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.