?

      That Microsoft refuses to fix a modified Xbox?

      I think the guy screwed it up beyong repair, and is trying to get Microsoft to send him a new one for free...
      John Zern
      • RE: What's so funny?

        >[i]That Microsoft refuses to fix a modified Xbox?[/i]

        The problem is these bricked consoles are not necessarily modified. Mine was bricked by the latest update that was supposed to fix some 1080p issues. Now I don't have a TV capable of displaying 1080p and would have gladly skipped the update given a choice, but there is no choice. Basically if you want to sign into XBOX Live (which I do), then you have to accept the updates they offer.

        My 360 has never been modified. It's a launch day system that worked flawlessly up until they released this patch. After several phone calls MS did agree to fix it and pay shipping, but it shouldn't take a lot of effort to get that level of customer service. Their patches bricked MANY 360s ( simple stroll through the forums will tell you that much) that otherwised worked before then. They broke it, they need to fix it.
    • My 360 bricked in November due to the Fall Update as well

      It's not just him. The guy who wrote the article has no clue how many people Microsoft affected with their Fall 2006 Update(or I can it the Fall 2006 Virus). It affected mine, but thankfully I bought a $100 warranty from Circuit City, and got it refunded. I didn't even want to file a complaint or confront Microsoft about it I was so ticked off. Thanks Microsoft for bricking my console, I just won't purchase any other 'MS' labelled products anytime soon.
  • MS should fix it.

    If found out to be modded, then the customer pays the bill. Otherwise this is a warranty job. I mean afterall they have the machine. Also $140 to reflash it is a bit steep. As for the $5 million lawsuit, WTF is this boy smoking? Sounds like moral outrage displayed in the courts is masking the actions of a pirate. A stupid one too. People should know by now that updates from MS also check for legitimacy.

    Hello! WGA! Just another dumbass.
  • well if its really a update

    that damage/cause trouble or anything. they should paid the repair. the 5 million is only a big fat stick to make MS that the guy is serious.

    MS will have to realize that they are responsible for there update.
    If that guy did not tempered with its xbox and its microsoft update that screw up .....

    They should pay for the repair failure to comply should yes end up with extreme-mesure and fat monetary punishment.

    Corporation will have to face responsability and face justice on there action.
  • My 360 was bricked

    My 360 was bricked by the late November update. Now in my case it isn't even a question of who is going to pay to have it fixed. I had heard about some of the technical glitches with the 360 so I had purchased the extended warranty. No matter what, mine is supposed to be covered.

    But I can't even get them to successfully open a repair order for my 360. I am told that a repair order is opened, call back the next day to find out that it was cancelled without reason. I am assured that a new one will be opened, I call back the next day and find that it didn?t happen. Escalated to supervisors, promises are made but not kept etc. I?ve had several reps confess to me that currently they are having major problems with the whole return / repair system. It sounds like currently MS is swamped with repair requests and isn?t able to handle the flood. Ten days later and I still don?t have a repair order for my under warranty, bricked, 360.
    • So Glad I waited

      Hearing stories like this makes me glad I didn't rush out to get generation 1 of the 360. Mainly it was a cost factor and I couldn't really afford it, but it is also nice to let them work out the kinks and glitches. This is also one of the main reasons I am waiting on the PS3. Both Microsoft and Sony have been known with problems in their last two systems.

      Hopefully my Wii will be a good system and if similar glitches occur I am confident that Nintendo will take care of its customers.
    • Nasty

      I hope you get that fixed soon.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Just for you :)