The End Is Near

I got a phone call yesterday from the TV repair shop. I’m not sure what changed between a month ago when they said it was “unrepairable” and yesterday, but now the TV somehow “meets factory spec.” How does that work? It’s out of whack enough to warrant a new CRT, but when the problem doesn’t go away it becomes factory spec?

I fought with people for probably two hours on the phone yesterday. The warranty company won’t do anything for me if the repair shop claims it’s factory spec, and the repair shop isn’t budging on its new factory spec claim.

The ultra-fishy part is that several times the repair shop guy claimed that the “warranty company’s western district service representative agrees it’s in factory spec.” As far as I’m concerned, the warranty company should have NO SAY WHATSOEVER on whether the product is within spec, so the added information that some district rep agrees that everything’s kosher is alarming. Not unsurprising, though - it means they won’t actually have to make good on the warranty. “Factory spec means we won’t have to pay? Looks factory spec to me!”

So they’re delivering the TV back to me, in its current condition, this Tuesday. Anyone want a 40” Sony XBR CRT TV? Going cheap - any offer/best offer. Otherwise it’s probably going to be donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army so I can get the tax write-off. Seriously - folks who aren’t as picky as I am may not notice what I’m seeing. Only caveat is that you have to arrange the transport of the thing. Any takers, email me or leave a comment. Contact information is in the left column at the bottom.

Beyond accepting delivery, there’s not much I can do. I could file a Better Business Bureau claim or report them to the state attorney general, but everyone is technically within the legal bounds of their contracts. All I’d end up looking like is a whiny customer who didn’t get their way. It all boils down to what Sony claims is “factory spec.”

As such, I propose instead an open letter to Sony:

Dear Sony:

At one time in my life, I had potentially the largest brand loyalty with Sony that anyone could have with an electronics manufacturer. I felt it was worth paying extra for the name and the inherent reliability of the Sony products. My original CD player was Sony and it lasted 10 years before giving up the ghost - that’s like seven years longer than the average/expected lifespan of a CD player. I couldn’t have been happier.

With that brand loyalty in mind, I purchased the KV40XBR800 - the largest tube on the market, and a beautiful set. I’m a video perfectionist, and it provided the perfect picture clarity and precision that I was looking for.

Two years after purchase, I moved. Within a year of the move, the TV started exhibiting strange behavior - odd color shifts, distorted images… out of the factory warranty, I used the extended warranty I had purchased.

Long story short, even after replacing the CRT in the television, the strange behavior persists. I learned that this behavior adheres to “Sony factory spec” and the television will not be repaired because it meets said spec.

It’s hard for me to believe that the “factory spec” for a high-end electronics product like my television is so low. Had the picture looked like this in the store, I’d never have purchased the set.

I’m now stuck with a 300 pound carpet weight and have to buy a new TV. I’m looking into the LCD models - models that won’t distort the way the CRT-based sets do - and I’ll be honest: Sony is not in the running. I can’t afford to pay the extra price and take the chance on the set again, particularly if factory spec is at the sub-par level it sounds like it is.

With that and the PSP debacle recently (units have to have 13 dead pixels to be out of factory spec? even a single dead pixel is absolutely unacceptable, particularly in a handheld unit at that price), I have lost faith in Sony. In all honesty, I’m not sure there’s a way back for me, beyond your making good on the promise of a high-end TV that I paid money for - a TV that lasted two years and now needs replacing. However, somehow I don’t see you sending me a new LCD TV.

Thanks for the good times, Sony. Too bad they’re over. -T