I'm Writing To You From The Laptop Sony Claimed Was Soaked In "Pink Liquid"

I’m composing this email with rather mixed emotions. I am, on the one hand almost lightheaded with relief. I am, on the other hand so incredibly angry I’m almost sick. Let me explain.

Just before Christmas, my Sony Vaio seemed to be having problems charging. I had run the battery down completely the day before, having forgotten my a/c adapter. After suddenly coming out of hibernation in the middle of the night and powering down, it wouldn’t stay on for more than 5 minutes before suddenly shutting completely off (eventually it wouldn’t stay on for more than 15 seconds). After technical support failed to diagnose the problem over the phone, they suggested I send it to San Diego to be serviced.

The laptop’s only 9 months old, and still under warranty, so I thought nothing of it. But being just before Christmas, and just a little busy, I kept putting off sending it. I also left it plugged in just to see if some good might come of it. Thank God for both. The morning I planned to go down to FedEx, I tried turning the computer on, just for grins, and to my surprise, it worked. Almost. Everything was working beautifully except that even plugged in, the computer was continuously losing it’s charge.

A quick experiment proved that the computer would charge itself after it was turned off, but couldn’t charge and would steadily lose power when turned on (as if it was only running on battery.) Hurray! Perhaps it wasn’t the disaster it appeared to be. Excited, I called the Sony Technical support line again, telling them that it looked like it might just be a battery that wouldn’t charge properly, or something that simple. Every thing’s working but that I told them, could they maybe just send me a new battery? They couldn’t. I needed to ship the computer so they could run a full diagnostic. Fine.

They were paying for FedEx overnight to and from, and just in case the problem was something more complicated, it seemed like the best option. So I sent it.

A few days later, when I logged on their site to check on my work order, I was met with a message that an estimate was ready for my repair. Estimate? My computer was under warranty. I called them immediately and was told that the cause of my trouble was liquid damage.

Impossible I told him. He transferred me to a technician. Robert (the technician) told me they had found a ‘pink liquid’ all over the interior of the laptop. I was careful with my laptop. I hadn’t spilled on it, much less doused it with pink liquid. I was furious and instantly suspicious. After a lot of protesting about that, I asked what would it cost to repair?

‘We consider it uneconomical to repair,’ dear Robert answered.

‘Excuse me,’ I replied. ‘How is that possible? When I sent to computer to you the only problem with that it wouldn’t charge!’ Ma’am, he replied, it has liquid damage and would cost more than the computer originally cost to repair.

How is that possible? (I’ll admit I’m beginning to raise my voice at this point.) I ask, ‘when the only thing not working is the charge?’

‘We’re sorry, after market parts cost more than when it was built’. So how much are we talking here? (I’m shaking with rage at this point).

‘$2414.19’ he replied. (It’s possible I passed out at this point). I believe I said ‘I beg your pardon?’

He offered no solution, no alternative. Just, ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do, it’s ruined.’

What the hell did they expect me to do? Ask them to transfer me to the sales department so could slap down more money for their outstanding product and top notch service ?

‘Send it back to me then’ was the only thing I could say. At least I knew it would work for short periods of time. I’d just have to type really fast. Faced with a $2400 bill or the cost of another computer, I didn’t have much choice. The laptop came back 2 days later, complete with a list of the parts that were damaged by liquid and had to be replaced. Out of curiosity, I stared googling the various part numbers. They included the motherboard, CPU, another, yet unidentified Intel part, and my keyboard.

So just for fun, I plugged it in again, left if for an hour just to be sure, and turned it on. And it worked. Perfectly. Except for the one thing I sent it off for. It still wasn’t charging when it was plugged in. But wait a minute. According to Sony, my motherboard and CPU needed to be replaced. Now I don’t know much about computers, but I do know they don’t generally work without a functioning motherboard and CPU. And yet mine was working like a charm, minus the battery trouble. And my keyboard was just fine too (I’ve typed this entire email on it, so I really have to question whether it needs to be replaced.)

And last night, I left it to charge again and this time when I turned it on, everything was fine. No problems with the battery, with it charging. Nothing. I don’t know what’s been going on for the last 2 1/2 weeks but everything works perfectly. I’m ecstatic, almost in a state of shock. I realize it’s peanuts compared to some of your readers messes with houses, cars and credit card companies, but with my income, paying for even a cheap computer at the moment would be impossible. But then a scary thought hit me. What if I hadn’t, by chance, tried turning it on one last time before I sent it to them. What if I hadn’t known it was working when that technician told me it was a complete loss, thanks to a still mysterious pink liquid?

What if out of desperation or a moment”s insanity I had told them to fix it anyway and gave them $2400 for absolutely nothing (not even a malfunctioning battery) . Was this some kind of sick joke? Was Sony so dishonest they were trying to screw the cost of another computer out of me? Could any technician be so incompetent they didn’t even bother trying to push the power button. I’m reluctant to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I can’t shake a very sickening thought. What if I had believed them? I’m still struggling to put into words how I’m feeling both complete relief and total outrage. It’s like I took a new car that wouldn’t start into a dealership, was told the engine was shot and the car was worthless, only to discover it just needed a jump start. I feel like an email to a the executive in charge of the Sony Computer Division is in order. I just can’t find any contact info for anything but the general help line. I don’t suppose you might be able to help?

Sincerely ,
(And composed and sent entirely from my recently diagnosed complete loss of a laptop)


We don’t really know anything about repairing computers, but it does seem sort of hard to believe that your computer works perfectly fine except for the small detail of having to be completely replaced. Maybe there was some sort of mix up?

Does anyone have any contact information for Sony’s computer division that they’d like to share with Rosemary so she can unleash the EECB?



Edit Your Comment

  1. Pope John Peeps II says:

    One would assume an overworked technician was talking about ANOTHER computer, perhaps mislabelled or misplaced in the workshop?

    It’s kind of nice to see customers freak out so much though. Nice job, cool hand Rosemary.

    Also, what kind of customer service can’t send you a new battery when you ask for a new battery? That’s pretty retarded.

  2. calvinneal says:

    Have the computer looked at by an Independent. Liquid damage will cause the type of problems referred to in the post. Good Luck!

  3. noquarter says:

    Having once been a computer repair person, I can say with certainty that they might not have even pressed the power button. If it came in with the problem already diagnosed, the first step might have been to open the computer up and look at it. And it very possibly might have a pink liquid all over the inside if some internal component exploded. And it might keep working for a while even in such a condition.

    You need to get the laptop replaced with a known good one. You spilled nothing on it, and Sony says something is inside it, and it’s likely capacitor juice. Pursue a warranty replacement. They owe you a fully working laptop. You owe them either nothing or a lawsuit depending on how receptive they are to acknowledging their responsibilities and fixing their broken computers.

    • mariospants says:

      @noquarter: At first, I thought you were kidding about “capacitor juice” because there shouldn’t be enough electrolytic fluid in a single laptop capacitor to be easily noticee by a technician as “liquid damage”.

      If it truly was liquid from a failed capacitor, then SONY is definitely responsible. Given that likely 90% of pink liquids we generally come into contact with (pink liquid handsoap, strawberry frappucino and juices) dry clear and only something linked to electronics would still be so pink after it had dried (not to mention other pink liquids would likely smell funny), it’s puzzling to think that the techie immediately pronounced you SOL.

  4. noquarter says:

    @calvinneal: I’d recommend against having an independent person look at it as that is usually a violation of the warranty when dealing with a laptop computer.

  5. kiloman says:

    (Geek Warning) Could sticky resin from a dried, sugary liquid create a large, low-resistance power-to-ground connection, resulting in the laptop consuming so much power while on, that the battery doesn’t have enough power to keep it on long?

    If you have a Kill-a-Watt, you could check the power usage while the laptop is plugged in. Or if you have a trusty, computer-literate friend, on most laptops, it’s not difficult to get the keyboard out and get a cursory view at the motherboard/innards.

  6. phospholipid says:

    Computer repair depots usually run stress tests to mimic the issue that was being caused in the first place. [i can speak first hand, as i’ve worked in a depot] they usually inspect the machine physically, do some basic diagnostics, then run a stress test to see if they can mimic the issue if it is not being replicated at first.

    let me just say, people would bring in their computers ALL the time claiming radical behavior, and AT TIMES would be damn hard to replicate, hence thew stress tests. i would say the computer failed one or more of the tests, leading him to open the computer and notice the sludge. BELIEVE ME, people would claim all the time “THERE IS NO WAY THERE IS ANY LIQUID DAMAGE”

    one time i had a laptop that smelt like maple syrup. anyways, he was probably going with preventive measures [costs], as the stress tests could have prevented a reboot from happening. as for your computer not charging, it sounds like a software issue or you DC jack has become loose from the motherboard, or your adapter all together.

    DO NOT GET IT CHECKED OUT BY A THIRD PARTY, because if they open it up, it violates warranty, [opening it up means, checking out the mobo and not just removing the RAM cover]

  7. pylon83 says:

    I think it’s a bit of a stretch to claim Sony is out to screw the customer here. Perhaps that in order to get it to charge again, all of those parts must be replaced. I like how people who are not computer technicians jump to conclusions and claim to know more about what’s wrong with their machine than a technician who works with them every day.

  8. phospholipid says:


    she can only persue a warranty replacement after ANOTHER diagnosis, or otherwise sony will obviously claim it’s user damage and close the account. they’d have to be diagnosed again, and have it fully documented by sony, but knowing sony they will be underhanded.

    what i would suggest is taking it to a SONY licensed repair shop [i know compusa use to be, i dont know about best buy] and have them do inhouse depot work, AND HAVE THEM TAKE PICTURES. if they say their is no goo, or it’s capacitor goo, send it off to sony wit hthe pictures and the tech’s notes.

  9. starrion says:

    The tech may not have done anything other than open it up and see that the liquid sensor strips (small pieces of chemically treated paper) were showing that they had gotten wet.

    They can sometimes break circuits as well, so that if it gets wet, the product doesn’t work anymore.

    It also makes an excellent cop-out for denying warranty coverage.

    Been to any high-humidity places lately?

  10. RottNDude says:

    This is what you get for buying a Vaio – some of the worst machines out there.

    Next time, consider Lenovo or even Dell.

  11. noquarter says:

    @pylon83: You’re flat out undeniably wrong. Why do you always speak up in favor of the corporations on these forums even when you have no idea what you’re talking about and nothing to say?

    CPUs and keyboards have nothing to do with the recharging process.

  12. MameDennis says:

    To the posters who advise against having a third party look at the machine… Maybe I’m missing something, but why worry about voiding the warranty when the original poster has already been told that Sony won’t do any further work on the laptop?

  13. phospholipid says:

    @MameDennis: she can take it to in house depot [such as compusa or bestbuy] and have them look at it, because they are licesened. if she gets mom and dad shop to open it, sony will claim immediately it violates the warranty, and thus will not be considered for warranty replacement [replacing the unit without repairing it, a brand new one]

    so if in house opens it, under warranty, and says “it’s not the goo’s fault” or “it’s sony’s goo that’s your issue” and takes pictures and such, she can have it warranty replaced.

  14. noquarter says:

    @MameDennis: Because, so far, she has done nothing wrong and Sony is legally liable for whatever’s wrong with it. They claim they aren’t, but they are. Having someone who’s not Sony-certified open the computer would make the legal issues much more complicated and give Sony an easy way out of repairing it.

  15. Nighthawke says:

    From a former service tech: What you can do is get a ESTIMATE from an indie bench on repairs on the unit, then send it in to get serviced. If they try to stiff you, now at least KNOW what to dispute if they try.

    If you do send it in to be serviced and the tech calls you, ask for confirmation of the unit’s serial number and what the original complaint was on it. This will help weed out faulty or lazy techs.

    The unit is young and still under warranty, I’d pursue the warranty replacement route and let them know about the screwup by their techs.

  16. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Lost me at Vaio

  17. Fist-o™ says:


    Yeah! the warranty’s out the window at this point; if you try to send it back in for anything else, they’ll just see the previous entry of “liquid damage” and void any further work.

    I’d have somebody who knows what they’re doing take it apart carefully and examine it, to make sure there really isn’t a blown capacitor, or any signs that some liquid damage really did occur. Maybe some “Gremlin” spilled liquid on it without telling you. (Children, drunk friends, actual gremlins, etc.)

  18. juri squared says:

    I’m absolutely not surprised. I once had Sony ship my laptop back unrepaired, claiming that I had opened it and voided my warranty.

    I shot back that the laptop had indeed been opened, and if they would bother to check the records they would know that THEY were the ones who did it, on a different repair. My laptop was gone for something like four months, and it was an utter nightmare. The only thing that made it tolerable was the fact that I had bought Fry’s warranty, which entitled me to a loaner.

  19. MameDennis says:

    OK, that makes sense. Thanks!

  20. warf0x0r says:

    I think with this issue and the dust issue on the PS3 it is now certain that Sony repair “Techs” are a bunch of pansies who look for any way to screw customers out of their money.

    After those two articles I have lost enough faith in Sony that I won’t be considering their products for new purchases.

  21. snoop-blog says:

    i work in sales and anytime theirs an opportunity for a commission, you’ll have weak sales people that use strong arm, or dishonest tactics to make up for their lack of ability.

  22. Rukasu says:

    So did the computer come back with the pink liquid on it? Doesn’t mention. Seems to me to just be a mix up in computers.

  23. techguy1138 says:

    @noquarter: Actually you are wrong. you need to give pylon83 some more credit in this case.

    factory computer techs aren’t allowed to return your computer half-fixed. If they notice something that is malfunctioning or incorrect they pretty much have to replace it.

    What if when the computer is returned now they keyboard doesn’t work? Then what does the customer do?

    Typically the charging circuitry for the batter resides on the same board as the CPU, it did on macs. So yes the CPU can be directly related to charging.

    For the original post-
    Get all this documented and written down. You should still try and get a remedy from Sony on this. If they don’t budge bring in your states AG. They should fix this for you. You have the advantage that your computer is working for now.

    Heck try writing up Howard Stringer. Maybe he has Jobs like powers at Sony.

  24. techguy1138 says:

    Also under no circumstances have 3rd party a tech open this.

    If he proves it’s a blown capacitor you’ve voided your Sony warranty. Since your computer is working just make good backups often. Your warranty can still be restored.

  25. pylon83 says:

    Do you fix laptops for a living? Do you know ANYTHING about computers? In a laptop, lots of things are tied together in order to make it smaller. Perhaps you should get your facts straight, or have even a slight clue as to what you are talking about before you start attacking those who are competent.

  26. Charred says:

    My first thought was that the liquid could have come from a leaking capacitor, but a vaio laptop is unlikely to contain one large enough to coat the interior, and the problem wouldn’t resolve itself. Still, there are many things it could be that are totally unrelated to Rosemary’s closet fetish for dunking consumer electronics in pink shampoo (/humor) such as adhesives, thermal pastes, lubricants, etc. used in the assembly process.

    Regardless, one would think that she has the right, at the very least, to have someone she trusts verify its presence, especially if she plans to press the issue.

  27. vanilla-fro says:

    I would do the old email to everyone you can find at Sony and then send it again. I can’t really think of too many “pink liquids” that can be found in the usual house that you wouldn’t know you spilled.

  28. @pylon83: “I like how people who are not computer technicians jump to conclusions and claim to know more about what’s wrong with their machine than a technician who works with them every day.”

    In which case the tech needs to explain to her why and how he has come to this conclusion, and not treat her like a liar if she contends she has never spilled anything on it.

  29. Critcol says:

    If Sony sent it back saying that there was a pink liquid, request pictures as proof or demand they repair it under warranty. The service depot always take pictures to cover themselves against liability.

  30. Throwout_Bearing says:

    I currently work as a factory authorized computer repair technician and work on a fair share of laptops. I see many come in with spill damage and I would say 50% of the time the customer denies that liquid has been spilled on the unit. Sometimes they will call back and apologize because they asked around and it turns out that their kid or a friend spilled liquid on it and didn’t tell them. But regardless if a unit smells like beer or wine I know that it’s not the manufacturers fault.
    On modern portable computers almost every component is soldered to the mother board and manufacturers don’t do component repair they just do board replacements. If this unit has the processor soldered to the board then I can easily see how it would be that much to replace the board. Out of warranty manufacturer specific parts are expensive. Also, if the warranty is void because of a liquid spill they will charge labor on top of the part.

  31. 3drage says:

    Maybe they ran out of batteries and this was their lame attempt to get you to trade up to a newer model. And since I’m sure liquid voids a warranty, sounds like this was their lame attempt to screw you out of money to trade up to a newer model.

  32. UpsetPanda says:

    Seriously, what is the point of a warranty? It’s to protect against what could happen, right?

    Since CompUSA is out of business, she wouldn’t be able to take it there…they were a ripoff anyway. When I took my laptop there, they were going to charge me $164 for a diagnosis without any guarantee they would be able to fix it.

  33. XianZhuXuande says:

    As a computer technician, I see this all the time. More than half of the customers with liquid damage in their computers have no idea where it came from — but it is there. Maybe from a kid or another person that handled the computer, or maybe from a customer that simply doesn’t want to admit to that mistake (not saying the customer in this story is of that variety).

    Aside from the possibility of sheer incompetence (on Sony’s part), it may be that they want to replace every part which has come into contact with the liquid. This would be normal in service as any of these parts could still cause issues (and a legal liability). An independent repair company may be able to provide a much more economical solution.

    If it truly is the battery (good chance it may not be) a replacement can simply be ordered from Sony (or over the internet) for about $100.

    Agreed that the quote given is quite excessive.

  34. cosby says:

    Ok first off if it charges the battery when the system is off but will not run from the ac adapter(as it is draining the battery when it is on) then the first thing to check is the ac adapter, not the battery. Sounds like either the dc jack is damaged on the back of the unit.

    If sony sees damage on a unit that was caused by a spill they will quote everything that could have been effected by it as they will have to warranty the system after they fix it. Yes if you have a third party fix the system they may quote a system board or resolder the bad link if that is it. They will not be warrantiing the full system though.

  35. Deckmaster says:

    As a computer tech who has seen his fair share of Liquid Spills on laptops I can say that there are people who try and hide the fact that something happened to the system. Heck I have even aided in decontaminating laptops so that the owner could get it repaired. But I also know when to trust people that nothing happened to the laptop. That said there is fluid in most computers now that has been known to leek. The heat sink on most laptops uses a heat pipe system. The heat pipe is a fluid filled tube that moves the heat away from the CPU block to the radiator fins on the edge of the laptop. I’ve seen a few that cracked and leaked in the laptop. Of those I recall two that had pink fluid in them. If this is what happened then Sony failed to correctly diagnose the issue.

  36. Xerloq says:

    @noquarter: It’s not hard to find an independent shop who is an authorized repair center for most major brands… dunno about Sony, though.

    Using an authorized repair center usually will keep your warranty intact. When tech support tells you to ship it to them, ask if you can use your friendly neighborhood repair center. Most companies I’ve dealt with (Toshiba, HP/Compaq, Dell) will allow you to do so.

    Also, every repair place I’ve worked with will do a repair estimate for free, and every one I’ve contacted has let me sit and watch the diagnosis. You could see this pink liquid for yourself.

    And, just in case you’re the culprit of the pink liquid, make sure to have a personal property rider on your home/renter’s insurance. It’s cheap (my two laptops and all my AV gear is covered for $5000 at $100 a year with no deductible) and the warranty status of your lappy is irrelevant. My laptop was knocked off a table during finals and I had a replacement the next day.

  37. Johnie says:

    Just before Christmas, my Sony Vaio seemed to be having problems charging. I had run the battery down completely the day before, having forgotten my a/c adapter. After suddenly coming out of hibernation in the middle of the night and powering down, it wouldn’t stay on for more than 5 minutes before suddenly shutting completely off (eventually it wouldn’t stay on for more than 15 seconds). After technical support failed to diagnose the problem over the phone, they suggested I send it to San Diego to be serviced.

    This may be a good time to tell your readers that with Li-Ion batteries, it is a BAD IDEA to drain your battery. Lithium Ion batteries should be charged early and often.
    * Li-Ion batteries, unlike Ni-Cd batteries, should not be frequently fully discharged and recharged. People that wait until their cell phones or iPods are nearly dead before charging will decrease the lifetime of their batteries.
    * Do not store fully charged Li-Ion batteries. They should be ideally stored at partially charged.
    * Do not store Li-Ion batteries for too long without charge. If they drain below a critical level, it is dead forever.

    Wiki: Lithium Ion Battery

  38. Xerloq says:

    @JD: A warranty is a repair/replacement guarantee against manufacturers defects that may already be present. They are included with the product, free of charge. Anything you pay for is insurance and protects you against various forms of what ‘could’ happen.

    With a warranty, the company is saying “we’re confident enough in our manufacturing process and QA testing that we’ll fix anything for free that is our fault within the the specified time period.” A warranty protects you per the guidelines of the policy which may or may not include pink liquid.

  39. noquarter says:

    @techguy1138: factory computer techs aren’t allowed to return your computer half-fixed.
    Understood. And the list of parts that Sony gave her were consistent with replacing everything that touches the motherboard. Presumably, Sony’s techs think they saw pink liquid on everything that touched the top of the MB. However, under no circumstances is a working CPU or keyboard required to get a laptop to charge, as Pylon83 suggested. Neither is there any indication that this pink liquid was spilled into the computer and not the result of something inside it breaking.

    @pylon83: Do you fix laptops for a living? Do you know ANYTHING about computers?
    Yes, I do. Do you read anything at all before posting here? Maybe in the future you should read my posts before replying to them.
    In a laptop, lots of things are tied together in order to make it smaller.
    Wow. Then I guess anything is possible inside the magical compruter. Maybe the Energy Gnome vomited pink liquid but is better now. Your complete ignorance on this issue continues to show. Please keep it to yourself.

  40. glitterati says:

    @pylon83: I’m with NoQuarter. You’re clearly anti-consumer, and yet you feel the need to constantly comment on Consumerist posts, claiming the the OP is a liar, is unintelligent, or hopelessly misinformed. I must assume you work for an organization consistantly defamed on this site, otherwise I cannot imagine spending so much personal time posting irrelevant yet offensive commentary.

  41. Brossman says:

    I’m wondering what happens if you try to use the computer with the battery removed? Does it still exhibit the same behavior?

    Maybe Sony tech tried this also, I can’t tell from “failed to diagnose over the phone.”

  42. bluebuilder says:

    previous poster was right, some components can leak if defective. I wonder how much ‘liquid’ was in there. Could you open the laptop and take a pic for us?

  43. BartClan says:

    @Rosemary: My sympathies. I, too, am a Sony-hater. I started out a HUGE Sony fanboy–my home theater ssytem, including television, was complete Sony, save for the Bose speakers. So, when I saw the Vaio PSC-LX-900, complete with a tablet screen, I bought one in 2001 for our family. Unfortunately, I had nothing but troubles with the monitor/tablet screen and I got nowhere with Sony’s customer service,a s they would not honor their stated warranty. They told me that my unit was factory refurbished, but the documents I was provided said it was new. In speaking to the company that sold it to me, the insisted it was a new unit. I then tried to elevate it by writing a letter to the CEO. I did receive a call back from Sony’s executive department and was politiely and firmly that Sony would not honor the warranty, but that I could pay for the repairs on my own. I was furious.

    I’ve done two things since then. First, I’ll NEVER buy another Sony product again. As much as I love Sony’s camcorder technology, I purchased a Panasonic video camera last year, and I won’t even look at Sony for audio or video equipment.

    Second, after the initial warranty ran out, Sony sent me an offer for an extended warranty for the Vaio. I purchased this warranty for about $250 for a three year plan, and proceeded to send in the unit for three separate repairs to the monitor. I believe the bills came to over $1K each time, so I received $3K for about $250. Yes, I know that actual costs to Sony were closer to $1K to $1.5K, but I did get a decent return on my investment. And, after the final repair, my Vaio screen has worked brilliantly.

    Screw Sony!

  44. noquarter says:

    Another thought I just had for the OP: If there’s liquid inside the laptop but the top of the keyboard, fan ports, and other holes leading into and out of the computer are clean and un-sticky, that lends credence to the argument that the liquid came from something inside the computer.

    Of course, to really investigate that you’ll have to have someone take the thing apart. So, as several people have suggested, taking it to a local Sony-certified technician and bringing your camera along continues to sound like the best option.

  45. mgyqmb says:

    What if you turn the computer on while plugged into AC without a battery in? Does it work?

    /sorry if you mentioned it, i didn’t see it in the post

  46. noquarter says:

    @noquarter: Addendum: unless you want to try the Executive Email Bomb, as Meg suggested. That might be the quickest and least hassle-filled way to a solution for you.

  47. egon0119 says:

    @glitterati: Try spending some time on the front lines of a support desk sometime.

    While most people are honest you’ll encounter enough people trying to game the system that it’s hard to take anyone’s story at face value. I used to do freelance computer repair and you wouldn’t believe the stuff people thought they could get away with.

    I once built a computer for a friend of a parent’s friend. He brought it back a month later when it stopped working. It turns out that his kid replaced the processor heatsink with a “gaming” version. In doing so he managed to gouge the motherboard with a screwdriver and crack the processor. Only when I pointed out the damage and the flamboyant heatsink did the dad admit that he _may_ have seen his son tinkering around inside.

    While my human nature wants to believe every word of the OP, experience would require me to trust the evidence. It’s unfortunate but the business really requires you to cover your butt.

  48. dandd says:

    Sony is horrible with repairs of any kind. I’m willing to bet there was never any liquid in the first place. My suggestion would be not to buy Sony products.

  49. pylon83 says:

    Yes, let’s get rid of all of the commenters who don’t always agree with the editors.

  50. Hitchcock says:

    This actually sounds like it could be liquid damage. The reason it works now vs 2.5 weeks ago is that the liquid has dried, and it is no longer causing the short the was causing the battery to drain/fail to charge.

    Maybe a guest or someone spilled something on it and didn’t tell you.

    Of course there’s an easy way to check, open it up and see if you can see residue that shouldn’t be there.

  51. topgun says:

    Gremlins. Definitely gremlins.

  52. meadandale says:


    Maybe it stopped working because the smoke escaped? And then condensed into a pink liquid? :-)

    Lenovo FTW

  53. Draconianspark says:

    I would have definitely demanded pictures at this point.

    Sony does not authorize any companies to repair computers, they all go back to a Sony facility to be addressed, whether you go to a retailer or ship it directly.

    I would also remove the keyboard to see if this liquid is really there; laptop computers don’t have a magical “Warranty Voided” alarm and unless an incompetent tech breaks something while the system is apart, Sony has no way of knowing what’s going on.

    Also, verify that the PC you got back has the same serial number as listed on the package/receipt from when you purchased the computer as well as on the manifest going both to and from the repair center.

  54. For what it’s worth, with laptops, everything is integrated into the motherboard. The CPU isn’t socketed, it’s soldered directly onboard. If the adapter plug breaks off, for instance, you most likely have to replace the entire board.

    Now, if they’re claiming liquid damage, then you have a host of other issues. Who knows for sure if the hard drive still has any sort of lifespan, so you’d most likely need that replaced. Same with the circuitry for the screen. It gets messy.

    “Liquid damage” is pretty much synonymous with “you’re fucked.”

  55. MonsieurBon says:

    I have worked on (repaired) dozens of laptops. Many had liquid damage, and the users NEVER EVER EVER admit that they ever spilled anything in it. Same with clearly dropped machines. I’m not calling the OP a liar, because I wouldn’t be surprised if some repair departments work under the same health insurance policy of “deny 30% of claims and hope they don’t appeal,” and liquid damage is probably the easiest thing to say, since any user would be hard-pressed to investigate this.
    On the other hand, I have spilled beer into my Powerbook TWICE, and it is still running strong. In fact, the second time I spilled beer into it, it cleared up the sticky trackpad button caused by the first spillage.
    So maybe you should find some pink liquid and pour it in?

  56. pylon83 says:

    Wow, someone to actually backup my statements. It seems that most people simply don’t understand how a laptop is constructed. I’ll say that not ALL of them have the CPU soldered on, but many do.

  57. wesrubix says:

    Pylon83 is right, some parts have to be replaced in a big chunk, (e.g. CPU is soldered into the motherboard). But that would be ONE part number.

    Sony obviously screwed up. Big time. They make TVs. NOT computers. Not digital cameras. CamCorders, ok… I’m not a big Sony fan…

    Anyway, as for a battery not charging while the computer is on is because the driver controlling the battery/power interface is screwed up and can’t determine which power source the computer was on.

    The APPROPRIATE experiment to have tried is removing the battery and powering the computer on with only AC power. That may have “re-taught” the driver how to detect AC power. Once on, put the battery in and see if it maintains AC power state.

  58. pylon83 says:

    ” But that would be ONE part number”
    Not necessarily. While there would be one FINAL part number, each and every piece on that board has a P/N. I used to work for a major electronics manufacturer, and if you look at the Bill of Materials for a particular p/n, you’ll notice each and every capacitor has a p/n. Depending on how the station has this stuff documented, I don’t think it is completely impossible that a full list of all the separate p/n’s was sent out.
    My main point in all of my posts is that there are a lot of back-seat technicians on here who are making “diagnosis” without knowing ALL of the facts, or even the particular model of laptop. The simple fact is one can’t take the OP’s story at face value. There are a number of holes, and for us to simply ignore those and damn the corporation would be irresponsible.

  59. swalve says:

    Christ, there are a lot of techno-idiots on here.

    It’s against the law to deny warranty for the simple act of opening a computer. If you break something, the warranty is void on that thing.

  60. smbfl says:

    A couple of thoughts from Sunny Florida..
    I have been doing PC service for years and, like others have said, have seen tons of laptops full of liquid and owners who have no idea how it could have gotten there. Usually those laptops smell a lot like a microbrewery.

    I haven’t taken one of this particular laptop apart but on many the keyboard comes off fairly easily and you can see the motherboard fro there. I would have an independant shop pull the keyboard and look for pink goo. There aren’t any seals on that part normally. If there are they have already been broken by the Sony tech.

    I haven’t seen a processor soldered to a motherboard in years. They are all some sort of socket and clamping device arrangement now. I also think the Sony tech just quoted everything so it wouldn’t be a come back.

    Steve B.

  61. Skiffer says:

    @kiloman: Yes

  62. pylon83 says:

    I didn’t want to bother addressing the Magnuson-Moss warranty act, because I assumed it would be lost on most of the commenters on here. Sony can seal everything and put the little tear-proof stickers all over it if they want to, but unless they can prove that your act of opening up the case caused, or aggravated, the problem, they can’t deny service.

  63. XTC46 says:

    Meh, the guy you talked to probably wasn’t even the tech who wrote “pink liquid” on the form. He probably looked at the record, said “liquid damage” and thats that. They told you to replace everything becasue if anything has liquid damage it all needs to be replaced to get the warranty back in tact.

    as far as the problem, it sounds like a software issue. As far as the pink liquid…it was probably there.

  64. m4nea says:

    If they don’t fix it 100% on a repair, then you can continually send it back and forth saying you are having further problems.
    It saves the company a LOT of money not having to pay shipping and labour and parts costs many times over by repairing anything doused in the “liquid” (Pepto?) the first time, even if the issue at hand is “just the battery.”

    However, if your unit is draining power that fast, it makes sense that something is messing with the circuitry on your motherboard causing voltage to continually flow through it.

  65. coren says:

    @pylon83: If that were true, then

    “And last night, I left it to charge again and this time when I turned it on, everything was fine. No problems with the battery, with it charging. Nothing. I don’t know what’s been going on for the last 2 1/2 weeks but everything works perfectly.”

    Wouldn’t be the case. Apparently, out to screw the customer was the most likely here.

  66. coren says:

    Not a problem with Sony, but a friend has an HP laptop with a similar problem (in that he has a malfunctioning charger (The jack that plugs into his laptop is incredibly loose and won’t seat properly, thus not allowing the computer to charge/draw power from it)). Not only won’t they send him a new charger (this part at least makes sense), but they require him to send his entire laptop in (Huh?) and get this: They MUST (according to them) reformat it.

    ..to fix a faulty battery charger, the laptop must be formatted.

    Explain that one.

    (I gave him HP’s executive care line since he’d gotten nowhere after 5 calls)

  67. guymandude says:

    WTF are you people doing buying ANYTHING from SONY after their DRM fiasco?

  68. mikesfree says:

    Similar problem was had by a writer for autoweek, she even devoted her whole column to the problem she had with sony. Since reading that, I really dont consider them.

  69. Curiosity says:

    This actually does seem like a question of what is and is not covered under warranty (a legal right) as compared to good customer service (avoiding the assertion of rights).

    I usually try to understand my legal rights in case niceness breaks down.

    First, note the general warranty that probably applies (assuming that it is standardized) [www.docs.sony.com] . Note that the state the consumer is in affects their rights and that the Magnuson-Moss Act is not really the biggest protection for consumer rights as compared to the state. So look at the warranty, the state law, and the federal law to determine if Sony is breaching their warranties.

    For example state law in IL is governed by:

    # Illinois Commercial Code 810 ILCS 5/2-312 through 5/2-318:

    * Warranty of Title §2-312
    * Express Warranties §2-313
    * Implied Warranty of Merchantability §2-314
    * Implied Warranty of Fitness for Particular Purpose §2-315
    * Exclusion or Modification of Warranties §2-316
    * Cumulation and Conflict of Warranties §2-317
    * Third Party Beneficiaries of Warranties §2-318

    A decent guides to understanding the Magnuson-Moss Act is [www.ftc.gov]

    Moreover besides customer support and doing the techniques described in this site, there is also contacting the attorney general of your state for example – [www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov]

    After going through the complex task of what the rights and duties Sony has to the consumer (since the warranty is modified by law), then it is much easier to go through the facts.

    If we assume that the consumer is totally right there may be an ethical obligation, however there may not be a legal one. Similarly if we assume that all the facts are in Sony’s favor, then there still may be a legal right by the consumer.

    Obviously, the consumer has choices like – (1) doing nothing,(2) absorbing the cost of repair, (3) absorbing and being compensated through some action such as small claims court, (4) seek compensation at the cost of time and money (like litigation) then fix the problem, or (5) seek a fix to the “breach contract” from the corporation.

    I am curious what is the consumers priority – I assume fixing the computer.

  70. wellfleet says:

    @glitterati: “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Why would having a differing POV qualify pylon as an anti-consumer? Maybe he’s just seen the other side. I, too, work for a big (blue and yellow) box and see my share of customers who do not show an ounce of personal accountability.

    True story from yesterday, Toshiba laptop:

    -I’m having problems with my laptop and want to know what all my warranty covers
    – OK, Sir, let me take a look at your receipt and see what’s covered. What seems to be the problem?
    – It just doesn’t work
    – I’m sorry to hear that. Well, it appears that your warranty was purchased two years ago. It covers damage from heat, dust and humidity, power surges, and normal wear and tear. It also covers the battery.
    – What if that’s not the problem?
    -Well, do you know what the problem might be?
    – What if it’s like, an accident?
    – I’m afraid we wouldn’t cover that, let me take a look

    (going back to take a better look at the sku he actually paid for, I find out he shelled out for accidental damage protection, hoorah!)

    – Well, Sir, good news, you paid for accidental damage coverage, so just bring your computer in and we’ll take care of you.
    – Oh, ok, what if my cat spilled beer on it by accident?
    – Well, that would count as an accident. Go ahead and bring it in.

    Now, why did the customer not come out with the truth? Why do we fund roaches and a dead mouse in a tower and the customer’s like, “I dunno how that could have gotten there”?

    I have gone to bat for dozens of customers when I thought our policies were unfair, and maybe this customer is getting a raw deal. But, when you’ve seen the lengths that people will go to to cheat stores out of goods and services, you lose some faith in humanity. People lie to get what they want.

    What bothers me is the all-out hate of corporations, as if there were no redeeming qualities, as if there are perfect corporations out there. Assuming many of Consumerist’s readers are not self-employed, unemployed, or work in charity, where do you people work and how do you get paid? I don’t have the pleasure of dealing with non-profit banks, cable companies, etc. They are out there to turn a profit… Shocking! Should they do it at the expense of ethics and morals? Absolutely not. But being outraged at a company trying to be profitable is ridiculous.

  71. liquiddamage says:

    I am fighting with Apple on the same issue. They insist it is liquid damage-hence the name. But if it is, it came from inside the computer and Apple is still liable. I’m not the first that Apple has done this to (there are others including the sledgehammer macbook guy).

    This may be MO for laptop warranty repair. Not sure.