Microsoft's Xbox Customer Care division has come under fire recently for failing to keep up with demand for the Xbox Reward Pack - the two-games-and-a-controller perk offered to people who paid full whack for the console ahead of its surprise price reduction. According to a few of our readers, Microsoft has been sending out a message asking for patience from those still waiting for their reward packs. Demand has obviously been high for the estimated £9m worth of free kit earmarked for early adopters, but reports of problems have been relatively few - I received my Reward Pack, containing a controller, RalliSport Challenge and Munch's Oddysee, about a fortnight after first requesting it. But in spite of these reports, Xbox Customer Care has definitely proven its worth elsewhere. Until last week, our Xbox (purchased from Amazon) suffered from an unfortunate fault which saw blue flecks of interference appear in dark areas of the screen, a problem particularly noticeable during the opening level of Halo with its claustrophobic corridors aboard the Pillar of Autumn. After speaking to a friendly member of customer care on Saturday morning (having waited only a few minutes in the automated queue), we were told that it sounded like a hardware problem, and arrangements were made to have the Xbox sent home for maintenance. Sniff. On Tuesday we received a nice pre-paid box delivered by our chums at couriers Securicor Omega, and after backing up all of our save data onto one of those £30 memory cards (did you know that one Halo save takes up 223 of the card's 502 blocks?), we shipped it off at no expense to ourselves and began twiddling our thumbs. This morning, I was woken from my slumber somewhat unexpectedly by a loud knock at the door, and lo and behold, it was my Xbox returning from its short holiday. This wasn't much of a surprise though, because Xbox Customer Care emailed me repeatedly with updates on its progress, tracking numbers and all sorts. I felt suitably taken care of. Upon unpacking the Xbox, I was delighted to discover that Microsoft had acknowledged the fault (apparently with the motherboard) and fixed it. A few moments trotting around the Pillar of Autumn later, I was content. Microsoft wasn't though, and sent me a complementary Xbox hat, a trio of Xbox stickers and an Xbox DVD wallet. Furthermore, they actually repaired my machine instead of simply sending me another off the production line. This was an added bonus, because all of my save data and my encoded copy of Queen's Greatest Hits was intact on the hard disk, just as I had left it, negating the earlier memory card juggling entirely. So, to those of you still waiting for your Xbox Reward Pack, we say this: we did not at any point seek special treatment or expose ourselves to Microsoft, so purely from the perspective of Joe Public, Xbox Customer Care does a bloody good job. Your Reward Packs are in good hands.
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