A former supervisor at a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con repair centre in the US has claimed the company was inundated with faulty controllers.
While Nintendo of America handles customer repair requests, it contracts the repair work to third party companies like Syracuse, New York-based United Radio.
An ex-employee told Kotaku that at one point, “easily thousands of Joy-Cons were coming through each week.” They added: “We ended up having to set up an entire new workspace just for Joy-Con repair.”
Customers who sent in faulty Joy-Cons from 2017-2018 were reportedly sent new replacements, but after the first year, it’s claimed United Radio was required to repair every set of controllers.
The ex-supervisor claimed United Radio was heavily reliant on agency workers, most of whom didn’t speak English natively, leading to communications issues, a high turnover of staff, and a “very stressful,” environment resulting in “lots of” repair mistakes.
Joy-Con drift has been a recurring issue for Switch owners since the console launched in 2017, but it was brought to wider public attention with the filing of a US class action lawsuit in July 2019.
Shortly after it was filed, Nintendo stopped charging for the repair of drifting Joy-Cons and began refunding those who had already paid for a fix, although it did not acknowledge an actual fault with Switch controllers.
Nintendo’s president offered the company’s first public Joy-Con drift apology during an investor Q&A in June 2020.
“We apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers regarding Joy-Con controllers,” Shuntaro Furukawa said.
“We are continuing to improve our products, but currently Joy-Con is subject to a class action lawsuit in the United States and is a pending issue so we cannot comment on any specific actions we may take.”
Nintendo has since been hit with multiple Switch Joy-Con drift lawsuits which allege that the company is aware of the problem but has chosen to continue selling defective products rather than fix it.
Last year the European Commission was called upon to investigate Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift issues by consumer rights umbrella group BEUC.
The group, which represents 44 independent consumer organisations from 32 countries, filed a letter of complaint with the European Commission regarding “a widespread infringement with Union dimension of EU consumer law, related to the premature obsolescence of the product called Nintendo Switch”.
Nintendo said last October that the Joy-Cons included with the Switch OLED are the “latest version”, with improvements made to combat analogue stick drift.
However, the general manager of Nintendo’s Technology Development Division also said that all analogue sticks wear over time because the parts are physically in contact.
“For example, car tires wear out as the car moves, as they are in constant friction with the ground to rotate,” said Ko Shiota.
“So with that same premise, we asked ourselves how we can improve durability, and not only that, but how can both operability and durability coexist? It’s something we are continuously tackling.”