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SonyStyle.com sales rep completely clueless (see transcript inside) (1 Viewer)

Greg Schwabacher

Stunt Coordinator
May 31, 1999
This is so ridiculous that it's actually a little funny. Anyway, for the last week I've been trying to confirm that Sony provides a 2-year parts/labor warranty on the VPL-HS10 LCD projector. Most websites that publish warranty information for that projector claim that's the warranty period, but OneCall claims it's one year parts/90 days labor. Since I'm now unsure of the real answer, I figured that the best way to figure out for sure what the warranty is would be to contact Sony directly. So, I went to SonyStyle.com and used their online chat feature to ask a SonyStyle representative directly what the warranty period is. Take a look at the transcript of the session I had. This is literally a word-for-word copy of the chat I had. Unreal!!

Kate: Hi, my name is Kate. How may I help you?
You: Hi! I'm interested in the VPL-HS10 projector, and was wondering if you could tell me what the warranty is on that product.
Kate: Please give me a moment while I get this information for you.
You: Thanks.
Kate: I am afraid we do not offer warranty for Projectrs online, I suggest that you contact a local dealer for information regarding the availability of a warranty for projectors.
Kate: Greg, are you shopping for a projector?
You: You mean if I buy the Sony VPL-HS10 through Sony Style, I don't get a warranty? That doesn't make much sense.
Kate: You can contact a local dealer for the warranty.
URL Received: http://www.sonystyle.com/is-bin/INTE...ctInformation-
Start;sid=jUCe1hlqi9ee1id_uZ6U3VZ6CEWGT0KP2FU=?Pro ductID=ZQAKC0%2eNosoAAADyv4c8lSwg
You: I don't understand why you can't tell me what the warranty is. Can you explain that? Certainly you can understand why it seems strange to me that someone at Sony doesn't know what the warranty info on their product is.
You: I'm not trying to be difficult, but if I intent to purchase this product, I need to know what the warranty is, and I can't find that info anywhere on your website.
You: Hello?
Kate: Greg, as I told you earlier we do not offer warranty for projectors online, you will have to contact a dealer for this.
You: So what you're telling me is that if I buy a projector through Sony Style, I don't get a warranty with it. Is that correct?
Kate: Yes, but you can purchase the warranty from a dealer.
Kate: You can avail various promotion by purchasing the projector online.
You: I don't want to buy a warranty! I just want to know what the manufacturer's warranty is on that product! Certainly Sony provides a warranty with that product, right?
You: Kate, are you still there? I think maybe you misunderstood what I was looking for. I'm not trying to purchase an extended warranty; I'm just trying to figure out what Sony USA's manufacturer's warranty is on this projector if purchased through you or an authorized dealer.
Kate: It varies from dealer to dealer.
Kate: I do not have information regarding the warranty offered by other dealers.
You: Okay, what's the warranty offered by SonyStyle.com?
You: Please, if you don't know what it is, just tell me so. It sort of seems like you're dodging the question, because Sony legally must provide a warranty on a new product.
Kate: Sonystyle.com does not offer warranty on the purchase of a projector online.
You: That's patently ridiculous and just not possible. Is there a supervisor available I can speak with?
Kate: I am afraid there is no supervisor present at the moment
You: Okay Kate. What would happen if I purchased this projector through SonyStyle.com and it arrived broken. Since you're telling me that a warranty isn't provided, I'd then assume I'd be responsible for paying for repairs on a brand-new product. If that's the case, there's no way anyone would buy products through your site!
Kate: In that case you can claim for the damages.
You: Suppose the projector broke two days after I got it. Apparently I'd be responsible for the repair since you're saying I don't get a warranty, right?
Kate: I suggest that you contact our Customer Support Team at the following number:
Kate: 800-571-7669
Kate: I am sure they will be able to help you.
You: Thank you for your time.
Kate: I apologize for any inconvenience caused to you.
You: Thanks Kate. I was seriously considering purchasing this projector through your website, but I just can't do it if I don't get a warranty.

So, beware! According to Kate, if you bought your HS10 through SonyStyle.com you're going to be left holding the bag if it breaks...ever. Not that I actually believe that, but I just can't fathom how clueless this rep was!! And to top it all off, I still haven't confirmed that the warranty is for two years!
Apparently only the brightest salespeople get the privilege of working the chat lines at 4 a.m. at Sony! :D

Steve Berger

Supporting Actor
Sep 8, 2001
As an authorized Sony servicer I may be able to shed a little light on what seems to be happening here. The VPL series are not consumer products , they are commercial products. Support on these is handled differently. While the factory owned service centers (Bristol PA. and Irvine CA.) might work on these , none of the independent servicers are authorized to repair them while in warranty. Consequently repair has been traditionally covered by contracts with the sales outlet (not a Best-Buy type of dealer). Generally , any factory warranty on commercial and industrial products is either 30 or 90 days ; parts and labor. Anything past that has to be purchased as a contract from the dealer or distributor.

You were talking to representative for consumer products and she would have had virtually no information on the product. The factory service centers don't even recognize the model number as a valid Sony model ; actually it isn't a Sony consumer product , it is distributed by a different division of Sony Electronics. (Some divisions are Broadcast , Industrial , Commercial , Computer , Consumer , Medical , etc) It would have been like calling the local Mitsubishi car dealer and asking about Projection TVs. Admittedly the car dealer would probably have told you why he couldn't help you . She must not have wanted to be blunt about it. I'm surprised they would even sell it directly to consumers without some sort of disclaimer on support.

Have you tried the other number she gave you ? I suspect it is another division's help line since it doesn't match any of the numbers that I have for consumer division help.

Because of the high cost of these products a Home Theater dealer could include a dealer or third party warranty without you realizing that you were purchasing it separately. You would have never known that the set had no official factory support, like Sears does with Sony and other brands. (A Sony purchased at Sears does not have a Sony warranty , only a Sears warranty)

Greg Schwabacher

Stunt Coordinator
May 31, 1999
Steve, thanks for the info.
It would have been like calling the local Mitsubishi car dealer and asking about Projection TVs.
Although I understand what you're getting at, the hypothetical Mitsubishi situation you've described isn't exactly analogous to the Sony projector situation. Mitsubishi car dealers don't sell Mitsubishi TV's, so I wouldn't expect them to know about TV warranties. However, Sony's consumer division (SonyStyle.com) does sell Sony business products (like the VPL-HS10), so I think it's reasonable to expect that they'd have valid information about the warranty.
Anyway, someone over on the AVS Forum did a little digging and found the warranty information for the VPL series of projectors on the third page of the document here. It seems that, according to this warranty information, and assuming that professional warranties carry over to consumer usage, the warranty period is two years parts and labor. You're apparently right, though...this projector (for some reason) falls under the "Sony Business Solutions" umbrella, although it's clearly a product aimed at consumers.

Steve Berger

Supporting Actor
Sep 8, 2001
This situation is not unique to Sony either. Panasonic and JVC (and probably others) have similar product division distribution. SonyStyle of course is also a separate division of a separate division (Marketing) and they have no connection with service and support. A Sales Rep cannot authorize a warranty repair for instance. The various divisions within the company seem to mad at each other right now. Maybe they are all clawing at the same dwindling corporate resources.

Service could be a problem unless you can find an authorized Business Products servicer. I know there are none in downstate Illinos, don't know about Chicago or St.Louis , and don't have a clue about Ohio . Another category of servicer is a self-servicing dealer however. They are given a lot of leeway to handle their own customers by the factories. Since they have right-of-refusal they are never listed on any Factory referral lists (even phone referral).

Since Sony closed 26 of their Factory Service Centers you no longer have regional options for factory level repair. Personally , I wouldn't want to send my set to Irvine Ca. to get fixed. This is probably the reason they kept telling you to check with the dealer for support info. Mail order and internet sales usually rely on the established service networks for repair. In this case there are very limited field repair options. A portable dictation cassette recorder or MiniDV camcorder could be just as hard to get fixed, it's just easier to ship them.

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