Workers at Nintendo’s third-party repair facility were reportedly faced with a “highly stressful” work environment caused by a deluge of Switches sent for Joy-Con drift-related issues, according to a report from Kotaku† A former supervisor of New York-based United Radio, the company that partners with Nintendo to repair broken devices, told… Kotaku that the high number of Joy-Con repairs resulted in a high turnover rate and “many” errors.
United Radio is its own company – Nintendo merely acts as an intermediary, handling customer communications and leaving repairs to United Radio, which serves Nintendo customers in the eastern half of the US. The ubiquity of Joy-Con drift led to “just thousands” of Joy-Cons going through United Radio in a single week, prompting the company to set up a workstation dedicated to Joy-Con repair, the former told supervisor Kotaku†
Joy-Con drift is a widespread issue that causes the controllers to input motion when there isn’t, which often manifests as your character moving around the screen when you’re not touching your thumbsticks. While many Switch owners had hoped that the newer OLED model would solve the Joy-Con drift, the problem remains and Nintendo itself suggested it may never be fixed. In 2019, Nintendo started repairing Joy-Con drift for free, even with an expired warranty.
According to Kotaku, United Radio hires many temporary workers through the Aerotek employment agency. Employees are reportedly eligible to be hired as full-time employees of United Radio after three months of employment. However, the former supervisor told Kotaku that most temps stopped working after two and a half months, whether they simply didn’t show up for work or were fired. This reportedly made it difficult to assemble an experienced team of employees, which inevitably led to mistakes. In one example of such errors, a customer on Reddit said their Switch was returned with someone else’s data stored on it. There are countless other complaints online, referring to faulty repairs, missing parts, or damage to their system.
High turnover wasn’t the only problem contributing to error recovery — a language barrier also presented challenges, former supervisor told Kotaku† The supervisor claims they were the only native English speaker, making it difficult to train employees. Bilingual employees would reportedly often have to “act as a liaison” to pass information between the trainer and the trainee.
Short lead times also didn’t help with these problems. The former supervisor told Kotaku that United Radio would simply replace broken Joy-Cons from 2017 to 2018. After that period, workers reportedly had to repair 90 percent of Joy-Cons within four days of receipt. It is unclear whether this policy was imposed by Nintendo. The edge contacted Nintendo with a request for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
if Kotaku Notes, Nintendo does not rely solely on hired workers to carry out repairs. Former and current employees of Nintendo’s Redmond, Washington headquarters told Kotaku that Nintendo employs temps for 11-month cycles with breaks of two months (or longer), with employees losing access to health care during this period. Earlier this week, a former Nintendo employee filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging they had been fired by Nintendo and employment agency Aston Carter for trying to unionize.