PS Consultants - ideas & solutions

So sorry, so Sony...
October 2001

Well, I fell for it, didn’t I..? The gorgeous Sony Vaio FX209 notebook suckered me.

After my experiences with an earlier Vaio - and especially the slowest website imaginable, and the minimalist offshore Sony support service that's never on the end of a phone when you really need it – like evenings and weekends - some of you who recall those earlier experiences might wonder if I have gone completely barmy. Well, let me tell you how this came about as a lesson in marketing to us all.

The keyboard on this Vaio is gorgeous, and Sony see to it that their products are merchandised intelligently in places where the punters can get hands on and try them. And these days, I would not buy a notebook "unseen" for reasons of keyboard nastiness above all else.

So that's justification in itself for another bout of jousting with Sony's support system. However, I think it's probably fair to say that support for just about every laptop is equally frustrating now, with all but precious few dealers not being the teensiest bit interested in doing anything more than just shipping the busted thing back to base, if its obviously broken - or reinstalling the lot from the backup image CD ROM if there is a software glitch. The days of green fingered techies doing a prod about the settings to sort it out are gone, and the "swap out" mentality is just about universal. I'm tempted to get this unit configured precisely to my tastes, then ghost the image to a spare hard drive.

It's fully loaded with everything - 1GHz CPU, 30G hard drive, Win2k, huge LCD (1400x1050), DVD, CD Writer, , but crucially, it's got IEE1394 (firewire), and since the purpose of the exercise is working with digital video sources, that's a bit of clincher. Astonishingly Sony don't include a memory stick interface in the unit – so I bought one in the form of a PCMCIA card, and then spotted a leaflet in the box designed to get me to register the purchase that promises a Sony USB mouse with memory stick interface.

The form wants me to insert the serial number of the unit. Guess what, there is nothing obviously a serial number on the box of the unit itself. There is a number on the case underside that doesn't fit into the space provided on the form. And infuriatingly, there is no effort made to suggest the format of the number to expect. But this is Sony, don't forget, a business run by numbers and automaton, and not a helpful and thoughtful organisation. And when I went to the website to register, I got a reminder that although Sony obviously puts a lot of effort into web design, it frequently doesn’t work, and remains painfully slow.

Processing Error



An error occurred during the processing of your request. This may be the result of a temporary problem, or due to current technical difficulties with the site itself.

Please retry or if this problem persists notify one of our support staff.

Don’t you just love filling our web forms and then having them thrown away by incompetent site management..? Sony’s various web sites have no consistency in their naming process and general shambles

So I tried another registration site…



Registration is very important to us as it allows us to personalise our service to you by recording your PC configuration.
Please fill in as many fields as possible.

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80004005'

[Microsoft][ODBC SQL Server Driver][Named Pipes]Specified SQL server not found.

/UK/registration.asp, line 1066

Then I tried to buy as 3 year extended warranty, and this happened:

ERROR 404 File not found!

The file could not be found!


Sorry for the inconvenience, we would appreciate if you could help us improve the site. Please write a short e-mail to our webmaster, and report how you came see this page. Thank you very much in advance.


Back to SonyStyle Europe Homepage

Since all Sony support buggers off home at 6pm, and now it’s 19:30, I guess nothing will happen for a while.

Here’s a non-sequitur. The documentation comes on CD ROM. The printed material supplied is minimalist. No harm in that, but there is barely enough instruction to show the unwary how to fit the battery and switch it on in the first place. I particularly enjoyed reading the PDF file from the screen about "My LCD does not display anything". Nice one.

But mmmm... that keyboard. Funny how one really impressive feature like that makes me forget the trials and tribulations of the last time I bought a Vaio. One more tangible gripe about the previous Vaio is the 24 minute battery. When a friend found me a replacement that lasts 4 hours, I felt strangely and altogether more kindly disposed towards the thing, which still to this day cannot go to sleep/standby without crashing at least 50% of the time.

But how ironic, here's a notebook that I would describe as "just about there" and it arrives on the same day as I am reading stories in the papers about the death of the global high tech industry, and the imminent plunge of the whole of the civilized world into a state of recession, gloom and doom. So we have struggled through 2 years of the dotcom mania fuelled by greedy financiers and bankers, only to arrive correctly equipped and tooled just at the time those same bankers are pulling plugs frantically, and the rest of us are faced with a world where salary expectations have become unsupportable, house prices are insane and the government is helping itself to more of our money than ever in a suite of stealth taxes designed at a time when the never-ending boom looked like being able to support the £1 litre of petrol without an insurrection.

Well, the government has not contributed very much to the process, the UK's broadband infrastructure remains a figment of the imagination, and we are now headed into the wall of global recession without an idea in our heads. But I have the ultimate notebook, and all that it now requires is 100MBit wireless connectivity to the internet and then that's about it. We'll be ready to ebusiness last.

But please, someone at Sony read this and shoot the clowns responsible for your Vaio website fiasco. At least the world is filing up with redundant web programmers, so you should have a choice of some competent wranglers to choose from.