Editorial: The High Cost of Rock Band Peripheral Replacement

Rock Band Instruments

I have to admit, I love Rock Band. Getting your friends together in a room and rocking out to whatever the “audience” happens to pick is great fun. I’ve spent entirely too much time playing it lately.

Perhaps that’s why I was rewarded last night with the horrifying sound of a broken bass pedal on my drum kit. Luckily, I regularly read the Rock Band forums, and so I know that Harmonix (read EA) has been offering replacements for broken pedals.

I headed over to my computer to check out the return procedure, and was surprised to learn that EA has set up a 24-hour call center just to handle Rock Band issues. Very impressive. I called in, went through a brief process with an automated operator, and then had a chance to talk to a live person. I was connected to a very nice customer service representative who listened to my problem, and said that they would certainly replace my broken pedal.

At this point, I was amazed at how well the process was being handled. After reading horror stories in the forums, and across the net, I had envisioned the replacement process as some sort of medievil-esque gauntlet that would require thumbscrews and a public flogging before it was complete.


Unfortunately, this is where the process went wrong. I was informed that I would need to provide my shipping details, and I would then be sent an empty box to ship my defective pedal back to EA. Once EA received the defective pedal, I would be shipped a new pedal. When I asked what the turnaround for this process was, I was told that it would take 2-4 weeks.

Upon expressing my displeasure with the turnaround time, I was told that I could opt for an express replacement option. This would involve EA shipping me a new pedal, and I would then return my broken pedal in the same box. Obviously, this option appealed much more to me. However, there is a catch, and it’s an expensive one.

To exercise the ‘Express’ option, you are required to provide EA with a credit card number. After doing so, EA places a pre-authorized charge on your card. Once they receive the defective item back, they remove the charge. In principle, I have no problem with this idea. It insures that they receive the defective item back, so that they can refurbish it or determine ways to improve the product. I was more than willing to allow a charge equivalent to the purchase price of a pedal, so I was expecting a figure in the $25 – $30 range.

Imagine my surprise when I was told that the charge required was $125! I expressed my disbelief at the amount, but was told it was a non-negotiable policy. At the time, I was frustrated and just said, “The heck with it.” Upon reflection, I decided to call again today and see if this was indeed correct, hoping that there had been some confusion over ‘drum pedal’ vs. ‘drum kit.’

Unfortunately, I found out that the first CSR I spoke with was right on the money (no pun intended). The gentleman I spoke with today explained that initially, EA had been sending out items with no holding charge whatsoever. Apparently, they had so many items not returned, they decided to implement this policy.

Now, I have no problem with the policy in principle. I have no gripe with EA trying to insure that they are not getting ripped off by bogus replacement claims. However, the amount of a holding charge should reflect the price of the item being returned. If a Rock Band guitar retails for $60, that should be the holding charge for that item. If the drum pedal retails for $20, that should be the charge for that item. A blanket $125 charge regardless of item only insures that people like me will employ other methods to repair our peripherals.

If you’ve got a broken pedal, or you notice that your pedal is beginning to crack, I’d recommend reading this thread on the Rock Band forums. Several members of the community are looking into the use of an electrcnic drum trigger in place of the Rock Band kick pedal, with some success. Some of the fixes require some electrical circuit know-how, but it ends with you using an actual pedal, and not some plastic thing.

There’s also a thread over at ScoreHero that details how a user adapted a real kick pedal to work with Rock Band for only a few dollars (assuming of course you have an old kick pedal lying around).

Reinforced pedalIf you’d rather repair your existing pedal, rasehead, a user in the Rock Band Forums has created a bolt-on pedal reinforcement cut from billeted aluminum diamondplate (shown in image). You can grab one of those from eBay here for $14.99. If you’re leery of screwing something to your pedal because it will void your warranty, another auction features a similar plate that attaches with double-sided tape, but it’s about $20 more expensive.

As you can see, the broken pedal problem is widespread, and as is usual for gamers, some very creative and interesting ways to prevent/repair it are popping up all over. It’s rumored that the replacement pedals are different than the pedals that shipped with Rock Band. If you’ve received one of these ‘new’ pedals, let us know!

Even with all of this headache, I still love Rock Band. Even after breaking the bass pedal, the group continued playing, simply without a drummer. Hopefully, EA can amend this policy to something a wee bit more reasonable in the near future.

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39 Comments on Editorial: The High Cost of Rock Band Peripheral Replacement

weclock

On December 7, 2007 at 1:14 pm

yeah, my friend broke his foot pedal, it’s really annoying because now the only working peripheral he has is the microphone and his GHIII guitar for bass.

Steve

On December 7, 2007 at 1:23 pm

As a fellow bandmate, I feel it is my duty to point out a small detail to those in the audience who did not witness our drummer’s conversation with the “lovely” EA support person(s):

“The heck with it” is not what Ron said to the EA rep. (thank you, site policy)

The conversation was endowed with much colorful expressions of disdain.

Just wanted to point that small detail out. I hope EA got the message though. I certainly got a laugh out of hearing it displayed to them.

Seriously. Obviously during Q&A testing, Harmonix didn’t put the drum kit through the 200+ lbs. Animal! testing. It doesn’t take my engineering background to see that the Rock Band kick pedal is a poor design. It’s a wonder *I* didn’t break it (170 lb. weakling here). Then again, I’ve had foreknowledge that the pedal was defective before the game hit the shelves (thank IGN). So anytime I’ve been on drums, I’ve kind of held back.

Having to treat the Rock Band equipment like it’s glass makes it less realistic (thus less fun). As any true Rocker knows, you beat the sh*t out of your equipment. It’s like a Rock creed or something.

I’m half expecting the strum bar on the Fender to break on Ron now.

Shawn Sines

On December 7, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Steve, you do realize that you’ve now ensured that will happen…

Adam

On December 7, 2007 at 3:09 pm

If you use a credit card instead of a debit card, it will have no financial effect on you at all. Holds on credit cards only reduce the credit limit, but don’t actually charge you anything.

Ron Whitaker

On December 7, 2007 at 3:32 pm

@Adam: I’m fully aware of it. It’s the principle that I could be charged $125 for a drum pedal.

erathoniel

On December 7, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Unfairness. They should really stop charging people for products that break.

Hawkeye

On December 7, 2007 at 6:01 pm

I can see why you guys are pissed, but what are they supposed to do? By charging a higher price, that scares the customer into actually sending the product back…which is what you’re supposed to do in the first place. I don’t understand what the big deal is. Just send in the busted guitar like you’re supposed to (otherwise you’re technically stealing) and you won’t get charged. Easy as that.

Steve

On December 7, 2007 at 7:12 pm

I see the outstanding issue as more the fact that you’ll most likely get sent the same defective unit back (revision or not). In my eyes, the only purpose of having functioning original Rock Band pedal (at this point) is to return it to the store and get a refund. That’s why I’m laughing at the whole thing.

If it were my Rock Band kit (which so far I’ve avoided purchase), I’d have thrown the pedal in the garbage… because realistically that’s where it belongs.

Thankfully, Harmonix designed the pedal with arather dumb elecronic function. This makes finding an alternate pedal (albeit more rugged) for cheap an easy task. Certainly less hassle.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the game software-wise. It’s the hardware that’s making me hesistate to buy the game… at least as a bundle.

SpiralGray

On December 7, 2007 at 9:31 pm

I also fail to understand what the big deal is. As long as you were going to return the defective one once the new one showed up, you won’t get charged anything. You state “it’s the principle that I could be charged $125 for a drum pedal” that I just didn’t get. If you return it, you won’t be charged. If you intended to take advantage of EA, then you deserve to be out the money. Sounds like as long as you return the defective one, you *won’t* be out anything.

Ron Whitaker

On December 7, 2007 at 11:55 pm

@SpiralGray: Let’s theorycraft for a second. I go for the “Express” option. I receive my new pedal, UPS loses my broken one. Who’s eating that $125? If you think it’s UPS, rethink.

As I said before, it’s not the idea of securing the item with money that bothers me. It’s the fact that they make no distinction between the drum kit ($125 deposit) and the microphone ($125 deposit).

Personally, I’d expect EA to send me the replacement product on their nickel, and then I’ll send them mine back. That’s how every hardware issue I’ve ever had has been dealt with, and what I would normally expect from a reputable company.

Stephany

On December 8, 2007 at 12:38 pm

“UPS loses my broken one. Who’s eating that $125? If you think it’s UPS, rethink.”

No kidding. I have had them break something during the shipping process and refuse to pay for it, I have had them loose two different items over the years, and they never paid me for them. S**t happens with delivery options all the time, and you never get your money back. If some of you have been so lucky, then surely the shipping gods were smiling upon you that day. Otherwise, the majority of the time you are screwed.

tristan

On December 9, 2007 at 9:43 am

youre drum is cool

Katrina

On December 17, 2007 at 8:25 pm

We’ve had the same problem, but ours started with the Rock Band guitar. It began double-strumming. My husband managed to jerry-rig something that made it work for a little while, but it failed again shortly afterwards. My brother told us about the exchange program, and my husband quickly found the same thing; wait a week or two to get a box, then another few weeks to get a new guitar, OR be financially beaten with a $125 dollar deposit until you get your new guitar :evil: Retarded and unfair! Like you said, it should be comparable to the price of the item being replaced. Our kick pedal broke, too. The guitar is sitting in a return box (we’ll be sending that out shortly), and we’ll have to contact EA for another box for our kick pedal. As ridiculous as $125 is for a guitar, the same amount for a kick pedal is monstrous.

Hawkeye and SpiralGray, the anger is not over the issue of a deposit or whether or not we can avoid it. The issue is over the fact that in order to get the replacements in a timely manner, we have to be charged an exorbitant, unfair amount of money. In order to avoid being charged an unfair amount of money, we have to wait over a month to get replacement products for a game which we spent nearly $200 dollars on….products which should have been manufactured correctly in the first place. So let’s see, we’re punished with either time or money…for THEIR mistake.

Chris

On December 18, 2007 at 7:08 pm

I just got my replacement pedal today. It’s the SAME CHEAP DESIGN that broke in the first place!!! The EXACT same design – NO METAL reinforcement addition (as was promised by the CSR when I called for the replacement)… It’s made from the same material, it has the same thin cross hatching on the bottom, etc. There have been NO CHANGES to it!!! … So what happens in two weeks when the new one breaks?? … …Sorry – I hate being lied to. They’ve wasted my time and now I have to look into something else to get the job done when this one breaks. Which will cost me more money!

Well I purchased the game for the drums, but lately I’ve been doing the guitar career mode while waiting for the pedal replacement. Since I’ve played Guitar Hero before, I skipped Easy and Medium and went straight for Hard. I wasn’t even half way through it before I noticed that I couldn’t get the up and down strumming motion to work. By the end of the career (1 time through a hard career), the down strum gave up the ghost! So now I have a question: Does anyone know if I can expect the same disappointing results for my guitar replacement too?

BTW: In case anyone is wondering, they are re-using the base from the broken pedals being sent back. My replacement has multiple scratches on both sides of the base part… near where the metal pin (hinge) goes through the pivot joint. (From the vice that held it during the repair?) There is some sort of sticky residue in this area as well…(I’m HOPING this was left from the previous owner’s TAPE job.) I can’t say I’m surprised… tossing this part of the defective pedal assembly would create a lot of wa$te.

daniel ayers

On December 19, 2007 at 9:17 pm

here is a replacement footpedal, but cheaper and won’t void warrenty. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MESSOX:IT&item=280185563681&_trksid=p3984.cTODAY.m239.lVI

DDAANNIIEELL

On December 27, 2007 at 12:20 am

:evil: HEY GUYS, I BEAT ALL OF YOUR RECORDS! My down strum on the guitar and kick pedal all broke on the same day, only TWO DAYS AFTER I GOT THE GAME FOR CHRISTMAS! Good thing I’m actually the singer for my band and enjoy singing, because this is just ridiculous

Kennycide

On December 28, 2007 at 1:22 am

Oh Yeah that freaking blows my brother in laws have the game for PS3 and we “had” fun with it.I say had because just today the kick drum pedal broke just 2 days after I saw a video on youtube of a guys pedal breaking during mid song!!! What a jinx cause the same thing happened to me :evil: And oh yeah the strum bar broke a week before that :roll: stupid Harmonix Music Systems

Andrew

On December 30, 2007 at 1:47 am

I have you all beat:

#1 – Guitar down strum fails on day 2
#2 – Drum pedal breaks on week 2
#3 – USB adapter cracks open on week 2
#4 – Replacement guitar whammy bar breaks within 1 week
#5 – Replacement drum pedal breaks within 1 week (still waiting on 3rd drum pedal) Duct taped the pedal, then the base portion snapped in two within a couple of days. It’s currently double-duct taped with a wrench taped to it for support
#6 – Green drum pad breaks and just rattles.

So, I’m on my 3rd guitar, awaiting my 3rd drum pedal, and now awaiting a second drum kit. Thanks Harmonix

I will say that the Warranty “Express” exchange process has been fine albeit increasingly slower with each return (2 weeks now on my 3rd drum pedal).

Make a metal drum pedal already!

Plankeye

On December 30, 2007 at 6:16 pm

My 12-year old son broke the Rock Band pedal in 3 days.
I designed a replacement that doesn’t void the warranty.
I am getting excellent feedback so far.
http://www.woodrockpedals.com

Let me know what you think.

Daniel Ayers

On January 2, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Here is the cheapest, easiest fix for the pedal. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MESSOX:IT&item=280188342416&_trksid=p3984.cTODAY.m239.lVI

toddious

On January 24, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Part of the reason they are charging $125 for the guitar replacement, is so that ps3 owners are not using this as a way to get a 2nd rock band guitar. If it was only $60, everyone would claim a broken one, and not send one back, and take the $60 charge. then they’d end up with a 2nd guitar, but EA would run out of replacements. They obviously do not have a large stockpile of these yet, thus the reason they are not yet selling solo guitars. but at $125 for the replacement, i think that less people will use this method.

musicdude1815

On February 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

I recently bought rockband for the PS3. When bought the guitar does not have the ability to go to star power when tilted. The select works when me or a good player plays but when the kids want to play, it is too hard and was deciding to look up this before returning. After this I may not want to return it. :cry:

David

On March 7, 2008 at 4:11 pm

my son lost the pedal for the drums on a ski trip. I have sent EA emails and I have called EA support. They will not let me buy one if I do not have one to replace it with. They do not see selling the pedal buy itself and if it happens it will be along time. The superviser that I talked to told me to go out and buy a new set. Now I have a useless drum set!

Ron Whitaker

On March 10, 2008 at 10:29 am

@David: You can use any pedal that is a default off switch as a replacement for your rock band pedal.

The Roland FD-6 Hi-Hat controller is an excellent option, although a bit pricey ($50 or so on eBay). When mine initially broke, I used a Korg keyboard switch pedal as a replacement until the new pedal arrived, and it worked fine, although it didn’t really have enough travel in it for my taste.

dude

On March 11, 2008 at 1:37 pm

My drum pedal broke on the 3rd day. How long is it supposed to take for me to get a new one on the express delivery?

Luis

On March 20, 2008 at 3:22 am

Does anyone know the number to the company your suppose to contact when you brake your pedal?

Talyn

On June 10, 2008 at 1:44 am

So yeah I was one of the first people to return a drum pedal as soon as I got rockband I started jammin on the drums thats waht i do. So come hard and expert mode I have to double bass on the drum when I do what do you know my pedal breaks. I sent a request to ea to send a new pedal and they did it arrived in 2 weeks. By this time i used popsicle sticks duct tape and super glue to hold it together. They sent me the “new” pedal GREAT! so I thought.

I took off the tape and posicle sticks returned the package like I was supposed to. Plugged in my pedal and started jammin again. Now withing litterally 3 days my “new” pedal broke and has remained broken. I called ea and they said they need a receipt sent to them. I told them I dont have one obviously. I was then told I could not be helped and they directed me to a store that sales the standalone set. all i need is a pedal that probably costs the $10 to make. So now my “new” pedal has been ghetto fixed. I came to find out that 2 screws were missing in my pedal and some how the magnet fell out. I now have 4 pens 2 on top 2 on bottom of my pedal that are superglued to the pedal and duct taped around that. All this trouble to play a game that isnt even becoming fun anymore because of the hassle. Do you think ea is going to do anything about it? Someone needs to throw the pedal through their tv and file a lawsuit like they did with the wii controllers! lol but seriously if you buy the game take off the top part of the pedal plate it in metal and screw it back in before playing. I am sick of these companies blaming the consumer for their problem. I thought wow this game is well put together at least it isnt all crappy graphics like guitar hero but guess what when it came to the equipment the basically melted plastic to look liek the instruments and sent them out hoping people would fix them and make them better.

ch0pp3r

On June 16, 2008 at 5:02 am

Yeah i had the new drum pedal and it broke on me less than a week into owning it! :twisted: I can beleive ive been so horribly jipped! :???: Off to Ebay! :lol:

Skyldehis

On June 18, 2008 at 8:05 pm

My bass pedal stopped working, like the system wont register the taps or something, its not the magnet, anyone understnad what goes on underneath the peadl? i opened it and i don’t know how it works. Can anyone explain?

Mofrigga

On June 21, 2008 at 5:32 pm

@Skyldehis, The same thing happened to me! I’ve been searching the forums but all the problems that other ppl have involve the pedal actually physically breaking, and not the insides being messed up. What am I supposed to do now? I know how to fix it if it snaps in half, but not if it stops sending a signal to the drum set.. :( Help!!!

Malloy

On June 30, 2008 at 4:29 pm

If it stops sending signals to the drum set, then most likely the cord is damaged at the plug or at the switch. Or the magnet (that sets off the switch) is too far from the switch. It’s actually pretty simply design.

I broke my pedal 4 times and got tired of RMAs. I heard the the metal pedal covers are good, but eventually they break at the hinge. Plastic pedals are simply just to0o fragile…

But luckily I was at a bar that had Rockband (karaoke on steroids :mrgreen: ) and they had an all metal one (converted from a real drum pedal). They said it was much better since the plastic one gets beat up all the time by drunk people. They site they recommended was out of stock, and so was everyone else, except for http://www.valuepedal.com.

They shipped on time and I got it about a week later (i did not want to pay for overnight shipping) but it works great so far. Satisfied with my purchase so if you want to check it out: http://www.valuepedal.com

Ben

On July 11, 2008 at 6:11 pm

My mic stopped working a long time ago and i’ve since replaced it with a logitech mic.

My pedal snapped toward the bottom the other day in the middle of one of those marathon sets that are like 30 songs are so. I fixed it in like a minute while my other 3 band members paused so we could keep rocking =P. I took the inside part of an old pair of running sneakers and taped it to the pedal. It has held up so far… and it’s actually really comfortable.

Tuner

On July 30, 2008 at 8:56 am

After about the 3rd time the plastic broke on me, I found a full replacement pedal. It weighs over a pound and my scores are a lot better. Never out of stock, like Malloy was finding. MegaPedal.com And they have cheaper versions, too.

brandon

On October 27, 2008 at 5:48 pm

:evil: unfortunately i broke mine right at the pivot point so im gonna have to get an expensive one…i cant buy a cover grrr

Heath

On October 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm

I got mine from this company http://www.pedalmasters.com

I checked out the megapedal guys but I like the color selection and price better at pedalmasters. My sweet purple pedal is wicked…

Their video of a guy thumping on the pedal is crazy.

Pat

On September 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

well our pedal works, but the transmitter or whatever it is in the drum stopped synching to the Wii. So after 6 months, we’re SOL. No replacement parts available. Harmonix says “As we are a small company, we do not have the capacity to handle hardware repairs or replacements inhouse. Our colleagues at EA handle all aspects of the warranty, repair, and replacement process.” and if you’re out of warranty, you’re out of luck. shoddy crap if you ask me.

pissed user

On March 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Rockband equipment is total S**t. I’ve broken my pedal at least 5 times since i have owned it and luckily have had a store that would exchange it for me. A 2-4 week delivery is ridiculous and so is a 125$ possible fee, for the cheap ass price they make it for they could at least make the pedal at a higher quality to were you can play it too the full effect the game is designed for. I have pretty much given up on the game because i can’t even find a store around here that sells them and prices online are too high. And after the bull design they made in the first place a surely wont be trying to get a knew one through them. Even though my warranty would not allow it anyways.

Gemma Bornstein

On December 7, 2011 at 9:41 am

I’ve been looking for this information for a long time. It was very interesting and fascinatingly. This thing, contraption would be useful in my house. Thanks so much.

Keva Jahr

On December 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Great collections of plugins at one place. No need to to search else whe