Workers at Nintendo’s third-party repair facility reportedly faced a “very stressful” work environment caused by a deluge of switches sent to issues related to Joy-Con operations, according to a report from Kotaku. A former supervisor at New York-based United Radio, the company that works with Nintendo to repair damaged devices, said Kotaku that the large amount of Joy-Con repairs resulted in a high turnover rate and “lots of” errors.
United Radio is its own company – Nintendo simply acts as an intermediary, handling customer communications and leaving the repair to United Radio, which serves Nintendo customers in the eastern half of the United States. The ubiquitous Joy-Con operation led to “easy thousands” of Joy-Cons passing through United Radio in a single week, prompting the company to set up a workstation dedicated to Joy-Con repair, the former supervisor said. Kotaku.
Joy-Con operation is a common problem that causes the controllers to enter motion when there is none, which often turns out as your character moves around the screen when you are not touching your thumbs. Although many Switch owners hoped that the newer OLED model would solve the Joy-Con operation, the problem still persists, and Nintendo itself suggested that it would never be solved. In 2019, Nintendo began repairing Joy-Con operation for free, even with an expired warranty.
According to Kotaku, United Radio employs many temps through the temp firm Aerotek. Workers are reportedly eligible to be employed as full-time employees of United Radio after three months of work. The former supervisor told, however Kotaku that most temps stopped working after two and a half months, whether they just did not show up for work or were fired. This reportedly made it difficult to establish an experienced team of workers, which inevitably led to failure. In an example of such an error, a customer on Reddit said that their Switch was returned with another person’s stored data on it. There are several other complaints online that cite faulty repairs, missing components or damage to their system.
A high turnover rate was not the only problem that helped to repair errors – a language barrier also presented challenges, said the former supervisor Kotaku. The supervisor claims that they were the only English speakers on the job, which made it difficult to train employees. Bilingual workers would reportedly often have to “act as a link” to pass on information between the teacher and the trainee.
Narrow turnaround times did not help with these problems either. The former supervisor told Kotaku that United Radio would simply replace any damaged Joy-Cons from 2017 to 2018. After that period, the workers reportedly had to repair 90 percent of the Joy-Cons within four days of receiving them. It is unclear whether these policies were mandated by Nintendo. The edge contacted Nintendo with a request for comment, but did not immediately respond.
As Kotaku notes that Nintendo does not only rely on contract staff to perform repairs. Former and current employees at Nintendo’s Redmond, Washington headquarters told Kotaku that Nintendo hires temps for 11-month cycles with a break of two months (or longer) in between, with employees losing access to health care during this window. Earlier this week, a former Nintendo employee filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that they were fired by Nintendo and the staffing agency Aston Carter for trying to organize a union.