Sony's Email Customer Service Is Extremely Unhelpful

Reader Dustin had a question about his PS3, so he emailed Sony. Now he’s starting to suspect that they don’t actually read the emails people send…

The other night I tried booting up my PS3 and got an error message that said “The hard drive is corrupted and needs to be formatted. Press X to format.” Grrr. I knew that formatting would erase all of my saved data, but I went ahead and pushed X. And waited. And waited.

The PS3 went to a status bar that said “Formatting…” but stayed at 0% and never did anything. I couldn’t get to the cross-media bar, couldn’t get it to load a disc – nothing. I turned off the machine, let it sit until the next evening and tried again with the same result: hard disk corrupt, needs formatting, formatting freezes.

I searched Sony’s website for a solution to this problem, but couldn’t find anything, so I called their customer service number. Unfortunately, the wait time was too long, so I hung up and sent them an email explaining in detail what my problem was. I got this response:

Hello Dustin,

Thank you for writing us.

We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. We would like to recommend the
following PlayStation Knowledge Center article(s) that may help resolve the problem:

– Troubleshoot HDD Problems on the PLAYSTATION(R)3 computer entertainment system:
In addition, if you have not already done so, perform the following recommendations which may also
correct the problem.

– Restore Default Settings
From the XMB(TM) menu, go to [Settings] > [System Settings] > [Restore Default Settings]. Once you
select Restore Default Settings, you will see a list of settings that will be restored. Scroll
through them and press the X button to restore the settings. After the operation is complete, you
will see the initial setup screen that appeared the first time you turned on the PLAYSTATION(R)3
computer entertainment system. You will need to go through the initial setup process before you can
use the PLAYSTATION 3.

– Install the Latest Firmware Update
To check what version of the System Software is currently installed on your PLAYSTATION 3, from the
XMB menu go to [Settings] > [System Settings] > [System Information]. The system will display the
System Software version number. You can visit the following link to determine whether you have the
latest version installed.

– Check your Environment
Make sure to allow adequate ventilation to flow from the PLAYSTATION 3’s vents (i.e., avoid
obstructing the vents with long/shaggy carpet, inadequate airflow from cramped entertainment cabinet
setups, etc.). Make sure to also keep the PLAYSTATION 3 away from excessive dust, smoke, steam,
extreme temperatures, humidity, or direct sunlight. Full details on Safety Precautions and Use and
Handling can be found in the PLAYSTATION 3 Instruction Manual.

– Click on the link below to search the PlayStation Knowledge Center for new and existing content.

If you have followed these steps and would still like to speak to us, please call our Consumer
Services Department at (800) 345-7669. Our representatives are available to assist you, Monday
through Saturday 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., and Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.

If you have further questions regarding this message and are replying back via email, please refer
to your email case number:5782785.

Multimedia Representative
Sony Computer Entertainment America
Consumer Services Department

Apparently they didn’t read my email, because their “solutions” all involved a PS3 that booted to the main menu and the cross-media bar. They didn’t address my problem, nor did they offer any helpful solution. So I sent them back this email:

“I don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but your response to my email was inadequate and unthoughtful.

If you look at my email, you will see that I am getting an error message when I turn the machine on. I can’t do any of the things listed in your knowledge center, because I can’t access the cross-media bar. I can’t even get my PS3 to boot up! For some reason, it freezes up when trying to format.

I will give your customer service center a call. Please know that most of us who have purchased a PS3 are familiar with technology and know how to search for an answer on a company’s website. I wouldn’t have written to you without first trying every solution I could find online.

Sending a form letter in answer to a detailed email is condescending.


And this was their response:
Hello Dustin,

We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. We would like to recommend the
following PlayStation Knowledge Center article(s) that may help resolve the problem….

Sigh. Guess it’s back to the hold queue for you, Dustin.