I know this topic has been beaten to death, but, based on personal experience, I’m afraid I have to jump in as well. Sony, as we all know, has wonderful technology and has been the inventor or on the forefront of many new consumer innovations (wearable electronics, gaming consoles, etc.). They have a wide breadth of products and technologies that have often set a standard for others to emulate.

That’s the good, and there is much to be admired about Sony.

Apple has also introduced many new genres of product from the personal computer to the iPad. With Sony, we have come to expect great new technologies; with Apple we have come to expect great new innovation in product concepts. All this is very good but there is another side to the story – that is, what happens once the product is sold.

I own a very nice Sony Vaio notebook. My kids work on iMacs. Inevitably, somewhere along the way, there will be problems with these systems that you can’t solve yourself. These problems will require technical support from the company. This is where my personal experience with both companies comes to the fore.

When one of our iMacs stopped working (and I couldn’t fix it with my usual routine of button presses and reboots), I made an appointment at the local Apple store. Unlike going to the doctor, I was seen promptly by their technical support person who immediately started diagnostics on the hapless iMac. It turned out that the hard disk was defective, and he promised to replace it and have the machine repaired in a day or so.  The next day I received a phone call from Apple asking if I would accept an upgrade to the hard disk since they did not have the exact replacement in stock.  If so, I could pick up the computer that day. And by the way, there would be no charge.

That’s Apple. They know the value of a customer is far greater than the few dollars they could make in the repair.

Then there is Sony.

While I was using my Sony laptop, the USB ports suddenly stopped functioning. I phoned Sony tech support and asked for help. “Sorry,” said the gentleman on the phone, “but your laptop is out of warranty. But don’t worry, we can still fix it.” I was relieved.

It will cost you $89 and if you give me your credit card number, we can proceed.

I gave him the number and was hoping for some words of wisdom on how to diagnose and fix the USB problem. “We can definitely fix your computer,” he said, “but I think in your case, it would be very worthwhile for you to purchase our service package. For $299, you can have your computer both checked and serviced for a year.”

“No thank you,” I said. “I just want to fix this problem.”

“Ok, let me talk to my manager and see if I can get a better price for you.”

Before I could reiterate that I just wanted to fix the current problem and be done with it, I was put on hold as he consulted his manager.

“For you today, we can sell you the package for $199.”

“But I don’t want the package,” I said. “I just want my computer fixed!” I was beginning to think I called a car dealer by mistake.

“$199 is an excellent price for the package, but let me see if I can do even better for you…”

Believe it or not, this went on for the next 20 minutes. When I adamantly turned down his final price of $99, he reluctantly agreed to transfer me to “someone who could fix the problem.” He reconfirmed my credit card number and reiterated that the single repair would cost me $89. Finally, I was transferred to tech support.

The guy at tech support listened as I described my problem. Then he again reconfirmed my credit card number and the price for his time. He said as follows (and this advice might be helpful to a countless number of people):


“Shut down the computer and remove the battery. Then, hold the on/off switch down for two minutes. Once that is done, replace the battery, reboot the computer, and you should be fine. Your registry must have become corrupted and this resets the registry.”


It worked, but boy did I feel taken advantage of.

Sony apparently feels that they need to squeeze every last dollar out of their customers. Even though I like my Sony laptop, I will NEVER buy another computer from Sony.

The moral of the story for any business is so obvious to be painful. If you treat customers well, they will like you and continue to buy from you. If you try to take advantage of them at every turn, they will resent you and look for the next opportunity to switch brands.

Sony, with all its wonderful technology and creativity in the marketplace, just doesn’t get it.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!