Three strikes and this Sony phone is out! Or is it?

Andrew Ashcroft’s Sony smartphone keeps breaking down. Now he just wants the company to give him a new one or a refund. Is that a reasonable request?

Question: I own a Sony Xperia M4 Android smartphone. It broke while it was under warranty and I sent it in for a repair recently. But a few days later, it stopped working again.

Sony asked me to send the phone back, so I did. But the replacement phone, a reconditioned model, also malfunctioned. All Sony offers to do is for me to send it back in for service a third time, which means I’ll be without a phone 14 days. I’d like either a refund or a new phone. Can you help me? — Andrew Ashcraft, Charlottesville, Va.

Answer: Looks like Sony sold you a dud, which can happen with any manufacturer. Did I ever tell you about my first iPhone? They might as well have given me a brick.

Ah, technology!

But sending you two duds in a row — well, that takes some doing. Either you have the worst luck or the M4 is a terrible phone.

Sony’s warranty for your smartphone is fairly standard. It says that if your product fails to operate under normal use and service, due to defects in design, materials or workmanship, Sony will “either repair, replace or refund the purchase price of the product.”

So your request for a full refund or replacement wasn’t out of line. I checked the dates of your service request when you showed me the correspondence between you and Sony, and everything seemed to be happening within the warranty period.

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But warranties are filled with weasel words, and Sony’s use of “either” suggested that it could continue replacing your phone until your warranty ran out. That’s a less-than-ideal resolution.

Curiously, Sony seems to be fulfilling its corporate mission statement. How so? “Everything we do,” it proclaims, “is to move you emotionally.”

And after reading your anguished emails to Sony, I can definitely say you were moved emotionally. Maybe not in the way Sony had intended. But you were without a doubt moved.

You needed closure on this phone. You could have appealed this to someone higher up at Sony (I list the names, numbers and email addresses on my site) but you’ve been more than patient. It was time for some action.

A member of our advocacy team contacted Sony on your behalf. The company agreed to replace your phone with a new phone and a brand-new warranty.

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 Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • The Original Joe S

    That’s progress. They would have sent duds forever had not there been an intercession by the great Elliott’s minions………

  • MF

    Likely, IF the new phone works better than the old phone. He’s been through two already. As the saying goes, sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is the train coming the other way…

  • PsyGuy

    YAY, happy ending.

  • Rebecca

    I am currently working on getting my husband’s phone replaced. He’s had it for about 3 months and it gets so hot when it’s charging that the camera lens cracked. We know that’s how it cracked, because he was using it to take a video, noticed it needed charged, and literally opened the back door and plugged it in on the kitchen counter. When he picked it back up, it was broken. It’s also terrifying because we’re afraid it will start a fire, so you can’t leave it charging unattended.

  • JewelEyed

    I had my last phone replaced twice, but the the third one worked great…until the battery suddenly started to go crashing downhill after about a year and a half. I have replaced it with something else. It was a great phone for the most part, but a mobile phone that isn’t mobile anymore because the battery won’t hold a charge is no use to me.

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