February 23rd, 2006
I’ve had something of a reverse Midas touch when it’s come to consumer electronics recently. Everything gold I’ve touched has turned to shit.
At Christmas I bricked Lara’s iPod mini whilst trying to change the battery. I don’t want to go into details as the memory is still painful – financially, partly, as I had to buy her a replacement, but mainly because of the affront to my techie credentials. A true geek would never have messed it up.
It was totally my fault, which is why I bought her a new one so readily, but in my anthropomorphic fantasy world it was the spiteful iPod getting its own back for my past insults. Well, my little pink friend, you’re going on ebay for parts soon. I hope you’re laughing as they tear your screen off. Lets see your chirpy Apple logo fade and die as they rip out your still-beating microdrive. Bitter …moi?
Next, and I still can’t quite believe this, the ceramic white PSP I bought in Tokyo didn’t work. I checked that it switched on okay in the shop, but I didn’t have time to try a game out until I was on the flight home. In fact I honestly never even considered that it wouldn’t work; it was literally inconceivable to me that a brand-new piece of Sony hardware would not be 100% perfect. But alas, it was so.
My slow slide from embarrassed confusion at not being able to get it working to the depressed realisation that something was deeply wrong with it began on the plane. Eventually even the Japanese manual made it clear that something wasn’t right, and sure enough, when I tested the game on a different PSP (and tested another game on mine), the truth was unavoidable: my PSP wasn’t reading discs.
Back home, I picked up the matter with Sony UK tech support who proved unhelpful in the extreme. They made it clear that the unit wasn’t covered by warranty in this country, and that accordingly repair would cost £130 (£12 more than I paid for it in the first place). Next I briefly considered leveraging some Tokyo contacts to swap it for me over there. But I got the fear that I might never see it again, and in any case I’d ditched the box (complete with warranty – doh!) in the hotel, so with some relief I discarded that option.
By this time, emotionally I was at the crossroads of denial and anger. I had to fight the urge to take out my frustration on the machine in a manner more appropriate to another white, ceramic home appliance. But then Tom at work suggested GT Electronics, a third party repair service in Dundee. Thanks Tom, the PSP has now made a round-trip across the border and I’m now spending my commute rolling balls of trash around, wishing the journey was longer. Repair was a further £60 all-in, bringing the overall total to about £180 – or almost exactly what I would have paid for it in this country anyway.
I’m managing to be philosophical about this, but I can’t help feeling stitched-up by Sony. Quite apart from the fact that it should have damn-well worked in the first place, It seems arbitrary to me that they would regard the warranty as void purely because of location. After all, is it not the same company?
The silver lining is that whilst I was feeling a bit queasy about playing emulators and running game ISO’s from a memory stick (all of which would have invalidated the warranty), not only do I now not have a warranty to invalidate, but I also feel like I’m owed something. Screw you Sony, I’m going to get back what I can.
Obviously I’m biased, but even from this skewed perspective it seems like a bad move for Sony to aggravate me and the people like me: the geeks and the early adopters. Sony have precious little goodwill with this community as is, with their DRM problems and PS3 delays. But this whole episode has left me with a sour taste, and engendered a deep antipathy towards a brand I’d always supported. Sorry Sony, but you won’t on the shortlist when we decide to make the jump to HD, and in voting with my wallet, I hope you get the message.