The XBR2/3 is a premium TV that costs about as much as chartering a light jet for a couple of hours. Every buyer of one of these sets has the right to expect it to work properly across the full range of picture & viewing conditions, right out of the box. We shouldn't have to hunt for defect-free sets, deal with worthless tech visits, or change the config settings to "crap mode" to get a consistently clean, pure picture. (The notion that massaging the screen or laying it face-down for hours will actually fix the problem strikes me as ludicrous. Plus I'd be concerned that it might somehow void the warranty given how sensitive these things are. But that's just me.)
I'm on my 2ND CLOUDY 40" XBR2
, and I'm not happy about it.
I opened a trouble ticket with Sony Tech Support / Customer Relations last night to make sure my complaint is on record. After being persistent enough to get past the first rep (who tried to schedule for a tech to come "fix it", despite the fact that he admitted that he didn't really understand what the problem was), and the second rep (who recommended I return it and have BB let me open and approve the replacement set), I got to a third rep who gave me the "new official line" - that I just need to adjust the picture settings. Obviously that dog don't hunt. However, some of the wording she used was quite interesting and worthy of note:
"We know about it, and it's an inherent problem in the 46" XBR's ..."
(I reminded her that I have a 40", and she stumbled for a moment.)
... "As of the latest info I have today, which is from this morning, there's no further recourse at this time."
I got the distinct impression that she had fielded a number of these calls - she sounded pretty exasperated. I'm reading tea leaves here, but I also got the sense that they've taken another step towards acknowledging that there's a problem, which is very important. My guess is that it's only now working its way up the org chart.
(Interesting to note that Samsung is Sony's main competitor in LCD's, the LCD plant is in S. Korea, and although both use the *exact* same panels, Samsungs seem to have much fewer defects if the anecdotal evidence on this site is a representative sample. I highly doubt Samsung would be able to get away with cherry-picking. Maybe it *is* due to something related to the fact that they do the final assembly in Mexico?!?!)
Sony invested almost $2B in the Samsung/Sony joint venture (S-LCD), and have a lot riding on their LCD brand - both in the long term, and during the holiday season. Therefore, I have a hard time imagining that they won't deal with this - in some way at some point. So I think the questions are - how and when? The problem is that they don't have a lot of good options. If they acknowledge it now they're going to significantly damage their LCD sales for the remainder of the holiday season. If they wait, they'll get even more customers upset with them, and word about the problem will continue to leak out (kind of like how the backlight leaks on their TV's!).
The timing of this situation needs to be taken into account, and I'm sure they're looking at this from a number of angles trying to decide what to do. On the one hand, I'd think they'd be inclined to do whatever they can to avoid publicly acknowledging this situation until 2007 to avoid generating even MORE negative PR
regarding Sony quality control in the middle of the holiday shopping season. On the other hand, the fact that they just came clean about defects in a small number of cameras might mean there's hope, and that maybe they learned something from the battery problem,
, and are now adopting a stance of addressing QC problems earlier rather than letting them fester.
As others have pointed out, the best (and perhaps only) way to get them to deal with this (faster) is going to be to publicly shame them into it. Bitching to their Support people isn't going to do much. Those who have suggested posting public reviews on ratings sites and contacting people from the press, etc. are spot on. Alerting relevant industry and investment analysts would also be helpful, as would setting up a more formal mock petition website. Getting lawyers to pay attention won't be very difficult once more people become ware of the issue - trust me. But bear in mind that any lawsuit would take quite a while to get resolved. Therefore I think the best way to light a fire under them is to let it be known that failing to deal with this in a prompt, fair way will hit them in the pocketbook in the short term
in the form of lost marketshare.
If you're still within the 30 day return period, my gut is that you may want to use it. For the recent camera recall, they agreed to fix all defective units - NOT replace them. No idea if they'd take the same approach with TV's, but I for one don't want to have to deal with a return and repair process unless they really make it worth my while. And that's assuming they actually DO try to make things right with people.
I might end up going with a plasma after all. What a PitA.