So here’s the thing: I purchased a PlayStation Pro on March 3 of this year. I don’t have a 4K TV and I understand how to add storage. The addition of Boost Mode, though, with improved load times and whatnot sold me on it. I really liked it, despite that less than aesthetically pleasing “Big Mac” design and flimsy feeling physical buttons on the front. Unfortunately, the thing took a crap on May 27. It refused to display any picture or audio. Different HDMI cables were tried, multiple inputs, even another display. I attempted booting to safe mode, as well, to no avail. It was well and truly fried. A little miffed, I contacted PlayStation Support via web chat, because why would a major multi-national company that sells leisure products have anyone available to call for support on a Saturday around 11 AM Central Time. That’s crazy talk! Still, web chat was present, they pointed me in the direction of getting a warranty repair request started and I was on track to write what I hoped would be another positive customer service story in a time where there is so much vitriol and angst against the people who bring us pleasure. It might not bring the clicks, but they’re nice to write.
Slightly less than two weeks later, a replacement arrived. Not the best turnaround time for a consumer electronics device, but not terrible overall. Here’s the thing, though. When I have had to get a console repaired in the past under warranty, a “make good” gesture was included in the box in the form of a small amount of store credit. Nothing huge, but it was a nice touch that showed the company realized that the malfunction was on them and they cared. Nothing was included with my returned unit. Still not the end of the world. There was, however, something else that was bothering me on principle: I am paying good money for a PlayStation Plus subscription that I could not access. Requesting the time be tacked onto the end of what I have seemed fair and I was dealing with setting everything on the system back up, so why not ask? It couldn’t hurt.
I went the web chat route again, since I could continue my dark works and talk to them at the same time. A gentleman answered. I explained my request:
Me: Yes. I had my PS4 repaired, and was out almost two weeks. I was wondering if it would be possible to have the two weeks added onto my Plus subscription to make up the difference.
After updating some info and the agent looked into my request., The response was a big fat “no.” However, in the same line, he stated that he was transferring me to a supervisor. This supervisor promptly answered and had me pause while he looked over the chat. At this point, I remained cordial. After looking at it, he answered:
Sony: I was checking into your case, and the service usually have a time frame. Usually for each shipping it may be 3-5 business days and the service center can have the console for up to 10 business days. On this case this is the normal process and we usually do not cover the time of your PS Plus. Since actually the service was on the valid time frame. Nevertheless checking into your case and since you are a loyal costumer and making an exception because of good will, I am able to offer you a 20% discount code.
Fantastic. So, my machine broke down, I was unable to access a service for which Sony has already been paid, and they are offering me a chance to give them more money. As somebody who has spent quite a bit of time working jobs similar to what this Sony web chat supervisor was now doing, I understood that sometimes the customer has to act like a jerk to get the grease. Not my favorite position, so I decided to continue with the reasonable customer routine.
Once again, he offered me a PlayStation store discount coupon. Here is where I tried to start being a jerk:
Nope. Coupon or die.
Me: I hope that there is something more that you can do beyond an enticement to spend additional money at your store.
The supervisor explained that this was the best that could be done, and he was making an exception. Realizing that this was a lost cause, I decided to test the waters a bit. I informed him politely that I write for this very site and was planning to cover this experience as a post anyways. I wish I had asked if this was how he thought Sony would want to be represented, as it would have better explained the point I was trying to make. To his credit, this did not change the outcome that he could offer. He stated:
Sony: Yes and we care about all the consumers, which is why we offer the service for free when the console is under warranty. And I really like that you are linked to a gaming community but for us we care about all the PlayStation family members and we are able to provide an equal service for all of them even if you are linked to a webpage.
This proved to me that his hands really were tied. If he had caved to what I wanted after I whipped out that card, this post would be even more harsh. It simply wouldn’t have been fair if I could receive (paltry) compensation simply because some folks read my ramblings. The agent offered the coupon one more time, I politely declined, and we went about our day.
Here’s the takeaway from all of this. If a company is charging a subscription fee that the consumer cannot access because of an actual defect with their product, it is up to that company to compensate the customer without even requiring that the customer ask. This is basic consumer facing public relations. That Sony, a corporation that spans the globe, cannot be bothered to give their customer service representatives the ability to reimburse subscription time is a gaping hole in policy. More so, it’s cheap, it’s dirty and it’s unreasonable. Comcast, one of the most reviled companies on the planet, will credit an account for service outages. Sony should be better than Comcast, for crying out loud. One would expect that to be an obtainable goal for anyone short of Charles Manson.
I do not blame their agent. Again, he probably really couldn’t do anything more because there was no possible way to implement it. But game companies need to do more to respect their audience. I’ve heard that we can be…fickle with our adoration. Will I re-up my subscription when it expires? Probably. Two weeks afterwards. It wasn’t the money; it’s the principle of the matter. I might be a games addict, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.