I promised I would update you on what ultimately happened with my Sony saga and I’m a man of my word so here’s the conclusion to this sad story.
After I posted part one of the story, I was contacted via Twitter by Sarah Kepler, Sony’s Social Media Team Supervisor, saying that she would be calling me that same afternoon. I missed the call but she left a message with her number. By the time I called, the office was already closed. The message that told me this provided no way for me to leave a message. That’s odd for a division of any company involved in communicating with customers. So I called her back this morning.
At one point during the call, Sarah told me she reports directly to the Vice-President and President of Sony. I assume she meant Sony USA. I figured I’m now finally talking to someone that can really get something done and may even have the power to make policy changes or at least suggest them at the highest levels of Sony USA.
Sarah asked me to explain what happened so she can understand it from my perspective. That’s a very good start. As I told her the story of the camera, she start interrupting me to explain Sony’s viewpoint but I asked her to wait so that I could give her the complete perspective she asked for. I explained the entire story about the camera and how the boom box melted/warped after an hour in the sun. She asked if it was near a campfire. I explained that this was in the middle of the day in May in Austin, Texas and it was in my backyard so no, it wasn’t near a campfire. She said her engineers would never believe that this occurred after it sat in the sun for an hour. She said she’s had boom boxes out in the sun for many hours and never had a problem. I told her that until this one, I had the same experience. I told her that I could provide five or six adults that would testify to the fact that this one melted like ice cream on a hot summer day. She refused to believe me. She was basically calling me a liar without actually using the word. At this point the discussion about the boom box pretty much ended.
She was able to look up the original conversation I had with Sony that, as it turns out, was back in 2007. With very little sympathy for all the trouble I’ve had over this, she said that she could not replace the camera at no cost. She said there was no way Sony would do a zero cost transaction. She said my camera was four years old now and I certainly couldn’t expect to get the full value replacement for it. I explained that I had given up on this after my first try with Sony four years ago and have never actually used the camera. So I have gotten no value from it at all. She was willing to sell me the 2011 equivalent of the camera, which is normally $220US, for $94US. I explained to her that this was a gift and again pointed out that never got any use out of it. She reiterated that Sony was not going to do a zero cost transaction.
I told Sarah that at this point I was really mostly interested in seeing how Sony would choose to resolve the issues of an unhappy customer. I told her I take most of my pictures now with my iPhone so I don’t really need the camera anymore. What I wanted to see was Sony step up the plate and make me happy and acknowledge that they are always looking for ways to improve their customer service. That would have restored my confidence in Sony. That’s what I really wanted. But Sarah said that they make thousands of customers happy and that I was just mad because I wasn’t getting the answer I wanted. Wow. Wait, did she REALLY just say that? When I explained that I’m the CEO of a software company and how we really try to resolve problems that unhappy customers have even if that means losing money sometimes, she said, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you lecture me on how to do my job.” Wow. She was defensive, argumentative, she implied that I was a liar and was saying things that it might be OK to think, but never to say especially to a customer! If she’s near the top of the food chain in a position of communicating with customers, she’s in the wrong job, IMHO.
When she realized that I wasn’t going to accept sending my boom box in so her engineers could tell me I’m delusional and paying Sony $94 to replace a camera I could never use, she suggested that the call was not going anywhere which clearly was her way of signaling that she wanted to end the call. Wow.
Sony you failed at customer service in almost every way possible. A hundred dollars or so in actual cost and the admission that you should have done better and will work to improve, would have turned this around. You would have restored my confidence and I would tell that story. Instead, you have lost me as a customer for LIFE. I’ll never again buy a Sony product even when it’s clearly the best because making the best product is not the end to the value I get as a customer. The other part of the value is how the company responds when something goes wrong.
I’ve had some great customer service experiences from Panasonic, Apple, Home Depot, Lowes, and many others. Home Depot corporate customer service took care of my problem on a Sunday and took a $500 hit to make me happy. Panasonic, rocked at customer service recently and Apple is always superb at it. Unfortunately, not Sony. I expect good customer service and when I don’t get it, I actually feel like I have been lied to.
Sony has a serious customer service problem and if Sarah’s attitude is indicative of Sony’s attitude towards customers that have a problem with one of their products, then Sony is a fish that stinks from the head down.
Regrettably, this is the story I’ll be telling about Sony for the next 40 or so years.