EECB To Sony Turns Lemon Laptop Into New Laptop

Aaron’s Sony VAIO has failed a few times too many. He faithfully sent it back for repair or had a technician visit his home four times, believing Sony’s promise that the repairs would fix the issue. The last time, it failed during finals week at his college on the East Coast. Sony’s repair depot kept the machine for a month, yet the issue still wasn’t fixed for good. The laptop is now out of warranty, but Aaron had the law on his side. He launched an executive e-mail carpet bomb to some Sony contacts, copying Consumerist. The next day, he heard back from two different people at Sony, offering him a new machine comparable to the one that had failed him.

Here’s the letter he sent:

Dear Sony,

I’m a junior at [redacted] from L.A., and I’m writing because the CSRs in the regular support channels have been friendly but were not empowered to help. After 4 Sony repairs, including the most recent repair that took 30 days, my laptop still has hardware defects that prevent it from functioning properly. At this point, I would like to respectfully ask that Sony replace my laptop with a new laptop. I make this request as a reasonable, loyal customer hopeful that Sony will do the right thing. I also understand that as a California resident I may be entitled to remedies under Cal. Civ. Code §1791.1. (The laptop is now out of warranty, but the defects manifested themselves within the year, and I only waited to make this request because I believed Sony Support’s claims that they could repair the laptop.) I’m looking forward to hearing from you. My cell is [redacted].

Let me explain my predicament:

I have a Sony VAIO laptop from hell. The original fan was defective, so Sony replaced it. Turns out that new fan was defective too, so Sony replaced that one too. But the Sony in-home tech managed to fry most of the laptop’s electronics, and it became incredibly unstable. To Sony’s credit, after about 10 hours with customer support, they ultimately set me up with [redacted], a service supervisor in San Diego, who personally replaced the guts of my laptop and overnighted it back to me. That was in Jan ’10.

It worked fine for a couple of weeks, and I was temporarily won back over as a Sony customer. I’m a tour guide at school, and whenever I was asked which laptop to buy for college, I pushed the VAIO. Within a couple months, the laptop was showing signs of hardware failure (blue screens, sudden shutdowns, wouldn’t wake up from standby, etc.), but I could live with it. After my previous experiences–[redacted] excepted–I didn’t want to risk more Sony technicians.

Then, this May, right before all my final papers were due, the laptop refused to boot. Sony support diagnosed it is a dead motherboard and fan. (Unless Sony laptops are only expected to last months, not years, this is not normal wear-and-tear.) Sony agreed to fix my laptop out of warranty, and I sent it to Laredo.

Sony promised my laptop back within 10 days. I got it back almost 30 days later, after weeks of false promises of return dates. I reinstalled Windows, and everything worked fine for a few days. But the laptop began malfunctioning again. It cuts out randomly, both in Windows and during the BIOS POST screen (i.e. it’s a hardware issue, not a Windows driver issue). It’s basically unusable.

At this point, my laptop has been repaired 4 times. The fan has been replaced at least 3 times. I’ve reinstalled windows 4 times. I’ve spent more than 50 hours dealing with the hassle. I’m exceptionally frustrated and disappointed. I bought a Sony because of the reputation for quality. My friends and family know I’m a technie, so I’m the person everyone asks for advice when they’re buying laptop. Yesterday, my sister bought her laptop for college. Given this situation, I wouldn’t let her buy a Sony.

Clearly, my laptop is a defective “lemon”, both in the colloquial sense and according to California law (Cal. Civ. Code §1791.1). At this point, I would like to respectfully ask that Sony replace my laptop with a new laptop. I have no interest in sending this unit back to Laredo for repairs–it seems silly to spend another 30 days without a computer now that Laredo has shown it cannot fix my laptop. I have to confess–given the hassle of this experience, I’m close to just giving in and buying a new laptop, but I’m on substantial financial aid and not sure I can swing it. I’m hoping Sony does the right thing.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you. My cell is [redacted].

Thanks,
Aaron

What Aaron did in this letter that’s particularly effective was summarize his problem in a single paragraph at the beginning of the letter. This can be extremely helpful to busy executives customer service staff, and even busy Consumerist editors to want to know what the core of your complaint is before delving into details.

It worked: Aaron sent this update the next day.

Great news! The EECB worked. After my email yesterday, two different people at Sony called me back today to offer to replace my laptop with the current model that most closely corresponds with my previous one.

Woohoo! Got a lemon of a laptop of your own? Here’s how to write and address your own EECB.