The Sony Fiasco

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When I started a new job July 2000, I had to have a laptop. My boss wouldn't give me one, so I bought one myself. Friends of mine had a Sony Vaio 505, which is very thin but only has a resolution of 800x600. I wanted to buy a Sony Vaio Z600, IBM PowerBook or Fujitsu Lifebook. Eventually, I chose the Sony. Oh boy, what a bad choice it was.

Not because of the system itself, it is very nice! It is small and lightweight. Nobody knows I'm carrying a laptop because I don't have such a big bag for it, which comes in handy at airports and such. The problem is the support. And the fact that this system has had a lot of failures.

Breakdowns happen so you say. Yes, well, all the people I know with a 505 didn't have any problems at all. Many people with a Z600 did have problems (even DOA's). As a matter of fact, I know a company that bought almost 100 Vaio's and replaced them all after 3 months because they spend more time in repair than being used! Well, mine broke down in a couple of weeks, apparantly because of a loose connector. Symptom: no sound. Then, trouble began. The helpdesk asked me to click on things which I did not have because I run FreeBSD (which I told them, mistake!!). I rebooted Windows (the system is dual-boot) and the helpdesk was able to diagnose it as a hardware failure. Well duh! The system normally boots with a sound generated by the BIOS which I was missing. This was obviously a hardware problem. Anyway, I also had to completely remove all data on my system. That's right, not only the Windows partition but also the FreeBSD partition. So I said "just pretend I did that, can we get on?" and was told I had to pay about 150 USD if they found out I didn't completely wipe the harddrive.

Since I had no choice, I did. The system was picked up and returned after more than 2 weeks, which I think is a pretty long time. Soon thereafter, the harddisk broke. This can happen. But, when calling the helpdesk and giving them my numbers and name they were acting quite hostile and started talking about UNIX! Apparantly, they had put some remark about me being one of those terrible UNIX users in their database! After another 2-week wait, my system got back with a new (and very noisy) harddisk. I could track progress on the web page and the phase 'diagnoses' took about 1.5 weeks. I think 'diagnoses' actually means 'collecting dust'.

Not long thereafter, the sound broke again. Once more, I had it repaired. It seems Sony was unable to really fix the problem the first time. Yes, another 2 weeks without laptop, and I didn't get a replacement laptop.

Does it surprise you when I say the sound stopped again? And the network and the LEDs on front, unless I put a little pressure on the case? I called the helpdesk and asked if it weren't better for me to just wait until more would fail, since having it repaired would mean another two weeks without laptop. Guess what, they agreed!

June 2001, when my support contract was almost over, I wanted to have the sound fixed again (it was my last opportunity after all) and after 2.5 weeks the laptop returned after which it immediately broke again. Yes, again the same problem. I asked the helpdesk for the postal address where I could complain. They didn't want to give it, because letters were not read according to them: they had too many complaints coming in.. So I sent a fax instead.

The other day, I was called by somebody from Customer Relation Management with whom I had a nice talk. I was promised the system would be repaired good this time, and certainly within two weeks time. So I had the unit picked up again. After four weeks (yes, four weeks) the system was back with a new motherboard and diskdrive. I guess the sound problem is fixed now. But, they damaged one of the speakers.. They won't send me a spare speaker, and I definately don't want to part with my laptop for another 4 weeks.

So, I've had this laptop for a year, but only had it in my possession for about 80-85% of the time. The rest of the time it was collecting dust at Sony repair.

If I had only bought a Fujitsu... Let this be a warning to all of you about to buy a Sony. Great stuff but cross your fingers you will never need support.

There's another Sony support story on the web.
And yet another.

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