Sony Vaio Support (Day 1)

So my laptop is broken. No problem, when I bought it, about a year and a half ago, I paid about €150 extra to get the warranty extended from 1 year to 3 years, and them pick it up if something goes wrong. I'm glad I did that; now it's time to use it.

Hmm, not as simple to use the warranty as it was to order it, it turns out. (Although, to be honest, ordering it wasn't very easy either.)

Here's what happened:

  1. At 11am, I call Sony for the first time. I could only find their sales number on the web and on the invoice, so I called that. Helpful sales person informed me "I'm only a sales person" and gave me a support number.
  2. I called the number. Automated system wanted the serial number of the Laptop. No problem. Then it informed me I had to "register" the laptop either over their website or via a 0900 premium number. I tried the website.
  3. Nowhere could I find how to register.
  4. Trying the "site map" on the website, I found some register page. I enter my data.
  5. Then it wants an (optional) "warranty number". I typed in all the numbers I found on the invoice, none of them were accepted. I was worried there might have been some extra document which I'd lost. I searched everywhere. Couldn't find it. So left the field blank.
  6. Rang the number again, it said the same as it said last time: I wasn't registered, I should either go to the website or use the premium number.
  7. Tried to register again.
  8. This time I saw some link "open a support issue online". I tried that. It informed me I was not registered. It had a big friendly "register" button. Clicking it went to the same registration page I'd been on before, with all my data filled out. So the registration page knew I was registered, but the "open a support issue" page could not continue as I was not.
  9. So I called the 0900 number. Got through to a human. Very helpful. He also noted I was not "registered" and tried to register me on his computer system. It didn't really work, he noted. But no matter.
  10. He wanted the guarantee number. He told me where it should be on the invoice (thankfully there was no lost extra document!). But it wasn't there. I jokingly said I could scan the invoice and email it to him. He said no he believed me; we chatted some more.
  11. He said he needed the guarantee number. He suggested I scan it and send it to him. Once that had been done, courier people would ring me in the afternoon to arrange a pick-up. That call was 17 minutes long.
  12. I emailed it to him. It was a central email address, but he assured me if I put the case number in the subject line, it would get to him.
  13. No reply. And no telephone call in the afternoon. And no way to contact him.
  14. I go online and find some "information on your support case" page. I enter my name, the laptop's serial number and the case number. Click submit. Results page is an advertisement for Windows Vista and nothing else.
  15. Thinking I must have done something wrong, I go back and do it again, same result.
  16. I ring the telephone number (the non-premium one). Automated voice asks me for my case number. I enter it. Automated voice informs me that I'm outside the warranty period (presumably the free one) and hangs up on me.
  17. What to do now? Only option is the 0900 number. I ring it. Wait listening to music. Then it hangs up on me. That was 5 minutes.
  18. What to do now? Only option is the 0900 number. I ring it. This time get through to someone after about 10 minutes of waiting. (I put it on speakerphone so that my colleagues know I am wasting my time listening to canned music while paying nearly €1/minute, to access the support I paid €150 for).
  19. Finally I get through to someone. They say that the email with the invoice wouldn't have worked (so I'm glad I rang and didn't just wait for them to ring me). I should fax the invoice to them. She gives me a fax number. I ask her to ring me in about an hour to tell me if she got it or not (as I have no way to contact her). That call was 20 minutes.
  20. I fax her the document, and write her name on it, to try and maximize the chance she gets it.
  21. Note that this document, which I am trying to communicate to them, is the invoice. This document comes from them, not me. I am trying to fax them back their own document.
  22. She calls me back (I was pleased about that). Tells me she got the fax, and that she has to speak to a colleague. I ask her when that will be. Well, she says, she posted a post-it note on her monitor.
  23. I ask her to call me back tomorrow in any case, even if there is no progress. I have no way to contact them, and if they just don't contact me, I'm stuck.
  24. She freely admitted that, until the warranty issue was resolved, I had no option than to use the 0900 phone number. The other cheaper number was only for laptops "in warranty". The fact that the laptop is in warranty, the only way in which it's not is that their system seems to have forgotten it, and that is something which is neither my fault nor over which I have any control, seemed not to alter the situation much in her opinion.
  25. She said she'd try to call me tomorrow. I said "what do you mean try?". She said she can try to contact me if I'm available. I said I'm available. OK, she said, then she'll try.

So that's it. So what has happened?

  1. I have spent 42 minutes on a premium phone line, costing €0,71/minute, that's €29.82.
  2. I spent €150 on a warranty (that was a while ago)
  3. I spent over €2000 on the laptop in the first place (that was a while ago)
  4. The laptop is still in my possession, broken.
  5. One day has passed, so the duration of me not being able to use my laptop has, thanks to Sony, been increased by (at least) one day.

I've really never heard of using an 0900 number as the only way of contacting support, after one has paid for a warranty. I mean it's so outrageous. And the website doesn't work (registration didn't work, viewing ones support case didn't work). One is so powerless.

Sony is not doing well especially in the laptop market. They must be wondering why. I bet the top management don't know that this sort of thing is going on. It's just because their company, apart from producing great products, is just completely broken.

Let's see what happens tomorrow...

This article is © Adrian Smith.
It was originally published on 25 Jun 2007
More on: Life | FAIL