Sony Electronics Inc Informative - Electronic Product Failures
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- I purchased an HDR HC7 video camera in August of 2007 and on 11/9/2008, after less than 8 total hours of video recording use it ceased to function. Refusing to close its cassette carriage, it continually signals a no tape or locked tape issue. The Sony warranty is one year parts, 3 months labor. Indicated cost to repair was $461.00, a "flat rate". However, I subsequently discovered that this is a common problem, to the extent that the vendor from whom I purchased the camera - a national on-line company with an excellent reputation - verfied that they had discovered the frequency of failures and, as a result, pulled the camera from their sales lines.
(Update: 11/24/2008: A person called hank.cd4e from "SonyListens" emailed me, then called me on 11/24/08. While he had not bothered to obtain the e-mail communications between me and his service department he did offer to take 50% off of the $461 flat (parts, labor and return shipping) repair rate quoted to me through the Sony website. Since he had not researched the e-mails he did not realize that the Sony service rep had written that the actual cost may be less - or more - and not to depend upon the accuracy of the repair quote. In other words, in corporate double speak their repair "quote" seems to not be an actual quote. At the same time, he does not seem to understand that repair of a device that is fundamentally defective in design or construction cannot be considered an intelligent action. In the absence of more valuable information, I advised hank.cdre that I would see Sony in court.)
ll/18/08 continued: I have advised Sony via e-mail discussion that the matter is a non-warranty issue. Instead, it is an issue of design or construction leading to failure. The camera is unsuitable to fulfill the function that it is advertised to be capable of completing. I am taking Sony to court over the issue if they will not respond in the way that they should. However, an example of their cooperative attitude is the fact that they refused to provide with me their address for legal service of process, and also gave me a telephone number for their legal department which, after 52 calls to date, is always busy. I actually believe that this is a number given to customers which is designed to turn them away or make them just give up. (Update 11/24/08 - web research indicates that the phone number is an unlisted number registered to Sony in New Jersey)
Naturally, they deny any knowledge of a common product failure. What company would admit that it continued to sell cameras with a known defect history? I'll update this post after the court hearing on the matter, but my suggestion where research shows that poor design or construction is likely is to just take the sobs to small claims court, if that is the proper venue. It doesn't cost much and if more people went to the effort today's big companies might just remember what customer service actually is instead of building barriers to put customers off.
1/29/09: Sony, prior to the court date, agreed to take the camcorder back and to refund my entire purchase price.