Pacific Northwest Microsoft's Xbox Live network suffered some outages over the holidays, and the company offered subscribers a free arcade...

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Microsoft’s Xbox Live network suffered some outages over the holidays, and the company offered subscribers a free arcade download as an apology. But that wasn’t enough for three Texans, who filed a class-action lawsuit Friday against the company, alleging breach of contract.

The complaint describes the December outages that kept people from “accessing online play for several weeks. … Xbox Live continues to deny subscribers access and has even issued apologies for their failure to correct server problems.”

A Microsoft spokesman said via e-mail that the company “only recently learned of the lawsuit, so we are not in a position to comment at this time.”

The complaint alleges that Microsoft’s increased holiday Xbox sales would lead to a bump in Xbox Live subscriptions and game-play on its servers, but the company “failed to provide adequate access and service to Xbox Live and its subscribers.”

Xbox Live users pay $30 to $50 a year for access to the gaming network.


Chicago offices will be reduced

Washington Mutual, which in 2003 aggressively entered the Chicago-area retail-banking scene, is closing 25 of its 146 offices there, its second significant branch pruning in little more than a year.

The Seattle-based institution ranks fifth in the number of Chicago-area branches, according to recent numbers from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. But it ranks only 28th in Chicago-area deposit market share, at 0.51 percent.

It’s WaMu’s second major Chicago-area retrenchment in little more than a year. In September 2006, it said it was closing 16 percent of its 172 Chicago-area branches.

It will be left with 121 local branches, and it remains committed to the market. “We’re actively engaged now in identifying new locations,” WaMu spokesman Shane Winn said.

About 150 workers are affected, but WaMu will try to place them at other branches locally.


Shares lowest since Nov. ’05

Zumiez stock on Friday dropped $1.63, or 8 percent, to $18.65, the lowest since November 2005.

The Everett-based sports-apparel retailer’s December sales were “uninspiring,” according to Thomas Weisel Partners Group analyst Jim Duffy. He cut his sales growth forecast to 4 percent from 6 percent.

Zumiez, which first sold shares to the public in May 2005, markets primarily to buyers ages 12 to 24, with a focus on skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding.

The company’s stock price fell 17.5 percent last year.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff, the Chicago Tribune and Bloomberg News