Sony: still speechless
You may recall that I am not Sony’s greatest fan when it comes
to their overall support and web presence. If only the estimable
quality of their hardware was reflected in an online presence that
wasn’t a travesty of everything the brand stands for I would
imagine that Japan’s economic woes would be over. But as it is,
the Sony web site that mauled me when I tried to register a Vaio
managed to assault and batter me when I went looking for an update
for a ICD-MS1 voice recorder.
Like all Sony kit, this voice recorder is a charmer
even if the “on-off” switch is cunningly disguised as “hold”. It
uses the Sony memory stick storage device, which would be wonderful
if only everyone else had adopted the format for smart media – but
that’s just one of Sony’s many cunning ploys to keep its customers
neatly walled in.
But what really, really sucks is the software that reads the
obscure audio file format (MSV). You would have thought by now that
Sony would have decided to convert the proprietary format to MP3 or
Windows Media, wouldn’t you? Wrong! The only option with the
original edition of this software was to convert to a humungous WAV
file and then run it through the WM encoder.
I foolishly updated to version 2.03 of the player – which is very
pretty - but it doesn’t even support opening files dropped
from the windows Explorer. It doesn’t edit or write the file in its
own format, let alone any others. Pure pants.
I then went looking on the Sony web site for the update and any
information. Well, Sony’s web sites are still as bad as they ever
were, and I spent 30 minutes trying to find any useful support
reference to the ICD-MS1. The web sites seem mostly dedicated to
trying to flog stuff, not support users. I found the ICD-MS1 easily
enough from www.sony.co.uk, but abandon hope when you click the
support link. It doesn’t whisk you off to a page of support for the
ICD-MS1, but a generic index pages that seems to list everything
else but voice recorders.
I went to the feedback form to vent some spleen, and as I was
about to click “send the message” read this at the bottom:
Agreement to use of Personal Data
1. The personal data provided via this website (“Personal Data“)
may be used by Sony Europe and other Sony group companies
worldwide (together, “Sony“), to advise of, offer and supply goods
and services, for other marketing purposes, and for additional
purposes described in the terms of sale and/or use relating to
your transaction (if any).
2. This Personal Data will assist Sony in its efforts to further
improve products and services. Without such data Sony may be
unable to provide certain services. Sony may share Personal Data
only with selected third parties to provide, promote or co-promote
Sony or Sony related products or services.
3. On your request to Sony United Kingdom Limited, your Personal
Data stored with Sony will be provided, corrected, amended or
deleted (as required by law). Sony’s treatment of Personal Data
will accord with the above conditions and any applicable laws.
Children under the age of 14 must obtain parental or guardian
consent before providing any personal data
Please select one of the following options:
1) I agree to the use of my personal data as described above
2) I agree to use and storage of my Personal Data for the purpose
of processing, and providing products, support and services
related to this inquiry only.
3) I disagree to the use and storage of my Personal Data in any of
the ways outlined above. Please note this may restrict the level
of service Sony can provide and may also increase the length and
number of future communications involving the support of your Sony
Instead of “send the message” it would have been far more
appropriate and ironic to use the more popular “submit” label.
However, I selected option 3 and prepared to take my punishment for
failing to hand over my personal details to the marketing department
It’s not all bad news though, the online help for Vaio users is
now pretty exhaustive (as long as your laptop is working well enough
to get online, of course…) but one other thing that Sony must
address is the need to make all the product handbooks
available on line as pdfs! It appears that product owners still
have to go through the spares ordering procedure – which is mad,
because 90% of support questions are likely to be in a properly
indexed manual search, anyway.
But I eventually found a really useful page for the ICD-MS1 via
I have largely given up Google for product support information,
since most of the responses seem to be from US sites trying to flog
stuff – so I still have no idea how to reach it from any Sony point
So how about this? Put a url on every product that leads directly
to its support web page. Surely that’s not too difficult?