Lawsuit claims Xbox 360s scratch discs

A class action suit in Florida claims that Xbox 360s can scratch game discs, making them unusable

Just days after Microsoft took a more than US$1 billion earnings charge to fix hardware problems in Xbox 360 consoles, a class-action suit says that the consoles also damage game discs.

Filed on Monday in the U.S. District court for the Southern District of Florida, the suit claims that Xbox 360s scratch game discs, making them unusable. Thousands of people have been affected by and have complained to Microsoft about the problem, the suit claims.

While Microsoft hasn't yet evaluated the suit, it says it hasn't heard a significant number of complaints. "Out of the millions of Xbox consoles in use, Microsoft has not received any widespread reports of Xbox 360s scratching discs," said Jack Evans, a Microsoft spokesman, in a statement.

The problem isn't limited to the U.S., the suit says. It describes a television program that aired in the Netherlands earlier this year detailing complaints by Xbox 360 users and including results of lab tests that resulted in disc scratching by some of the consoles.

Microsoft offers a worldwide disc replacement program for games that it authors. A user can send a damaged disc back to Microsoft plus $20 and receive a replacement. Microsoft also will examine and repair consoles that consumers believe may have scratched discs, the company said.

The suit details the experience of Jorge Brouwer, the plaintiff in the case. He said that his two games stopped working on his new Xbox 360. When he called customer support and mentioned that he noticed scratches on the discs, customer support advised him to buy replacement discs. He also said that customer support wouldn't acknowledge that the console might be to blame.

The suit asks for damages over US$5 million and the repair of Xbox 360s that cause the scratching and replacement of damaged discs.

The filing follows an announcement on Thursday that Microsoft would repair or replace Xbox 360s that suffer a certain type of hardware failure. Users have been complaining about the failure, which is indicated by three flashing red lights on the console. Microsoft has not offered details on the type of hardware failure.

The company has yet to record a profit for its Xbox business but said that, despite the $1 billion charge, it expects to be profitable in 2008. Microsoft sells the consoles at a loss, hoping to earn profit from games sales.

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Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
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