What a Microsoft Mistake Can Teach You About Putting Customers First

I’ve lambasted Sony and their Playstation woes already, but now its Microsoft’s turn. Whether intentional or not, there’s something obnoxious and inconvenient about the XBOX 360’s memory!

I was trying to spend a quiet Saturday evening online, killing disgruntled aliens with my good buddy Joe G. We’d planned on playing the supposedly spectacular Halo: Reach cooperative (co-op) campaign for quite a while, and I say supposedly because I didn’t actually get to play it.

Upon entering the co-op mode, Joe and I received the following error:

“One or more players do not have an Xbox 360 Hard Drive. An Xbox 360 Hard Drive is required to play co-op on Xbox LIVE.”

Who didn’t have the hard drive? That would be yours truly. Now, before you say: “well, of course you need to have some memory to play a game, you idiot!”, I should tell you that my base model XBOX came with 4GB of built-in memory, and that I have a 16 GB USB card plugged in to save files to as well. So, although I have 20GB of memory (which was enough to play other games online), neither of these qualifies as a physical hard drive – a fact now made painfully obvious to me. Silly me, I thought memory was memory.

I should also mention that Halo is Microsoft’s flagship title. And there was no warning of this requirement on the game box I purchased. AND, Microsoft said in December that the issue is “temporary” and that they were “working to resolve it.” Well, guess what? They didn’t fix anything. Instead of taking the time to actually fix the issue, they slapped the warning on the box as an afterthought and sold hard drive-less XBOX systems bundled with the damn game.

(That sound you may have just heard was my palm hitting my forehead).

How much does Microsoft charge for a hard drive? ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS. You would have to work really hard to convince me that Microsoft didn’t plan this from the start, or at least find this to be a profitable mistake. Microsoft has a history of nickel-and-diming consumers with the Xbox 360, whether it’s charging $100 to add WiFi capabilities in the early days of the 360, removing HD cables and headsets from being included in the system, charging $15 for a kit to just charge your controller, or increasing the yearly online fee by $10 to $60, I’m tired of Microsoft having their hands in my pockets!

So, with a steely resolve, I decided this: Microsoft will not see a dime from me this time. I still needed and have purchased a hard drive (those aliens aren’t going to kill themselves), but a quick search online reveals many used drives and generic competitors. I chose a generic one ($31 – yeah!), but either way, Microsoft gets nothing from me for their insolence. It’s a small victory for me, but a victory nonetheless.

What could Microsoft have done differently to not draw my ire? I think it goes back to core principles of customer service that any business, big or small, should follow:

Do not mislead your customers. Do not make promises you cannot/ do not intend to keep. And most importantly, do not make the consumer pay for your mistakes!

Notice I never said “do not make mistakes.” Those are unavoidable. How you react to them is what dictates how you will be perceived.

Is there anything else Microsoft should have done to avoid this (profitable) mistake? Do you see any more customer service takeaways from the situation I mentioned?


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Jana Quinn

    Super shady. Many times, companies *coughApplecough* can hide behind proprietary software/hardware that MUST be purchased FROM them in order to get past these “little bumps,” but as you found out, you were able to buy the hard drive elsewhere, and Microsoft will not receive positive reinforcement for their asshattery.

    The part that would infuriate me the most: “AND, Microsoft said in December that the issue is “temporary” and that they were “working to resolve it.”

    Six months later, that appears to be a straight up lie. Has there been any commentary since then?

    • JPorretto

      Well, you see…. the “commentary” from Microsoft would be the notice on new copies of the game. The commentary from users would be flocking angrily to message boards. To no avail of course.

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Ugh. This makes me seriously angry. And honestly, this makes me less likely to purchase an Xbox – and this is after many, many, MANY years of longing to play Fable! Bad job, Microsoft.

    • JPorretto

      I didn’t mean to sour you on a purchase. Just know their tricks and plan ahead. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater Mandy…. =)

      (Does that even apply here? Hmmm… I’m going with it…)

      • Mandy Kilinskis

        Maybe I won’t totally write it off. But this purchase is definitely going further down on my “must buy” list. That $200 is going to my France trip fund.

  3. Kyle

    Wow I wasn’t aware of this. I have the original 20GB 360 so I never ran into this problem, but considering the newer slim 4GB model is one of their top sellers I can’t believe they still haven’t fixed this problem.

    But at least standard multiplayer is unaffected. That’s where the real fun is. =)

    • JPorretto

      Even standard multiplayer doesn’t work for many old games, like Burnout Paradise (one of my favorite games ever btw) without a hard drive.

      • Kyle

        That. Is. Lame.

        (Thumbs up on the Paradise comment though)

  4. Jill Tooley

    I also thought that memory was memory…why would it work for other games but not for Halo? I don’t get it. All of these confounded contraptions make my head ache! 🙁

    • JPorretto

      It’s a holdover error from when XBOX’s could be bought with no internal memory. That actually makes sense.

      That it’s an oversight on current systems is baffling however.

  5. Jenna

    I have an Xbox 360 and I love Halo, but luckily I am not skilled enough to have to worry about this co-op/memory issue — at least, not yet. But if I ever do, it’s good to know that there is a cheaper alternative for what would otherwise be an expensive investment.

    It’s pretty shady of Microsoft to spring that error message on you with no prior warning, and then expect you to pay for their mistakes. Boooo.

    • Vern-Matic

      You would think that they would have those little stickers that say something along the lines of Hard Drive required to Play. Like you have to have one controller to play said game so on the back in the lower left hand side it states one controller is required to play

      • JPorretto

        They do. It was on Joe’s copy of the game 😉 Not mine.

  6. Joseph Giorgi

    I’m glad you touched on Microsoft’s past misdeeds — like upping the yearly LIVE fee from $10 to $60. I had NO idea it was so cheap before. Of course, there’s a whole lot more value in the service these days. Still, a $20 or $30 fee would be more reasonable.

    In any case, I’m glad you didn’t opt to buy one of Microsoft’s hard drives to resolve your issue. Third party was the way to go. Take THAT, Microsoft!

    And now that you’ve got the issue resolved, I’m sure that you and this “Joe G.” you speak of can finally enjoy a peaceful evening of cooperative, first-person alien-slaughter — in glorious, guns-blazing high-definition, the way God intended. 😉

    • JPorretto

      No no no no… It increased BY $10 TO $60. It just seems petty to ask for $60 when you’re already getting $50. From $10 to $60 would cause a rise in the “Accident” rate of Microsoft employees.

      “The way god intended” – I nearly laughed Gatorade out of my nose.

  7. Vern-Matic

    As rampant as the Three Rings of Death, there is no way through all of their testing that they didn’t know of this issue. That they still pushed the 360 out, of course they are gonna screw you in any aspect of your wallet.

    With all the troubles Sony and Microsoft have been having has anyone noticed that Nintendo has been a shinning example of how a gaming system/company is supposed to operate? Hell they were hacked and the hackers refused to maliciously target them.

  8. Amanda

    Nice post Jeff! As you know, I’m not a gamer–but if I was, I would get a 360, and this would make me furious! I hate when you buy things that are not at least mostly all inclusive. They could at least make it well known that you have to purchase a hard drive to play–that would lessen the blow at least.

    Great job finding a cheaper alternative! Sounds like something I would do. =)

  9. Xbox Dad

    >> a quick search online reveals many used drives and generic competitors. I chose a generic one

    Does this mean that the generic Xbox hard drives absolutely WILL WORK with Halo Reach on Xbox Live?

    My son tried to play Halo Reach against his friends on Xbox Live on our brand new 4GB Xbox machine, but we too discovered that a hard drive is required for this. I’d like to install a hard drive, but I read somewhere that ONLY A GENUINE MICROSOFT Xbox hard drive will allow Halo to work in Co-Op mode!

    True? False? What’s the real answer? I’d hate to buy a generic hard drive only to find out that it doesn’t work either.

    Any suggestions?? Thanks…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Hi there!

      Unfortunately, none of us are 100% certain about if you need a generic or genuine hard drive. The best suggestion we have is to check out the Xbox Forums and see if your question has already been answered. Otherwise, perhaps try Microsoft’s customer service?

      Sorry that we could be more helpful!


    • Jeff Porretto

      Well, I bought a generic one, plugged it in, and got my Halo on with no problem whatsoever! Now, “generic” can mean a lot of things. If you get one cobbled together out of random computer chips and held together with duct tape, you might not be so lucky =]

  10. Xbox Dad

    Great. I want to be as sure as possible that these will allow my son to play Halo Reach co-op with his friends — otherwise it’s not really much of a savings, right? 🙂

    Thanks for your help, much appreciated!

  11. Chirs

    A year later and still a lie

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2016 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.