Friday, September 19, 2008

Voting With My Dollars

Today's actors: Sony vs. the world, Amazon vs. Newegg.

I've been buying Sony products for many years. Back in 1998, the first big thing that I remember was their CPD-200ES, couple of years later - CPD-420GS, then, in about 2001, their WEGA KV-40XBR800 (I'll skip smaller things to reduce clutter).

Been happy with all of them since - both monitors have outlived their usable life, the 420GS was dropped off the truck by a sloppy mover and survived about 6ft fall (thanks to original packaging), Wega is still working just fine (after being promptly replaced on a 32rd day due to catastrophic tube failure, though). I would've continued buying Sony products for their quality, if not for issues that have been cropping up for a long time now, and eventually became a deal breaker.

The first serious sign of trouble was the rootkit scandal. As an avid music lover (the word "audiophile" has become somewhat derogatory recently, thanks for sheer stupidity of some specimens of that crowd), owning countless CDs, and having spent a small fortune on decent audio equipment, I didn't think I should be treated that way. I am not a thief. So I said, "basta, I'm not buying any Sony products from now on".

Arrogant remark that Thomas Hesse, President of Sony's Global Digital Business, allowed himself to broadcast ("Most people, I think, don't even know what a rootkit is, so why should they care about it?"), didn't help Sony to win my favors at all.

The next sign of trouble was the BluRay version compatibility scandal (excerpt from the article: "quite the slap in the face to consumers who paid several hundred dollars for players that won't able to be updated to take advantage of the 1.1 profile, much less the upcoming 2.0"). This happened long after I vowed not to buy Sony again, so it wasn't much of a surprise - but still, it's quite disappointing since BluRay is now the only HD standard, and I have to bite the bullet and skip on players altogether (and the question that is still open - "am I paying Sony every time I buy a BluRay disc?" - and the answer is "yes").

I am not even talking about obnoxious vendor lock-in that Sony is pushing on its paying customers (MemoryStick, anyone?).

Since then, I've bought 4 monitors - one from Samsung, three from Dell, one HDTV from Panasonic, ultraportable camera from Pentax, DSLR from Nikon, DVD readers and writers from Plextor and LG. I do not own a BluRay player, nor I plan to have one - there are other ways to get the HD content on your screen. If an HD standard alternative to BluRay comes up - I'll be there the next day. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to calculate the lifetime loss of revenue (due to marketing and strategic stupidity) that Sony would've otherwise have (due to technical excellence).

Am I suffering? Not really, I'm quite happy with products from the competition.

Is Sony going to notice? Myself only - of course not. But the last straw broke the camel's back, and as long as I can help it, I will keep doing it that way - if enough people are doing it, Sony will either notice it, or go out of business - nobody is invulnerable, just take a look at history of Sears and you'll see what I mean.

Now for the other fun part.

I have *just* bought the HDTV couple of days ago. Same model was available from Newegg and from Amazon, for about $130 less. $130 is nothing to sneeze at, but, remembering awful shipping that is quickly becoming the Amazon's trademark, I decided that I will still buy the product from Newegg, despite higher price.

You can only imagine how pissed I was today, when I went there to check on shipping schedule and saw that in two days the price dropped $100.

Decided to call Newegg and ask them for adjustment. Lo and behold, they did it without asking any questions. That definitely made my day.

It also brought the difference in price to $30, which is a very, very good price for the peace of mind.

If there'll be a comparable choice from Newegg and Amazon in the future, guess which way I will go...

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