Sony Customer Care doesn’t care

After four long years of waiting to upgrade my main laptop, I finally took the plunge after hearing about the announcement of the new Sony VAIO Summer 2008 line up. My Sony VAIO S170P, my trusty workhorse all these years, was starting to show it’s age and just not able to handle my new computing needs and the new HD lifestyle.

I was immediately intrigued by the Sony VAIO Z series, Sony’s new flagship ultraportable laptop. It’s a new model clearly influenced by some of the best design elements Sony has brought to the market over the last several years. There are clear influences from their venerable TR, X505, S, SZ, and TZ notebooks. It also brings all that and a breadth of new technologies and designs all in an amazingly light package.

So, I placed an order the day they were available (July 15, 2008) and then I endured a painful wait as the production was delayed by a shortage of parts. I finally received the notebook yesterday August 28, 2008 and was wildly excited to receive it since it was everything I hoped it to be.

Unfortunately, I’ll be returning it.

Why? It’s not that I don’t want it. On the contrary, I’m trying to convince myself to not send it back. The reason for returning it is simple.


Of course, I called Sony Customer Care about this and gave me the generic “we can’t do anything about it unless it’s 8 pixels. it’s the industry standard” message. I understand they have a card the support people have to read when someone calls in about this.

So, let me begin my rant…

- The pixel is in clear view and now off to the side. You can’t miss it when there are darker colors on the screen. Horribly annoying while watching videos since it tends to shimmer. I plan on doing a lot of work on this thing so there’s no way I can ignore it. For my coding work, I use light-on-dark scheme so I’m going to see it all the time.

- I do understand about failure rates and how these things are normal occurences in the industy…BUT SO WHAT? This is arguably Sony’s flagship notebook and I dropped over $3K on it.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I plan on showing it off to my local Starbutts and to my Mac-snob friends. I can only imagine them saying, “you spent how much? and it has a flaw like that?”

- Am I asking for special treatment? Heck yes I am. If I had purchased a value-line model I might be less angry since I believe “you get what you pay for”. It’s like buying a brand new luxury car and seeing a chip in the wind shield on the driver’s side…right in your line of view. It would drive you crazy and you would refuse to take the car unless you get it perfect off the lot.

- The more I think about it, the more I think Sony needs to rethink their policy on this kind of stuff. As a company, they’re taking a bashing from competitors such as Apple. Sony is no longer the first company you think of when you think about innovation, quality, technology leadership, and plain cool. If they want to rebuild their image then they really need a better marketing team and have products that stand up to their previously legendary standards. Are you listening Sir Howard Stringer? You can start by treating your customers better. Don’t just follow the industry standard. Define it.

So, what’s my plan of attack? I’m going to return it and order another one at the same time. Since it’s a long weekend, I’ll continue to play around with this thing and then possibly start the RMA process next week. I may put it off a week since I need to go out of town and they don’t have units in stock. After all, I have 30 days to return it hassle free.

Don’t get me wrong. My initial impression of this laptop is that it’s an amazing piece of technology. It’s wicked fast, the screen is phenomenal (save for the pixel), the keyboard feels great, and it’s worth of the Sony VAIO name. That’s why I’m willing to buy it again (and again) until I get one that’s perfect.








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