Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I mentioned some fun and games I had with my Sony Vaio-ot, and for your delight and delectation I reproduce here my, er, feedback letter.

Adam Dorrell
Sony Style

25th April 2006

Dear Adam,
Sony Vaio Service – TX2 and TR1MP
Thanks for your time on the phone last Tuesday. As promised, I am writing to clarify the situation.

1 Lifetime Vaio customer

I am a lifetime Vaio customer – I had two 505Xs, currently own a TR1MP, and have just bought a TX2 because the Sony TR1MP has “died”. I purchased a 505X in 1998, when that failed, your technical support advised me the only way to have business critical reliability was to purchase an additional machine, which I did in 1999.

If I plan to work for another thirty years, and update my laptop every two years at an approximate cost of £1,600, then the future lifetime value of my custom is £24,000. That’s before we even consider the other Sony products I buy.

2 TR1MP third failure
In December 2003 I purchased a TR1MP, which has now returned to Brussels on its third trip. When it last failed in October 2005, I paid £120 for a rental machine while it was repaired, but when it failed on 27th March, I felt purchasing a new machine made more financial sense.

3 Current TX2 situation
Your Wincor Nixdorf engineer came this morning and installed the 2100 wireless card your third line technical support installed.
The machine is now failing to start up – it’s booting and showing the Vaio BIOS screen, but then fails to start. It has started once out of six attempted startups. This happened immediately your engineer started it, but once he got it working he said it was OK.

As a matter of urgency, could you have an engineer attend tomorrow between 1630 and 1900 to fix this hardware problem?

4 TR1MP failure and return to base

I opened case reference 1982930 on 28th March with Chris (call 1), and you collected my machine on 30th March.
I have made four further calls:
• to Olivia (call 2) 29/3 at 1145, advising her of screen flickering problem to be checked
• to John (call 3) 7/4 0930, who advised me you are waiting for a powerboard and hardrive, and advised me the parts should be due in a week
• I called Veronica (call 4) on 11/4 at 1030, she advised me you were waiting for hardrive, powerboard, thermal sheets and stopper, and another part for the powerboard. I asked her to email me when the machine would be ready – she said it takes a day to email the repair centre and a day to hear back from them and another day for her to email me. I heard nothing.
• I called again (call 5) on18/4 at 1235 and spoke to Andrew. He told me you are waiting for a combo drive, and can not give me any idea of when the part will be available or when the machine will be back. I asked him to email me also.

I had no emails, but the machine was returned to me on Monday 24th April. Thank the service gods of Brussels. It is nearly a month since it originally failed on March 27th.

5 TX2 purchase
As I mentioned to you, I was not prepared to hire another machine, even though there is nine months to run on my TR1MP back to base warranty. In October, my case was escalated by Matt Trigwell, so it was only away for a week, but without this assistance, your call centre estimated up to three weeks, which would cost me approximately £300.

I elected to purchase a new machine, nine months earlier than my business plan had budgeted for. My criteria were weight and design (I am a marketing consultant, often working onsite). I was extremely wary of purchasing another Vaio, and had specced a Toshiba Portege. At the very last minute, on the advice of a technology journalist friend who felt I’d been “unlucky” with my TR1MP, I ordered the TX2XP/L on the business bundle with the case and – crucially – the next day onsite warranty.

I did the initial research on 28th and 29th March, but when I called to order the machine, you were moving warehouses, and Amie, your salesperson, could not guarantee any delivery date at all. Extremely frustrated, I made some calls, and on 29th March spoke to Joe and Chris, explaining that I was extremely keen to spend £1600 with you. As a result of the time I spent finding someone to sell me a machine, Amie called me back, I placed the order on March 29th, for delivery no later than 7th April. (Total calls: 4)

Amie emailed me on Tuesday 4th April, confirming delivery the next day. When I checked the UPS link at 1145, it said you had tried to deliver the machine but no-one was available – I had been home all morning, waiting. I called Amie, and she said she would call me back. I checked your delivery email, and you had the address as flat X, High Road. I called Amie again, and she said she had Flat X, YY High Road on her system. After a number of begging calls, I was left with no choice but to go to the UPS office in Kentish Town in the evening of 4th April. (Total calls: 5)

In order to spend money with you, I had to make over ten phone calls.

6 TX2 wireless problem
When I took the machine out of the box, the wireless was intermittent.

CALL ONE: On Thursday 6th April I called your technical support line and spoke to Kieran at 9.50 (call reference 1993865) (this was a 20 minute call). Kieran instructed me to change the UP settings to a fixed IP address. This temporarily fixed the problem, although as soon as I hung up, the wireless no longer worked at all. I asked Kieran to send an engineer, as I had paid for next day onsite warranty, and he told me it was a software problem.

CALL TWO: I called again at 2.15 and spoke to Darren. He told me it was a software problem, and he would send me an email with a link to reconnect the wireless dropping. I asked him to send an engineer, and he advised me it was a software problem and therefore, despite my warranty, they would not send an engineer.

CALL THREE: When I did not receive an email, I called again at 2.40, and spoke to Kieran again. As the problem is intermittent, he could ping the router, and told me it worked and that was all he could do.

CALL FOUR: On Friday 7th April, I called Nina in sales at 2.45, explained my predicament, and asked her to help me. She said that Matt Trigwell, their technical person would call me back immediately.

CALL FIVE: I called again at 3.05 and she sent a message that I will hear back from him immediately.

I never heard from Matthew Trigwell.

Over the weekend, my boyfriend spent some time researching the problem, and it transpires that there is a known problem with IntelPro wireless 2200, as demonstrated on the Intel website:

Here is the problem discussed at length in a discussion forum:,12904785~days=9999

Your first line technical appeared unaware of this.

I am extremely surprised that a respected company such as Sony is marketing a machine containing a component with a known and documented problem.

CONTACT SIX: On Monday 10th April, I emailed Amie asking if she could chase this for me, and also confirm when my leather case would arrive. I never received a response to this email.

CALL SEVEN: On Tuesday 11th April, I called Nina again and spoke to her at 9.38. I asked for an engineer to come between 4 and 6pm on Wednesday. She stated that I would receive a phone call from technical support in 30 minutes.

CALL EIGHT: At 10.15 Stephan Olbertz from third line technical support called me. He was most helpful, and agreed there is a known issue with the IntelPro card. After a lengthy discussion, we agreed that the only practical solution was to change the 2200 card for the 2100 (which already works in my TR1MP), as the form factor of the machine means that we couldn’t install a newer card. While Stefan was most helpful, when I asked for his telephone number, he refused to give it, and would only communicate with me via email or via calls he initiated.

CALL NINE/TEN/ELEVEN: Wincor Nixdorf, I received a message from Shegar in technical support. I called him back twice, and eventually he told me was ordering the new wireless card, as well as a system board. He couldn’t make appointments, I have to speak to someone else.

CALL TWELVE: 3.30 called Nina, left message with Chris.

CALL THIRTEEN: 3.55 I spoke to Nina, explained that I was pursuing two problem solving routes (Wincor Nixdorf/engineer, and Sony third line support) and asked:
When my leather case would arrive
For your email address
In terms of goodwill I requested the following:
• A continental European power supply
• A US power supply
• Some kind of USB/memory stick.

CALL FOURTEEN: 4.20 from Zena at Wincor Nixdorf. Because they can’t no the next business day, I am entitled to a new laptop. I explained that this is only useful if the new laptop has the 2100 wireless card in it.

CALL FIFTEEN: 4.38 I called Nina, she is chasing her technical people.

CALL SIXTEEN: 4.54 from Zena, she is waiting to hear from Sony re a new PC. At the same time she confirmed that an engineer should be with me at 3pm tomorrow.

CALL SEVENTEEN: Wednesday 12th April, 11.55, Stephan called me, he can ship the part, it will arrive tomorrow. He suggested he could talk me through replacing it, although I expressed nervousness at taking apart such a small machine with no engineering experience.

CALL EIGHTEEN: 3.30pm, I call Zena, as the engineer had not arrived. She told me that parts had not arrived from Sony. She said she would call back in 20 minutes.

CALL NINETEEN: 4.05, I called Zena again, she is logged off. I spoke to David, who cut me off.

CALLS TWENTY/TWENTY ONE: 4.10, I called again, tried to find the David. Eventually I spoke to Iftikhar who told me that UPS had lost the parts and they are unable to do the call today.

CALL TWENTY TWO: 4.10 I called Nina and asked you to call me to get a resolution to this. I was keen to resolve this, as Passover was starting that evening.

CALL TWENTY THREE: 4.30 Zena called, confirmed parts had been lost, and that I should have heard directly from Sony about this.

CALL TWENTY FOUR: 4.45 Nina called me, and told me that you would call on Tuesday, and that in the meantime you were couriering me a wireless PCMCIA card.

CALL TWENTY FIVE: 5pm, Zena called me. I explained that I was out of the office on Thursday 13th, and as it was then Easter bank holiday, we agreed an engineer would attend at 9am on Tuesday 18th April.

CALL TWENTY SIX: 5.15pm, Brooklands courier called me – they couldn’t find the address flat XX, High Road. You had recreated the original delivery problem.

CONTACT TWENTY SEVEN: 7pm, your wireless card arrived (about ten minutes before the start of Passover.)

CALL TWENTY EIGHT: Tuesday 18th, 9.54, I called Zena when the engineer didn’t arrive. She told me that Sony took the call away from them on Thursday, and Sony should have called me. I asked her to ask Sony to call me immediately and tell me what was going on.

CALL TWENTY NINE: 10am, I left a message with Chris for Nina.

CALL THIRTY: 10.30 I called Nina again.

CALL THIRTY ONE: 3.45 you called me, and we agreed that:
• An engineer would attend on Monday 24th April (on my return to London) at 9am
• You would chase up the return of the TR1MP
• We would discuss some kind of goodwill gesture/compensation once the matters were resolved (this was your suggestion, I did not request compensation).

CALLS THIRTY TWO – FOUR: I was out of the office on 19th and 20th. When I collected my messages on Friday 21st, Stephan had left me a number of messages. However, he had not wanted to give me his phone number, so I could not call him. I had intermittent access to email.

CONTACT THIRTY FIVE: Friday 21st, 2.45, I sent you an email enquiring why I hadn’t heard anything from the engineer or about my TR1MP.

CALL THIRTY SIX: I called you at 5.30pm, chasing this. You were out of the office, but you told me Kirk had been dealing with this, and I should have heard from someone. I explained that I had to go to a funeral on Monday, and asked for an engineer on Tuesday at 9am.

CALL THIRTY SEVEN: Monday 24th - you called me before 9am and confirmed the engineer would attend Tuesday.

CONTACT THIRTY EIGHT: 9.30am Zena from Wincor Nixdorf call to confirm engineer attending on Tuesday at 9am.

CONTACT THIRTY NINE: Tuesday 25th - engineer attended, changed card. Now the machine doesn’t work.

7 Summary
I have:
• Made five calls to your 0870 service centre to locate my TR1MP, at a cost of around £7.50
• Made ten phone calls to purchase a new TX2
• Made nearly forty calls to get a TX2 that works
• Made a total of nearly fifty five calls or contacts
• Waited in five times (to collect my TR1MP, to have the TX2 delivered (failed), twice for an engineer (one failed) and once for a courier (wrong address)
• Collected my new machine at your UPS depot due to your failure to record my address accurately
• Spent two to three weeks with over £3,000 of Sony Vaio products that didn’t work
• Spent approximately three days of my time chasing this up
• Luckily, have my own in-house technical support to research the problem, otherwise it may well have remained undiagnosed

You have:
• Managed to deliver something twice to the wrong address
• Consistently not returned calls
• Frustrated me beyond all possible imagined levels of frustration
• Not delivered service worthy of your premium pricing or my additional payment for next day onsite

8 Current situation
It looks like my TR1MP works (my boyfriend has spent 4 hours updating Windows and installing Office). My TX2 doesn’t work. I have not received the goodwill items (power supplies and USB key) that I have mentioned to Nina on 11th April and you on 18th April (which would have made me feel slightly more cared for as a customer).

This letter has served as a small level of frustration management for me. However, I know that if I treated my clients as you have treated my custom, I wouldn’t have a business, and I certainly wouldn’t have the level of repeat business you have had from me thus far.

9 Proposed resolution
Please could you do the following:
1. have an engineer attend tomorrow between 1630 and 1900 to fix my laptop once and for all
2. call me tomorrow before 2pm or after 4pm to discuss resolution and goodwill.

While your products are fabulous, lightweight and sexy, I remain outrageously disappointed by your service.

Kind Regards,

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