In the most recent action, Los Angeles resident Steve Carlie claims that an Xbox 360 system he purchased in November, 2005 ruined several of his games. In a filing last week in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Carlie stated that "the Xbox 360 frequently scratches game disks rendering them unusable to the consumer."
Carlie said that the problem occurs because the laser drive in the Xbox 360 at times makes contact with the game discs.
A disc replacement program operated by Microsoft is insufficient, Carlie says, because it's limited to games published by Microsoft and the company charges a $20.00 fee for each game. "As of the date of this complaint, Microsoft has not released any form of repair or replacement procedure for the Xbox 360," Carlie adds, in court documents.
Carlie's lawsuit also accuses Microsoft of violating the Washington state Consumer Protection Act.
In another case filed last week, California resident Luis Torres claims an Xbox 360 he purchased in February 2006 ruined his copy of the game Call of Duty II as well as two sports games.
"Microsoft's conduct in selling and marketing Xbox 360s with DVD drives that damage game discs, DVDs and CDs along with Microsoft's failure to disclose the existence of the defect in the DVD drives and Microsoft's failure to repair or replace all Xbox 360s with defective DVD drives is a breach of the implied terms of the product warranty as well as Microsoft's obligation of good faith and fair dealing," Torres alleges in his suit--also filed last week in the U.S. District Court at Seattle.
Earlier this month, similar lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Courts in Southern California and Florida. All four suits are seeking class action status. Responding to the Florida lawsuit, a Microsoft spokesman told InformationWeek that the company has not received a significant number of complaints about scratched discs, despite the fact that "there are millions of Xbox consoles in use."
Some bloggers have suggested that the scratches occur only when the Xbox 360 is moved from the horizontal to the vertical position while in use -- something the Xbox 360 manual specifically warns users not to do. Others, however, report that their games were damaged while the consoles were stationary.
A widespread recall of the Xbox 360 to deal with the problem could impose a big financial hit on Microsoft. Last week, the company said it took a charge against fourth quarter earnings of $1.06 billion to cover the cost of fixing a different problem -- the Xbox 360's tendency to lock up and suffer a general hardware failure.
Microsoft to date has not disclosed any plans for an Xbox 360 recall.