SONY – How a Large Company Took Advantage of a College-bound Teen

My son Matt is 18 years-old and a good kid.  He’s smart (ranked 5th in his class) and athletic (team captain and goalie of the soccer team), and he’s overall just a good person.  He’ll be a freshman at Syracuse University this year, attending on a full four-year ROTC scholarship.  That means one day he’ll be defending our way of life.

Go ORANGE!

Matt’s greatest fault is that he believes in everyone.  He trusts that all will be true to their word and follow through with their promises.  In Matt’s mind, everyone is good until they prove otherwise.  It is a noble belief, but unfortunately it is proven flawed time and again.

This is an exciting time in our household.  The weeks have been building in anticipation of Matt beginning his four-year journey at Syracuse, and some of that excitement stemmed from the fact that he would be getting his own laptop (sort of a tradition that began when his older sister purchased hers prior to entering the University of Rochester).

In researching what computer he’d be choosing, Matt was drawn to the “perks” that came with buying a SONY VAIO – enough “points” to get another tech gadget (like a tablet, ipod…etc) and one-day shipping (which would ensure that he’d receive it prior to heading to school).  On August 3rd he ordered the laptop online.

Be careful if you order a laptop from SONY.

As the date for the anticipated delivery of the laptop drew nearer, Matt began checking its status online.  A day before it was due, the ship date changed.  The laptop wasn’t ready.  He called SONY and found out that not only was the computer still being “processed”, but he was not eligible for the “perks”.  Disappointed, he let that roll off his shoulders and kept faith that the laptop would soon be shipped.

Following another delay, Matt decided (wisely I thought) to cancel the online order (since he wasn’t going to get any of the incentives) and just drive the hour to Syracuse where he could purchase the same model at Best Buy.

Following his call to SONY, he finished his day by making the purchase in Syracuse and setting up the laptop that night.  His excitement for school was building as things were finally falling into place.

Matt finally got his laptop from Best Buy after delays by SONY

The next week Matt’s plan was to purchase his books from SU online.  He had already received his schedule, and with it the list of books he would need for each class.

Before selecting his class materials, Matt decided to check his account balance.  When he did so, he found SONY – that very day – took $750 out (the amount of the laptop order he had cancelled), leaving him without the money necessary to get his books.

Immediately he called the SONY customer support line, and after waiting 45 minutes he finally got a live voice who told him that SONY shipped the laptop that day and took the money.  After some argument, the SONY support person admitted to Matt that “somebody dropped the ball” with his cancelled order – but did nothing.

Needless to say, I got involved and exchanged tweets and phone calls with someone else in SONY support (@SONYsupportUSA) who ultimately apologized and told me that because the laptop was shipped, they could not credit Matt’s account until the laptop was returned to their warehouse, and that would not occur until next week.

Since then, I’ve received confirmation via twitter that the shipment of the computer had been stopped and it is en route back to the warehouse.

My question is this: If they have confirmed that the laptop is on its way back, why can’t they refund the money to Matt’s account?  Do they honestly think I’m going to chase down the truck that carries the package and steal it away before they can retrieve it?

Given the level of intellect of the people we’ve dealt with thus far, I don’t think that would be too difficult and I appreciate more of a challenge.

Having resigned ourselves to the fact that SONY just isn’t going to refund the money to us (that they basically stole) until they physically have the product THEY wrongly shipped back in their clutches, focus changed back to happier things like finishing up with getting school supplies.

SONY will rob you blind and think nothing of it.

Once again to his dismay, Matt discovered that today – two days after we thought SONY was done stealing Matt’s money – the apparently desperate-for-every-dollar company took another $107 from his account.  A quick call to their support line rewarded us with another lemming who informed us that the charge was for the service contract on the item being shipped.  Really?

We are now close to a week since the ordeal with SONY began and Matt is out a total of $857, snatched from his account because the company “dropped the ball”.  He has been unable to purchase the books required for his class because of SONY’s incompetence and he borrowed money to complete the purchase of his school supplies.

Along the way we have never once asked for anything other than the return of Matt’s money to his account.  We haven’t even asked for an apology.  Yet, here we are with this supposed multi-billion dollar company unwilling to part with $857 that they wrongly took.

Matt’s spirit remains strong because he knows the road ahead for him is much more important than worrying about a corporation so arrogant and greedy that they think nothing of robbing a college student.

Matt remains “Army Strong” in spite of SONY’s efforts

My son is a better person than I am.  I’m having difficulty getting over what SONY has done in the course of one week.  I certainly cannot believe that we are the only ones this organization has dampened the spirits of.

Is this the way SONY conducts business with everyone or did Matt just happen to be one of the “lucky” few?

In any case, my son will go on to get a great education at a great school.  During that time he will also learn how to defend our country and protect a democracy that gives a company like SONY the platform it needs to continue to hurt the very people it calls “customers”.

Ironic isn’t it?

It is my sincerest hope that Matt goes on to be the doctor in the U.S. Army that he hopes to be, and that SONY’s business practices come back to haunt them.  It might just restore some of his belief that justice can be served.

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