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.

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.

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