Thursday, 17 September 2009


It must be a bad state of affairs when you watch Watchdog and find yourself agreeing with the evil corporation and not the consumers. Maybe I have been running a company too long :-)

They were basically saying PS3s were dying, after warranty, and moaning that Sony wanted a fee to repair them.

Even if you go for the view that something like a PS3 should last more than a year the argument (any contract) is with the reseller. The reseller may well have a contract with Sony that says after a year they have to pay for repairs. The contract with the reseller may arguably not restrict working PS3s to only one year but that would be a separate argument. The end users have no contract with Sony and can, contractually, not expect anything at all from Sony, I am sure. If anyone should moan at Sony it would be the poor reseller stuck in the middle.

You would think Watchdog would know that - but instead they go around with PRAT (Playstation Repair Action Team, IIRC) and are repairing them. Agreed, some indication of a reflow issue and re-ovening the boards helped. Even so they admitted many that they apparently repaired then broke again. So great, if watchdog want to repair everyone's Sony PS3 for free, great. Oh, no? They have to pay the people that do the repair and maybe they don't want to fix thousands of out of warranty PS3s for free? (a tiny fraction of the number that have been sold)... Oh!

Maybe I am getting old, but they really missed the plot IMHO. And I am a big one on consumer rights. It is really strange disagreeing with Watchdog.



  1. Fellow ISP owner here but we rent L2TP backhaul from Entanet so don't deal directly with BT Wholesale... thankfully!

    I agree completely with all your BT posts but have to side with the consumers on this one.

    Ever heard of bad caps ? (

    I have spent the last six months battling with Apple UK to have the logic board in an iMac G5 with leaking capacitors replaced due to them being sub-standard components - the machine was purchased in 2005.

    Apple issued a free recall program in selected countries for the affected units but discontinued the UK one in December 2008 - can totally understand where all these disgruntled PS3 users are coming from.

    Fortunately, the Sale and Supply of Goods Act in this country states that goods sold as new must be defect-free at the point of sale unless indicated otherwise; as long as the fault can be reasonably proved to be caused at the time of manufacture, you have up to five years or something like that to raise the issue with the manufacturer and it is their responsibility to repair or replace the item.

    My issue with Apple was easy to prove as I still had a copy of the recall notice which listed my serial number within one of the range that was affected; that proved a manufacturing fault and the small claims court settled in my favour - so the law as it stands will protect consumers as long as the manufacturer can be proved to have been negligent.

    It is up to the consumer to prove the fault existed at the time of manufacturer; a solder joint, being internal to the unit, is going to be the manufacturers' problem if they cannot prove the owner opened the unit or there was exterior damage to the casing.

    Watchdog only saw a selection of the units; only Sony would be able to correlate all of the serial numbers to determine if all the units were manufactured as part of the same batch, came from the same factory/production line, etc, etc - it could have been plain old human error and the solder used might have been the wrong kind, etc, etc.

    Anyway, I'll shut up now... this is your rants blog after all ;-)

  2. I agree, what makes this even more ludicrous is an article the BBC posted just four days ago entitled "Five consumer laws you really ought to know":

    It clearly states:

    "A key fact is that your relationship in the Sale of Goods Act is with the retailer, not the manufacturer."

    Watchdog has gone downhill IMO.

  3. I don't know of a 5 year time frame on SoGA. Got the section number so I can look? There is a 6 month period during which the seller has to prove it was not an original defect. I have used that and got money out of carphone warehouse before now.

    My main point was, unlike Apple, Sony do not sell to those consumers direct, as I understand it. Any issue they have is with the retailer. As someone else (and the BBC) agreed.

    Some products are not designed or sold to last more than a year> I agree I'd expect a PS3 or computer to last a few years. But that is an issue for the retailer to sort, and if Sony charge the retailer then that's their issue to resolve with Sony. The retailers contract with Sony does not have "consumer protection" laws.

    The reseller should make it clear how long you can expect the product to last. Even so, some products may be expected to last a long time (e.g. a car could be expected to last 10 years) but not necessary without having maintenance which the cusomer has to pay for. So even saying a computer or PS3 is expected to last many years it could be said that to do so it may need maintenance or repair which is only free for the first year. If clear at the time of purchase I cannot see that being unfair. The reseller would say that the Sony warranty makes that pretty clear.

    The warranty watchdog mention was an extra, free, time limited (1 year?) offer from Sony direct to consumer and over and above the SoGA rights which the consumers still has. Complaining that a free extra deal did what it said on the tin is bad of Watchdog.

    The story should have been, IMHO, how the dealers almost certainly just referred customers to Sony rather than considering their obligations under the SoGA.

    Not good for the consumers, especially if they were misled, but IMHO not good reporting by Watchdog.

    Oh well.

  4. I quote from

    "Wherever goods are bought they must "conform to contract". This means they must be as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality (i.e. not inherently faulty at the time of sale)."

    "For up to six years after purchase (five years from discovery in Scotland) purchasers can demand damages (which a court would equate to the cost of a repair or replacement)."

    As you can imagine, a product recall notice from the manufacturer stating that your specific product is affected if your serial number falls within a certain range is proof that cannot be disputed in court, either by the retailer or the manufacturer.

    Also, the standard warranty term within the EU is two years rather than one year; it is quite possible to argue this point with Sony as the UK, while it has its own laws, is still an EU member country and Sony are obliged to honour a two-year warranty - unfortunately, most people don't know about it.

  5. As I say, your Apple case is somewhat different. Apple often sell direct and a product recall notice is something of an admission of defect, it would seem.

    In the Sony issue the contract is with a reseller not with Sony, as far as I know. The consumers may well have a case against the retailer. The retailer may well say that it was clear when sold that the consumer could only expect the product to last a year without repairs, as made clear by a one year warranty from manufacturer as well as established (UK) industry practice for such products. So it is nowhere near as clear cut as Watchdog made it out to be.

    Just to be clear I think it is not good that a product is made to last only a year, if that is what happened. But if that is clear when purchased then that is the contract and a product that lasts a year and a day is "confirming to contract". In that case using components that last a year is not sub-standard components but components exactly to the required standard!

    Now, in our case, when we make products we build them to last. We would never use cheaper components just because they would only fail after a 1 year warranty. We feel the quality of the product and our reputation is important. But, we are not Sony :-)

  6. Ah, I think I see where the six years comes in. It is the Limitations Act!

    They are not saying products have to last 6 years!

    They are saying that damages for a contract breach have to be pursued within 6 years.

    SoGA does not itself say products have to last a specific time. It could not. Some products do not and would not be expected to.

  7. I disagree with the 2nd comment. Two specific reasons.

    1 - My viewsonic montior which is almost 3 years old failed on me and I then got a replacement dealing direct with the manufacturer as was a manufacturer warranty. My current dell monitor also has a contract between me and dell for the warranty.
    2 - A washing machine I got from tesco I got fixed using the manufacturer warranty dealing direct with hotpoint.

    So quite often in retail purchases manufacturers have contracts with the consumer.

  8. You can talk to manufacturer if they want to and they do often freely offer a warranty to you directly. Never said otherwise.

    But your contract, and legal recourse for failure, is with who you purchased the item from and not with the manufacturer directly.

  9. HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

    'Sony rebuts BBC PlayStation claim'