Sony Thinks My Pampered Laptop Has Water Damage

Lance says that he babied his Sony Vaio computer. He fed it electricity, kept it comfy, and left it docked into an LCD monitor all of the time. He didn’t take it everywhere or even toss it into a swimming pool. Yet after an odd negotiation with the world’s only onsite tech who refuses to make appointments, he learned that his version of reality wasn’t true. The computer had liquid corrosion, and Sony would only repair it if he paid almost 2/3 of the original purchase price in repair fees. Lance wants to know why the tech didn’t notice the corrosion until after he replaced the entire motherboard.

I purchased a Sony Vaio laptop back in December. I’ve had the laptop docked to the back of a wall hung 42″ inch LCD monitor for the life of the computer, and it ran perfectly. However, in early August the laptop stopped working, wouldn’t power on whatsoever. I called Sony to schedule an at home visit as my computer was still under warranty.

This is where things get weird…:

The Vaio tech refused to schedule an actual appointment with me, I couldn’t tell him “Tuesday at 4pm” or for any future date, he would instead call me every morning at 8am and ask if he could come “now”, and when I told him I was at work, he would get frustrated and tell me he’d call back tomorrow.

Finally I realized my only hope was to have him come to my office and fix the laptop in a common area, because he clearly wasn’t going to schedule a real appointment. Like most techs that humans hate dealing with, he would only give me a window of time between 9-11am. I agreed, and he showed up at 12:30pm after multiple calls to him and sony asking about his whereabouts. I showed him where he could work and he agreed that it was a suitable location. After about an hour he came back and told me that although he had replaced the motherboard, the laptop still wouldn’t power on. He had to be at another appointment so now my only option was to send it to a Sony repair facility. Someone from sony would contact me in order to get a shipping box and details.

When the person from sony called me, they told me that my computer had corrosion damage from coming into contact with liquid and my warranty was now void. I explained the situation that this was an impossibility, due to the location of the laptop and the fact that the only person to ever use the computer in the past 6 months, was the repair tech. I work in Phoenix, AZ, in a corporate office. Not only is there no moisture whatsoever in this state, but the machine was docked to the back of an LCD panel, if they told me it was too dry and overheated, it would be a far more reasonable claim.

At this point Sony wants $620 to repair a laptop that cost me $950 and now has no warranty.

I pulled a list of emails from an ironically named support team called: “Sony Listens” to try and rectify this situation. They basically told me I was a liar and that their tech support team would never make such claims or damage the laptop because they are “professionals”. Let me remind you that this is the same professional that didn’t work on a schedule and showed up 1.5 hours late to my appointment. This is the same professional that replaced a motherboard in my computer and failed to tell me that there was any liquid damage. If there is liquid damage isn’t it the first thing they check? Wouldn’t this tech tell me of this liquid damage during the visit before making me send it to Laredo to void my warranty?

They offered me $100 off of the repair cost, lowering the bill to $520 as a “good faith” measure. No matter what sound logic I used or how many times I demanded a new laptop, Sony’s verdict is that I broke my laptop, they are 100% sure of it (but they also don’t believe me to be a liar) and therefore I am out of luck.

To be fair, there are plenty of customers out there in the world who dunk their computers, then go to the manufacturer insisting that it was only ever used by their grandmothers to print out grocery coupons on Sundays. Lance’s computer is new enough that he has some options, though. There’s always the trusty executive e-mail carpet bomb. As long as Sony thinks the warranty is void, he can take it to a third-party tech who might be able to resolve whatever problems there are cheaply. If there really is corrosion, a reputable 3rd-party tech will at least offer an unbiased opinion.

If Lance used a credit or debit card to purchase the computer, he can check into whether the card company extends the warranty on items purchased with it. And if the computer is indeed un-corroded, he can take documentation of that to small claims court.