Horrible Customer Service from Sony
This one was heartbreaking, as I have been a loyal Sony customer for years. But now they've lost me as a customer.
I bought a Sony HDTV through their website, ordering on 11/29/04 and receiving the unit on 12/8/04. On 12/31/04, the unit did not start up properly. Through a phone call to customer support, we were able to fix the problem by unplugging the unit, waiting a minute, then replugging. The 'reset' function on the remote did not work. The customer service rep stated that if this problem persisted, I should call back and we could work out a return or a repair.
The problem repeated itself a couple times in the subsequent week. On 1/5/05, I called and Sony said that I could try to get the unit repaired. On 1/6/05, I called a local repair shop and was told that, due to the nature of the repair, they would have to take the unit to their shop and hold it for approximately 2-4 weeks.
Given this amount of time, I called Sony back and pursued exchanging the defective unit for a new one. Sony responded that their policy (which IS published on their web site) is that they'll accept returns up to 30 days after they ship the product, which for me was 22 days after receiving the product. Since my unit started failing on Day 23, I pleaded my case, and was finally granted the option to return the unit, receive a full credit, have Sony handle the return shipping expense, and then pursue a replacement unit on my own.
After going back to work for a few minutes, I called back to arrange this. Unfortunately, I did not reach the same person who I spoke within the morning. Instead, I spoke with a man (last name: Brian/Brien?) and had to start from square one...explaining the nature of the problem, stating my order number, etc. The first response from this representative was "Why did you wait so long to call for service?" I explained the problem first showed up on 12/31 and that I called on 12/31. He hemmed and hawed, and finally came back with a return number that *I* could used to call a shipping service and arrange for the return myself. I stated that an agent told me earlier that Sony would handle this. He said that was wrong, they would not do this. So I asked for a manager.
Now it gets real good. The agent tells me there are no supervisors. (I'd like to work there :)). I told him that, earlier this same day, I was elevated to a supervisor on a call with a different agent. He said that did not happen. It did. I told him so. He continually refused to elevate my call to a supervisor, including, at one point, *pretending* to see if he could locate a supervisor, then coming back on the phone and sarcastically saying that there were no supervisors on site this day. I was enraged, he told me that he didn't want to be talked to like that, and I ended the call.
I called back to the SAME number immediately and got a different agent (of course, after another 10 minute wait up front). This agent told me that the determining date was Sony's ship date (11/30) and that I could not return the product. I told him that I had already arranged for that earlier and wanted to follow through on that. I even offered to give him my case reference number, but he *refused* to accept it. His response was more civil than the previous reps', but he still claimed that I would have to pay for the return shipping myself.
After some time to vent, I called back again, and asked to get passed along to a supervisor. Wouldn't you know it...they DO have supervisors at Sony Customer Service. Jamal took my call and explained that I had earlier spoken with someone at Sony Style customer service. Apparently, I landed somewhere else in the morning, when the rep told me Sony would arrange the return. Jamal tried to pass me through to the other customer service line, but the call got disconnected in the process.
I called right back...this call never got through to a rep before it got disconnected.
FINALLY, I called back, waited another 10 minutes up front, and got a hold of a rep named Chuck, who put me on hold, probably went to speak with someone who knew what they were doing, and fulfilled the promise I had received four hours earlier. Sony will accept the return and will pay for the transportation.
To recap, a unit that I had for 23 days failed, and has failed repeatedly in the six days that have followed. I received different answers from different people upon dialing the SAME customer support toll-free number at different points during the day. Two agents refused to accept the case number that had been established on my first call on 12/31. The lowlight of the experience was when my integrity was questioned, and when I received a sarcastic response from the rep who allegedly tried to reach a supervisor, only to have none available.
I'm loyal...it takes a lot to turn me off from a company. This experience, however, went WAY beyond what it will take to turn me away from Sony. When the time comes to replace my DVD player, VCR, Surround Sound system, speakers, and my second TV in the house, the Sony models that are in place now will be removed, and competitive models will take their place.