[None of what follows is made up. None of it is even exaggerated for effect.
I do hope that you’ll take note of this and, if you feel so inclined, reproduce this elsewhere. I’d be thrilled if this spread memetically around this here internet, à la Yours Is a Very Bad Hotel.]
Sometime in September 2002: I purchase a Sony DAV C770 DreamSystem, a home theater system with a 5-disc DVD changer and full surround sound. I bring it home and install it quite easily. Upon playing my first DVD, I discover that the subtitle default is “on” — in English — and that I have to manually turn subtitles off every time I play a new disc (and frequently when I play a new episode on a television series DVD). Even having turned subtitles off, I still get entertaining French translations of any text that appears on-screen (such as “Bibliothèque” every time Buffy walks into the library). I’m lightly annoyed, but I let it slide.
15 February 2004: the DVD player starts behaving wonkily, freezing for several seconds at a time. Performance rapidly degrades despite using a Sony-branded lens cleaner. I call Sony’s customer service line, where an agent confirms that the DAV C770 needs repair. He searches, but is unable to come up with a nearby authorized service center. As it turns out, however, Sony’s own service center is in northern San Diego, and as I’m headed to San Diego that very weekend, I arrange to drop the unit off there for repair. The flat fee I will be charged for the repair will include the cost of shipping the unit back to me once it’s fixed.
So far, so good.
20 February 2004: I drop the unit off at the Sony Service Center, and am charged the flat repair fee. I ask, while they’re at it, if they can fix the subtitle problem, and am told that it’s a piece of cake, and will be taken care of.
1 March 2004: I receive the unit by return shipment. Unfortunately, I then have a series of campus visitors and conference trips, and am unable to spend a night at home hooking the thing up for nearly two weeks.
13 March 2004: At last, I reinstall the DAV C770. I put a DVD into the slot-loading player, and watch as the display changes from “Ready!” to “Reading…” to “Eject.” I try several more discs, a number of which had just been played perfectly well on another DVD player. Not only has the unit not been repaired, it’s now broken in a whole new way. I call Sony’s customer service line where I explain the situation, and am told that someone will call me on Monday, 15 March, to arrange to pick up the unit from my home.
late in the day, 15 March 2004: I call Sony to find out why no one has called, and am told to be patient, that someone will call no later than tomorrow morning.
17 March 2004: I call Sony to find out why no one has called, and am told that they’re sending me a postage-paid label to ship the unit back to the San Diego service center. When I compare this information with what I was told on Saturday, and point out the discrepancy, and suggest that it might have been nice if someone had called just to let me know about the change in plans, I receive an apology and the assurance that this will all be rectified straight away.
5 April 2004: I call Sony to report the non-arrival of the postage-paid shipping label; I am told that a new label will be sent post-haste. Moreover, I receive an apology and the assurance that this will all be rectified straight away.
14 April 2004: I call Sony to report the non-arrival of the postage-paid shipping label, and inquire about the address to which the label has been sent. I correct the address on file, asking that the label be sent to my post office box rather than to my at times unreliable campus address. I am told that a new label will be sent post-haste. Moreover, I receive an apology and the assurance that this will all be rectified straight away.
21 April 2004: I call Sony to report the non-arrival of the postage-paid shipping label, and inquire about the address to which the label has been sent. I re-correct the address on file, putting the post office box digits back in the proper order. I am told that a new label will be sent post-haste. Moreover, I receive an apology and the assurance that this will all be rectified straight away.
28 April 2004: Label arrives.
30 April 2004: Using label, I ship the unit back to Sony.
3 May 2004: The unit arrives at Sony; I am given 7 to 10 business days as an expected timeframe for the completion of the repairs.
18 May 2004: I call Sony to inquire about the repair, and am told that it is not complete. When I ask, I am told that there is no estimated window for the repair’s completion. When I press further, I am told that someone will call me tomorrow.
19 May 2004: I receive a phone call from Amber, a Sony customer service representative! (Amber becomes my new favorite person on Planet Earth.) Amber explains that the Sony technicians are waiting on a part needed to complete the repair of my unit. Said part is on backorder. Amber says she will call me again tomorrow, once she gets a new ETA from the technician.
21 May 2004: I receive a voicemail message from Amber at Sony saying that the repair of my DAV C770 is complete, and that the package was shipped via FedEx Ground on 20 May. Amber provides a tracking number so that I can follow the unit’s progress up the freeway.
24 May 2004: I track the package online, only to discover that it has been returned to the shipper due to an incorrect address. I call FedEx, who tell me that the label had the correct street address on it, but that it also had my post office box address, and that they can’t deliver such a dually-addressed package. The package, I am told, may still be accessible at the local distribution facility, but as I watch online, the package recedes back down the freeway to San Diego.
25 May 2004: I call Sony. The customer service representative I speak to informs me, rather snidely, that they’ve “already” corrected the address. She cannot tell me, however, whether the package will go back out today. After explaining that I have been without the use of the unit for over three months now, I demand to be transferred to someone who could give me an answer. The customer service representative puts me on hold, and leaves me there for 10 minutes. I hang up and call back, and get a different representative (Eric), who can also give me no information, but who assures me that someone will call me back within 24 hours.
later in the day, 25 May 2004: Eric from Sony calls to let me know that he still has no information, but will call again as soon as he does. I decide that Eric from Sony deserves all the happiness that life has to offer.
26 May 2004: I receive two voicemail messages from Eric from Sony, the first telling me that the package has shipped, and the second including the tracking number, such that I can watch the unit make its gradual way homeward.
27 May 2004: I call my department secretary, asking her to call our annoyingly lackadaisical mailroom, imploring them to let me know as soon as the package arrives. My department secretary calls me right back telling me that the mailroom has reported that the package is there, and that it really “just arrived.” Really. I go pick up the package, and happily cart it home. I reinstall the unit, this time with some difficulty, as in the preceding months my TV and satellite system has grown in complexity, but with final success. I insert a DVD into the slot-loading mechanism, and watch with some trepidation as the display changes from “Ready!” to “Reading…” and then to indicate its successful launch. I sit down on the sofa, thrilled to watch a movie in my very own living room for the first time in months.
I manually turn off the subtitles.