It Finally Happened: My Zune Stopped Working!

At exactly 3 months of ownership, my Zune 80 stopped working.

So how did it happen? I was syncing my Zune to my PC this morning and noticed that the Zune Software on my PC displayed an error message. I pulled the Zune from the cradle to take a look at it, and the screen was black. I looked closer, and noticed that the screen was very dimly lit (and nothing was displayed). So, I tried everything I could think of including:

  • Doing a reset
  • Erasing all content button sequence
  • Erasing all content and firmware button sequence
  • Full charge from wall outlet charger

What’s strange, is that I can hear the scrolling sound effects as I scroll using the center pad, and I could blindly play music on my device. The only issue is that the screen was blank. At times the display did show a brief pixelly screen when I blindly pressed the center pad button (maybe when it was trying to display something on the screen), but nothing I tried fixed the blank screen problem.

So, I called the 1-877-GET-ZUNE support line help. I’ve never had to call this support line before, but I have read several postings on forums that describe wild horror stories (e.g., having to talk to people in India with thick accents, or talking with a support person that has no clue what a Zune really is). Fortunately, the person I spoke with (Michael) was able to understand the issue I was having and proceeded to set up a repair order for my Zune. The steps for sending my Zune in for repair (under warranty) are as follows:

  1. Microsoft sends me an empty box via FedEx in 3-5 business days
  2. I put my Zune in the box and ship it to their repair facility (in Texas?)
  3. After about 10-15 business days, I should get my Zune back via FedEx

Michael did ask me if I had damaged my Zune (e.g., dropped it, spilled liquid on it, have a cracked screen, etc.) and noted that if it did have damage they would not repair it and would simply send it back at my cost. Since my Zune is in pristine condition, this wouldn’t be an issue for me. Also, Michael stated that depending on how busy the repair shop is, it might actually take longer than 15 business day to repair my device. In addition, I might get a refurbished unit as a replacement if that was deemed more appropriate. Since I’ve taken such good care of my Zune, I hope they can repair it, as I’d rather have the same unit back than get a refurbished unit that could have other problems.

So here I wait for the FedEx box to take my baby away. It will be tough not having my Zune for a while, and I’ll let everyone know how the process continues…

In case you’re interested, here are a few links to some Zune repair horror stories:

Just how long does it take for the repair center to return your item?

The Twilight Zune, or the ongoing Saga of Zune repair and (non) customer service


40 thoughts on “It Finally Happened: My Zune Stopped Working!

  1. Jags says:

    I think it is worth trying a software reset. Check the forums for reset procedure. You can also wait for the battery to drain completely and then power it up again (by connecting to USB/charger).
    Since you were not doing a software update when the error occured, I do not suspect a Flash corruption.

  2. zunetips says:

    I did try all the various resets, and it didn’t work. I suspect it’s a problem with a loose cable to the video display.

  3. Carolina_champ says:

    The same exact thing happen to my Zune. I could even hear the music playing but couldnt see anything on the screen, even though you could tell the backlight was on. When I would turn it off for a while and turn it back on, I would see the display for about 2 seconds and then it would back out again. Let me know how it goes and how long it takes because I sent mine off around the same time as you.

  4. zunetips says:

    Carolina_champ: I’m still waiting for the FedEx box to send out my Zune, so you’re ahead of the game compared to me!

  5. Azzlegog says:

    I am doing a Google search for this EXACT problem. (this is how i found this forum actually).

    I have noticed a LOT of posts all over about this problem.

    It is NOT sleep mode, nor do resets of any kind work.
    It seems a lot of people are having this exact issue in about 3 months of owning a Zune.

    This (after being so happy about my Zune) is mu second major disappointment with my choice in buying a Zune (the first being that it ONLY works with Zune Marketplace and NOTHING ELSE… not even other players made by Microsoft). But this is beside the point.

    I am still looking for a solution to getting my screen back, so i can at least navigate play lists or videos.

    if ANYONE out there finds a fix for this issue, PLEASE post it here and anywhere else you can find.

    This does seem to be a pretty common problem and I’m sure a solution would ease a lot of minds out there.


  6. zunetips says:

    Azzlegog – I tried everything I could think of to get the LCD screen working again on my Zune, but just couldn’t fix it on my own. Ultimately, my only answer was to send it in to the repair center to get it fixed. I just got it back today (after 18 days) and they replaced my original Zune with a different one (I can’t tell if it’s refurbished or new).

    In any case, I think you’ll have to bite the bullet and send it in to get it working again.

  7. michele says:

    Mine had a different problem (it decided not to ever charge again on the first day of a trip). But, I was happy with the customer service I received. I talked to a girl named Jaimie, with an slight accent I couldn’t quite place. I’m guessing Malaysia. My box is enroute!

  8. Azzlegog says:

    I sent it in.
    Still waiting for it to get back.

    Thanks for the reply!

  9. zunetips says:

    If my Zune 80 was out-of-warranty, I would probably open it up and try to fix it myself. There’s lots of web sites that show how to open your Zune (with pictures). BUT, only if it was out-of-warranty! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. nay nay says:

    My zune just one day decided 2 just not charge anymore (everything else worked perfectly fine). I tried everything but it just wouldn’t charge. I was in agony as I saw the battery bars drop lower and lower with nothing I can do about it. I just recenlty sent it off to get fixed about 3 days ago. I can’t wait 2 get it back.

  11. zunetips says:

    nay nay: The Zunes are definitely fragile, complicated devices. It’s not like the days when you had a Walkman cassette recorder! You probably just had a bad battery, and it gave out much sooner than it was designed for. Hopefully, you can get it fixed at no or little cost. It’s going to be agony waiting for your Zune to get back… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  12. Johb says:

    I just got the box to send out my Zune 80. It stopped working right after 3 months of use, it seems to be a reoccurring problem with Microsoft. The only problem is that I got it off eBay from a guy that won it as a doorprize somewhere. It says I need a proof of sale date receipt, but I don’t know what to send, and I don’t want to pay since it was new when I got it and it has barely been 3 months. Any ideas?

  13. zunetips says:

    Johb: I’ve read some postings on different forums where people don’t have a receipt and need to ship their Zune in for warranty repair. Fortunately, I was able to logon to (where my wife ordered my Zune as a Christmas present) and print out the receipt.

    If you registered your Zune on the web site, I think you will be in better shape. However, you still need to prove when you made your purchase (which is what the receipt is for). I suggest you do a search on this topic on the forums or to see what comes up.

  14. samantha says:

    this happened to me.and i sent mine and it took a few months to get it back.and the zune company did not fix it.they told me that the screen was not in their warranty(sp?).and they would not fix it.although i have never dropped my zune it did have just a few scratches on it from the normal everyday to day use.they told me i abused my zune and that the screen would not be fixed

  15. zunetips says:

    samantha: Yeah, I know. The repair center uses any excuse to not repair your damaged Zune under warranty. Luckily, mine was in pristine condition so they couldn’t refuse to fix it. I’m not sure if buying an extended warranty at the store (e.g., Best Buy, Circuit City, etc) is any better. I’ve always had bad luck with those types of warranties.

    So, what are you going to do with your damaged Zune?

  16. bradley says:

    The first time i recieved my Zune form original it was broken. To recover from an error Zune have to erase all the content, i tried all my best and call the customer service they said will send me a emty box. Can you please answer me do i have to pay any fee or charge during my repair process (when i recieve the emty box should i pay for the Fedex about the shipping fee ?). Please help me

  17. zunetips says:

    bradley: If you bought your Zune from the company “Originals” then I’m not sure what their repair procedure is. When I returned my Zune (under warranty) to Microsoft, they send me a FedEx box with a prepaid label. So, I didn’t have to pay for shipping at all. Note, that Microsoft will charge you for shipping if they determine that your device is not covered under warranty, so you could be charged if the warranty period has expired or if you ship them a visibly damaged device (dents, scratches, etc).

  18. Chris says:

    My Zune 80 (which I love) gave me the contact support message 5. Most I could do was get it to “Please Wait” screen where it would sit until it ran out of juice. I contacted Zune repair and opened a work order. My message says I should get the warranty in 6-8 weeks. What up with that? No info regarding sending it in (8 mos old) an addresss or procedures. Just a long page with their warranty rules and a promise, a service repair number, and the promise of sending me a copy of the warranty in 6-8 weeks. ???? Someone explain this to me.

  19. zunetips says:

    Chris: Did you call them on the phone? If I remember right, I called them and talked with a tech who initiated the return.

  20. Ankur Mohan says:

    You do not need to call, Chris in order to start the service repair process — a fedex box will be sent to you regardless and they will bill you if they deem that damaged your device. What they mean about the 6-8 weeks and that made me a bit puzzled to when I first read that was a service request finalization form of some sorts — basically a run down of what went wrong or something like that, that should be well after you get your Zune back in working condition (hopefully). My question though is should I include my sync cable in the fedex box and the original Zune box or just the Zune and nothing more?

  21. zunetips says:

    Ankur: The return FedEx box that I received had a foam insert that fit the Zune precisely, and there was no room for anything else. I only sent back the Zune itself, so you don’t need to send the sync cables, etc.

  22. Ankur Mohan says:

    Thanks for the speedy reply — I really appreciate it. One last question though, which I also forgot to ask. On my Zune I had bought a screen protector, because I really did not like thumb prints and the such — should I take it off, before I send it or do you think it doesn’t really matter? I just don’t want Microsoft calling me and saying that I added 3rd party merchandise and somehow killed my warranty (random — but you never know?) — the screen is easily removed with scotch tape (well it is supposed to be easy as per instructions). Thanks once again for the speedy reply.

  23. zunetips says:

    Ankur: I’m not sure if they would reject your warranty claim if it has a screen protector (I haven’t heard of this happening to anyone). Just to be safe, I would probably remove it. If your screen has an obvious scratch or your device is dented, the repair center may refuse to fix it (I’ve read that happening on more than one occasion). Good luck with your return… and be ready for a long wait! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  24. Josh says:

    here’s my issue if anyone can help me
    well one day I had my zune connected to my X-box 360 to help charge it
    then a few days later I want to leave with my zune I hit play and it says “the item is missing or can’t be played” I’ve tried reinstalling it and putting music back on the zune And nothing happens
    I need help And I don’t really want to send it back to zune…unless I would really need to


  25. mommy of 3 says:

    as for me, i was loading music on my zune a few weeks ago, and my zune froze up on the main screen and would not turn off! i have only owned my zune for approx. 6-7 months and i purchased it with the warranty (2year)… i freaked because last month some thing were stolen from my car (which caontained any and all documents regarding my zune) so then i freaked some more beause i realized that if it didn’t turn off (it would stay on, DUH) which means it could overheat and blow the battery! which luckily did not happen… it just drained my battery. like i said, its not been a few weeks and there is still no sign of life coming from my zune. any advice on what i should do?

  26. zunetips says:

    mommy of 3: I’d first let it completely drain of battery power, then charge it up fully. You should make sure your Zune cable is working ok, and that you have a good, powered USB port to charge from (for most PCs, it’s the ports in the back, not the front). Once it’s fully charged, try doing a hard-reset (hold the back button and up button at the same time). If none of that works, then I recommend you call the Zune Repair Center and send it in for repair since you’re still covered under the warranty.

  27. zune woes says:

    I had my zune 4 days when it quite working. I was adding podcasts to it and it shut off and would not turn back on. I shipped them my zune took forever to get there like 6 days and now it shows that its being repaired. ugh im having zune withdrawl! please tell me someone got there zune back lmao!

  28. daryell says:


    i also did the same things you did as far as talking to a represenative and but unfortounately i got a guy with the thick indian accent and he didn’t tell me that they where gonna send anything out to me he told me that i had to do it my self is there any way you can shine some light on the situation any help would be great

  29. zunetips says:

    daryell: It’s been over a year since I sent my Zune back for repair, so I’m not sure if they still send out a FedEx box or not any more. What I suggest, is you search the forums at and try to find some recent postings on this subject.

  30. Ron says:


    I use my Zune ALOT. I noticed that it will “lock-up” after playing a long video. It locks up other times, as well. You have to let it discharge completely. Then, recharge. Should work fine from there. Nowadays, I don’t let the long videos play all the way thru. I’ll stop it just before it ends. That seems to work for me. Hopefully, this helps.

  31. zunetips says:

    Ron: I’ve never had an issue with playing long videos and having my Zune lock up. What kind of videos are they? Are you converting DVDs to wmv or mp4 format? I might be your conversion tool that is causing some issues at the end of the video conversion.

  32. daryell says:

    hi i also called that number and didn’t get to that point and now calling the number it no longer exsit as the zune customer service number is there any way possible of obtaining a new number for them ?

  33. zunetips says:

    daryell: Did you try the web site for a support phone number?

  34. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers! Sandra. R.

  35. Jcdyd4u says:

    I was flyin home from Japan and only had my zune to keep me company. It was working and i was watching a video on the airplane. I turned it off and set it in the back pocket of the seat in front of me. When I turned it back on I got the error 5 …. it was a long boring flight after that. I drained the battery I charged it I also did everything the zune site told me to do… when i tried to reset then restore device it kept making this clicking sound until it died… and said please wait… ive not seen another person comment on it so i wasnt sure if it was normal. mine wont even play… just crapped out on me… how sad…

  36. Jcdyd4u says:

    And one other thing. If you go to the Zune website it will tell u to do 3 things… First step will be to try to reset the zune. If that doesnt work they tell u to try to restore the zune. And lastly if that doesnt work. It will ask for ur address and u can choose to have then send u a box but that will take aprox 10 bus days it says and then u ship it to them to get it fixed. Unfortunately I am in the military and stationed in Japan so I only have a PO box and they will not ship to me. So I have to ship my zune to my house in the US then my family will ship to zune then they’ll ship to my family and then get it shipped back to me. so its a mess. i am goin to continue searching online for anything i can find to try to fix it first without voiding the warranty.

  37. Thalia says:

    So I can’t help but notice that this was over 2 years ago. Did you ever post a story about when you got it back? Link please?
    I’e been thinking of doing something like this for my zune but I would like to know if there was a happy ending.

  38. zunetips says:

    Yes, there was a happy ending. I got my Zune 80 back from the repair center and it looked brand new (but it was most likely refurbished since it didn’t come in a retail box or with an sync cable or ear buds). Everything worked fine with it until I got a Zune HD for Christmas. So, the Zune 80 now sits in my desk drawer serving as a backup just in case my Zune HD dies.

  39. anush says:

    the battery of my zune 4GB ipod is not working .
    please tell me what should i do!
    It is working when it is direcctly connected to electricity.
    please help me!

  40. zunetips says:

    All I can suggest is you check out and see what they charge to replace the battery. Or, if you’re daring you buy a battery from their web site and try to replace it yourself. That’s what I would probably do myself.

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