How to Fix Nintendo Switch Pro Controller Drift for $10
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UPDATE: After a week and a half, I have received my Switch Pro Controller back from Nintendo. It works fine now and the control stick drifting issue has been resolved. I suspect it may be a refurbished replacement as there were a few cosmetic surface scratches that are no longer present.
Nintendo Switch Joy-cons have been notable for drift issues on the control stick. Usually it was the left Joy-con is the one that has the problem. Recently, I have started to notice a drifting issue on my Nintendo Switch Pro Controller control stick as well.
Mario wouldn't want you to drift while playing Nintendo Switch
Nintendo of America has a page on their support website to process Switch Joy-con repairs for customers in the United States and Canada. They will fix Joy-cons even if they are out-of-warranty, which is a sign how rampant this issue truly is. Normally, Nintendo's standard warranty on controllers is 90 days.
I went through their repair process for my original Neon Blue Left Joy-con in late 2017, and they had my repair completed in about two weeks. Recently, I noticed both of my original Joy-cons that came with the Switch, the Neon Blue Left and Neon Red Right were both having issues so I opened another repair claim with them, which is currently ongoing.
Around the same time, I noticed my Nintendo Switch Pro Controller was also starting to have control stick drift issues. This controller was purchased in January 2018 which means it was definitely out-of-warranty. The issue I encountered was when holding "up" on the left control stick, eventually it will drift in the other direction and go back down. This usually happens after holding "up" for 20-30 seconds. It can easily been noticeable in games like Super Mario Odyssey, where Mario will be running forward in a straight line and then stall from the control stick drift. It makes the gameplay experience very frustrating, since the controller is providing unexpected results.
I've tried steps on the support website which suggest to update the software on the Switch and controller, went through the calibration steps, to no avail, the issue was still persisting. I also did a little research and found an article on how to fix Pro Controller control stick drift and that this issue might be due to a malfunctioning sensor wheel. It didn't look too complicated, so I had considered fixing it myself, but before attempting that I wanted to see if Nintendo could help me first.
The Pro Controller was purchased over a year ago, so the warranty had long expired, but given how big the issue was with Joy-cons, I decided to give it a shot and contact Nintendo's customer support, and see if they will also cover this out-of-warranty repair for me.
I had initially contacted Nintendo of America's customer support through online chat, described the issues I am encountering, and even showed them a video of the Switch Pro Controller drift issues. I was holding "up" on the controller while on the calibration page and it clearly shows that it doesn't point up consistently, it'll go back down.
When consulting with the Nintendo customer service representative, I expressed frustration in the issues I encountered with the Switch Pro Controller, they promptly acknowledged that there is an issue with a control stick and that it would need a repair as I anticipated.
The option they offered me, they quoted a repair price of $30 USD + $10 USD shipping, so a total of $40 USD plus taxes. This is about $52 CAD plus taxes. I thought the price was outrageous as the Switch Pro Controller has been as cheap as $49.99 CAD before, I am not going to be paying more to repair when I can get a new one.
I mentioned that the price was too high and I was very unhappy with the Switch issues (first Joy-cons, now Pro Controller) and it was an unreasonable repair cost, and that the 90 day warranty period for accessories was way too short.
The Nintendo CSR was sympathetic and said that they can waive the repair fee to $20 USD, so it would be $20 USD + $10 USD for shipping. I mentioned I appreciated their offer but the price is still too high, and I felt that I wasn't feeling appreciated for the loyalty of my lifelong support of Nintendo and their products which have always been very durable. Again, the price went down again, they decided to waive the shipping costs, and offered me $20 USD to repair it and ship it back.
Afterwards, I asked outright and said if they can fix it for free like they did for the Joy-cons, and they said this is the best they can do on the online chat, the CSR suggested I call into customer service and speak to someone directly to see what they can do - which sort of alludes that they can do better that offer.
Never take the first price the Nintendo CSR quotes you, they seem to have discretion to waive up to half the price and the entire shipping costs. It doesn't take that much effort to get the price down.
A few days later, I called Nintendo and spoke to a first line CSR, provided my past case number, and eventually escalated to second line customer service.
I described the same issues again to this CSR, they said they can completely waive the repair costs but charge $10 CAD for shipping. Although I have read stories on Reddit about people getting the Pro Controller repairs completely free, I decided to accept the $10 CAD plus tax offer, it was a good enough price and I didn't want to spend any more time on the phone to get a better deal to get my Pro Controller fixed.
Repairs are apparently the same dollar amount in Canada and the US, so a $10 repair is $10 CAD in Canada, or $10 USD in the US. In other words, at current exchange rates it is effectively a 30% discount for Canadians.
Once I was off the phone, within a few minutes, I was emailed a repair order receipt with instructions and I proceeded to send in my Pro Controller for repair.
If your Switch Pro Controller has issues, Nintendo's customer support can definitely help out, all you need to do is just spend some time to talk to them and they can knock down the price of repairs, just don't take the first price they offer you!