Sony Makes Buying Replacement Parts Expensive and Difficult

Hilary G. writes:

My friends & I really like the Sony Fontopia headphones. The earbuds are soft & comfortable, and block outside noise well enough that you may listen at a civilized, Pete Townshend-sanctioned volume. They come with 4 removable earbuds, a pair each of small & medium. However, no matter how hard I try to be careful, eventually my headphones will wind up at the bottom of my bag with heavy junk thrown on top of them, or they’ll get caught on my coat collar, or a dog will chew on them, and with these headphones that means the earbud will get pulled off. And once they’re off, man those little suckers are hard to find.

The first time this happened, I just switched to the other size that came with them. The second time (yesterday), I had to go looking for a replacement. And guess what? Amazon doesn’t carry them. SonyStyles.com doesn’t carry them. I went over to BestBuy (who doesn’t carry them) and they said to go to the Sony store in midtown, and they’d tell me who to call. Right.

Hilary’s solution after the jump.

Yes I’m irresponsible with headphones, but I can’t be the only one! This was getting ridiculous, so I went down the Google search results to about Result #75, where voila! I finally found a site that sells them: Audiocubes.com.

But $10 plus $7 shipping for 2 new earbuds seemed too much – I’d be better off buying a new pair from Amazon for $25 and having 4 earbuds plus some new headphones. So I called Sony at 877-865-SONY and asked if they sell replacement Fontopia earbuds. The woman flatly said “No.” Really? “No.” OK, so I need to buy a whole new set of headphones? Well, I could try their parts & service number at 800-488-7669. A guy there was happy to charge me $9.90 plus $3 shipping for a new pair. Which is still too much, but there you go. I did it. He says they’ll ship in 5-7 days.

Comments

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  1. CMPalmer says:

    I was thinking the same thing about the Apple earbud foams (I’ve already lost all but one of my earbud foams). I figured you could just go buy a bag of 100 of them on e-Bay since they’re just little pieces of foam. I neglected to factor in why anyone would sell them that way if they can sell of them for $4 or more.

  2. wka says:

    I have an older pair of Fontopia headphones, and I agree buying replacement parts is a bad customer experience if it’s as annoying as described here.

    However, let me note something Sony did right. In addition to providing a case for everything (the buds and the 2 cords), they also provide a mini case to keep just the earbuds safe. It’s the black oval-ish thing pictured at left here. The earbuds go in, the case closes around them, and their cords dangle out. (Plus, you can wrap excess length of headphone cord around the mini-earbud case when the earbuds are in your ears.)

  3. oldsmobuick says:

    on a more disturbing note, my wife was listening to her ipod with her new sony earbuds (the current $40 variety. black with chrome accent.). she went to take them out and one of the rubber ends stayed (pretty deep) inside her ear!

    she couldn’t get it out and was panicking as she ran into the time warner center at columbus circle and found a salon where they were nice enough to extract the bud with a pair of tweezers.

    needless to say she won’t use them again, so that’s $40 down the drain.

  4. petro says:

    Just buy the earpeice from Sony – they DO sell them individually. I bought one for $6 total and had it in the mail within days.

  5. mikelite says:

    yeah, $6 for one little earbud is a complete rip-off.

    Take full advantage of a certain Big Box electronics store’s return policy. Buy the new headphones, pull the correct size buds out, replace them with a size you don’t use and return ‘em. they’ll never question it.

    if you’d like something a little more towards legal, then the forums at ilounge have a trading page. You can trade sizes you don’t use for ones that you need.

  6. Rock-Ola 443 says:

    This is of limited regional interest, of course, but if you’re in Toronto you can pick up the buds at Videophase, a Sony repair shop located at 569 King St E. They want five bucks per, which is still highway robbery, but at least they know what you’re talking about and have them in stock, which is more than I can say about any mall Sony Store.

  7. Roberta says:

    Lesson 1: Sony parts are hard to find and expensive

    Lesson 2: Sony products break down more frequently than other manufacturer’s products.

    Moral: Don’t buy Sony products.

    Roberta

  8. bablum says:

    I found replacement ear buds on Ebay for 3.99-4.99. Not too bad.

  9. DaveK67 says:

    $1.19 a pair at digole.com, I don’t know about quality however. I just ordered 5 pairs of mediums ($8.50 or so shipped) so I’ll find out soon enough.

    $1.19 a pair seems a reasonable price… $5-$10 does not.

  10. DaveK67 says:

    Just a quick update for searchers… those replacement buds from digole are good quality. They’re slightly harder rubber than the originals but they’re holding up better, a lot less likely to pop off the headphones (I’m still on my first two).