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My Horrific Experiences With Sony Customer Support

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/my-horrific-experiences-with-sony-customer-support-2012-2


Sony laptopI have a Sony laptop computer. It is less than a year old. It was not cheap. I bought the best components, memory and hardware components options available including 3-year in home support.

A couple of months ago the monitor developed a problem (a line of dead pixels down the entire length of the screen). I knew it was a hardware failure because I run a dual monitor setup and the line did not appear on the second screen.

I ignored that problem because it was relatively minor. However a hard drive failure cannot be ignored. 

Unfortunately I experienced a hard drive failure at the beginning of January and was dead in the water. I could not boot.

Please follow this chain of events (Mac users, please try not to laugh too loudly).

My Sony Support Experience

  1. I called Sony support and told them of my problems. They told me my computer was out of warranty even though it was less than a year old and under standard warranty. I told them I had a 3 year warranty. They told me I they had no record of it but gave me another Sony phone number to call to verify my warranty.
  2. I suggested that rather than me hang up and dial Sony, that Sony should dial Sony and verify my service contract. The technical rep said that was not possible.
  3. I called the service number at Sony the tech rep gave me and that service rep verified my date of purchase as less than a year old. The service rep also gave me my 3-year in-home service contract number.
  4. I called back Sony technical support and gave them my service contract number. The technical rep said they could not find that service contact and would not help me. The tech rep told me to call back the service rep and get the right number.
  5. I called back up the service rep, and I did indeed have the right number. The service rep agreed to call the tech rep and stay on the line to verify the number. Apparently service can call technicians but not vice-versa. Some of these calls took 20 minutes.
  6. The service rep informed the technical rep of my purchase date of the service contract (less than a year old), and that it was for 3-years. At that point the tech rep agreed to help me. The service rep hung up.
  7. The tech rep then took my serial number and other information but said before he could schedule a service call he needed a copy of my receipt. I did not have a copy of my receipt. Given the Sony service rep verified my purchase date and 3 year service contract I failed to understand why I need a written receipt. As you might expect I was quite upset and talking rather loudly at this point.
  8. The service rep said he needed to know whether the computer was to be repaired under the service contract or the 1-year standard warranty. As you might imagine I did not see why any of this mattered as my date of purchase was confirmed by Sony as was my 3-year warranty.
  9. Well this mattered to the technician who demanded a receipt. The technician gave me a Sony website in which I could look up my order and get a receipt. I said “If I can go to a website on Sony and look up my order, why can’t you?”
  10. As you can probably guess from what has transpired so far, the tech rep could not do that. It was now late in the day and I had company over and a backup PC was working but without a lot of programs I frequently use and need. I waited overnight to get the receipt.
  11. The next day I attempted to get a receipt but the website URL the tech rep gave me was invalid. 
  12. Once again I called the service contract rep and that person gave me the right address. I said why don’t you look up my purchase day and get it to the tech but this time the service rep was uncooperative.
  13. I go to the Sony website and find my order. I print out my order and fax it to the tech rep. I call the tech rep number and the tech informs me he has scheduled a service call and someone would call me shortly to arrange a time within three days.
  14. I was suspicious of that claim, so the next day I called up the service rep who indeed verified the tech rep did not schedule a service call. 
  15. The service rep put in the order noting they had received my fax and that everything was in order.
  16. I was told I would get a call within 3 days. I was actually shocked to get a call the next day but the pleasant surprise quickly ended on news they had to order parts and I would get a another call within 3 days when the parts would be ready.
  17. Two days later the parts arrive and I get a call and schedule a time.
  18. The rep brings out another monitor and another hard drive. 
  19. The monitor is bad. It has a line of dead pixels in a different spot. 
  20. The tech rep installs the hard drive and leaves me with a set of install disks.
  21. One might think that the on-site technician might actually load the disks they delivered but one would be wrong. These guys are 100% without a doubt strictly hardware only. They do not load disks. Even ones they hand deliver.
  22. It is late in the evening and once again I had company. The next day I run the setup disks and get an I-O error. I cannot tell what is wrong. 
  23. I call Sony and they suspect another hard drive problem and tell me someone will call me within three days to schedule an appointment.
  24. I am screaming at the top of my lungs at this point as I have had it. The rep agrees to do nothing but schedule another call. I ask for his supervisor and an transferred to a “national customer relations specialist” NCRS.
  25. I ask the NCRS to send me a new computer. He tells me that the computer I have is no longer available. That was a direct lie because in advance (in expectation of lies) I had gone on the Sony website and could order the exact computer I already had. 
  26. I informed the NCRS that the computer was still orderable and he said he did not have the authority to do what I asked. If a national customer relations person does not have that authority, one has to wonder “Do they have ANY authority?”
  27. I asked to be transferred to his superior and was put on hold. His superior (and the NCRS refused to tell me the title of that person) would not take my call but whoever that person was did tell the NCRS that if the next delivery did not work they would pro-rate a refund.
  28. I demanded to talk to the NCRS superior but the NCRS would not comply.
  29. At that point I had had enough. I had been without my computer for 11 days and had loaded trial versions of software I use on another computer to get by, but I was still running in limited mode in a number of ways.
  30. I do an online search for computer repair for my city at 4:30 PM. The first two places did not answer the phone or had a messages they were closed. The owner of a third local repair shop in Barrington Illinois did answer the phone. He was open until 7:00PM and Barrington is only a half hour away.
  31. He agreed to look at my computer. I brought in my computer, the install DVDs Sony gave me, and an external hard drive backup I had of my computer.  He took one look at the install disks and said “this one is bad” (it had a discolored spot on the DVD). He changed the bios on my machine to boot to an external DVD drive and fortunately the external drive was able to read the install disks. It was now going on 8:00PM and the owner had stayed an hour past closing to help me but the configuration was only 70% done.
  32. The owner had to go but the next day when I called in, he had reset my drive to the original Sony state, removed all the Sony bloatware including Norton. He loaded all my personal files from an external hard drive I brought in. Above and beyond the call of duty, he found every ICON on my computer and went out and loaded trial versions of every software program I had.
  33. Now that is service. I had my Microsoft Office Key as well as keys to the other programs I use.  I had no idea how to configure my POP account at SBC on to my Microsoft Exchange account but he did that off the top of his head. By accident, I found someone (a business owner) who not only understands computers but someone who also understands the value of a customer.
  34. Five days later (two over the weekend) Sony did come by and replace my monitor. It might have been done sooner but I was out of town on Friday.

Moral of the Story

  • Have file backups. I did.
  • Don’t count on Sony
  • I have had bad experiences with Dell as well so don’t count on Dell or any other mass producer either.
  • Instead find a local computer shop that understands computers and the value of a customer.
If you live in NW Illinois, the place I found that helped me isBarringtonComputer. The owner is Richard Zatek.

By the way, I left out one interesting detail.

Barrington Computer has the ability to access a computer remotely. Zatek gave me a way to see what was happening remotely to my computer. When I checked on it at midnight (from my backup machine  at home), Zatek was also dialed into my computer and we exchanged messages right on my computer remotely using notepad, at midnight. We could see what each other was typing. That is pretty cool as well as exceptional service.

One good thing came out of this. I am pleased to have found someone who knows computers and also understands the value of a customer. Sony sure doesn’t.

 
Addendum
 
I received many emails regarding this post. Here is one from attorney “BR” who says …

Dear Mish,

I’m a big fan of your site and it is pretty much required reading for me most days. I read your account of your travails with “Big Corporate Customer service” with great empathy. I encountered a very similar experience two years ago getting a burner part replaced on my natural gas hot water heater. It took six weeks, 7 separate “house calls,” at least 15 different phone calls, and nearly being divorced before the problem was rectified. And it was a parts problem for which the company had issued a “recall,” so it wasn’t a unique or unexpected problem.

I’ve become convinced that this type of customer “service” is viewed as being a “feature” and not a “bug.” And it crosses all lines of products and services, but especially those covered by “warranties.” They are actively discouraging you from insisting on your right to the free repairs and other services for which you have already paid when you purchased your warranty. In my judgment it represents a calculated effort by corporate types to maximize the profits they obtain under extended warranty agreements. It really is a form of fraud.

Lesson learned is that while P.C. stands for piece of crap, warranties are worth even less.

Very truly yours,

BR

Addendum Two
 
I received many comments about the poor quality of consumer products. I failed to mention a possible remedy.
 
I asked the store owner if he custom built computers and he said it would not be cost-effective. After all, he still would be using components straight from China.
 
Instead he said, never buy a computer from a normal retail store or through the “consumer division” of a PC maker. Sony only has a a consumer divi! sion. HP and Dell have business divisions.
 
Unfortunately, that may not mean support will be much better, but rather the components will likely be of a higher quality. Large businesses might buy hundreds of computers or more at once. To get repeat business, the computers need to be more durable and have no built-in bloatware (trial software and other garbage).

Addendum Three
 
I received many emails like this from Mac users but here is one from a person at VMC Consulting Corporation with a email address at Microsoft.

Reading your recent “Horrific Experiences” post, I just want to make a friendly suggestion.

Next time you want the best Windows machine money can buy, get a Mac.

No kidding.

The Mac is the best Windows machine you can buy, and the support is fantastic. I don’t know where you live, but if it’s a major city, I bet there’s an Apple store nearby.

You can either use “Boot Camp” and run entirely in Windows, or you can be booted into the Mac OSX, and run Windows inside of Parallels, which is a fantastic Virtualization program.

Cheers,

David


This post originally appeared at Global Economic Trend Analysis. 

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SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress…

House Judiciary Committee Chair and Texas Republican Lamar Smith, along with 12 co-sponsors, introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th of last year. Debate on H.R. 3261, as it’s formally known, has consisted of one hearing on November 16th and a “mark-up period” on December 15th, which was designed to make the bill more agreeable to both parties. Its counterpart in the Senate is the Protect IP Act (S. 968). Also known by it’s cuter-but-still-deadly name: PIPA. There will likely be a vote on PIPA next Wednesday; SOPA discussions had been placed on hold but will resume in February of this year.

…that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet…

The beating heart of SOPA is the ability of intellectual property owners (read: movie studios and record labels) to effectively pull the plug on foreign sites against whom they have a copyright claim. If Warner Bros., for example, says that a site in Italy is torrenting a copy of The Dark Knight, the studio could demand that Google remove that site from its search results, that PayPal no longer accept payments to or from that site, that ad services pull all ads and finances from it, and—most dangerously—that the site’s ISP prevent people from even going there.

…which would go almost comedically unchecked…

Perhaps the most galling thing about SOPA in its original construction is that it let IP owners take these actions without a single court appearance or judicial sign-off. All it required was a single letter claiming a “good faith belief” that the target site has infringed on its content. Once Google or PayPal or whoever received the quarantine notice, they would have five days to either abide or to challenge the claim in court. Rights holders still have the power to request that kind of blockade, but in the most recent version of the bill the five day window has softened, and companies now would need the court’s permission.

The language in SOPA implies that it’s aimed squarely at foreign offenders; that’s why it focuses on cutting off sources of funding and traffic (generally US-based) rather than directly attacking a targeted site (which is outside of US legal jurisdiction) directly. But that’s just part of it.

…to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist”…

Here’s the other thing: Payment processors or content providers like Visa or YouTube don’t even need a letter shut off a site’s resources. The bill’s “vigilante” provision gives broad immunity to any provider who proactively shutters sites it considers to be infringers. Which means the MPAA just needs to publicize one list of infringing sites to get those sites blacklisted from the internet.

Potential for abuse is rampant. As Public Knowledge points out, Google could easily take it upon itself to delist every viral video site on the internet with a “good faith belief” that they’re hosting copyrighted material. Leaving YouTube as the only major video portal. Comcast (an ISP) owns NBC (a content provider). Think they might have an interest in shuttering some rival domains? Under SOPA, they can do it without even asking for permission.

…while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily…

SOPA also includes an “anti-circumvention” clause, which holds that telling people how to work around SOPA is nearly as bad as violating its main provisions. In other words: if your status update links to The Pirate Bay, Facebook would be legally obligated to remove it. Ditto tweets, YouTube videos, Tumblr or WordPress posts, or sites indexed by Google. And if Google, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, etc. let it stand? They face a government “enjoinment.” They could and would be shut down.

The resources it would take to self-police are monumental for established companies, and unattainable for start-ups. SOPA would censor every online social outlet you have, and prevent new ones from emerging.

…and potentially disappearing your entire digital life…

The party line on SOPA is that it only affects seedy off-shore torrent sites. That’s false. As the big legal brains at Bricoleur point out, the potential collateral damage is huge. And it’s you. Because while Facebook and Twitter have the financial wherewithal to stave off anti-circumvention shut down notices, the smaller sites you use to store your photos, your videos, and your thoughts may not. If the government decides any part of that site infringes on copyright and proves it in court? Poof. Your digital life is gone, and you can’t get it back.

…while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective…

What’s saddest about SOPA is that it’s pointless on two fronts. In the US, the MPAA, and RIAA already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to request that infringing material be taken down. We’ve all seen enough “video removed” messages to know that it works just fine.

As for the foreign operators, you might as well be throwing darts at a tse-tse fly. The poster child of overseas torrenting, Pirate Bay, has made it perfectly clear that they’re not frightened in the least. And why should they be? Its proprietors have successfully evaded any technological attempt to shut them down so far. Its advertising partners aren’t US-based, so they can’t be choked out. But more important than Pirate Bay itself is the idea of Pirate Bay, and the hundreds or thousands of sites like it, as populous and resilient as mushrooms in a marsh. Forget the question of should SOPA succeed. It’s incredibly unlikely that it could. At least at its stated goals.

…but stands a shockingly good chance of passing…

SOPA is, objectively, an unfeasible trainwreck of a bill, one that willfully misunderstands the nature of the internet and portends huge financial and cultural losses. The White House has come out strongly against it. As have hundreds of venture capitalists and dozens of the men and women who helped build the internet in the first place. In spite of all this, it remains popular in the House of Representatives.

That mark-up period on December 15th, the one that was supposed to transform the bill into something more manageable? Useless. Twenty sanity-fueled amendments were flat-out rejected. And while the bill’s most controversial provision—mandatory DNS filtering—was thankfully taken off the table recently, in practice internet providers would almost certainly still use DNS as a tool to shut an accused site down.

…unless we do something about it.

The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.

So keep calling. Keep emailing. Most of all, keep making it known that the internet was built on the same principles of freedom that this country was. It should be afforded to the same rights.


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Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Why Google Is The Grinch Who Stole Your Business

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-grinch-who-stole-your-business-2011-12


Google Sign

It’s that time of year when we all reflect on the past, search our souls and determine what we want for the next year. I’ve been reflecting on what it means to work with a company that controls so much of the market, provides such a broad set of capabilities and delivers such a large percentage of monthly revenues to publishers. Of course, I’m thinking of Google and what their dominance in the ad market means for a publisher’s future and its ability to remain relevant to marketers.

What do we know about Google? They are this great company that gives consumers some of the best digital products available on the Web: search, email, maps, Android, apps and more. This has catapulted Google to the rank of second most valuable brand, behind only Apple, according to Millward Brown. This seems to be great for consumers, but what about the businesses who are now reliant on Google for search and display revenue, advertising technology and various business applications like Google docs, Android OS, Chrome, etc.?

Many of the businesses I meet with hold Google in high regard because of the products they represent and the amount of revenue they provide. However, these businesses are equally concerned about Google’s consumer stranglehold, their influence over the ad ecosystem and their focus on automation, all of which lessens the publishers’ worth in the value chain as a whole. Google’s market dominance stretches well beyond search, which in itself is obviously enormous. This expansive dominance should be alarming for every marketing-related business, including publishers, advertisers and agency and marketing services technologies.  Here are a few stats on Google by category that will likely frighten even the largest of these businesses:

  • 65.38% Share of Search, Oct-11 Hitwise
  • 44.1% Share of Ad revenue, Oct-11 PCMag
  • 43.8% Share for Video, Oct-11 Comsccore
  • 30.03% Share for Travel, Oct-11 Comscore
  • 22.38% Share for Automotive, Oct-11 Comscore
  • 18.69% Share for Shopping, Oct-11 Comscore
  • 16.29% Share for Health, Oct-11 Comscore

If these stats weren’t enough to dampen your holiday spirit, Google now is even prioritizing their own products above the paid search listings on their search engine. This creates a major conflict for the advertisers that have made Google what it is today and may force those clients to pay even more if their advertising is to remain competitive in this new bidding landscape. Google clearly is leveraging its position of power with consumers to launch new products and ensure their own success. The latest example of this is the promotion of their Chrome browser on the Google homepage. As you can see from the chart below, Chrome is rocketing to the position of #1 browser, a rank it is projected to achieve by June 2012.

Google is now a major threat to every business in the publishing and advertising marketplace. In the short term, while they may appear to be a superior partner that provides revenue and marketing innovation, I believe that over the long term they are eroding the value of each and every business in the media sales and publishing value chain. And, worst of all, they are charging heavily for the privilege. I’d estimate that for every dollar spent by an advertiser in the media buying process, Google captures upwards of 25% in tolls (via their various ad services, DFA, Invite, DFP, AdX, Motif, Admeld, etc.), thereby minimizing revenue and profits for publishers and other vendors along the way

So as you reflect on 2011 and consider whom you want to partner with in 2012, give some thought to the short versus the long term. What is your value proposition to clients? And who do you ultimately want to run your business … the Grinch or You?

Have a great holiday and Happy New Year!

The views expressed here reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 24/7 Real Media, its affiliates, subsidiaries or its parent company, WPP plc

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Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 news No Comments

Facebook Owns 95% Of Social Networking Time

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-facebook-owns-95-of-social-networking-time-2011-12


Facebook accounts for 95% of social networking time on the web in the U.S. according to an analysis of comScore data provided to us by web publisher Ben Elowitz of Wetpaint.

(We would think this holds for mobile, but it’s possible Twitter has more of a hold there than on the desktop.)

Elowitz’s takeaway from the data: “There’s now no question that ‘social’ means ‘Facebook.’” And if you want to be in front of consumers, you have to figure out a way to be in their Facebook news feed.

This is important for Facebook, since it just announced plans to insert ads into users news feeds. If publishers agree with Elowitz, then it could be the big revenue generator Facebook needs to sustain itself for the next ten years.

chart of the day, minutes spent on social newtworking sites, dec 20 2011

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Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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