Dear Sony,

I hate you.

Or at least strongly dislike you.

Very much.

Ok, I’ll tell you why. Less than 1.5 years ago, I bought a VAIO laptop. Spent a LOT of money on it, because it would also function as my home computer. DVD burner, 60 GB hard drive, 512 MB RAM, 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 (or something like that), blah blah blah. I didn’t buy the cheap model.

After owning the stupid thing for less than 6 months, a crack developed around the AC adapter port, and no, not from being dropped. Just from being a crappy piece of machinery. It looked like just a tiny little crack, and nothing was wrong with the computer. Other than the fact that I couldn’t run the Wi-Fi without the fan running constantly and that the battery lasted about 20 minutes unless I only ran the program “Notepad” and typed very slowly; then the battery might last 1.5 hours, if it was a good day, and if the sun set at exactly 7:47 p.m., and if the Teapot constellation could be seen in the late night sky. And if I happened to be wearing red.

Ten months after I bought the computer, the little crack started causing problems. Now I had to fiddle with the AC adapter if I wanted to charge the battery (though why I bothered is a mystery). I knew I should get the machine into the shop, so I took it to Circuit City, where I purchased the machine, and guess what. It was close to Christmas (yep, still under warranty, that computer was), and they would have to send the machine to Sony. Ok, go ahead. Well, the service center shuts down for inventory right about now, so we can’t even send it in until the 18th and you’ll get it back around New Year’s Day.

Tough luck, as I was packing up to move to Florida and just couldn’t let them have it for an entire month.

So then by the time I was all settled in here in sunny Florida, where the battery life isn’t any better and the fan still ran constantly, my warranty was up. No problem. I figured it’s just one teeny little part and can’t be that expensive. When things settle down, I’ll be glad to jump through whatever hoops need to be jumped through to send off my computer and get it fixed.

After trying a few times with your worthless website, which first off told me that my fancy schmancy super charged expensive laptop was no longer supported (mind you, this is only 1.5 years after I bought it), I dug around and found a phone number to call and talk to a live person.

Except not. I called and tried first to talk to your worthless voice response system, which reaaaaalllly has a hard time with 3-word street names. So whatever you do, never live on Treading Trodden Trail, especially if you expect that you’ll ever need to talk to Sony’s virtual idiot. You know it’s bad when the virtual idiot tells you for the third time, “I’m sorry. I do not understand your street name,” and you reply with, “that’s because you’re an idiot.” One of the first things I learned from Virtual Dufus is that if I want to talk to a real live person, it will cost me $19.95. And that in order to get me through to a real live person, VD is going to need my credit card billing information. I guess it does pay to live on Treading Trodden Trail after all, because I got to talk to Skippy the Wonderkid for free.

By this point in the grand scheme of rotten laptops, it’s very hard to even get this machine to stay charged/connected to power for long enough to open up Notepad and type “SarahK + Sony = Hate 4Ever! XOXOXO”. Much less back up the entire system. Remember that point for later, because it’s important in my world.

Skippy the Wonderkid, who reads his pre-printed Sony material to me word for word in robotic voice, tells me that Sony has a pricing structure for all non-warranty repairs. For minor parts replacements, that will be $249 + 16.60 shipping, which is a total of $295.60, ma’am. I, of course, have quickly done the math in my head (because I’m an auditor, that’s why), and I tell Wonderkid that the math doesn’t work out. “That’s only $265.60,” I say and then think, holy cow, did he say that minor parts replacements cost almost $300? While Skippy has me on hold so he can punch the numbers into his calculator before agreeing with my audit math, I start wondering how much a brand new Dell would cost.

Skippy returns and tells me that if I have a major repair, it will cost $14,000 plus tax. And if it’s just something tiny, it’s $104 plus parts. Okie dokie. Now Wonderkid already knows why I’m calling, as I’ve explained it to him in detail. So after he tells me the entire pricing structure so I can rejoice in the great deal I’m getting by having just a minor parts replacement, he says that my repair falls in category #1. Yay for me! I’m having a hard time containing my joy and thankfulness to Sony.

So I tell Skippy that I’m going to discuss this with Frank and why don’t you give me all the instructions for sending in my computer and if I decide to do it, I’ll do it. Skippy tells me that I have to include a list of accessories that I’m sending in the box with the machine. Hmm, Skippy, I’m not even sending you the whole machine. I’m going to take out the harddrive and keep that here, so why would I send you any accessories. (I say this nicer of course.) But then Wonderrobot tells me that I have to send the harddrive and I should back up my files first. The technicians will need that so they can comment on how lovely it is while they work on a part that isn’t connected at all to the harddrive. Okay, no thanks, I’ll send it without the harddrive. Skippy finally says ok, send it without it, and they’ll fix the computer if they can, but really you should just back up the computer first. “I can’t get the computer to stay on long enough to back up the files, and I’m really not a fan of the idea of sending you my only copy of everything.”

The rest of the conversation was more of the same, except I laughed when Skippy read my tracking number to me. “W as in whiskey…” I giggled. I guess Sony has driven him to such things, and I can see why.

Anyway, Sony, I hate you, and I’m not going to pay you $12,247 to fix my computer. Dude, I’m gettin’ a Dell.

Tough love,

22 Responses to Dear Sony,

  1. Do you know what ever happened to the “Dude your gettin a Dell” guy? I figure since you have a blog and I dont, you might also know things I dont.

    BTW, IBM Thinkpad *might* be the way to go. Indestructable. I’ve had three over the past six years (all upgrades, no breakdowns). I travel and put many, many miles on my laptop. Course now they’re makin them in China, so they might not be as good …

  2. Sarah,

    I feel your pain, I’ve been there with a dell. My College has a laptop program, through which they got Dell laptops. I took my laptop everywhere, and it couldn’t handle the constant moving. I don’t know how versed in computers you are, I myself am fairly good at maintenence, and was able to keep it going for about a year and a half, friends of mine and people I know on campus (40 – 50) who don’t know computers went through about three or four in that amount of time.

    I’ve got an e-machine that hasn’t given me any problems and I’ve had it for over a year now, but its a desktop pc, I haven’t tried their laptops, but if they’re anything like the desktops, it’d be pretty decent.

  3. the “Dude, you’re gettin’ a Dell!” guy got busted for drugs and disappeared out of commericals.

    but don’t let that stop you from supporting Dell, a proud TEXAS company!!!

  4. rto’s place of business has switched to ibms, but he hates them, he managed to find a loophole and ordered a new dell. i’m happy with my dell laptop.

  5. ummm…maybe HP? i have a HP desktop, love it, maybe their laptops are better than the VAIO….

    just a suggestion. :)

  6. I’ve been concidering getta a Dell lap top, they have quite a variety on their web site. I love how they explain all the technical terms on the site, if they didn’t have that I would have to bug my brother-in-law (a computer wiz and head of I.T. at a local private college) too much.

  7. hi Sarah, My sympathies are with you…I just went thru the same kind of frustration with dish tv. I finally got my money back, 4 weeks and many frustrating phone calls later. Before you give up on your VAIO and Sony, Try the angle that the problem started while IT WAS UNDER WARRANTY! That is your best hope to get anywhere with them, and keep asking to talk to their supervisor at every level till it gets kicked up to a level where somebody can actually push the “right” button and repair it under warranty. When I got my new Mac PowerBook G4 2 1/2 years ago, I was also looking at the VAIO and I know what a good computer it should be. Good Luck

  8. I would stay away from both DELL and IBM, simply because at work (yes i do IT) the dells have issues if you take them out of the docking stations alot, and the HD that come in them are utter crap. The IBM have a nasty tendancy to be touchy about power, and the power connector is not a very solid feel to it, but it seems to be holding up so far (but only 3 months old) i just dont like the feel of them.

    For both of my personal laptops i use and love Toshiba, not a name you thing of right quick, but still a great laptop. very robust and mine gets moved around 3 or 4 times a day and has taken a few bad falls with no real problems. I use it for work and play, and as a GPS system so it works in a hard environment and still stands up.

    just my 2 cents.

  9. I’d avoid Dell because of the harddrive problems in their laptops. My mothers place of work ordered around 8 new laptops from dell over a 6 month period, only one of them didn’t have a harddrive failure in the first three months.

  10. K in Dallas

    I really got nuthin’. But just as an FYI:

    The stars of Sagittarius supposedly form the shape of a Centaur; but more closely resemble a teapot. When the Summer Triangle is high in the sky, the Northern Cross points down along the Milky Way toward Sagittarius. As you look toward Sagittarius, you are looking toward the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Becasue it is the center, it is the brightest area in the heavens.

  11. well, since I’m the lone dissenting Mac user here, I feel contractually obligated to say that a PowerBook is the way to go. get the $300 AppleCare and all repairs are free for three years.

    yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s a Mac. I’m just sayin’…

  12. Remember, sweety, I’m always here if you want someone punched.

  13. Yeah I haven’t heard many good things about the reliability of the VIAO’s. I’ve had two Dell’s, (first one stolen). Both have had IBM Travelstar HD’s which are decent, I dunno if they’re still using them. My Dell is about 4 years old.

    So far the HP/Compaq nx7010 they gave me for work seems to be holding up well, and the widescreen is sweet. The previous work laptop I had was a pre-merger Compaq Evo, and it was a grade-A piece of crap. Went through 3 system boards in 2 years, and after coming in from the cold one could warm their hands in front of the constantly-running fan.

    The only Toshiba I’ve had was a Satellite, circa 1996. 100 MHz Pentium Pro. Built like a f’in TANK. I carried it everywhere in college, it got bumped around, never even hiccupped. Great laptop in it’s day, I dunno if they still build them to those durability standards or not.

  14. I got a Dell last month….bueno, I tell you, BUENO!!

  15. Get a mac. I’ve had nothing but bad luck with Dell’s, HPs, and damned near any other computer I’ve bought. I have a Mac, and it works well, and they have pretty good customer service.

  16. You should seriously consider Toshiba…my experience with them has been great.

  17. that’s funny — that’s the exact same problem i had with my HP laptop — i played with that stupid cord jack for months trying to get it just right, and luckily it failed the day before my warranty ran out so i could get it sent it off in time for free repair

    those jerks wiped my hard drive for no apparent reason at all — other than to reinstall all the spyware and AOL type junk i had deleted

  18. I paid the extra $20 or so to get the upgraded HD on my Dell and it has no problems. My biggest Dell complaint (and it’s pretty big) is that the power cord is a very poorly designed and the wire frays easily–but I have the “no questions asked” warranty, so the first time it frayed to the point of exposing a wire, they overnight mailed me a replacement.

  19. Don’t get a Dell, get an iBook. They are pretty, I promise. The OS is prettier too.

  20. I wouldn’t get a Dell; I’ve heard nothing but bad about them and their customer service. There’s Jeff Jarvis’s saga of woe, Joe Peacock’s 7-motherboard laptop, and at least 11 other stories here.

  21. When you have a problem with a Dell you might as well run it over with a car, rather than to mess with “tech” support.

  22. But the machines are great. about $300 cheaper than most competitors.