My Repaired PS3 Came Back Without A Hard Drive

Many a video game character begins his story with amnesia, and the malady has befallen Chris’s real-life PS3. He sent his system in with an upgraded hard drive he’d installed because he was told he had to do so and even made a special note that he’d need the drive back.

Chris says Sony is washing its hands of blame, ridiculously theorizing UPS could be at fault.

He writes:

Three weeks ago, I sent in my PlayStation 3 to be serviced after it had the YLOD. When on the phone with the CSR who created the service request ticket, I mentioned that I had upgraded the hard drive and that I wanted to remove it from the system to get it repaired. He informed me that I had to send a hard drive in or the service center would simply return it unfixed (which I have later found to be untrue – They would have fixed it, drive or no drive). I told him I would be fine sending in my hard drive with the PS3 if he would notate that I was to get my same drive back. He agreed and I went on my way of sending the PS3 in for repairs.

Skip ahead two weeks and I get my PS3 back from Sony. I open it and the first thing I do is check to see if I have the right hard drive. Nope! In fact, I had no hard drive at all. I gave Sony a call and talked to a total of 5 people, each of them basically saying “the notes of the case look confusing but the service center specifically state that there was no drive included.” I know the drive was in the PS3 when it was shipped because I had to put the drive back in after speaking to the rep who created my service request ticket. I screwed it back into its drive tray, put the drive tray back in and screwed it in with the blue painted screw that comes with the PS3 for that purpose.

After talking to one CSR and four supervisors, I was told by the final supervisor that he would put a request in for me to be contacted by the next in line. I was notified that it would take a maximum of 48 hours. Three days later, I haven’t heard anything back. So, I give them another call, this time taking care to write down the names of the people I speak to. [A CSR] immediately promoted me to his supervisor Justin. Justin informed me that the service center gets final say and that he is unable to overturned anything. When I told him I was positive the drive was in it when it was sent, he told me to contact UPS and tell them that they lost it. I explained to him that the drive was inside the PS3 when sent, screwed into it securely so unless the box arrived unsealed to the service center, it was included in the box. He told me that UPS could have opened the package, removed the drive and resealed the package.

Eventually, I gave up and simply contacted UPS. Of course, they deny anything happened to the package (and the tracking information confirms that).

I am contemplating launching an EECB on Sony. Do you think this is the right course of action or can you think of another means of going about getting this issue resolved?

If you’ve shipped in a broken PS3 for repair, how has your experience gone? Any advice for Chris?

UPDATE: Sony sent Chris a PS3 game that he plans on selling for money for a new hard drive.


Edit Your Comment

  1. brianisthegreatest says:

    How did he still have a warranty after all of this? I’m glad that when my xbox rrod’d, I took off my hard drive with all my data on it before having the unit replaced. Might have done him some good to put the original ps3 drive back in before sending it in. I wouldn’t try to get warranty work on anything I’ve customized.

    • Blargh says:

      Sony allows you to upgrade your PS3’s hard drive without breaking warranty. It uses standard 2.5″ SATA hard drives, so anything from a laptop works and is coincidentally much cheaper than the 360’s HDD solutions.

      Caveat is that you need to hold onto the original HD for warranty repairs, as they will NOT return upgraded HDDs. It’s explicitely stated in both the PS3 user manual and when they tell you to send in for repairs. I believe the OP misunderstood the CSR. So in this case, yeah, I’m blaming the OP.

    • JoeDawson says:

      RTFA much? I do not see any reference to this being a Warranty job.

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        It is a warranty job, unless the poster wanted to give Sony free money to fix Sony’s problem.

        Eitherways the HD is user swappable and does not void the warranty.

    • Fair&Balanced says:

      The HD is users changeable. There is nothing custom or wrong with changing it.

      Now I do agree the OP was stupid to send it in with the HD no matter what the person on the phone said.
      The yellow light problem is caused by crappy construction of the PS3 and has nothing to do with the HD so the OP should have never sent it in.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        Moses on a moped… you’d think it was a reasonable assumption that if the tech on the phone tells you to do XYZ that you are required to do XYZ to get your stuff fixed. Way to blame the OP for following instructions given to him by a representative of Sony.

        • Fair&Balanced says:

          Because it was his personal HD and it did not come with the PS3.
          It makes no sense to send it in when the issue is not caused by the HD.

    • crb042 says:

      PS3’s are designed with a replaceable harddrive. They make it easy to get at, it’s not behind a warranty sticker, you don’t have to crack open the entire case. Most laptops have a very similar setup. In fact, I think the ability to self-upgrade it is pitched as a selling point over the locked-down Xbox.
      so, can’t be 100% certain, but I don’t think the swappable hard drive is related to the warranty.

      • grucifer says:

        I can pop out my 360 harddrive with a push of a button (and have upgraded it as well)

        Definitely not locked down on the 360 :-)

        • Joe Gamer says:

          but can you buy a 500GB HDD from newegg for $49.99 and put that in? No? Are you absolutely sure? oh yeah just the MS HDD’s that are kept deliberately small and come with a massive 150% markup? Oh well, good luck with that, doesn’t sound like it’s locked down at all >.>

      • grucifer says:

        I can pop out my 360 harddrive with a push of a button (and have upgraded it as well)

        Definitely not locked down on the 360 :-)

        • NotEd says:

          Yes , but you have to buy a MS branded Harddrive to replace it (unless you get anm off-brand one or hack a new one in, potentially violating the warranty, as I recall).
          The PS3 is designed to allow you to pop in any manufacturer’s laptop Hard Drive to upgrade it. Usually costs significantly less than the Microsoft branded ones for the 360.

    • brianisthegreatest says:

      The idea is that I wouldn’t want to submit for work any item that would appear modified by me. I have worked in computer repair and phone support before, and it’s very easy to get the finger pointed back at you. Just speaking from experience in that area.

      Easily accessible or not, if you have made a customization to a unit (warranty voided or not), such as replacing the hard drive, it is customized. It is also not a part covered by warranty, or an original part of the unit. Are they even responsible for this?

      • Twonkey says:

        The hard-drive is replaceable. Sony makes a big deal of that fact, so it’s rather unlikely that they would consider it a customization in the sense that you do. The chances that it would lead to a warranty denial are just about nill, if not actually that.

        That said, the hard-drive is only relevant insofar as he never got it back from Sony. That’s the crux of his complaint. Your entire line of questioning is irrelevant. Just take from this that Sony isn’t going to void your warranty if you replace your HDD and drop it already. :P

    • Difdi says:

      The replaceable hard drive is a feature of the PS3. Doing so is not a warranty-destroying mod on a PS3 like it is on an Xbox.

  2. jdmba says:

    I am sure this happens all the time. When you exchange a cell phone you need to remove the battery, sd card, screen protector, charger, etc. If you send your phone back in for RMA with your SD card, I am not entirely sure you should run to Consumerist saying “I got it back without a SD card; it must be the government’s fault”

    Of course, perhaps the PS3 RMA procedure is different; but upgraded equipment should NEVER be included when you RMA.

    • Chmeeee says:

      Read the article.

      “He informed me that I had to send a hard drive in or the service center would simply return it unfixed. “

    • Link_Shinigami says:

      He was told to include it. He was told if he didn’t include the upgraded drive, they wouldn’t fix it. He did what they said. Read the article better next time before you blame him

      • regis-s says:

        The post I’m reading says he was told to include “a” hard drive. It doesn’t say he had to include the upgraded drive.

        • Nisun says:

          so he just needs to return some random hard drive and not “the” hard drive…… Maybe “a” broken one?

          • jeff_the_snake says:

            If he included a broken drive they’d likely replace it and hold his ps3 until he paid for it. I’m guessing someone pocketed or lost his drive. It probably would have been best to put the original in before sending it out but still, it disappeared on Sony’s watch they should replace it

    • Coalpepper says:

      Perhaps, but there is one problem, it came back with no drive at all, and i thought these had one normally, or is an HD an upgrade?

  3. FrugalFreak says:

    Sounds like a stolen hard Drive by Sony Service center to me. The clues are stupid answers that don’t relate to how it was sent in. The Sony guy seems to be saying “YEAH we have it, but maybe UPS will buy you another on damage claim”.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      Clarification, maybe not stolen, could been misshipped back with another, but my guess is there is somebody at service who KNOWS where it is.

      • Sumtron5000 says:

        “the service center specifically state that there was no drive included”

        This is pretty much proof that it’s not USPS’s fault right here.

  4. Mike says:

    I am surprised that this guy was tech savvy enough to upgrade his HD, but didn’t know that repair centers are nothing more than exchange centers. You send in your broken PS3, they send you a refurb. back. This is a crappy way to learn how the system works, I feel bad for the guy.

    • katstermonster says:

      No, it sounds like he was smart enough to know to not send it in with a hard drive, but was told by a tech that he HAD to include the hard drive, but it would not be serviced.

    • redbess says:

      Okay, say they actually DID send him a refurb.

      Where’s the hard drive?

    • chucklesjh says:

      This isn’t exactly true. My friend sent out his dead bluray 60GB PS3 with upgraded 320GB drive (they gave him the BS about requiring a drive) and received the same exact PS3 back. Same serial number, same hard drive, and all data.

  5. Megalomania says:

    Sony’s repair service is terrible, and this doesn’t really make sense. Their policy is:
    -If warrantied, look for tampering indicating warranty is voided
    -Wipe the drive on the PS3
    -Send back another PS3 of similar type (no guarantees)
    -Fix the PS3 if worth it, otherwise scrap it. If fixed, put it in the pile to send back to other people

    All that and they charge $200 out of warranty. A 3rd party shop can generally fix your issue for

    As for this particular scenario, there’s really no way out if you can’t find someone high up who wants to help. You can’t prove to Sony UPS didn’t take it out, and you can’t prove to UPS it was ever there. The only way I can think of for you to do so would be to compare shipping weights, but the drive probably weighs so little that the packing peanuts will be too large a margin of error.

  6. Thassodar says:

    This just in: I just got my PS3 back from service today and guess what guys? IT HAD A HARD DRIVE IN IT! Lucky day, I suppose.


  7. SanDiegoDude says:

    I’d say go for the EECB, but you may be out of luck no matter what. Do you at least still have the original hard drive so you’re not completely left out in the dark?

    Oh, and let me apologize for the comments above… Consumerist comments are starting to feel more and more like a troll-fest.

  8. Lightning Strikes says:

    Yeah, OP is screwed. Learned a lesson the hard way I suppose. I know I did. No Sony products for me anymore. Even if they had the coolest (insert product name here) in the world.

  9. Joewithay says:

    I’m experience was great. Then again I used a third party since my PS3 was out of warranty and I didn’t want to give Sony 160 or more bucks for repair (which probably would of been a replacement unit anyhow).

  10. Dover says:

    “I was notified that it would take a maximum of 48 hours. Three days later, I haven’t heard anything back.”

    This angers me more than anything. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of times I’ve been promised a call back that never happened.

  11. Primarylupine says:

    Sony screwing a customer? In other news, Sky reportedly blue, water found to be wet, Tim & Eric still not funny even after smoking all the weed in New Mexico.

  12. Sollus says:

    I took my drive out before I sent mine in when I had my blu ray drive start flaking out on me. They notated that I didn’t have my drive in my system. It seems as if there has been a screw up with their initial rep and they need to fess up to it. I wouldn’t stop calling until they sent me a new drive of comparable size or I would threaten legal action.

    • phonebem says:

      I haven’t read it for a while, but doesn’t the PS3 Owner’s Manual not only have very specific instructions for removing/replacing the HD as well as explicit instructions to remove the hard drive prior to sending it in for repair?

  13. Bob says:

    Actually, believe or not, UPS does do some repairs for companies for contract, especially with quick fixes and replacements of laptops.

  14. Papa Midnight says:

    I’d say launch the EECB. Secondly, I’d write a letter, sign it, then CC it to my local DA’s office, the state AG, and all local news affiliates (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX). Additionally, I’d mark said letter as Read Receipt requested (that way, they cannot deny that they received it). Finally, I’d give a “nice” phone call to some guys in Sony’s Public Relations offices (phone numbers are publicly available and easy to find). We’ll see where it goes from there.

  15. eccsame says:

    So not only goodbye to his hard drive but goodbye to all of his downloads, game saves, etc.
    I feel really, really, sorry for this guy

  16. tekenen says:

    I would also call the police and file a report for a stolen Hard Drive.

  17. Spider Mann says:

    UPS won’t help. That is a dead end street before it is even paved. They just don’t give one crap about you or your package. (Long history of UPS screwing me over.)

    I am on my third PS3 due to repair with Sony. First time the Blu-ray drive died, then the replacement YLoD, the third one has issues thanks to the 3.40 firmware. All three are 80GB Fat PS3s.

    How was I able to keep getting Fat PS3s with backwards compatibility? Two things:

    1. Sony’s service contract and guarantee is that the owner of the PS3 get back the machine they send in, or a machine of equal value. If you send in a BC PS3, you must get back a BC PS3.

    2. Despite what Sony tells you to do, always send a note with the PS3 to the service center. I included a one page, short paragraph letter directed (generically) to the tech that got my PS3 for service. It outlined the issues and what I expected in terms of service. I used non-threatening language but the kind of language that said “I know what I am talking about, but you are the Sony Service God so I am at your mercy”.

    Kissing a little ass of a person in a low level position, making them feel they are worth more than they feel they are, and you will get better service.

  18. BradenR says:

    This could be a problem for all electronic repairs that need to be shipped. How do you prove component status? I shipped an ACER laptop with 2G RAM that was returned with 64mb! The company denied removal.


    • Pax says:

      Well, I suppose you could go as far as using a video camera to recurd:

      (1) Opening the case;
      (2) Panning across all the components inside;
      (3) Closing the case back up;
      (4) Putting the case into the shipping box;
      (5) sealing the box up;
      (6) driving to the UPS or FedEx (or whoever) store;
      (7) turning the box over to their custody;
      (8) scanning the receipt, WITH TRACKING NUMBER, at close enough range to produce a readable image.

      But that all sounds a tiny bit _excessive_, don’t you agree?

      • golddog says:

        Actually that doesn’t sound excessive. I’ve done it, minus the drive, once or twice when I wanted proof positive that I’d put something in the mail. Unfortunately, in this case Sony would say ‘so? UPS stole it after you turned the camera off’. It’s a perfect storm of crap companies.

  19. admiralriker says:

    I really hate to say this; you’re boned.

    I have more friends with a PS3 than I can count on my fingers. Out of 11 people, only two have gotten the YLOD. One fixed it himself out of warranty (and it worked!) and the other sent his PS3 in.

    The secret is keeping the original PS3 Hard Drive handy. I keep my original 60 GB with the system while I have a 500 GB in the bad boy.

    The one friend that sent in his PS3 sent it without the upgraded drive but a game in the system; a rented game. He called Sony every single day to make sure they returned that game. I really mean every single day until it arrived at his house.

    Obviously that’s overkill, but you should have kept your original drive handy in case anything ever happened.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your drive, that sucks.

  20. Pax says:

    I don’t have a PS3, but I did have to send my Xbox 360 Elite unit back for servicing (RRoD at two years – may it never visit itself upon me again).

    And I distinctly recall being given rather explicit instructions to REMOVE THE HARD DRIVE BEFORE SHIPPING THE CONSOLE. In fact, the return-shipping box was designed so that a console _with_ hard-drive simply would not even fit.

    The very honest reason they gave for those instructions? They couldn’t guarantee you’d get the RIGHT hard drive back, or even ANY HARD DRIVE AT ALL.

    • Pax says:

      Just to clarify: I’m not blaming the OP.

      I’m blaming that first moron of a CSR for giving the misleading instructions that led up to the present debacle.

      • Kibit says:

        You would think on the first day of CSR training they would tell them and reiterate to tell the customer to “remove the hard drive”.

        Hope the OP can get this issue taken care of. It sucks though, even if they sent him a HD, it most likely will not be the one he sent in an he’ll have lost all of his data.

    • MSUHitman says:

      PS3 won’t boot without a HDD in it I believe so really the only thing the OP could have done would have been to save the original drive in case it had to be shipped to Sony.

  21. sjgarg says:

    OP, check the shipping receipts.
    What were the weights of the package leaving you and then when it was being returned?
    If the boxes were similar in size, maybe there could be noticeable a discrepancy in the weights.

    Why would the box weigh more when you sent it out vs. when you received it back? Ask them to explain that.

  22. MSUHitman says:

    This is why even though I upgraded my HDD on my PS3 at Christmas, I’m keeping the original drive, just in case something like this happens or I have to send it to a third-party place to fix it.

  23. oldwiz65 says:

    I wonder if it was because it had an upgraded HD?

  24. DovS says:

    People are right when they say that you should generally remove the hard drive before shipping any console for repairs but, if Sony specifically told you to include the drive, they accepted responsibility for that drive by doing so.

    An EECB is a good first step.

    You may also want to start assembling any evidence or documentation you have that Sony told you to include the drive and refused to repair the system without it. If the EECB doesn’t get you a just result, you may want to look into filing a suit against Sony in small claims court for the cost of a replacement drive.

  25. Destron says:

    When I upgraded my PS3 drive I kept the original just for that reason, if I ever send it in I will swap them out.

    The main reason that Sony wants your hard drive is because they will wipe it and put the latest firmware on there, for those hold out’s they do not want you to have the “other OS” option, and outdated firmware usually contains exploits that allow hacking/homebrew/piracy. Even though the PS3 has yet to be officially hacked, it’s day will come so Sony want’s you to have the latest firmware so you can not use that stuff.

  26. JaKhris says:


    I didn’t have such a problem when my PS3 YLODed (I friend who worked at customer support made it all go smoothly, though I had to wait 2 months for a refurbished console…) but a friend who sent his in had the following problem: (I’ll specify I live in France, thus the Customer Support isn’t the same than in the US)
    His PS3 YLODed while playing LitteBigPlanet, so he couldn’t eject his game. When he sent his PS3 for repair, he specified that his game was stuck inside, and he expected to get it back.
    When it got back, you guessed it: his game was not with his console nor in a little plastic sleeve with the PS3; they probably gave him a refurbished one without even trying to get his disc back. The guys said there was no disc in the console… I fear there are many thefts (more than we’d think) in the customer support, repair section… we pay to get our console repaired, and in exchange we get another PS3 that’s barely better that the one we sent it (mine has a very loud ventilation system, after 15mins, the fan is already spinning on level 3), and some employees just go stealing around? I mean, WTF?
    This is utter bullsh*t, if you pardon my French. (I’m using that expression, and I’m French…that’s ironic)

    Chris should insist on getting that hardd rive, he deserves to get his stuff back! And someone deserves to be fired at Customer Support.

    Chris (yeah my name’s Chris as well)

  27. farker says:

    Launch the EECB. Clearly your hard drive was stolen by some jerk at Sony, who knew if he wrote in your file that there was no hard drive included, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to have any recourse.

    Hopefully there is some record in their system of who wrote that note, and that person should be to blame.

    Sadly, this illustrates the need to photograph things before you send them away for repair.