What’s your problem? A black mark against Sony for losing my camera

Question: I’m having a dispute is with Sony over a repaired camera that they say they shipped back to me but which I never received.

Last year I paid $304 for a Sony Cyber-shot DSCWX5 Silver 12.2 MP 5X Zoom Digital Camera.

A few weeks ago, after black marks began appearing on the images, I filed a warranty repair claim. The LCD screen was defective.

According to Sony’s online records, they completed the repair and shipped the camera back to me. Their website provided me with a FedEx tracking number. But the tracking number appeared invalid as no matching record could be found.

I called Sony and was given a different tracking number, which also confirmed that the camera had been delivered. But it hadn’t.

I checked with FedEx, and it says the package had been left at my front door with no signature requirement. No one had knocked at the door, and besides, how they could ship a $300 camera and not require a signature upon delivery?

The camera has been missing for weeks. Every time I call, Sony says it is “looking into it” and someone will get back to me. When I ask for the call to be escalated, a supervisor suggests I should call FedEx.

Isn’t it the shipper’s responsibility to contact FedEx? My contract was with Sony, not FedEx.

I am so frustrated with this, as it seems I’m just going around and around in circles, and all Sony can do is recite the tracking details back to me. I fear that they won’t call me back, and even if they do, it will just be to tell me the same thing again. Please tell me where I can go from here! — Thomas Hill, Miami

Answer: Sony should have returned your camera by FedEx with a signature required, and when it got lost, it should have taken the matter up with its shipping company — not asked you to pester the shipper for the package.

As far as I can tell, your entire correspondence with Sony took place by phone. I find that problematic. Had you emailed Sony, your request would have been assigned a case number and you would have a clean paper trail (or in your case, an electronic trail) that documented your queries and its responses.

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But when you call Sony, only the company has a record of the conversation. That puts you at a disadvantage when you’re trying to resolve the case.

Appealing to a supervisor was a good instinct, but why not ask for the supervisor’s email and get the response in writing as well? Again, when only one side is recording the call for “quality assurance” purposes, it’s your loss.

The only way to stop this game of corporate ping-pong and escalate your case is to start moving up the chain of command at Sony, starting with an email through its site. (Here’s a tip: If your email goes into a black hole, try an electronic chat. You can easily copy the back-and-forth for your own records.)

If that doesn’t work, try sending an email to a supervisor. Here’s a a list of Sony’s executives. Most email formats are firstname_lastname@sony.com (and sometimes they add the division, like @playstation.sony.com).

I contacted Sony on your behalf. The company agreed to send you a replacement camera at no extra cost.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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