Cheaper to replace than to repair?

Either Friday or Saturday, I got a new box from the Xbox Repair Center. We noticed it as we were on our way out for the day, sitting on the doorstep, so my wife just grabbed it and put it inside. I figured it was a new empty box for the Wireless Wheel, with instructions and hopefully a return address label this time.

Today, I remembered the box and decided to get my wheel ready to ship out for repair. I grabbed the box and brought it to the kitchen table. It seemed a little heavy for an empty box; perhaps there was more packing material this time? I opened the box, and inside was... a new wheel. No pedals or power supply or anything, just the wheel.

"So," my wife says, "it was easier for them to send you a new wheel instead of sending a return address label?"

"I'm confused," I say. "And, I think, so are they."

Oddly enough, this isn't the first time this has happened. I bought a Mad Catz racing wheel for my Xbox 1 years ago. It was a nice piece of equipment, but it had this rather annoying issue in that it would seemingly randomly lose connection to the Xbox. I'd get a message saying "Controller disconnected, press A to resume" from the game. I could press A immediately and be back in action; although the game would often forget my controller scheme and revert to the default, which meant I had to figure out which standard controller buttons mapped to which shifters and levers on the wheel, which was of course different from the wheel configuration -- very annoying to say the least. I contacted Mad Catz support e-mail and explained the problem. Apparently, some of the wheels had an issue where the vibration motors would interfere with the controller signals. They were aware of the issue and offered to send me a replacement immediately, and in the meantime told me I could work around it by turning off rumble in the game. The replacement I received worked a lot better, but it would still disconnect on occasion; when I emailed Mad Catz and explained that the problem was much improved but still there (I would see the problem maybe once in every three races), they were not satisfied and sent me yet another replacement. That one worked flawlessly. I asked them each time what I should do with the old wheel(s), and their response was just to toss them, not to even worry about returning them. Being the pack rat that I am, they're still around, even if they don't get used (except once when I and my wife's brother's kids turned off rumble and used them for some split-screen racing one holiday).

I'm starting to think I could make a living doing this. If I could fix these things myself (which is the one critical piece missing), I could make some serious money buying racing wheels, calling the manufacturer when they're defective, and getting replacements sent to me.

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