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 A day wasted with Sony technical support    
 Dated:  Wednesday, June 11 2008 @ 04:19 PM PDT
 Viewed:  4,151 times  
ThoughtsContinuing the thread of bad customer support, I just had a really bad several days with Sony technical support trying to get my $2,400 television fixed. I'm documenting this in google groups, and also reproducing the thread here.

Posted Jun 5, 2008:

We've had a Sony KDF-42WE655 for about 18 months and the picture is starting to look blotchy. It's not always visible, but if there is a bright background you can see several large (2 to 3 inches across) dark areas on the screen. As far as we can tell, the blotches are not on the surface of the screen. The blotches don't move with the picture. This appears to be something physical, not a decoding error.

The screen doesn't look particularly dim and the colors are still accurate, so it doesn't appear to be a bulb issue. Not sure what it is. The TV has suffered no trauma. I don't think it's moved once since we parked it. Any ideas?

Posted June 8, 2008:

Thanks for everyone's response. Turns out Sony will fix this if you call them before the end of 2008.

Posted June 10, 2008

Update: I called Sony support prepared to argue with them, but the process was absolutely painless. They looked up the closest service center and told me to call and schedule an appointment. I said I could put the TV in the truck and just drive it there, but the sony rep said oh no, they don't expect me to move the TV; if it really has the described problem, they'd pay for a house call. I've never heard of this before.

I called the shop yesterday, and they quickly scheduled a person to come out in two days (which would be tomorrow). The only caveat is that if the TV doesn't have this problem, I'm on the hook for a $95 house visit. But the issue is so obvious, and matches the photos on Sony's support page so closely, that I don't think there's going to be a problem.

I have to admit, I'm flabbergasted. I remember manhandling my extremely heavy tube tv to the shop a couple of times all by myself in the nineties, and getting uncaring, expensive and occasionally hostile response from a repair center that apparently knew quite well that they were the only game in town. Could things have changed that much in ten years?

As said, the appointment is tomorrow. There's still time for things to go south. Stay tuned...

Posted June 11, 2008:

Well, I thought things were going too smoothly. Today the other shoe dropped. The authorized Sony repair tech visited the house today. It was his verdict that the blotches are the wrong color to be covered by the Sony image block extended warranty. (The wrong color??) He said it was the same part (image block) and what sounded like the same cause (dust getting into the sealed unit) but Sony only covered replacement of the image block if the blotches are blue. No other color.

I called Sony technical support back and talked to their customer relations department. "Rafael" said that the warranty has been extended on several Sony LCD TVs, and for many colors of blotches on other models, or any color blotch on some models, but only blue blotches on this particular model (KDF-42WE655).

I said that doesn't make any sense. Apparently it doesn't have to.

So, I said to the Sony customer relations specialist, let's summarize here: I paid $2400 for a TV which, 6 months out of warranty, had a major failure, requiring replacing the most expensive component (the image block) and Sony thinks this is the normal and expected level of quality that I should expect from Sony televisions?

Further, I said, are you really expecting me to pay in the neighborhood of $1200 to have it fixed, which at today's prices would buy me a new TV of comparable size with more features? Moreover, if I must replace the TV, wouldn't it be financially irresponsible of me to replace it with another Sony?

So what we finally came down to is that they want me to fax them the original receipt and they'll make a decision on how this is going to go. I'm willing to jump through that additional hoop (assuming the receipt still exists after a year and a half) but I don't hold much hope.

I guess the moral is, don't buy one of these things, and if you do, be prepared to sharpen your debating skills. And for God's sake save the receipt.

My last Sony television was a 1985 XBR ($1,100) which lasted me a little over 20 years. Until now, I've always had a high opinion of Sony quality. It makes me sad to see how far they've fallen.

Posted June 12, 2008:

Update: I got a call from the shop this morning. The service will cost $600-something for the part, something less than $100 for the EPA disposal fee for the old part, and the rest is labor. Total $1135, which counting the $95 diagnosis fee leaves a grand total of $1230.

For comparison, a brand spanking new Philips 42PFL5603D/27, which has three HDMI sockets (the Sony only has one) and supports 1080P (Sony only does 1080i), is $1,219.98.

So the question becomes, why, as a responsible consumer, would I get my current set fixed for *more* (grand total) than the cost of buying a *better* TV new? Moreover, under these circumstances, why, as a responsible consumer, would I buy another Sony TV?

In fact, after this experience, why would I buy *any* device by Sony?

I'm not just venting, I'd really like to know the answers to these questions, if anyone from Sony is listening.

And finally, I can't shake the feeling that I've been scammed by the repair process. The Sony rep made a big deal about having the local repair person come to the home instead of me taking the TV to the shop (as I could easily have done), assuring me that Sony doesn't want me to lug the thing around, they'll gladly pay the cost of the house call. Well, they didn't.

Similarly, the local service center was all sweetness and honey right up to the moment that the service guy got to the home, and then things rapidly got grim and unfriendly. I'm left with the feeling that the entire process is designed to get that $95 initial fee from me, because they know damn good and well that that's all they're going to get, when the hapless consumer discovers that (a) Sony ain't gonna cover it, and (b) total repair cost is greater than replacement cost. Sigh. Well, it's a learning experience. And the learning is, no Sony, never again. Not to say there aren't other unscrupulous vendors out there, but fool me twice, shame on me.

At this moment, it looks like we will be acquiring a new TV, probably the Phillips previously mentioned, and the Sony is landfill.

Mid July, 2008

I've given up on this. I can't find the receipt. I'm just not a person who keeps receipts. It appears that Sony will not budge, the TV is clearly ruined, and the repair cost is about the same as the cost to buy a better TV. I guess I'll just have to consider this a Lesson Learned. One of the learnings is that Sony is not the company they used to be, either in the quality of their consumer goods, or their willingness to stand behind them.

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