If you own an Xbox 360, consider hanging on to any box that might fit your console, just in case you get the Red Ring of Death.
Joystiq reports that Microsoft will no longer ship out its custom-fitted “coffins” — somehow I don’t think this is the company’s lingo — in which to return broken Xbox 360s. Customers can still print out shipping labels on Microsoft’s dime, but they’ll have to find a suitable transport container themselves.
Microsoft’s confirmation is a change of course from what Joystiq learned in March, when a representative denied that customers weren’t getting the option of a coffin. All customers from every region around the world got to choose a prepaid label or a container with the shipping label appended, the representative said back then. The new policy went into effect on May 26.
A Microsoft representative told Joystiq that this move will “expedite the shipping process” because there’s no need to wait for Microsoft’s packaging, but you should be able to recognize the spin from a mile away. If killing the coffin is meant to help the customer, some sort of box should at least be optional for people who don’t have one sitting around. Its more likely that this is a cost-saving measure.
Joystiq recommends using any old box to ship a red ringed Xbox 360, but that raises more concerns. Are customers then expected buy packing peanuts or bubble wrap to keep the console secure? If not, what if some other component of the console breaks in transit? I’m going out on a limb here, but Microsoft could face either higher costs to repair additional parts or another PR nightmare when customers have to pay more to take care of a problem they didn’t cause.
The big takeaway? Either Microsoft is getting really stingy, or the company has been shipping a lot of boxes.