Thursday, July 02, 2009

Selective service

Here's the problem with trying to get a PlayStation 3 serviced: the stuff Sony's website tells you bears no relation to the stuff they email you, which in turn comes from a different planet than the stuff they send you through UPS. Each resource -- the website, the emails, and the physical forms -- has some of the information you need, but none has all of it, and in some cases they're contradictory.

Take the security issue. The website tells you to delete your stored billing information, which I did, and then to delete all the designated users. Well, their directions for that didn't work. A form they sent with the shipping box recommended many more steps, up to and including formatting the hard drive, while also giving different instructions for deleting users.

They also give you two different forms to (maybe) include with the system. One is sent in an email, as a link to a form letter. On the form letter, you have to include things like your service request number, the problem you're having with the system, and your serial number. Only, this link is included in an email that also has your service request number, the problem you're having with the system, and your serial number. So rather than pre-populating those fields, ensuring that they're correct and legible, Sony prefers that you print the blank version and copy the fields by hand. Makes sense to me!

You're supposed to include the letter with the system. In fact, you're supposed to "securely tape only the completed first page to your system before packaging for shipping." Which is fine, except that the fields you need to fill out extend to the second printed page. So, disregarding the directions, I securely taped both pages to the system before packaging. I hope that doesn't invalidate my repair.

Confusingly, a similar but condensed version of that same form comes with the pre-paid shipping box. It has most of the same fields, but not all of them (specifically, it doesn't ask for your serial number). There is a field for the service request number. Now, the service request number, as Sony emails it to you, is a single letter, followed by a dash, followed by a long number. Like this: A-123456789.

The field to enter your service request number is a single box, followed by a dash, followed by several more boxes. However, you're not supposed to include the letter! It's not part of the service request number. It's a stowaway. You're supposed to write it like this: 1-23456789.

And, yes, I only found this out after I'd written the letter in that first box, and then ran out of space.

Now I have two different forms to include, so I taped one to the system and taped one to the plastic bag that the system goes in. My serial number is in there once, and the service request number twice. I deleted most things off the hard drive, but not everything. (Also, I backed up all my saved games, except for Killzone 2 and Resident Evil 5, because copying that data was "not allowed." WTF?) This would all be fine if the conflicting directions and forms didn't have me about 60% convinced that I've messed something up. How will I know? I've already learned that I can't trust the online FAQ.

Nintendo did a much better job with this.


Julian said...

Great. I've been putting off getting my PS3 repaired, and this is making me dread it all the more. I'm getting odd geometry and texture errors, so I think there's something wrong with the GPU. I'm REALLY not looking forward to redownloading all my Rock Band songs one at a freakin time either. Maybe I'll just deal with the graphical errors until I'm finished with inFamous before sending it in.

Pete said...

Sorry to hear about your system.

I actually just recently got the RROD on my xbox (I blame the Fallout 3 DLC that made me start playing my xbox for hours on end again) and sent it in. I was very surprised at how easy it was to register, print out the shipping info (OK--that part kind of sucked--I switched it from my house to my girlfriends office, and it took about three times before the right information came up on the printable label), and send it out.

I was able to track the package right from the xbox web site, and they sent my girl an email when it was repaired. It seems like UPS is holding it right hopefully it doesn't just sit for the next two weeks before we get it back...

I know that the repair doesn't permanently fix the issue, so I'm a little worried about how much I'll be able to use it once it gets back...

Anyway, it's amazing that a company as large as Sony doesn't have a smoother, more efficient process for this type of thing. This is the type of incident that gives birth to company loyalty and reputation.

Mitch Krpata said...

Julian, as long as you go into it prepared, maybe it won't be so bad. I'm just amazed at how every step of this has been more annoying that it should be, and not just because of Sony. When I took the box to the UPS store today, I happened to be outside during a torrential, but passing, downpour. And then the UPS store I went to had apparently closed, so I had to hike it to another one. Blah.

Pete, it is amazing how the way a company deals with a problem matters so much more than the problem itself. The easy dig is that Microsoft has had plenty of practice with repairs by now, but after a rocky start it seems like they did get their stuff together and have taken care of people pretty well.

Gravey said...

I'll say that it's possible the process is intentionally confusing but I can't believe Sony might actually think the PS3 is priced like, say, a Discman, such that people would think "Screw it, I'll just buy another one".

Good luck, though. Did you try the John Walker tactic of adding your games journo creds to your name in the hopes of prioritizing your repair?

Mitch Krpata said...

I couldn't bring myself to do that. But I'm hoping their Google alerts notify them of this post.

Gary A. Lucero said...

When I owned a PS3, which was in 2008 and only lasted about 3 months, I had a problem where I'd turn it on and it would just hang. It happened quite often. I contacted online support and they always came back with non-answers, their FAQs didn't apply, and updates did nothing to change the problem.

That coupled with a fan that would sometimes get so loud it makes an xbox 360 sound quiet, and a totally lackluster selection of games, forced me to sell the damned thing. I just hope the guy that now owns it has had better luck with it...