Why isn’t my Sony laptop “protected”?

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Christopher Elliott

When Peter Mescher’s Sony laptop breaks, he’s not worried. His extended warranty covers “accidental” damage. But is that wording in his warranty an accident?

Question: I purchased an extended service contract for my wife’s Sony laptop recently. The contract I received has, in large letters just above where the legalese begins, “Protection Plus Service Plan + Accidental Damage.”
As you might have guessed, the laptop has sustained accidental damage. The screen has cracked. And, as you might also guess, they are refusing to pay.

I filed a claim with Sony, they are now telling me that the service plan does not, in fact, cover accidental damage and that the large letters saying so are “just a logo,” despite them appearing to me to be the contract header.

Their “evidence” for this is the fact that the “Extended Service Plan Description” line in that email is supposed to have the word “ADH” in there somewhere (for “accidental damage”). Somehow I was supposed to know the “Express Ship Plan for Laptops” does not, in fact, include accidental damage, (despite the previously mentioned large print below having the words “Accidental Damage” in it), and I was supposed to contact them at the time so this “error” could be corrected.
Accidental Damage coverage is supposedly “available,” yet I don’t see any way I was either supposed to purchase it or know I wasn’t purchasing it. (And it bears repeating that the contract itself features “Accidental Damage” in rather large print.)

Apparently, ADH coverage is only available for 30 days after product purchase (the warranty was purchased several months later), though this policy is disclosed nowhere. At all. The phone rep couldn’t point me to this “policy” either.
The only response by the phone rep was to send me a screenshot of the warranty plan purchase page for a phone — yes, despite the fact I was buying a plan for a laptop — to show what my options should have, but didn’t, look like.

I argued that it would have made no sense for me to go to the warranty purchase page for a completely different product for no discernible reason. Her only response to that was, “Well, it wasn’t your fault, but it wasn’t Sony’s fault either.”
I’m willing to believe the confusion was not malicious, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t Sony’s fault.

My position is: “My contract has, as a header “+ Accidental Damage”. Period. Full Stop. They can call it a logo if they like, it sure looks like the beginning of a contract to me. Can you help? — Peter Mescher, Raleigh, NC

Answer: This is a clear case of a mislabeled product. It’s like buying a box of frozen steaks but discovering it’s packed with burgers instead.

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

I know there are probably some readers out there who will say you need to read the actual contract, and that’s certainly true. The wording of the warranty is important. But so is the headline. And if the headline says it covers you for “accidental damage,” then you should be able to assume that it actually does.

Here’s the plan you actually bought. Not quite what you thought it was, right?

I agree, this mislabeling was perhaps unintentional. I also agree that Sony is responsible, no matter what the representative told you.

I recommended that you start a paper trail with the company, asking it to address the problem. Appeal to a Sony executive if necessary.

This is one of those times when the system worked exactly as it should. You posted your case with Sony’s Customer Support Community and sent a tweet to Sony’s support account.

A Sony representative called you. First, the company offered to refund the purchase price of the warranty. You turned that down since the cost of the repair was going to well exceed that. (The estimate was $700 on this $1,200 machine.) Finally, Sony agreed to refund the purchase price of the laptop.

Should Sony have refunded Peter Mescher's PC?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

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