Open Letter to Sony regarding LCD TV Problems

*** UPDATE: With the help of the New York State Consumer Protection Board, I have come to an acceptable agreement with Sony. Read about it here. *****

TO: Sony Executive Review Committee
FROM: Brian O'Keefe
SUBJECT: Support Case E43668190
DATE: 1/8/2010

Thank you for your time in reviewing this letter. While I would like to have resolved this matter another way, it appears that this is the only way to communicate my concerns to Sony.

Let me start by saying I am a big fan of Sony products, as I have purchased over the years a VAIO PC, DVD Player, VCR, Sony Speakers, Camcorder, and I hope to purchase the Blu-Ray player and replace my JVC receiver soon. However, it is my latest purchase of the Bravia KDL-46V3000 LCD TV that is the reason for this letter. I purchased this TV from Amazon.com on April 4, 2008 for $1,869.86. At the time, I regretfully did not purchase an extended warranty, but my mindset was that the extra money I spent to buy a TV from Sony was the extended warranty, as I think quality products when I buy from Sony.

As you can imagine, it was to my dismay in December of 2009 when horizontal lines and distortion began to appear on my screen, especially since it was now past the 12 month warranty. I researched the issue on the Internet, and I was very surprised to find this was an extremely widespread problem. I found similar accounts documented on the V2500, V3000, W4100, XBR4, and XBR5 product lines. Almost all accounts were due to the Timing Control Board (T-Con), which is part of the panel and requires full panel replacement. Due to the widespread nature of this problem, I contacted Sony Support for assistance. Sony Support informed me that I needed to have a Sony Authorized Service Center look at the television.

On December 30, 2009, ABC Electronic Service Corp., a Sony Platinum Certified Center, sent a technician to my house. He confirmed that the T-Con was faulty and would need to be replaced. The quote he gave me was $2,565.00 to repair. It cost me $97.15 out of pocket to have him confirm what I already knew. In addition, the service technician alluded to the fact that this was a widespread problem that he has seen repeatedly in person. With this information in hand, I called Sony Support again and they took all my information and assigned me case number E43668190. They instructed me to fax my purchase receipt, and informed me that they will be calling back with an offer to resolve this issue.

On January 5, I received a message from Sony Customer Relations with an offer of the newest model of this TV, KDL-46W5100, for $882 + tax. Having seen this TV on sale recently at Best Buy for approximately $1000, I value this as an offer of approximately $120 for my problems. More importantly, given the widespread nature of this problem, I would be committing to a television that may not last 2 years again, as there is no evidence that this problem has been resolved. I returned the call to state my case and ask them to reconsider, but I was informed that the offer was final.

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to reconsider correcting this problem. I am a big fan of Sony products, and I want to believe that this was a problem that Sony has resolved. I’d like to give Sony products another chance. I am requesting that Sony replace my defective television with the newest model at no cost to me. I’d be willing to cover an extended warranty out of pocket as well as the $100 I spent on getting the estimate from a Sony Platinum certified center. If Sony can not comply with my request I am afraid that I will have to change to another brand for all future electronic purchases.

While I accept responsibility for not purchasing an extended warranty, I am sure you are aware that New York is an "implied warranty of merchantability" state. As such, I think it is reasonable to expect my television to last approximately 8 years, not 20 months, and as this problem is clearly widespread across many models, I feel that this fits the description of this law and should be remedied by Sony.

For your reference, I offer a sample of the links I researched below that detail other people having these problems.
REF 1: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/home_electronics/sony_tv.html
REF 2: http://www.highdefforum.com/flat-panel-tvs/105286-sony-bravia-issues-hor...
REF 3: http://www.hdtvmagazine.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11523
REF 4: http://www.epinions.com/reviews/Sony_KDL_46XBR4_Television
REF 5: http://www.justanswer.com/questions/1zy5q-i-have-a-15mo-old-sony-kdl46xb...
REF 6: Various threads on www.avsforum.com, including
a) http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1206002
b) http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1192725
c) http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=893637&page=383

Image of my Television picture taken at 20 months.

Thank you,

Brian O'Keefe