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Just Wow! Microsoft Store went from zero to hero in 24 hours

When ordering something online, no vendor will ever be 100% mistake-free, so I judge them on how well they fix their mistakes when they inevitably happen.  Well, Microsoft Store made a big booboo – and then they did the best thing EVER to make up for it.

MS Store was offering a sweet deal where if you preordered one of several Xbox 360 games, you got 1600 free Xbox points and a $10-off coupon.  I don’t usually preorder games, but since I felt confident about Just Dance 4 and I needed some points, I bit.

As the release date (today) approached, I stalked my emailbox for a shipping notice.  Yesterday an email from MS arrived, but instead of saying the game had shipped, it bore the soul-shattering headline:  “Microsoft Store – Order Cancellation Notice.”  It went on to say that the order had been cancelled, no reason given.  Whaaa??

I checked the order on the site: order cancelled, no game or points for me.  I chatted with one of their online CS people, who was very polite, but couldn’t tell me anything except they would look into it and respond within 48 hours.

At least I wasn’t alone in my confusion and disappointment.  People on sites like Slickdeals and Cheap Ass Gamer were also getting mysterious cancellations, and fuming.  Not much love for MS was being shown.

Then, last night, this email arrived:

Thanks for your recent order from Microsoft online store.

Due to a system error, your order was mistakenly and temporarily cancelled, and you probably got an email from us telling you that. The good news is that we were able to fix it, and your order is now back in our system and on its way to you. The even better news is that, to apologize for the confusion, we’re going to send your order to you for free, at no charge to you.

Not only will you get your order free, you’ll still get $10 off your next order and 1600 free Xbox LIVE points that you already had coming to you.

It’s our way of letting you know how much we appreciate your business.

Thanks for shopping at Microsoft online store.

Holy customer service, Batman!

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and since my order was still showing up as “cancelled”, I called MS and spoke to a rep who could barely speak English and just reiterated what the online chatter said yesterday, that I would get a response within a day.  I hung up, not knowing what to think.  About 15 minutes later, my doorbell rang.

Just Dance 4 was there, shipped Next Day Air!  WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!

This might be the first time I’ve ever had a game in my hands before noon on release day, and FREE.  Thank you, thank you, Microsoft.  I would’ve been happy just to get the original order uncancelled, but they went above and beyond.

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Let’s Cheer for Kinect gets a rah-rah review

Let's Cheer screenshot

The Xbox Kinect cheerleading game Let’s Cheer has tuck-jumped up my wish list since I tried the free downloadable demo from Xbox Live, and also since it got an impressive 8 on a scale of 10 from 123Kinect.  Let’s Cheer combines aspects of Dance Central, We Cheer and karaoke games (you have to yell actual cheers at the Kinect mike to score points – parents, grab those earplugs) and seems to have hit the target.

In addition to the usual sideline cheers, the game includes dance routines to licensed hits, including Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” which seems to be everywhere except, um, Just Dance games.  Other songs shared by We Cheer and Let’s Cheer are “That’s The Way (I Like It)” and of course “Mickey”, and Let’s Cheer goes a step further by bringing the cheertastic hit “Hollaback Girl” to the game console.  Whoo!

I wanna be a Fruit Ninja!

Frooooot salad!! (courtesy Xbox.com)

I just got the Internet back at home after more than a month without, which is why my posts over the last month have been sporadic and short – guess I’m to blame for McDonalds doing well in the stock market lately.  Sorry food police, but I’ve been lovin’ their iced coffee and free wifi.

Now once I get my wifi at home set back up, I’m gonna celebrate by downloading Fruit Ninja Kinect.  This popular smartphone game is now available on Xbox Live for $10, and there’s also a free demo.

Fruit Ninja is exactly what the title says:  you hack up flying fruit.  A lot of reviews are assailing it for being too simple and repetitive for home use, but I think it sounds like a heckuva workout – and I love other slashing and chopping games, such as Exerbeat’s karate and Gold’s Gym Dance Workout’s karate and sword-slashing.  Fruit Ninja Kinect allows 2 players, so my kids can join in the hacking instead of having to wait their turn.

$10 sounds like a great deal for a shoulder/core workout that also raises awareness about good nutrition.  McDonalds out, fresh local peaches in!

How to use DDR to work on your balance

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 for Playstation 2

A while back, I wrote a post about how you can get a fun and unique core workout using DDR.  This  time, we’re going to use the game as a fun little balancing exercise that you can do whenever you have a spare ten minutes, or just need to take an all-important break from sitting.

I got this idea while watching a “knee training” workout by Mark Verstegen, on the sportskool on-demand cable channel.  I’m a big fan of Verstegen’s Core Performance book series, in which the theme is that your body moves as one integrated unit.  Thus, if you’re having knee problems, it could be that your hips or other joints and muscles aren’t doing their jobs, and need to be retrained to take the load off your knees.  The many hours of sitting that people do nowadays is causing not just obesity, but also tight hips and “lazy” glutes.

One exercise in Mark’s workout consisted of hopping back and forth over a line, without letting the other leg touch the ground, and another exercise consisted of hopping from one leg to the other, pausing for a second each time to get one’s balance.  I thought, “that looks like a job for DDR!”  So I tried it out on the Wii game DDR Hottest Party 3, after shutting off the jumps in the options menu.  (This is on the main menu under Options and Individual Options.  You might also want to turn on Cut to get rid of faster steps.)

I played Lessons 1, 2 and 3 – all beginner level songs, but just by making a “rule” that only one foot could touch the floor at any time, they became quite a challenge!  Beginner songs are actually a little harder than “basic” songs when played this way, because they have fewer steps, causing you to have to balance on one leg longer.

This is a fun way to enjoy beginner-level songs (I like those “Lesson” songs) and if you have the PS2 or Xbox DDR games, you can use Edit Mode to craft a balancing workout for other songs as well.

Xbox Live Gold members, get your free demo of Zumba for Kinect

Zumba Fitness for Xbox 360 Kinect

A free demo of Zumba for Xbox 360 Kinect is available now for download – if you have the paid Gold subscription.   Unfortunately, my one-month trial of Gold has expired, so no Kinect Zumba for me.

Sour grapes department: the Kinect version of Zumba got clobbered by many reviewers at Amazon, with a lot of complaints about Kinect not working right.  (The company tried to fix it with a software update.)  So I’ll keep enjoying my Zumba game on Wii, plus my live Zumba classes.

Maybe I’ll spring for a Gold subscription later on this spring if a Michael Jackson: The Experience demo becomes available.  (Via Major Nelson)

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