The Informed Consumer Strikes Again, Ends Up With Free Repair

You know what makes our day? Helping out whoever we can in a tight spot. Sort of like when Princess Leia is like, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope,” except we are far less Jedi and really, it’s up to you to arm yourselves with info in the battle against bad companies. That being said, reader Michelle, you’re a great Leia.

Michelle wrote in to share a story of a happy ending she found by using information on Consumerist. We humbly accept her thanks and are also super excited that she had a positive resolution to her woes with Sony.

She explains that she bought a Sony PS3 two years ago, basically to watch DVds, Blu-Rays and stream Netflix movies. Then about a year ago, the dang thing started acting up. Sometimes it would work with a Blu-Ray, sometimes not. It all came to a head recently when she and her daughter were trying to watch a movie on Blu-Ray and it wouldn’t load, nor would any others she tried.

After emailing a customer support rep about her problem, and some back and forth trying to make it work had failed, she was told she’d have to hand over some cash. Here’s where Michelle’s consumer sassiness came out.

He said the only option was to send it in for an out of warranty repair. Why would I want to spend a minimum of $50 to repair it when I can buy a basic blu-ray player (and it would not be a Sony brand!) for the same price? He said his hands were tied but would I like to speak to a manager, uh…yes!

I did mention a couple of times to him (in a nice way) that I am an informed consumer and I am sure many others would be interested to hear my story on the Consumerist.com website and maybe my many friends on Facebook should be aware to avoid Sony products since they are not very well made. I admit it was a veiled threat but I felt I was getting fleeced for a repair that should not have been needed in the first place and I that I should not have to pay an unknown cost to fix.

He came back on the phone and said they were going to offer me a “goodwill repair” and will be sending me a prepaid shipping box and it will be repaired free of charge and returned back to me within two weeks. Hurray to Sony for doing the right thing!

She adds a word of advice for her fellow consumers, “Don’t ever take, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you,” as the final answer!”

We concur. Go on your bad selves, fair readers.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Abradax says:

    This wasn’t being an informed consumer. It was threatening bad publicity for not giving them service they weren’t entitled to per the now expired warranty they received when they bought the device.

    • josephbloseph says:

      Seconded. This is Sony going above and beyond to satisfy a terrible customer.

    • Lucky225 says:

      I can’t agree more, and well the story shows ‘Sony doing the right thing’, it more or less puts Sony in a bad light. Don’t get me wrong I *HATE* Sony, and do *NOT* buy Sony products, nor would I ever suggest anyone to buy Sony, but I think on this one me and Sony can agree.

    • Psycho Conductor says:

      This.

    • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

      “I was informed you don’t like bad publicity.”

    • Nunov Yerbizness says:

      Simple math. According to her (assuming she’s telling the truth), she bought the unit two years ago. It began acting up about a year ago, which would mean it basically chose to go TU about the time that a typical one-year factory warranty expired, maybe a hair before, maybe a hair after.

      Maybe at your house, it’s standard operating procedure to replace all the electronics at the one-year mark, but at most homes, people justifiably expect their electronics to work well beyond the one-year factory warranty. If it craps out at the 366-day mark, guess what: I’m gonna holler very loudly to Sony about their jury-rigged piece of shyte, and demand that they fix it.

      Although I don’t see anything about her email that makes her sound particularly well-informed.

    • Jawaka says:

      Agreed. Basically the customer blackmailed Sony.

      Any of course people around here will applaud it.

    • kimmie says:

      +1. My sentiments exactly.

  2. Cat says:

    Michelle, you’re a great Leia.

    MB, is there something you want to tell us?

  3. sirwired says:

    I wonder why, even two years ago, one would have bought a PS3 even though a networked Blu-Ray player would have been far cheaper.

    • Diabolos needs more socks says:

      Perhaps they wanted the PS3 for games AND Blu-Ray?

      • Cat says:

        And 2 years ago a netflix-enabled Blu-ray was pretty pricey when you found it.

        • Michael Belisle says:

          Two years ago, I paid $175.19 for a Sony BDP-N460 Blu-Ray player with Netflix. A Slim PS3 at the time was $299.

          The point stands. Why would anyone have bought a PS3 if all they wanted was Blu-ray and Netflix?

          • BurtReynolds says:

            In my experience, the standalone Samsung BD player I had would get cranky at newer discs which I attributed to the useless “BD Live” features that they want to run. BD Live wants an internet connection and a spot to write a file.

            The Samsung would periodically refuse to play some discs, while my PS3 has never had an issue with any disc.

            Plus if you wanted built-in wireless on that standalone blu-ray player in 2009, it pushed the price closer to a PS3. That is why I own two PS3s.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          My Samsung BDP-1590 (yup, the Wallyworld version of the 1600, just so they can say “nope we can’t price-match”) was bought 2+ years ago for $148. Although the Canadian version doesn’t support Netflix, as Netflix wasn’t available to us back then, the US version does. Funny though how Samsung never bothered giving said Canadian versions a firmware update to support Netflix. Just saying: if you wanted a BD player that can do Netflix, they were surely out there for far less than the price of a PS3, even more than two years ago.

    • valthun says:

      I will still recommend a PS3 over a standalone BD player for some people. It comes down to their needs and the environment it will be in.

      1. PS3 is the only BD player that has been able to play every BD movie ever released from day 1 of BD. Including being the only player that was able to upgrade to BD3D if you care about that crap.
      2. The UI for netflix/Hulu are hands down better than any other integrated UI on a BD player
      3. If you like to play games and like movies this is the machine to get because of the BD player functionality

      Yes there are cheaper BD players on the market, but for what the PS3 offers it’s a pretty decent return on investment.

      I do think the OP picked poorly in her situation, as she appears to have no desire to play games and therefore a Roku box plus BD player may have been better and cheaper

  4. keith4298 says:

    Being an informed consumer is knowing that you have a year left on your warranty even though the company says it has expired.

    Being an informed consumer is contacting your credit card company to use the extra year of warranty coverage that most people don’t know they throw in with your policy.

    Threatening a company to do a repair for free when you are out of warranty is just being a bully.

    Congrats and all, but I’m not sure I’d call this a consumerist teachable moment.

    • Guppy06 says:

      What do you call putting crap hardware on the market and expecting customers to pay what amounts to be an annual repair fee?

      • Jawaka says:

        They reach into you pocket, pull out your wallet and make you purchase said crap? If a person purchases a Sony product it was because they chose to purchase a Sony product.

        And really, how many people really don’t know that practically every electronic device comes with a one year warranty. Not two, not one and a half. One year warranty.

        I bet that where ever she purchased that PS3 they offered her an extended warranty that of course she declined.

        But of course it’s Sony’s fault.

        • Guppy06 says:

          A warranty is a pledge to fix problems within a specified year, not a statement of expected lifespan. Is your refrigerator still under warranty? If not, why haven’t you bought a new one?

          If Sony put on the box that what they sold was essentially disposable, that would be one thing, but…

          • George4478 says:

            My fridge is out of warranty, but I don’t expect LG to fix it for free if it breaks.

            If she wanted a warranty that would last for however long she planned to own the product, she should have bought one. But, I guess the blackmail was cheaper.

      • Snoofin says:

        Its because people are cheap asses who dont want to pay for anything so manufacturers have to cut down the quality of the internal components, shorten the warranty period and offshore customer service to make moeny. PS3s used to cost a couple hundred more to make then they sold for and Sony would make up the lost revenue through game licensing and PSN purchases. This is the reason you can buy a Sony receiver for $300 and get a crappy product with lousy customer service or a High Quality Marantz receiver for $5,000 and get excellent customer service where they bend over backwards to help you and your product lasts much longer than a year

  5. backbroken says:

    I didn’t know ‘blackmail’ was a tool in the good consumer’s toolbox.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      It’s the “hate the 1%” mentality. Sony represents The Man to them.

  6. Not Given says:

    Now tell me when you get it back is it still free and does it work?

  7. krom says:

    What’s face-palming about this is that the PS2 had the Exact. Same. Problem with it’s discs. Certain *colors* of discs would stop working… usually blue first, then silver…

    Good to see that Sony never fixes its flaws…

    • Shadowfire says:

      The PS2 I believe had the first drive with a single head to read discs. Blue discs were CDs, silver were DVDs. The laser head would end up losing alignment at first causing the DRE you’re talking about, and with some fidgeting you could adjust the head to read the discs again. You’re right, usually it was CDs first then DVDs, but sometimes it was the other way around. Eventually no amount of adjustment would fix it and you’d need to replace the unit.

      The problems really aren’t the same issue though, particularly since its a different drive. :P

  8. Swins says:

    Not an informed or otherwise consumer, just a bully bitch…

  9. ovalseven says:

    I think the whole idea of their offer was that you don’t write to Consumerist and tell everyone that Sony products are poorly made.

    Congratulations on scoring a free repair, but you could have been more gracious about it.

  10. who? says:

    I agree that this is just threatening the company with internet shame to get them to fix an out of warranty product. But I do have to admit that I used the same exact tactic on Vistaprint once when they screwed up a set of business cards I ordered. “I’m going to tell all of my friends on the internet” got an instant resolution to the problem.

  11. Michael Belisle says:

    I just checked Amazon. Which Blu-ray player is ‚â§$50? Perhaps you can get a refurbished Insigna from Best Buy, but that’s hardly the same.

    A more informed question is “Why would I pay $50 to repair my PS3 when a new PS3 is $250?”
    Oh wait…

    • operator207 says:

      You suck at searching.
      Search for “blu-ray player” and sort by price.
      I found 2 that were

  12. AngryK9 says:

    Don’t celebrate until the unit is back and actually working. How many stories have we read here where an item sent for repair comes back still malfunctioning or in worse shape than it was sent out?

  13. ovalseven says:

    Right. And it would have been fair on her part to tell them they’d be getting bad publicity even if they helped her.

  14. XTREME TOW says:

    Makes me shudder that she might treat people that way in real life too!

  15. druidicawen says:

    My problem is, why weren’t repairs requested in warranty when it started having problems? Why wait until it is completely broken?

    • Guppy06 says:

      Aggravation of dealing with customer support versus aggravation of putting up with what appear to be intermittent issues.

  16. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    “Bad selves”? Perhaps. Bad Consumer? Most definitely.

  17. LIthium543 says:

    This kind of “customer” behavior is what makes business such a pain. You have a 1 year warranty to be sure that the device is free from manufacturing defects. Calling up the company and complaining after your warranty is up is kind of like complaining to Starbucks that your coffee is gone after you’ve enjoyed the entire cup.

    Had you been my customer, I would’ve told you to buy an Xbox next time.

    • Guppy06 says:

      “Free of defects” and “free of symptoms of defects” are not the same thing. If the console ships from the factory with a defective drive, it’s defective whether it ultimately fails on day 1 or day 366.

  18. Overheal says:

    Sure I’ll share one Consumerist. When I bought a new Acer tablet one of the preloaded apps said “Hey here, download 3 free HD Games” Sweet!. Input the serial number, and get a weird error… Hrm.

    Emailed the game company up and they said “that promotion is only for [older model acer] do you have a screenshot of the promo?” No I sure didn’t, or think of it, and it wasn’t recreating the error, maybe because they patched the website it was linking me too? Ha.

    But nice and happily I just said “No I didn’t, and I can’t seem to recreate the promo page either, so either it was a funny glitch or it’s been patched on your end. Either way, if you say it was only for the older model, I’m not here to hold you to anything.”

    I got a reply 5 minutes later with the direct download links for the games.

    Know where you stand, and be courteous, and CSRs will do what they can for you every time.

  19. jayally says:

    I read consumerist on a daily basis and I wanted to share with others on the site that I learned that sometimes not giving up on an issue and just accepting defeat before exploring all options can result in good things and while many may see this as bad for Sony it gave me renewed faith in them as a company who stands behind their products and takes the time to listen, even after the warranty expired. I don’t use the PS3 for movies or gaming very often so it has even less wear than normal, the problems got progressively worse but putting in a DVD would always work so we would just watch something else. When it stopped working completely I decided to research the internet to see what was wrong and found it is a widespread issue, usually the result of firmware updates which I recently had to accept to activate netflix or a manufacturing defect. I was ready to accept I would either have to pay for the repair or buy a stand alone Blu-ray (you can find some good deals for a basic one) so it was refreshing to hear they would cover the repair, including shipping.

    I was going to ignore the comments but there is more to the email then what was posted so it is disheartening to see the comments without anyone reading the full text of the email I sent. My conversation with the CS was very courteous and everything was said in a very friendly and humorous manner as was the intention of my email to consumerist. I was not mean or vindictive but respectful and clearly explained the purpose of my call and I never felt I was entitled to a free repair but felt it wouldn’t hurt to ask. The CS rep had a good sense of humor and went out of his way to see what he could do for me while also having me go through several hoops to see if he could fix the problem. He even joked about the customer satisfaction email that popped into my inbox while we were on the phone, which I will happily fill out.

    • rdaex says:

      According to your original post, you were NOT ready to pay for the repairs… you said “I admit it was a veiled threat but I felt I was getting fleeced for a repair that should not have been needed in the first place and I that I should not have to pay an unknown cost to fix.”

      You had a product, that product had a warranty of 1 year. 1 year AFTER the warranty expired, you had a problem and called the company. The company told you the news, and that they could repair it, for a fee. You stamped your feet and told them you would tell your friends how much of a meanie they are, and they caved, giving you a free repair.

      Im not saying you are a bad person or anything, just dont confuse your actions with being a ‘good informed consumer’

      You could have asked for a trade in program (not sure if they do that or not) or offered a half split payment option.. those would be mutually beneficial compromises, instead of the zero-sum outcome that you got.

      Good on you though, you got em this time.

  20. Black Knight Rebel says:

    Nope, she should have gotten repairs while she was in warranty, not wait until she was way out, threaten bad press and then proceed to give bad press even when offered an olive branch.

    Fuck her, she was just being a bitch and quite frankly, the fact that you this got published on consumerist will likely decrease the amount of good will offers.

    Sony offered me a good will gesture of a free game (“Heavy Rain” by the way. Freaking amazing game) when something happened but I don’t go around emailing consumerist about it because I’m not an asshole.

    And I did it with the advice from consumerist. No need to broadcast specifics, especially when you frame it is such an ugly way.

  21. farker22 says:

    well she does have the warranty of merchantibility, i mean how can the expected life of their product be

  22. penuspenuspenus says:

    Weird. So she blackmails Sony into doing the repairs by name dropping this website and threatening to send them her story. Sony, as a courtesy, does exactly what she wants. She sends the story anyway.

    Seems kind of messed up. Feels like she was going to fuck over Sony no matter how this ended.

  23. bohemond says:

    whenever I have to deal with a customer service rep that I think is being unreasonable, I ask which will cost them more in the long run, refusing to give me the repair/refund/etc on this product that I feel I’m entitled to or losing my business permanently plus losing the business of the people I will mention the problem to. Every single time I’ve done this, the CSR has given me some form of significant concession. Maybe not everything I was asking for, but something that made me feel they were being reasonable.

  24. ancientone567 says:

    I can see why Sony does not want the bad publicity. It was cheaper for them to just pay her off by fixing it. I have to admit I have done similar things to companies but it is usually within the warranty period.

  25. ogremustcrush says:

    As someone who does customer support, it’s the people like this who give me migraines. Fortunately I work on a contract so the people calling in don’t pay for anything directly, I can always refer them to talk to their boss to complain about whatever above-and-beyond service they feel they deserve and I have no ability to provide. Can’t restore un-backed up files, and can’t get a local tech who is off or fixing issues of hundreds of other equally important customers to come fix their issue first.

  26. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    Don’t buy Sony in the first place then you don’t have those kinds of problems. Sony Sucks!