I am a SONY fan. Well, I was a SONY fan.
In my opinion, SONY made the best quality electronics. Sure, you paid a premium for these products, but I always felt like I got my moneys worth, a true value.
Over the years, I have owned SONY tv’s, Walkman’s, Xperia phones and tablets, and every single Playstation since PS1. It’s safe to say that I have spent thousands of dollars on SONY products.
Currently, I own a PS3, PS4, Xperia Z2 tablet, and Xperia Z3 phone. I have purchased the PS4, Xperia tablet and phone all within the past 2 years.
I don’t want this post to be another “spoiled, entitled moron wants the world to understand how unhappy he is with a problem that can only be described as ‘the definition of a first-world problem’.” My goal here is to simply highlight how SONY’s products and customer service has taken a nose dive off a steep cliff, and the lessons we can learn from it.
Problem Product #1 – Playstation 4
Rubber grip destruction
As I mentioned, I have been a Playstation fan since I was a kid. Every time I received my weekly allowance from my parents, I added it to my “saving for the latest awesome game” jar.
So, naturally, I bought a PS4 on day one. I told myself I wouldn’t, that I would wait until they worked out all the kinks and bugs first, but I couldn’t help it.
Within 2 months, both of the controllers I had purchased had completely worn down the rubber coating on the left joystick. Bare in mind, I am not anywhere close to being a hardcore gamer. This resulted from average use of FIFA and NHL mainly.
Apparently, this was a widespread issue with the early adopters of the PS4. So, I called SONY support.
The only option SONY support gave me was to send the controllers in, they will inspect them and, if they find that it is a legitimate manufacturers defect, they will send me a new one. “Sounds fine I guess”, I thought. But then, they told me I would have to cover all shipping costs MYSELF.
Seriously. How does that make sense? If it is a manufacturer defect, a problem with their product, why should I have to cover the costs of sending it to them to have it repaired or replaced?
But, you know, “company policy”. (I would come to loathe this term even more in the near future)
I decided it wasn’t worth the time and expense, and bought some third party joystick grips to cover it up instead. I waited nearly a year before buying another PS4 controller, thinking they would surely have fixed the problem by then.
Nope. I now own five PS4 controllers, and every single one is now missing all or most of the left joystick rubber.
Broken left joystick
One of my five PS4 controllers just decided to stop using the left joystick one day. You can move it in any direction you want, but it will always assume you just want to go left. Like NASCAR.
Broken trigger springs
A few months after encountering the rubber joystick problem, the R2 trigger on one of my controllers decided to stay stuck in the pressed position.
This may sound like a small thing, (and yes I am aware that in the “grand scheme of things” it is) but it makes a big impact on your gaming. It essentially makes the controller useless.
After some research, I found that this was also a common problem with PS4 controllers, and there were already some handy YouTube videos on how to fix it.
But you know what? I shouldn’t have to fix this myself.
These controllers were all within warranty, and were less than a year old when they broke. Living in Canada, I spent $70 plus taxes (13% woop!) on each of these. That’s $350, for those counting.
All of my PS3 controllers lasted at least 4 years before I had any kind of problems with them. And, again, I am not a hardcore gamer. This is all from average use.
By the way, 3 out of 5 of my PS4 controllers have this broken trigger problem.
It’s very clear to me that the quality of these PS4 controllers is atrocious, and the only customer support I received from SONY was “send it in on your own dime and we may send you a new one”.
Problem product #2 – Xperia Z2 Tablet
I wanted a tablet and, after much research and analysis, I settled on the Xperia Z2. It was widely reviewed as one of the best Android tablets money could buy, was the thinnest and lightest on the market, and had some awesome unique features.
I owned it for about 6 months, then this happened.
It’s a bit difficult to make out, but do you notice the orange bleeding on the edges of the screen? Yep, a 6 month old premium tablet. The Xperia Z2 set me back $600.
I didn’t even bother trying to contact SONY support about this, knowing my efforts would be in vain. At least I had a functional tablet still.
All of this is completely unacceptable. And yet, it gets worse.
Problem product #3 – Xperia Z3 Phone
I loved the Xperia Z2 tablet so much that, when it was time to upgrade to a new phone, I bought the Xperia Z3 phone. (this was, of course, before the orange bleeding on the tablet screen began)
It was by far the best phone I’ve ever owned. The battery life in particular was fantastic, lasting a full 2 days between charges.
Then, one day, I put the same pants on that I’ve worn hundreds of times. I left the house with my Xperia Z3 in my front-right pocket.
At some point during the day, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and discovered this:
The extent of the damage was astonishing. Not only were both sides of the phone extensively cracked, my touch screen was now completely unresponsive. My $700 phone was now nothing more than a brick.
Upon further inspection, I discovered that my phone was bent:
It would appear that my phone had bent ever so slightly in my front pocket, supposedly from sitting down, and it was enough to destroy it and render it useless.
This time, I couldn’t let it go. I called SONY support, told them what happened, and they said the next step would be to send it in to their local service reps for diagnostics. I was very reluctant to do this, but I had no other choice at this point. They sent me a shipping label, and I shipped it to the local service reps.
What do you think happened next?
I received an email from the service reps, informing me that it would be $250 + taxes to repair the device, as physical damage is not covered under the warranty.
I explained to them what happened, how it was not damaged from misuse or neglect, that this was a manufacturer defect, and as such should be covered under warranty repair. Of course, they told me I had to talk to SONY.
I then called SONY support once again, explained the same thing to them, and was promptly told that it was out of their control, that the decision rested on the service reps and they cannot change that.
“Company policy” was mentioned more than a few times. I politely informed them that that is incorrect, that my warranty contract was with SONY, not the service repair reps. I then asked to speak to a Supervisor.
The Supervisor gave me the same story, except he did manage to do it in a more humane way, essentially agreeing that I was getting screwed over, and that he “would be very upset too”. But, you know, “company policy”…
At that point, I asked to speak to his supervisor. He said he would have a “Manager” call me the next day, maybe two days “at the latest”. As of this writing, it has now been a week, and I have received zero contact whatsoever.
To summarize, I now own well over $2,000 in SONY products, all less than 2 years old, and none of them are functioning the way they were intended. More than that, they are damaged from manufacturer defects and shoddy build quality.
Moral of the story
People will find anything to complain about, even things that are not worthy of even the tiniest amount of your attention or energy.
The point of this post was for me to simply share my incredibly frustrating experience with a company that once stood for much higher standards, in the hopes that others don’t have to experience it as well.
It is also a reminder for anyone who owns a business.
If you have loyal customers, do not take them for granted. Don’t give your customers any excuse to walk away from you because, if they love you that much, they will do as much as they can to stay your customer.
They may even be willing to overlook bad purchase experiences, as long as they receive stellar customer support afterwords.
And to SONY, it’s never too late to make things right…