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How SONY Sold Me a LEMON and Inadvertently Proved the Power of Story

LemonsSONY sold me a LEMON.

My SONY Bravia 46-inch flat screen, that I bought almost three years ago to the day, just conked out on me.

I’m told it’s not worth fixing. It’s past its meager two-year warranty. I didn’t purchase the extended warranty. SONY customer service has basically told me I am shit out of luck.

Yada, yada.


In fact, I believe (though I don’t know for sure) that the company purposely manufactures the occasional LEMON. Just to keep consumers off kilter, and to build just enough purchasing anxiety so that they will fork out the extra money to buy the extended warranty. It’s kind of like a reverse slot machine you see. Slot machines are set to reward the gambler with some small random win on occasion, in order to keep them stimulated enough to continue gambling. In this case, it’s not a random reward, but rather a random punishment – a little electric shock for not making the correct decision. If a consumer learns (as I have) that there’s a decent chance the product they are buying will conk out in three years, they’ll be much more susceptible to buying that extra insurance.

And we’re completely powerless to do anything about this.

We consumers, you see, aren’t really that mighty. We might think that we are. We might rant and rave and shout, “I’ll show them!” and never buy a company’s products again, but one or two – or even ten or a hundred – such incidences like these are of little concern to massive corporate entities like SONY. It’s only if consumers join together and react en masse that they can have any substantial effect on a company. Individually, we are powerless. Individually, we are lab rats – at the mercy of millions of dollars worth of marketing science – craving that big screen TV experience and doing what we can to get it, keep it, and protect it.

Ring a bell and we will salivate.

Unless, of course, we don’t. Unless we choose to separate ourselves for a moment from our lizard brain, and tune into what our celebrated prefrontal cortex might be telling us: that the type of screen I watch my favourite TV show on doesn’t matter. That we humans possess this thing called an imagination that is far more powerful than anything SONY will ever be able to sell us.

Case in point: when my AWESOME LEMON of a SONY flat screen conked out on me, it did so a mere thirty minutes before me and my partner were about to sit down and enjoy the latest episode of our favourite TV show – The Walking Dead.


As it happened, a friend called at that exact moment, and when we told her what had just occurred, she offered to drive to our house with an old 15-inch rear-projection TV that she had hanging around in her basement.

We plugged that sucker in, pulled the couch nice and close, and watched our show. Admittedly, Rick Grimes looked a little smaller than usual … but, hey, it did the trick. We got our zombie-apocalypse fix, and we were happy. The best part though, is what happened after:

As I was replaying the events of the show in my mind, I suddenly realized that there was no difference between the pictures in my head created after watching the show on a 15-inch screen, and the pictures in my head that had been created after watching it on a 46-inch screen. Apparently my mind doesn’t care what size of screen I watch, as long as I can see it clearly. It’s not like my memories of what I had just watched were 31 inches smaller than they were before. They were the same. Once I had connected to the story on the screen, my imagination took over, and I was sucked in. Watching Rick and the gang kick some zombie ass in 15-inches was no different than watching them kick it in 46-inches. Those characters were STILL running around in my head the same as they always have, and I am STILL as excited to find out what they will do next as I have ever been.

A story is a story — regardless of the technology used to tell it. Technology is nice, but story is king. We want stories, and we’re wired to appreciate them regardless of whether we witness them in IMAX 3D or around the campfire in the middle of a forest.

This didn’t stop me, of course, from taking to SONY Canada’s Facebook page and Twitter account to vent my ire. I told them I’d never forget this. Meaning, I wasn’t going to buy any more of their products.

[Wow. That should fix ‘em.]

To which someone from their company responded via Facebook, asking me to contact them with more info. Which I did. They then promptly sent me a generic marketing email, encouraging me to buy more of their products.

Awesome. [Lab rat.]

The truth is that I am in no position to replace this screen with a new one. I can’t afford it at the moment. But when I can afford it, I’ll be avoiding SONY (purveyor of LEMONS thankyouverymuch).

And why not? I may be a powerless consumer in the larger landscape, but in the micro-environment of my own existence, I think I could do worse than to quietly resist the massive SONY marketing machine, and choose instead to give my hard-earned money to a more deserving company, even if they end up pulling the same tactics (which they will). At least that way I’ll have retained some modicum of self-respect. If I’m to play the part of lab rat, I will choose to be a thinking lab rat, making knowledgeable choices, and giving my some 3-million odd years of brain evolution its due respect.

AND I will remind myself that the important thing here is the human connection to storytelling. THAT’s where the personal enrichment is found – regardless of what fancy technology is used to present it.

The story transcends all of that. Even if SONY tries to convince us otherwise.

Photo by André Karwath aka Aka [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

2 comments on “How SONY Sold Me a LEMON and Inadvertently Proved the Power of Story

  1. dnorman
    March 7, 2013

    now that AMC is rebroadcasting episodes in B&W, you could have been watching the Ricktatorship in GLORIOUS B&W HD!

    there is one thing we can do… stop consuming… (yeah. I know.)


    • kim faires
      March 7, 2013

      Did you do that? Watch it in B & W? Zombies the way my dog sees them…. (Except, I know – the dogs see B&W thing isn’t really true….)

      I think Sony should HELP me consume less – by making a better product.


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This entry was posted on March 6, 2013 by in Long-winded Existential Angst and tagged , , .

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