Sony Pre-Emptively Blasts BBC Report on PS3 Failures

Tonight, the BBC will broadcast a report claiming the PS3 suffers from systemic hardware failure and Sony's repair service is inadequate. GamesIndustry.biz has a six-page salvo from SCEUK to the BBC, ripping the report and implying legal action could follow.

The program, Watchdog, said it received 155 complaints from viewers regarding the so-called "Yellow Light of Death," in which the PS3 suffers a fatal hard drive failure. Watchdog then set up a street stunt outside Sony's U.K. office, in which they offered to fix consoles suffering from this problem for free. Ten people brought in consoles for repair. Watchdog sent a technical report to Sony based on three of them, one of which had already been subjected to an attempted repair by its owner.

Ray Maguire, the Sony UK managing director, seized on that small sample size in his letter to the BBC.

The testing concerned a sample of only three PS3s, which cannot, on any basis, be deemed to be representative of a UK user base of 2.5 million. One of these had in addition been materially altered by the owner. SCEUK has run searches of its customer complaints/warranty database to identify the number of reports made to it regarding instances of system shutdown or failure in circumstances where the front panel yellow indicator is illuminated. The results show that of all PS3s sold in the UK to date, fewer than one half of one per cent of units have been reported as failing in circumstances where the yellow indicator is illuminated.

Sony also cautioned that allegations its warrantied repairs are inadequate come from third-party refurbishers with an interest in profiting from such claims. The one Watchdog sought out fixed a console for £103; Sony's cost is £128 for a console past its one-year warranty.

Importantly, it is clear that third party repairers will profit from any public concern that is raised about the reliability of the PS3, and have an interest in criticising SCEUK's after sales service (despite the relatively small price differential in their own service offering). The BBC will therefore doubtless wish to exercise caution before relying on anecdotal evidence, provided by them, concerning the extent or cause of these issues.

Maguire concludes the letter, dated Sept. 11, with a reminder that whatever is broadcast, Sony won't take it lying down.

I regret to say that neither the correspondence to date, nor the 'PlayStation Repair Action Team 'stunt, have given me much confidence that you are treating this issue fairly. If the report is broadcast in what appears to be its current form, SCEUK will scrutinise its accuracy and will take all necessary steps to protect its reputation and that of the PS3.

Watchdog's report will air at 8 p.m, GMT, which is half an hour from now. Maguire's letter is reprinted in its entirety at GamesIndustry.biz.

Sony Tackles BBC Over 'PS3 Failure' Report
[GamesIndustry.biz]