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  #1  
Old 31-Dec-2004, 15:07
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An example of poor customer service


I wrote an email to Sony yesterday complaining about their minidisc software and offering some suggestions. I know many readers have had their own encounters w/ customer dis-service but I wanted to show you just how bad a form letter can be. If they just blew me off w/ a standard "Your input is valuable, thank you." I would have been happy, but Sony seems to think I have a tech support problem (maybe I do, in a round-about way :-( ).

The ultimate irony is my last paragraph tells Sony that I don't feel like a "valuable customer", and then they have the gall to send me this response.

Here's the entire exchange:
Quote:
Subject
Complaints/Suggestions

Discussion Thread
Connect Customer Support Response (Robert) 12/31/2004 07:48 AM
Hello,

Thank you for contacting Sony Connect!


The issue you describe will require more extensive troubleshooting than can be effectively handled through email. In order to save you time and potential frustration, please contact our Support Team by phone. This will allow our live support technicians to diagnose your issue further. We are available, toll-free, at: 1-866-919-SONY (7669) from 12PM to 7PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, and from 9AM to 3PM Eastern Time Saturday. Please have your incident number available to expedite your service. We look forward to hearing from you!


If the information I have provided does not completely answer your question, please update this incident so I may be of further assistance to you.



Sincerely,

Robert
Customer Support Representative
Sony Connect
http://www.connect.com

This message and any attachments are solely for the use of intended recipients. They may contain privileged and/or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that you received this email in error, and that any review, dissemination, distribution or copying of this email and any attachment is strictly prohibited. If you receive this email in error please contact the sender and delete the message and any attachments associated therewith from your computer. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated.

Customer (Cody Jackson) 12/30/2004 06:59 PM
1. Allow other operating systems to use SonicStage. My main home computer runs Linux and it's not convenient to have my laptop (which has most of my music collection on it in ATRAC form) or a MD Walkman on the desk when I want to listen to my music. At a minimum support Apple OS X if a "mainstream" OS is desired. One idea is to create just a SonicStage player; it won't allow you to make songs, just play them. It could be similar in concept to Adobe Acrobat Reader or MS Office reader applications; they allow people to open the files but not manipulate, modify, or create them.

2. Allow the conversion of ATRAC songs to MP3 or at least WAV. Because I've converted all my songs to ATRAC, the computer won't let me burn the songs to CD; I've tried but I keep being told I don't have the rights.

3. Allow the uploading of songs from MD to SonicStage. I have about 4 years worth of music on MD from the time prior to NetMD coming out. I copied all my music CD's to MD using one of the first home stereo MD recorders available. Since these are all original ATRAC form, I can only play them on MD players; I've sold the CD's because I thought having them on MD too was redundant. I would like to upload all these old MD's to my laptop to keep my entire music collection together but I can't. Due to the large number of MD's I own, copying them via analog cables isn't desireable; I don't want to relabel 4 years worth of songs by hand, again.

4. I don't have a problem w/ DRM, but there needs to be more options for downloading songs from Sony Connect. I don't want to be tied into a single format for new songs considering how many problems I currently have w/ SonicStage.

5. In conjunction with #1 & 2 above, there needs to be a better way to back up songs than by using SonicStage. If I want to put the backup songs on a different computer, like a Linux server or my Mac, I can't because SS only works w/ Windows. Backing up either as MP3, AIFF, etc. or at least a more customer-friendly way would be appreciated.

I know Sony just recently released the HD Walkman that plays MP3 files, but that does me no good since I've converted all my songs to ATRAC. I want to export my ATRAC songs to MP3 (or similar) so I can play them in my car or when I don't have my MD player. I also want to be able to transfer my songs from one computer system to another, preferably without having to make hundreds of CD's.

I used to be a strong supporter of Sony equipment and was even considering upgrading to Hi-MD. Due to the problems outlined above, I won't be buying Sony equipment anymore. I have already paid my money for my music and don't feel I should have to keep buying it every time a new format comes out. Being tied into one company because of their unwillingness to give a reasonable compromise is aggravating and doesn't make me feel like a "valued customer".

I did send a response back, basically telling them this is a perfect example of why Sony sucks; they aren't listening to me and are treating this as a tech support problem, even though I distinctly sent this to the "Complaints/Public Relations group" on the web form.
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  #2  
Old 02-Jan-2005, 19:41
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Thumbs down

And so it continues...


Well, here's what Sony said to me after I bitched at them for not listening to me:
Quote:
Connect Customer Support Response (Chris) 01/02/2005 04:31 PM
Hello again,

We apologize for any difficulties or limitations you experienced using our Connect service. We sincerely appreciate all the time and effort that you have taken to explore the service and to share your information and opinions with us. It is very important that we receive this type of feedback so that we may better serve our customers.

We invite you to check back with us again soon to discover our new song releases and any improved features based on the feedback we receive.

If the information I have provided does not completely answer your question, please update this incident so I may be of further assistance to you.

Sincerely,

Chris
Customer Support Representative
Sony Connect
http://www.connect.com
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Customer (Cody Jackson) 12/31/2004 02:12 PM
> You don't seem to understand. I don't have a tech
support problem. I have customer complaints and
suggestions. The original message was directed to the
Complaints/Public Relations group, according to the
web form. Why is Sony sending me a tech support form
letter?

This is a perfect example of why I'm a pissed off Sony
customer. You aren't listening to me.
>

Now, why would I want to "check back later to see the new songs" if I can't even play the songs I already have when I want to? I haven't purchased any songs from Sony Connect yet, and based on this I never will. My wife wants an iPod, and I'm all for it, now. I have some issues w/ Apple, but at least they sorta listen to their customers.

I haven't totally given up on MiniDiscs; I have too much invested in them to go cold turkey. But as soon as I find an easy way to copy the songs off them to something else, they'll all go bye-bye. I like the concept of MD's but Sony just makes it too much of a pain to mess w/ them any more.
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  #3  
Old 02-Jan-2005, 23:26
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Hey, just play them into your stereo and record them on tape. Then you can play them back and there's no copy protection. Convert them into whatever format you want.
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  #4  
Old 03-Jan-2005, 13:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaltP
Hey, just play them into your stereo and record them on tape. Then you can play them back and there's no copy protection. Convert them into whatever format you want.
That's what I'm going to do. I've just been putting it off because that's a lot of songs. And then I'd have to relabel them when I got them back on the computer.

It just pisses me off that Sony has such a poor system. I understand DRM and protecting the music and all, but at a minimum, I want to be able to upload the songs I've already recorded to my computer. The way Sony's software works is that only the songs you've transferred to an MD can be copied back to the computer; any music you record directly to an MD (say from a CD player) that hasn't been recorded using their software can't be moved off that MD. So I have 4+ years of music on nearly 100 discs that I can't move to another format, unless I go analog. I can't make compilation discs, I can't compress them to consolidate songs and reduce my disc numbers, nothing.

The main reason I posted this is just to show how pathetic some companies can be when it comes to customer support. It's one thing to pay lip service to a customer ("I'm sorry to here about your problems. We'll look into it") but when they blow you off w/ a form letter that doesn't even come close to addressing your problems, then they are just lazy and incompetent. I've gotten so fed up w/ Sony over the past few months that I won't buy Sony again, unless it's a TV (that's the only thing the seem to make anymore that's decent).
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  #5  
Old 04-Jan-2005, 09:27
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I must admit that I was a die-hard SONY fan. Except for speakers and amps, I rarely bought anything that wasn't a SONY.

This was perhaps 5 - 10 years ago. Nowadays I buy electronic stuff with a view to completely replace it within 2 years. Technology is getting cheaper and better and it doesn't even take months for new funky features to appear between model numbers more often than not.

The popular opinion about SONY TVs being the best is probably no longer true...

For example, I am planning to replace my (10 year old, 29") SONY TV soon and it will probably be a $100 29" TV that's made in China with some no-name brand that I will use just so I can replace it with something up-todate 18 months later.
  #6  
Old 04-Jan-2005, 19:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JdS
I must admit that I was a die-hard SONY fan. Except for speakers and amps, I rarely bought anything that wasn't a SONY.

This was perhaps 5 - 10 years ago. Nowadays I buy electronic stuff with a view to completely replace it within 2 years. Technology is getting cheaper and better and it doesn't even take months for new funky features to appear between model numbers more often than not.

The popular opinion about SONY TVs being the best is probably no longer true...

For example, I am planning to replace my (10 year old, 29") SONY TV soon and it will probably be a $100 29" TV that's made in China with some no-name brand that I will use just so I can replace it with something up-todate 18 months later.

You sound like an American "Let's buy something and replace it in a year"

Have we messed up the world that badly?

Oh, and Welcome Back, J!!!
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  #7  
Old 07-Jan-2005, 06:18
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Thanks Walt, but I wasn't away... just preoccupied with offline stuff.

Anyway to get back on topic... just be glad when they end up having to spend millions of $$$ dollars $$$ on advertising just to get you back as a client when they could have simply done it with a polite and helpful email.
  #8  
Old 07-Jan-2005, 17:51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JdS
...when they could have simply done it with a polite and helpful email.

I think this is a very telling sentiment. I have found over the years (mostly the hard way) that it really is amazing how clients will seek you out by following this simple rule. Capitalism really only functions in two states, supply side and demand side. By creating an environment that allows you to be perceived as being polite and helpful you end up being perceived as "a better supplier" enabling you to be the object the demand side thinks is better. While you may just be the same perceptions can be a very powerful tool.

Crystalattice. I would like to leave you with my latest first hand experience with the flip side of your coin. Last January I was getting ready to go back on the road for work (very much a rush at the time) and needed to duplicate my computer system to take with me. I had a limited amount of money to spend and after checking around some of the large on-line outlets and could not seem to fall within both my time and budget constraints. Not thinking it would really work, I went to a small local computer reseller and told him what I had available, how quickly I needed it and what I had to spend. They put together a very usable package (I in fact am using the laptop now) that worked out exactly as anticipated. After a few back and forth emails to solve a few minor problems I didn't hear from them again. Just before Christmas I got a package in the mail from the reseller. It was a very nice mouse pad (also being used as I speak) with the company logo name and a 2005 calendar. Granted it is advertising but it is of high quality and I thought it was a very nice gesture. I really did not spend all that much but since I would normally have to pay shipping for a computer purchase anyway I will definitely call them when I am purchasing any computer equipment in the future. I may pay a few dollars more but I know that they really do want to maintain their clients. This is not the normal thing I have found and I think it deserves the time that it took to compose this post to say,

"There are good providers, you just have to remember to reward them."

Mark
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  #9  
Old 07-Jan-2005, 21:06
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Great story! I'm sad to see the local merchants being squeezed out by large, soul-less corporations, whether it's Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc. But generally speaking, local biz is so much nicer.

I think the problem big corp. fail to realize is that the customer is king. Without us, they wouldn't have bazillions of $$$. And that works on so many levels. Consider the outsourcing and moving operations overseas: the more people the put on the street, the fewer people w/ $ will be around, the fewer customers they have. If they don't provide good customer service, then people will go to a company that does.

I'd like to say the more powerful corp. get, the more vulnerable to consumer action they become. But that won't happen. People may hate how the music industry works, but they continue to buy CD's. (CD sales went up something like 2.4% last year). People are like sheep, or better yet, an abused dog; you treat them like crap but they keep coming back for more.

Local biz needs more support. Their prices may be higher than the big stores, but in the end you're helping your local community. Big stores send most of their $ "back home" whereas local stores are home. And they know it. That's why they (usually) give better service. I've even noticed this w/ restaurants; local diners will work to make you happy whereas national chains usually hide behind "store policy".

(Sorry, don't mean to sound like a communist/socialist. I just have to vent every so often. ).
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  #10  
Old 08-Jan-2005, 05:24
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When it comes to commerce, I usually try not to let my emotions get in the way - "it's nothing personal, just business". Nowadays I have absolutely no brand loyalty, I have no qualms about moving on and taking my money elsewhere if I feel I am being slighted in anyway - be it a "mom & pop" store or a large corporation.

Competition is great, let them fight for your business.
 


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