Microsoft recalls Xbox cords after users burned
Free replacements available via Web or toll-free number
Updated: 8:54 a.m. ET Feb. 17, 2005
LOS ANGELES - Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, said Thursday it will recall 14.1 million power cords for its Xbox video game console after a defect gave some users minor burns and scorched carpets.
Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer for Microsoft, told Reuters the recall covered all Xboxes made for continental Europe before Jan. 13, 2004, and the rest of the world before Oct. 23, 2003.
Consoles built after those dates were designed in such a way that the failures no longer occurred, Bach said.
"It ends up being a combination of both things in the box and circumstances," he said. "It did take us quite a bit of time to understand that there was a challenge."
The recall represents a significant portion of the worldwide Xbox installed base of more than 20 million. Microsoft debuted the Xbox in November 2001 in the United States and subsequently rolled it out worldwide.
Based on reports to its customer service unit and warranty repair data, Bach said Microsoft had observed a failure rate of about 1 in 10,000 units. In 30 of those, users suffered either minor burns or damage to property, including scorched carpets, he said.
Affected customers can request a new power cord free of charge via the Web site, Xbox.com, or by calling toll-free numbers in their respective countries. Microsoft said customers would get replacement cords within 2-4 weeks from the time of order, and in the interim it advised users to turn off their Xboxes when not in use.
In March 2002, Japanese retailers temporarily stopped selling the console just weeks after its launch there because some machines were scratching discs. The company made an unconditional offer to replace hardware and any damaged software.
Bach said some consoles on retail shelves in Japan and Korea were also affected by the electrical problem and Microsoft was working with retailers there to replace the cords in those units.
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Microsoft is widely expected to release a successor to the Xbox this year. Rival and industry leader Sony Corp. is expected to launch the third version of its popular PlayStation console next year.
The Xbox Live service, which allows players to compete online from their living rooms, is expected to have 1.6 million to 1.8 million subscribers by the end of the fiscal year in June. The company had originally forecast 1.5 million users.