Musings of a PC

Thoughts about Windows, TV and technology in general

Failure to engage your customer

I’ve been favourable towards Sony products – primarily their camcorders – for several years. I love my most recent camcorder, a high-definition, hard-drive based recorder. One of the accessories really swayed the choice for me – the SPK-HCF waterproof housing, facilitating the shooting of video and photos underwater at depths of up to 5m.


I used it for the first time a couple of years ago when we were in Barbados and we went snorkelling. I was fairly pleased with the results – the side panel pulls out to reveal a mirror that is supposed to reflect the contents of the pull-out display on the camcorder but I often struggled with the visibility and didn’t always get the shot I was after. The concept of the housing, though, is great – robust, easy to install the camcorder and relatively easy to control.

So where is Sony’s failure to engage the customer, as intimated by the title of the posting? Quite simply in the after-sales care, or how and where to get the bits you need to continue using the housing.

There are four main “accessories”, for want of a better word, that the owner of a sports pack will need to replace – the O ring (which seals the door), grease (to put onto the O ring), the anti-fogging lens solutions (to stop the front plate fogging up) and the desiccant strips (which are used to absorb any moisture from inside the housing and therefore further reduce the risk of fogging).

Sony quote part numbers for the O ring (3-098-143-01), grease (2-582-620-01) and anti-fogging solution (3-072-039-01) but nothing for the desiccant. According to the manual, “if you fully dry the desiccant, it can be used about 200 times”. No further instructions are provided on how to dry out the desiccant.

So when I contacted Sony to find out where I could buy more desiccant, I was referred to a third party company that specialises in spare parts. They’ve quoted me a lot of money for “1 desiccant strip”. Yep – even though Sony supply three strips in a pack when you buy the housing, the third party company apparently doesn’t. Either that, or their computer system really doesn’t know what the supplied quantities are per pack.

So I’ve taken a gamble and placed an order. If I don’t like what I receive, it is being returned under the Distance Selling Act.

But, come on, is this really the best way for a global consumer electronics giant to liaise with and engage its customers? I don’t think so. I only wish I knew how to get Sony to see what problems this approach causes.

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