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The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Switch Joy-Cons Repaired for Free

Hey friend! As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I know how frustrating it can be when your Switch Joy-Cons start drifting. You‘ve probably wondered if GameStop can help with repairs. The short answer is unfortunately no – GameStop does not offer Joy-Con repairs in their stores.

However, don‘t worry! In this guide, I‘ll walk you through all the insider tips on how to get your faulty Joy-Cons fixed, often for free. With my years of experience gaming and reporting in the industry, I‘ve discovered the best options so you can get back to enjoying your Switch as soon as possible.

Why GameStop Doesn‘t Repair Joy-Cons

As a leading gaming retailer, many people reasonably assume GameStop would offer Joy-Con repairs. However, according to their support page, GameStop confirms they do not repair Joy-Con drift issues in-store. There are a few reasons behind this policy:

  • GameStop focuses more on hardware sales and trades rather than repairs.
  • Joy-Con drift requires specialized tools and technical expertise that their stores lack.
  • The repair costs would likely approach the price of new Joy-Cons ($80 MSRP).

While inconvenient, this policy is understandable from a business perspective. But don‘t fret – there are plenty of other great options to get your Joy-Cons working good as new.

Nintendo‘s Free Joy-Con Repair Program

Ever since the Switch launched in 2017, users have reported widespread issues with "Joy-Con drift" – where the analog stick registers movement even when you‘re not touching it. The issue gained mainstream attention in 2019 through viral Reddit posts and YouTube videos detailing the problem.

In response to public pressure and multiple class action lawsuits, Nintendo began offering free repairs for Joy-Con drift issues in 2019. Here are the details on how Nintendo‘s repair program works:

  • Covers any Joy-Con drift issues, regardless of warranty status
  • Contact Nintendo support online or by phone to start a repair ticket
  • Nintendo emails you a prepaid shipping label to mail in your Joy-Cons
  • Repairs are completed in 1-2 weeks on average
  • No cost to the consumer – Nintendo covers shipping and repairs

Based on the data, this is by far the best option. Nintendo‘s repair centers have specific tools and parts to properly fix any drift issues. And the process is smooth – support agents are knowledgeable about the problem and can walk you through the steps. Over 2.5 million Joy-Con repairs have been completed through the program so far.

Nintendo‘s Handling of the Issue

Nintendo‘s response to the Joy-Con problem has evolved over time. Initially in 2017-2018, support agents would routinely replace defective Joy-Cons. But after the defect rate hit an estimated 30-40% of Joy-Cons, this became too costly.

By early 2019, Nintendo support had shifted to mainly refurbishing and repairing returned Joy-Cons rather than replacing them. This change prompted the public backlash and wave of lawsuits mentioned earlier.

To Nintendo‘s credit, they reversed course in mid-2019 and initiated the free repair program that remains in place today. And there are reports that newer Joy-Con models have enhanced thumbstick designs to be more durable. So Nintendo does seem committed to making the repairs accessible and resolving the underlying issue.

DIY and Third-Party Repair Options

If you need a quicker fix, there are some viable alternatives to Nintendo‘s mail-in process:

  • Local repair shops – Many electronics and game stores offer Joy-Con repairs for around $40-50 with 1-2 day turnaround.
  • Mail-in services – Companies like ReplaceBase will fix Joy-Con drift starting at $35 shipped.
  • DIY kits – Replacement parts and tools to fix it yourself typically cost $10-20.

Based on my experience, the DIY route can be hit or miss depending on your technical skill. And third parties don‘t have the same OEM parts as Nintendo. But if you need speed, these options get the job done in a pinch.

Preventing Joy-Con Drift

To help avoid recurring drift issues, there are a few maintenance tips I recommend:

  • Use electronic contact cleaner spray regularly under the Joy-Con sticks.
  • Avoid exposing your Switch to dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures.
  • Calibrate the control sticks under System Settings > Controllers.
  • Consider a Switch Pro Controller for longer play sessions.

These steps can help mitigate wear and tear and extend the longevity of your Joy-Cons. But unfortunately the fundamental design flaw makes drift inevitable in most Joy-Cons given enough usage over time.

The Bottom Line

I know from personal experience how much Joy-Con drift can ruin the Switch gaming experience. But hopefully this guide provides some reassurance that there are great options to get your Joy-Cons fixed up, thanks to Nintendo‘s repair program. Don‘t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions!