Kieron Rawlings is not the kind of guy to make hasty or impulse buying decisions, especially when it comes to technology.
The 40-year-old retail manager from Southbourne decided a tablet was a convenient alternative way to get online, so he went about researching specifications and prices before he finally settled on a 10-inch Sony Xperia Z complete with a two-year warranty.
Sony markets its slim and sleek £350 water and dustproof tablet as having a durable ‘super-strong’ glass display, so Kieron was understandably miffed when after only a few months he discovered the screen had spontaneously cracked and become unresponsive.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, when he tried to get the problem fixed under guarantee he says he was given an extended, mind-numbing runaround.
He says: ‘The first thing I did was send their customer services an e-mail which they failed to respond to and I had to chase it up about three weeks later.
‘They then said send it to us and the repair would be done under the warranty. Three weeks later I still hadn’t heard anything so I contacted them again, when they told me they hadn’t received it.
‘After telling them I had proof of postage, they came back two hours later and said they’d found it. After another three weeks I had to chase them up yet again only to be told it was with their engineer. The next thing I knew I had a bill though the post for £275 to fix the screen because they claimed the problem was caused by stress to the glass and not the failure of a component.
‘The thing that really stuck in my throat was if I wanted it back I’d have to pay another £35 to return it to me, the inference being if I didn’t pay to have it returned they’d just dispose of it.’
A furious Kieron was determined not to take the situation lying down, especially as the cost of repairing the claimed super-strong tablet glass represented approximately 70 per cent of the original price.
He told the Sony customer care department he wasn’t prepared to pay for a problem that occurred without warning while the tablet was on charge.
He asked for a copy of the engineer’s report, but the request fell on deaf ears. A further appeal to speak to someone in authority about the decision was also stridently rebuffed.
A choked Kieron was understandably getting hot under the collar about one door after another being slammed in his face during the ongoing battle to get Sony to budge.
At the end of his tether he called in Streetwise, anxious to make other Sony Xperia Z tablet owners aware of his experience.
A cursory internet search pulled up a worrying number of reports about the Sony Xperia Z range of phones and tablets where the displays mysteriously cracked without anyone touching them.
The Consumers’ Association, publishers of the monthly Which? magazine, slammed Sony as one of the most unreliable technology brands.
They claim that their latest reliability survey revealed that some of the firm’s products simply don’t last, leaving people like Kieron frustrated and out of pocket.
We also contacted the BBC Watchdog team, who confirmed that they covered the same screen cracking problem in May 2014 after receiving more than 100 complaints from viewers.
At the time Sony insisted it was not a design fault and that its standard warranty would not cover repairs.
But Sony admitted that in a small proportion of cases screens had cracked with no identifiable cause and in these cases they were repaired free of charge. Streetwise put Kieron’s complaint to Sony after they repeatedly refused to discuss the matter with him. We said he’d had a raw deal and asked them to reconsider.
Shortly afterwards he received a call from a Sony Mobile customer relations manager to say their repair team had looked at the tablet again and confirmed the hairline crack wasn’t down to misuse. They’d now agreed to repair it free of charge.
A relieved Kieron says: ‘I really appreciate all the time and effort that went into getting the problem sorted for me.’
Sony Mobile did not respond to our request for a statement.