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.


Edit Your Comment

  1. dorianh49 says:

    No water damage? Right. Where else do you think the Sony ROOTkits get their nourishment?

  2. kevinroyalty says:

    EECB or Small Claims Court

  3. Mr_Magoo says:

    His laptop’s been Pampered? I don’t think that liquid is water…

  4. deathbecomesme says:

    If it was me they’d be showing up in small claims court after a certified letter telling them they had 30 days to comply with warranty repairs

  5. richard_toronto says:

    Make things simple: demand the return of the corroded parts and your original machine. If the motherboard has corrosion from water ingress, the rest of the internals will as well (case plastics, etc.) – there will be mineral residue/water spots/staining/etc. inside the case.

    If they can’t provide that back to you so you can verify the damage, then that’s all you need to file in small claims in AZ. You have emphatically denied their claims, now they must provide proof of the damage. “Because we said so” isn’t proof enough.

    • Bladerunner says:

      Don’t worry, I’m sure when he gets it back there will be a water sensor tripped, whether there was one before or not, which means any actual damage becomes immaterial!

  6. SirWired says:

    His credit card warranty won’t work right now; it only covers things that would have been covered by the original warranty, and only after the original warranty expires. If he can get another shop to confirm there is no water damage, after the original warranty is over, he CAN get the credit card warranty to cover the work.

  7. Negentropy says:

    Does it still have the replacement motherboard in it? That is what it sounds like, and if so it could be that the tech replaced the OPs motherboard with a waterdamaged one….

  8. dandadan says:

    I have posted this before, but it bears repeating, “Sony hates its customers”.

    I am a laptop technician. I have been for the past 11 years and the horror that could be spoken about Sony warranty service claims.

    On many occasions as a service to my clients I arrange for and facilitate warranty support from all major laptop manufacturers. Hands down, Sony is the worst. Deny, deny, deny is their motto. It’s like they have minions reading the fine print for every call, and as is the case with legalese, they can interpret it anyway they choose, in their favor.

    Sony is so bad, that we no longer take the machines into our shop anymore. If a customer brings in a Sony laptop, we offer them a reasonable trade in on their machine or send them somewhere else. We will not allow our techs to touch them because:

    1) Shielding issues – Sony laptops are not manufactured to worldwide standards and are very susceptible to static electricity (we use grounding straps and anti-static mats). We got tired of buying new computers for Sony clients because a poorly shielded computer got zapped.
    2) Exorbitant prices for parts. Example a common laptop keyboard, our cost $20. The cost for a Sony specific keyboard $120.
    3) Non-standard components and excessive engineering. Machines are needlessly complex, parts and screws are non-standard and super expensive. The machines are less reliable than the competition by far. There is no valid reason to ever purchase anything branded Sony. They are a horrible vacuous shell of the once legendary company. Talk about whoring out your brand equity. Still they are trying to run it further into the ground.
    4) Sony corporate attitude. Sony hates its customers. They lie, and deny legitimate warranty claims, and if they accept a claim, they are incompetent in repairs. In the industry we long for the day that Sony is driven out of the laptop business (they are losing tremendous market share because they sell overpriced garbage). They make my life difficult. I hate telling someone that their computer is not worth fixing, and that I won’t even attempt it because the repair would cost more than a replacement and I won’t guarantee work on Sony product.

    My advise is to do a chargeback on the laptop if possible, otherwise your only recourse is to sue for relief in small claims court. Then, go get a Dell Latitude laptop.

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      I’m glad you posted this, because now I know to avoid Sony. I’m not brand loyal and usually go with whoever’s offering the best deal, so this is good to know.

    • joe80x86 says:

      As a fellow tech and business owner I completely agree with your assessment of Sony laptops. You pay for a name and get nothing in return.

  9. Gadgetguy says:

    You might check into getting a lawyer and have him look at how many claims have been denied for water damage.After working for a subcontractor for Sony for over 7 years I cant even begin to tell you the amount of times I have heard this same story. I even had the same thing told to me. had computers I looked at with no water damage sent back with the same reason. Something is definitely going on the Sony repair facility imo. my guess would be if the repair records were mae available under a court orderthere would be a unusually high amount of denials based on water damage. Its very sad a big company like Sony does this to their customer base.

  10. Extended-Warranty says:

    How can you be so sure that there is no possible way that this had water damage?

    • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

      How can the consumer prove there wasn’t? What incentive do cell phone and laptop manufacturers have to honor their warranties if it can all be voided by nebulous claims of water damage?

  11. Black Knight Rebel says:

    Whenever I deal with Sony I always get a service request number. You get one for every conversation you have with a Sony Rep so if you keep those handy you can then tell them that you called on [insert date] and this is what was discussed on that call; check your computer records and verify this.

    It has never failed me and sometimes I’ve netted free stuff from Sony for old grievances that were promised to be resolved but never were.

    The OP should have kept his phone records, and should have sent his laptop to the repair center anyway and skipped the middle man.

  12. alexXL says:

    re. sony vaios, my vgn ar250g was shipped with the same defective nvidiacard that was received and installed by other cos. such as hp. after 2 1/2 years the (integrated) card melted down. i was being told by techs to give it up, and if i had not telephoned sony cs, at closing of a lengthy chat i would NEVER have been informed in a quick and breezy interpolation that sony was repairing laptops mined with these things gratis. they did so as they were under the gun at the time, being pursued by litigants in a class action lawsuit. problem solved, except the identical card was reinstalled and in due course (2 1/2 years) its circuits dissolved again. this time i was simply informed the machine was out of warranty, and so what if the graphics card was defective. when this thing arrived, the chassis was already ceacking, and i quickly discovered the metal
    trim is actually a faked metal composite that can be rubbed off with a finger tip. keys i never used popped out of the board, and the offset lid latch cannot be used without warping it. briefly, if ir’s a sony vaio, expect it to fail almost to the day after it’s out if warranty. looks flashy, designed to crash and burn. they did send a tech to look at it (instance one), who asked to take it with him. by the time it was returned, the only change i noticed was the gouged out finish. apparently he had been stacking the things in pillars. so, yes. sony IS going to lay the big one on you if you should drift within reach. that’s $2,350.00 for ~ 5 years of laptop. and they ARE trading on the dazzle factor, to market trash of ALL forms. my opinion, when the time comes, get a MAC.

  13. ECA says:

    Lets see the new business ideal..
    You can only make THIS many laptops..
    YOU SELL them to the resellers/distributors.. witht he comment that there are no returns and they can have them cheaper.
    You DONT stock extra repair stock, you use the over runs..
    You make 100 different computers in each year.. mix and match.. you make 100,000 of each laptop. You have 0 stock onhand for repairs, only NEW computers..
    ALSO the stock being sold, was made last year..(a debate on warranty)
    YOU might have a 1% return, and can slap another part in and ship it out in the first 6 months..most computers FAIL in 30-60 days. after that they can get rid of most of the parts..

    MANY LAPTOPS have 1 main problem..POWER SUPPLY OR the internal inverter.. thats about 70% of the problem..

    You want to talk to somone..CALL the main corp.. NOT the affiliate, in the USA.
    FEW if any corp sends PARTS, anymore..

  14. McNuggz says:

    ” Lance wants to know why the tech didn’t notice the corrosion until after he replaced the entire motherboard”

    When replacing a motherboard, it would be impossible to replace it not in its entirety.

    double negative ftw

  15. Blueskylaw says:

    Banks complain that they lose money on every ATM transaction and that’s why they have to charge such high fess, yet try and find what they make/lose on every transaction and you will not be able to locate it anywhere. I called a gentleman in the ATM industry once (doing a report) and asked him what the average profit numbers were and he said that information is HIGHLY guarded and I would have to buy an industry report for over $10,000 dollars in order to get it. If the banks were truly losing money, don’t you think they would show the proof and not just say they lose money?