This is a guest post sent into us by Paul Mansfield from Cambridge, England and has nothing to do with Paul King’s dislike of Sony after his Tablet S debacle, the Sony Vaio fiasco at work, or that one tape his Walkman ate.
Edited only for formatting (and to add a featured image,) because for some reason everything looked like it’d been shredded in the email I got:
My main issue with Sony is that they have hateful repair policies here in the UK, I don’t know if this is the same worldwide.
I’ve been happy with the performance of the products I’ve bought and have owned quite a few Sony products over the years, although I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I’ve also bought Panasonic, Toshiba, Dell and many other brands.
Years ago, as a student, I bought a Sony Walkman cassette player, and used it for years until it was worn out. I still have it and am pretty sure it still works! Back then, Sony was a premium brand and even aspirational, people paid extra knowing it was worth it. Maybe six years later I bought a thirty-two inch Trinitron flat-screen TV, a monster size TV, but a superb picture at the time.
I never had a fault with it, eventually replacing it with a 42″ Panasonic Plasma, and literally gave the TV away and it expired 16 months later, well over ten years old.
My first run-in with their customer support came a few years after I bought a Vaio TX2 laptop. The TX2
invented the thin and light category when most laptops were chunky. It was a great laptop, had a lovely screen, good performance, and made other people envious.
I was happy with it for quite a while. And then its fan became noisy, at first a slight rumble, but it got steadily worse until it was a constant drone. No problem I thought, just replace the fan. I opened up the laptop, and found the fan was an assembly of fan plus heatpipe and heatsink.
I took a few pictures, wrote down the identifiable part numbers, and tried to buy the fan. All I could find were used/salvaged parts, whether from eBay or third parties. I didn’t want to buy a used fan which would inevitably develop the same fault, and sooner than a new one.
So I called up Sony, expecting they would sell me the fan assembly at a premium. But no. They told me I’d have to send it in for assessment, and they would assess it for US$200 or GB£150! Then they would tell me how much the repair would be, and I could choose to pay it, or have it returned unrepaired, or they could scrap/recycle it. I argued with them for a while, explaining all I needed was a fan, and why couldn’t they sell just that? I got nowhere. I swore to myself I’d never buy another Sony product!
Anecdotally, around the same time, I’d heard from other people who had experienced problems with Sony Vaios when their laptops had gone in for repair and had long delays because of Sony having problems
getting spares. So I wasn’t overly keen on surrendering my laptop to their mercies anyway.
I didn’t send it in, hoping I’d eventually find a way to get a new fan. The problem was solved when the laptop was stolen about six months later, when our entire house was stripped of nearly everything electronic by professional burglars.
Despite my promises, over the following years I still ended up buying a PS3, the last of the Phat ones, so I could run linux on it for fun. When Sony took that feature away, I said “no more Sony products” again!
And yet I bought an Xperia Play for my eldest daughter, a Sony TV, a bluray player, an SBH-80 Bluetooth headset with an Xperia Z Ultra phone, then another PS3. And another PS3 (the last two PS3’s were used and cheap)!
And it’s the Headset and the Z Ultra phone which have finally made me swear off Sony again! I am happy with the SBH-80, it works very well, and been totally reliable.
The only problem with it is that the rubber grommets/ear-buds were never too tight and would pop off too easily, and within months, I’d lost them and found them several times. But one day I really did lose one.
I couldn’t find any spare grommets that would fit, none from any of the random old headphones I had would fit properly.
I checked the Sony site and they sold grommets for other headsets, but not for the SBH-80, so I rang up Sony to ask how to buy new grommets. It took them a long time to answer the question, and after being on hold for a good ten minutes, they finally said they couldn’t provide spares at all, nor could they identify a third party product.
I was pretty annoyed, and again swore I’d never buy another Sony product.
Someone on Head-Fi said he’d found some high quality ones that fit, but despite spending maybe US$12, I was disappointed, they didn’t fit at all. Eventually I found some cheap and barely adequate ones which fit, but would still pop off too easily.
Remember the Xperia Z Ultra? It’s a great phone, or rather, the world’s smallest tablet, with a beautiful 6.44″ fullHD display. But it’s getting old and needs a new battery.
The battery at its best was just about adequate but now is down to 85% by the time I set off to work. Unless I top it up on the way too and from work it’s dead by 8pm.
Being a waterproof phone, the battery is sealed in, so I can’t just pop open the back. Since I am still very happy with the phone, and it’s still worth hundreds to me (against a replacement) I didn’t want to risk damaging it by attempting to repair it myself or trust some random repairer, so I rang up Sony to get
I told them the phone was fine, I didn’t need it reprogramming, updating, nothing, just the battery swap.
Sony’s customer service rep said that I’d have to send it in for assessment and then they would
quote a price, and I could then pay for the repair, pay for it to be returned unrepaired, or they could scrap it for me! This sounded all too familiar :-(
I argued with them that this should be a standard procedure from a fixed-price menu. Couldn’t they even give an estimate?
They were intransigent, couldn’t even give me a range of prices, not even a guess. I said I would have to be an idiot to send in a working item and just hope that the repair price was reasonable. I told the Sony rep what I thought of their service arrangements in an uncharacteristically impolite manner :-(
So, yet again, I have promised myself I will never buy an expensive Sony product again. I might buy a cheap radio but nothing that I wouldn’t consider disposable.
Meanwhile, I am eyeing up the Asus Zenfone 3 Ultra, the Xiaomi Mi Max, the Honor Note 8 and others. Fortunately, Sony don’t make a big screen phone any more, so it should be easy to keep the promise. For the moment.
Perhaps other readers in other countries can weigh in with their attempts to deal with Sony’s post-warranty repair services.