I recently purchased an Xbox 360 through Amazon.co.uk. Regular readers might be asking why I'm buying a Microsoft Xbox. Well I like playing games and let's face it, until Apple makes a console it's either Microsoft or waving my arms around in front of a Wii. (I'm not paying £430 for a PS3 - but that's another story.)

As an aside I was looking to test out Connect 360, which offers a viable alternative to the Apple TV. One that also conveniently involved me being able to play the Halo 3 demo doing the rounds.

My real mistake was buying it from Amazon. You see, sadly the controller broke after just one week. A more cynical person would accuse the unit of having sub-standard build quality (especially after taking one look at Amazon's reader comments). But I won't - I know how many people are buying Xbox 360s at the moment, and how rare breakages acutally are from working in shops and, especially, how more people comment when things go wrong than right (hence this blog entry).

What really bothered me is Amazon. On the one hand they're very effecient, friendly and its customer service department is nothing if not apologetic. On the other hand the company is machine-like to the point of madness. They simply refuse to replace just the joypad - Amazon will only replace the entire piece of kit.

There's a problem here. I've spent £18 on virtual games that have beeen downloaded to the hard drive and I'm now going to lose them because I'm getting a brand new and utterly irrelevent replacement main unit.

Imagine if I'd bought an iMac and after two weeks the mouse had broken. Amazon would refuse to swap over the mouse - it'd insist on getting the whole iMac back and replacing it with a brand new one, which would be minus all my photographs, programs, documents, music, videos, contacts...

You know, on the one hand - I've seen worse customer service. But on the other hand you can't help but get the nagging suspision that Amazon doesn't quite get this computer business and has developed it's customer service selling books and CDs. Items that don't often go wrong, and when they do it can be fixed with a refund. No amount of money back is going to make up for the lost items on a hard drive, and for the sake of fixing a peripheral, Amazon's policy of shipping an entire machine around the country and replacing it completely is a bit stupid.

I pointed this out to Amazon and they offered me £25 to go away. Again, I can't really grumble - but it's not really the point is it.

The moral of this story: don't buy computers from bookshops.