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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sony's First Follow Up Call

December 23, 2009- With Christmas right around the corner I was expecting to not be able to do much until the new year with Sony. I just figured with all the cost savings they had by selling the defective Grand Wegas they would give their employees some much needed vacation pay (after all, these customer service representatives have to listen to complaints all day).

To my surprise, I received a call from Sony on December 23 to follow up with me. I figured hey, the Executive Review Committee must have received my letter and they are going to make me a new offer. Unfortunately I was let down again by Sony. They simply called to let me know that they received my letter and again offered my the same great deal.

This time I told the customer service representative that I knew of several small claims cases, one of which Sony had already lost, along with some class action suits. At first the Sony rep said they were sorry but this is the best they could do. I then went into a whole spiel about how the TVs should have been recalled and not a warranty extension placed on them and that I was never notified about a warranty extension. I further went on to tell them that any other company that has a product that fails on such a mass number of units it recalled and repaired or the customers are compensated. Not in Sony's case, they built the defective part, I bought it and now I have to pay for it, again. I told the rep I would be considering legal action unless fair compensation was offered.

This ranting apparently did something as the rep told me to hold one second. He returned shortly and of course did not have a new deal in place, but told me I could contact their legal department in San Diego. He gave me their address and fax number and I was on my way to a new department (in the United States no less).

So off went a letter to the Sony Law Department in San Diego, CA. In short the letter asked that Sony do 1 of three things.

  1.  Repair my TV at no cost to me. With this I wanted some sort of assurance on Sony's part that a repair would fix the TV and I would not have to deal with the issue again in 2-4 years.
  2. Replace my TV with one of similar size and functions at no cost to me.
  3. Refund me a prorated amount of the cost of my TV. This calculation was based similar to the case that was won by Steve L in California. The cost of the TV prorated over an expected 12.5 year life span which left me with asking for about $1,800 in compensation.

Also included in the letter were the name and case number of the previously mentioned small claims case: Steven P. Linke v. Sony Electronics Inc. (California Small Claims Case No: 37-2009-00014241-SC-SC-NC) and a copy of California Civil Code 1790 which Sony violated along with its "implied warranty of merchanability." So I faxed the letter as I was instructed as well as mailed a copy and included the original letter that I had sent to the ERC 10 days earlier.
Again, I carried on life as normal, waiting on Sony to respond to the letters...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

December 17, 2009- I contacted Sony after researching the problem I discussed with the Sony representative earlier in the month. During my research I found that the problem I was having was a much larger problem that hundreds, if not thousands of Sony Grand Wega TV owners were having. In fact, with most products you can google a product, say Sony Playstation, and up comes the website, or maybe an Amazon listing selling the product. Or perhaps you google Honda Civic muffler looking for a specific part to replace a product, you get the same thing, maybe an Amazon listing for the product, Honda's website, etc.

Not with a Sony Optical Block. You google this little devil and the first website that pops up is This website has been amazing for so many Sony TV owners who have had problems. A gentleman in California who was able to successfully sue Sony in small claims court put this website together. You can think of the website as an outline or a research website to use should you call Sony and they try to BS their way out of taking responsibility, maybe you want to take Sony to small claims court, this is the website to use. Steve Linke did an amazing job putting this website together and the many users of the site owe him a great deal of thanks. Other website that come up when Sony Optical Block is googled include;;;

So with my new knowledge of the issue I contact Sony again to respond to their offer to get someone out and repair the issue at my cost. I gave the representative my incident number (E-xxxxxxxx) and he pulled up my account and asked if I needed the number to the Sony Repair Shop. I said no thanks, and went ahead and asked him why I recall was not put on the TV as so many other companies do when their product was sold defective (similiar to what Toyota is having to do with select cars). He said that was not how Sony handled the situation and that an extended warranty was put out on the television but that expired in December 2008. Interesting, as that extended warranty did me no good as I purchased an extended warranty already. So there I was in December 2008 with 2 extended warranties (no notification from Sony by the way of it at the time) and a TV that was working.

After about 20 minutes of talking with the representative was transferred to another representative and my call was escalated to an upper level customer service department. Hmm.....maybe I was getting somewhere by knowing what I was talking about. The upper level customer service member got on the phone about 5 minutes later and reviewed my issues. I was informed that they were going to offer me a great deal to help resolve my problem.

Could this be? Did I just work my way through the Sony Customer Service to someone that would finally take responsibility for selling thousands of defective TVs? Would my wonder Blue nightlight finally be replaced?

C'mon, Sony is not going to own up to that big of a mistake now are they!

So the wonderful deal I was now being offered was a substantially discounted TV! Hurray! The cost to me, $1,200 plus tax. Of course that is for a TV smaller than the one that is broken, but hey, what a great deal right? Of course, the TV I was being offered at a huge discount was brand spanking new right? Well no, it was possibly a refurbished TV (I could not be guaranteed it would be new) and to rub salt in a wound, the TV could be purchased for just about the same price online. Not only did Sony screw me on my first TV, they are trying to do it twice by offering me a second TV.

I declined this offer as I was not quite convinced sending Sony another $1,200+ was the wisest use of my hard earned money. I was told that I could write a letter to the Executive Review Committee in FL and they would review my case. So, off went a letter to the ERC in Fort Meyers, FL.

The History of my Sony KDF-55WF655 Grand Wega TV

July 2005- A new Sony Grand Wega TV was purchased at a large electronics retailer for almost $3,000. The TV of choice was a 55" Sony Grand Wega TV. Why this TV? Well Sony was a large company with a good reputation for quality and the description of this TV was amazing. Don't rely on my words to describe it here is the description straight from the Sony website:

Sony's unique WEGA Engine™ system solution optimizes the potential of Grand WEGA Technology to achieve high picture quality. Various signals such as RF standard definition broadcasts, composite video, component video, high definition video (interlaced or progressive) and even Memory Stick® media images benefit from this process. The WEGA Engine system converts all signals into the digital domain and applies an entire system of processes. The result– Better resolution and sharpness, higher contrast, less digital noise, and greater picture dimension.

Sounds like a great television right? I thought so too. I thought so much of it I even laid down the extra cash for the extended warranty, just in case there was a problem with the TV (I was informed by the sales rep at the store that I may need to purchase new bulbs ever two years or so and the extended warranty would cover the $250 bulbs). So for four years I was covered from all problems.

Four years went by and I had little to no issues with the television except for replacing the bulb once. Seemed like I didn't need the extended warranty but that was a risk I took. Little did I know that four years was just the right amount of time for the warranty as 4 months later I started seeing Blue.

November 2009- I started noticing what looked like "burn in" occurring on the bottom of the TV. With a plasma TV in my bedroom I was aware that burn in was a definite possibility on plasma TVs, but on an LCD/ rear projection TV??? It would come and go and was very light so I thought nothing of it at the time, maybe the channel signals were off or the light from the window was hitting the screen awkwardly. Then to my surprise the Blue "burn in" was gone from the bottom of the TV and moved to the left side of the TV. It was a little Blue blob, hardly noticeable unless you were looking for it. Once again, I thought nothing of it, as it was not always visible.

December 2009- The beginning of the Blue death of my Sony Grand Wega, a slow, painful and early death of a device that should have lasted another 8 to 10 years. I started noticing Blue dots in the middle of the screen. The once hardly noticiable Blue blob on the left side grew bigger and more prominent. The picture to the right is with the screen right when the TV is turned off. It is a very calming Blue Haze, similar to the Blue tropical waters or a nice Blue sky. I know you may be thinking, well when the screen on you probably can't even notice right? Sony wouldn't make a product that cost several thousand dollars that doesn't even last 5 years, right?

One would have only hoped! When the screen if on the Blue takes over everything. While trying to watch a relaxing Christmas movie around the holidays Santa Clause is no longer the jolly fat man in a red suit like everyone throughout the world has assumed. With Sony's stunning picture I was able to finally see the truth. Santa Clause wears a Blue suit as you can clearly see in the picture to the left. Oh the joys of having, "Better resolution and sharpness, higher contrast, less digital noise, and greater picture dimension." I can tell everyone is rushing to now to purchase a TV.

Then I thought to myself, Wait, Sony is a large reputable company, surely that know how to fix this problem. So I call Sony Customer Support. A customer service representative answers the phone and asks what my problem was. I explain the wonderful Blue blob on my screen and he goes through his binder to start trouble shooting the issue. He sees that my TV is out of the "1 year manufacture's warranty" an informs me of such. He then gives me the first step in trying to solve the problem. "Sir what I need you to do is first turn off the televeision and then turn it back on" (this was to reset the television). I just about fell over when the answer to the Blue blob was to just to turn it off and on. But, he was working for the great Sony, so maybe there was a trick to this turning it off and on thing that I just didn't know about. So I pushed the power button and...The Blue blob was... exactly like it was every time I turned off my TV, still visible, like a little night light ($3,000 nightlight that is).

So I unfortunately had to let the customer service representative know that the magic on/off trick did not work. He said that the problem is probably with the optical block in the television set and that they could get a Sony Authorized Representative in my area out to repair the issue. I asked if I would be responsible for the cost and I was informed that since the television set was out of warranty I would have to pay for it. I said thanks, I would call back later and then the research began.