Monday, October 31, 2005

The Continuing Story of Sony Sucking

A few years back, Vicki sent me a package on my birthday. I was a good boy (at least, as I recall) and waited to open them. When the time finally came, I unwrapped the box to find a copy of... Rush Limbaugh's book. For a moment I thought Vicki had become severely retarded. Then I actually opened the book to see that Vicki had hollowed the inside of the book, leaving just enough room for a Sony MD player.

For a while, things were wonderful - the MD player worked more-or-less like a more conventional MP3 player, albeit with removable disks. (Depending on who you ask, this is either a bug or a feature.) Then came the day when I accidentally broke a small piece on the door of the player, making it impossible to close the player properly.

A digression: My first real job was at a musical instruments store in Toronto - Long & McQuade, for those who know it. I worked in the repair shop for several years. I didn't do much actual repairs, however. I saw my job as mainly trying to keep the skilled labour on the right side of sanity by handling the incredibly arcane paperwork. So when I say the following, I'm not speaking from a position of total ignorance. Anyway, back to the story.

I knew I didn't really want to bring my player in to be repaired by Sony. If we could ever avoid it, we tried not to send stuff away to be repaired at Sony's shop simply because a) it took forever, and b) it cost twice as much as it should have. But, I was relatively new to Ottawa and didn't know where else I could go. So I bring in my player, and it takes three weeks. I should point out that while the necessary part was crucial to keeping the door closed, it was not terrible complex - it was a simple metal hook that had been bent off.

The repair bill was $120.00. This despite the fact that I had specifically asked to be called if it was going to cost more than $80. I wouldn't have asked for that to be done, because it usually just adds to the technician's problems, but the clerk offered. In any case, it never occurred to me that the repair would ever cost that much - not for a $5 dollar part and a half-hour's worth of labor. It especially didn't occur to me that after being told I would be called if the job would cost more than $80, I would be told I had to pay 50% more than that or I wouldn't get my machine back.

So from that point on, I basically decided never to spend money on a Sony product if I could at all avoid it. Some of this is more-or-less unavoidable - I think Sony gets a nickel or something off of every DVD sold. But if I ever own a Playstation, it'll be a used one. And I never, ever intend to buy another Sony music player again. (The player finally crapped out on me this summer, and I have no intention of getting it repaired again.)

I write all this for a very simple reason - it looks that Sony is putting horrible restrictions on some of its CDs, despite the wishes of their musicians, just to piss off Apple. (via Atrios.) This has nothing to do with protecting copyright, or making sure we fatten musicians or whatever. Rather, the rights of consumers are being sacrificed on the altar of some petty inter-corporate squabble over the openness of iTunes. I'm not at all surprised that Sony is acting like this. Nothing in the corporation's history suggests that it has any idea how to treat its customers properly. Instead it looks like the last piece of disruptive technology that Sony actually approved of was the Betamax. These days, Sony is just another lazy incumbent, doing it's best to strangle competition in the crib.

All I can say is thank God for Samsung.


maxcherney said...

obtuse technical question: How'd she hollow out the book????? I'd be REALLY interested...

Vicki said...

I bought the books that way at the Signatures Craft Show. Check it out: