After Hours

A review of Sony's PlayStation 3 repair service

Video game systems are computers designed for a very specific purpose. What can support techs learn from Sony's PS3 service process?

Video game systems are computers designed for a very specific purpose. What can support techs learn from Sony's PS3 service process?

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One of my hobbies is playing video games, so when my PlayStation 3 started acting up I was pretty devastated. To make matters worse the PS3 is the center of my home entertainment system, so when it began crashing frequently I wasn't the only one inconvenienced. My fiancée couldn't reliably watch a DVD movie on our television anymore, since I had long ago gotten rid of our standalone player in favor of the PS3's ability to play DVDs and Blu-ray disks.

After some hemming and hawing, I decided to look into getting my PS3 serviced. Mine is one of the original models, so it's long outside of the manufacturer's warranty. I never seriously considered purchasing a new PS3 as a replacement because the unit I have has some features that current PlayStations do not (backwards-compatibility with my extensive PlayStation 2 software library, specifically). I was a little apprehensive about contacting Sony for support, since I've heard horror stories from friends who had to have their Xbox 360s serviced. The process of repairing my game system worked out great, though Sony didn't hold my hand as much as I wanted.

  • Going in, I wasn't sure whether my request for service would result in my machine being fixed or not. Sony reserves the right to replace a system sent in for service with a like model. At least I had some assurance that I would get back a machine that had the features I had paid for.
  • Sony's instructions for preparing my machine for shipping to the service center were clear, and my shipping box arrived quickly. The Web page that they directed me to in order to check on the status of my repair never showed any details about the work being done on my machine.

I got updates about where my PS3 was as it traveled, that just was not the kind of information I wanted. While the e-mail alerts I received from UPS and Sony to inform me that my system had arrived at the service facility were nice, I wanted more information. I wanted Sony to tell me exactly what was wrong with my system. I was curious whether my diagnosis (failing graphics/logic board) was borne out or not. Not one word came directly from Sony during my repair, except to say that they received my system.

Now, having some customer service experience myself, I would normally say that the customer deserves more status updates than I was given. In this case, however, I'll make an exception. My repair was finished fast. My PlayStation arrived at the service center on a Monday. On the following Wednesday I received an e-mail from UPS informing me that my system had been shipped back to me the day before, and that I should have it by the close of the week. On Friday my PS3 was waiting for me when I got home. And it was working again. So, what grade would I give Sony's service? A-

They get high marks in the important areas. My repair was done accurately, and it was done fast. Even factoring in all the shipping time—they sent me an empty box, I sent them the PS3, they sent it back—the duration of my service was 13 business days from complaint to resolution. And I don't know if my repair could have been turned around any faster. According to the UPS time stamps, my PlayStation was at the Sony service center for less than 24 hours.

Would I have liked more detail about what was going on in the service facility? Sure. I'm a PC tech who likes fixing machines; I'd love to know if my assessment of the problem was accurate. I was also promised that I could get updates by looking up my repair on Sony's Web site. But ultimately, weighing more detailed status updates against a same-day repair, I prefer having my system fixed and back on my shelf.

Consider that fact when you're trying to budget your time during a support interaction. Customers will appreciate accuracy and speed over almost anything else, number one and number two. Get those things right, and you're well on the way to leaving your clients satisfied.

19 comments
StefDenis
StefDenis

William, How has the repair held up? Is it still functional?

gladdy81
gladdy81

I'd like to know if you were able to determine what company actually did the service (it wasn't Sony). Do you have the address where you sent it? if so, please email me. SMGLADDEN@yahoo.com Thanks a lot.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

1. When I'll get there. Once I'm on site, they aren't interested in looking over my shoulder unless it's a major outage (pharmacy printer, point-of-sale controller or store server, etc.) 2. If I have to order parts, when they will arrive. 3. When I will return for the final repair. For the most part, my customers are happy with my work. At least, I keep getting customer satisfaction bonuses (i.e. gift cards!) I wish some of the repair organizations I work with were as open. The two best are actually software vendors; even at 0200 in the morning, I get consistent 15- to 30-minute response from their pager line. The two worst are hardware vendors; both cancel warranty parts requests (without telling you!) if their database doesn't reflect that the device exists.

cell989
cell989

One major problem Im facing with Sony now is that I have 5 Ps3's. When one of them YLOD I sent it for repairs, but they were not able to repair it, so I got a replacement. The problem was that I was not able to DEACTIVATE my broken PS3 from my PSN account. When I got the replacement I was not able to use it on my PSN account because I had already used the maximum number of PS3 registered on a PSN account which is 5. Normally you are able to activate-deactivate your Ps3 anytime you want, but when it brakes, there is no way to do so, which means it accounts to another useless Ps3 on your network account. Sony does not want to reset my Ps3's on my account, and when I spoke to one of the supervisors, all he told me was that I shouldnt have that many Ps3's. I should only own one, so I dont run into this problem. conclusion: Lame!!! and now with the release of the slim, Ill need to start a whole new PSN account just for that one.

douglasalt1
douglasalt1

In the UK, had a verbal agreement that the video card was at fault, Sony arranged for straight pickup/replacement inside three days. The courier provided the box for the return with the delivery of the replacement. AAA+ quality service from Sony. Wish I could say the same for PCWorld. I have had over 15 years 1st/3nd line support experience and wish that could have given the same quick turnrounds to some of our remote sites.

StoneSatellite
StoneSatellite

I think any time you send a unit in to the manufacturer it's a crap shoot as far as turnaround time and a solid repair goes, and it's good to hear it turned out well. Like yourself, I would like to know the diagnosis, but I would also like to know what your costs were?

jcr
jcr

I've also spent waaaaay too much time on the front lines in various support centers (have since moved into internal development & support, which has done wonders for my sanity and ramped the psychosis back down into mild socipathy. Too many years in call centers is bad for anyone). A few years ago I got a Wii for the kids (well, okay, me too), and had the drive die with a gamecube game stuck in. I emailed in to Nintendo support, and they the package to me and then the console back to well inside two weeks. Also very little in the way of support information, but good package tracking, and a turn around time that I don't think could be beat. Contrast with XBox support, or even a call to local TV/ISP support, they're worlds ahead.

.Martin.
.Martin.

a lot of repairers give out a repair report so you know exactly what they did. looks like Sony don't want their problems getting out.

williamjones
williamjones

It's not always an easy situation for us as support professionals to be in need of assistance. There is that adage about doctors being the worst patients and lawyers being the worst type of clients. What did you notice the last time you were on the receiving end of support? Was there anything you took away from the interaction that will change your practice?

williamjones
williamjones

...$149 plus tax in the US for an Out of Warranty service. That's flat rate and it includes all the shipping. All the details are on their web site. I researched whether it made sense to go with another company for the repair, or even attempt to do it myself. I finally decided that while I know PC repair, I was much better off working with Sony because their work would put my system back in warranty for 90 days. Also, I wouldn't have to worry about getting shoddy used parts.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

the rootkit fiasco must have taught them a lesson...

Floop70
Floop70

I've had to have my PS3 repaired twice. first time it was in warranty and the 2nd time it wasn't. Both times my experience was about the same as yours - very fast. I was impressed with the customer support rep I spoke to on the phone each time, and like the fact that they send you an empty box with everything you need to ship your PS3 in - including tape for the box!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Warranty support and manufacturing don't talk to each other [u]at all[/u]. I've had T640 printer warranty requests refused because "That model number/serial number does not exist" or "No results found for &model/&serial." They have no central database of what has actually been made!

Cisco-SA
Cisco-SA

New PS3 not backward compatible with my PS2 games! bummer.

williamjones
williamjones

The backwards-compatible models have really held their value on the secondary market. That was one reason I decided to try and pursue repair with mine. I figured I could get the machine factory repaired for cheaper than I could by a second-hand unit to cannibalize parts from. Two weeks later and the PS3's still working fine. I'm happy with my repair.

seanferd
seanferd

Very early models had hardware compatibility, then there was a shift to software compatibility, then none at all. It is a feature I really would like (no worries about memory cards). Too bad used ones are hard to find.

gil_gosseyn
gil_gosseyn

My friend had this problem crop up. Older PS3 models would play PS2 games, but later revisions won't. My friend had one that would, but needed repair. They sent him back a refurbished newer rev. model that won't play his PS2 games. He is still trying to get it corrected...

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

:D LMAO. If it was, I have this bridge you can buy. Unlike those rip off Sony products it will quite happily accomodate your current car.

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