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Cut-price PS3? It’s time Sony cut the repair cost

The PlayStation 3 now retails for just £199. It’s a tempting price and the cost will surely tumble as shops engage in a PS3 price war. But what if it breaks outside of warranty? Sony wants to charge you £135.

Last week Sony announced that its PS3 will cost just £199. It’s a huge stretch from the price I paid for my PS3 in 2007 – a little over £400.

Of course, Sony released its original “fat” games console at a loss and over the years it’s been able to cut the console’s manufacturing cost, eventually releasing a much cheaper-to-make slim version in 2009.

So, a lot has happened in the past four years, and I’m in no way bitter about the current price – I hope it tempts a whole host of new gamers to the “PlayStation family”. What I am miffed about is the price of repairing my out-of-warranty original 60 gigabyte (GB) PS3.

My second PlayStation 3 is dead

My launch PS3 passed away after just over a year – the poor sod died young. Back then, Sony kindly replaced the out-of-warranty console with a refurbished model for free, in what it called a “gesture of good will”.

A greater “gesture of good will” would have been if my relatively new console had lasted longer than a noob playing Demon’s Souls. Then again, these things happen… I’ve forgiven them.

That was, until my second PS3 gave up the ghost. The dreaded Yellow Light of Death (YLOD) returned, apparently caused by a possessed The Hills Have Eyes DVD. This console had lasted a little longer – a good two years (nowhere near as long as my original PS1 and PS2, which are still going strong) and well outside the measly three-month warranty Sony hands over for refurbished replacements.

So, how much does Sony want to charge for a repair? 135 smackers. My piggy bank’s wincing at the thought. I’ve tried to explain how much I’ve spent on PlayStation products but, as their customer service team told me, Sony’s got to be fair and treat everyone equally.

Just buy a new PS3?

My PS3’s been lying in its own death bed behind my TV for the past few months. I’ve been weighing up whether it’s worth just handing over the cash. And I was turning around to the idea – until Sony announced a price cut.

£135 for second-hand refurbished 60GB original PS3? Or £199 for a brand-new 160GB PS3 Slim (which I personally deem more reliable) which comes with a £30 controller? Surely I should just buy a new one? Plus, as Becky (@spritesbites) told me on Twitter, I could then ‘sell the broken one on eBay for parts’.

The £135 repair cost may not look too bad when held up against the PS3’s original £425 price tag, but against £199? It’s a massive 68% of the RRP.

To complicate things further, online stores and supermarkets will soon enter a price war as we edge ever closer to Christmas. That £199 will rapidly become £179 with bundled games. I’d be mad to spend £135 for a refurb – wouldn’t I?

Sony’s repair cost compared

So what’s Sony’s defence for this repair cost staying static over the years? Well Sony Computer Entertainment UK told BBC Watchdog in 2009:

‘This figure reflects the cost of repairing a PS3 to the high standard required and includes a door-to-door courier exchange service and other general administrative costs. SCEUK does not profit from this service; in fact, it operates it at a loss in order to offer customers with out-of-warranty PS3s the best price possible.’

It’s a fair defence. Plus, as Jeremy (@Jeremy_LaMont) pointed out on Twitter – the cost of repair is not the parts, but the labour. So although it might be cheaper to buy PS3 components now, the cost of fixing may not have necessarily gone down.

But if parts have nothing to do with it, then we should see a similar cost with other game manufacturers then? Well, actually, Nintendo charges up to £68.50 to fix an out-of-warranty Wii (charges dependent on the specific problem – good idea). And Microsoft charges just £62-plus-tax to fix an Xbox 360.

Sony’s £135 doesn’t look so fair now, does it? But more importantly, it’s now a better investment to buy a whole new console than to get my current PS3 fixed (which is what I’m about to do). Isn’t that a little back-to-front and wasteful?

Comments
Member

Well my first gen PS3 is still going strong and I would be kinda keen to keep it since the backwards compatibility is quite rare now. However, I take your point on this – but do sympathise with Sony to an extent. Remember the Wii and XBox are simpler machines with cheaper components and so the cost may be less (do they include postage in their repair costs?). Granted twice as much does seem a bit expensive.

Economical repair is probably the real issue here. barring a simple HDD/fan failure humans are probably not able to fix these things in the time / cost equivalent of a new unit being shipped. Common theme all round now (wasn’t there an article on washing machines etc recently?)

Member

Yes, I’m afraid I’m happy to give up the features on my original fat PS3 to get a more reliable model. I think the “simpler” argument doesn’t really fly with the Xbox 360 (Microsoft’s repair cost is cheaper than Nintendo’s despite the 360 being more complex than the Wii). And as Jeremy said, it’s often not about parts.

I do understand that Sony also does repairs in a very complex and high-tech environment – but still, whatever the reason, it makes more sense to buy a new one. Plus, Sony doesn’t charge dependent on the specific problem – it’s even £135 if it’s a simple Blu-ray error. Why not go the Nintendo route?

Member

Maybe MS are still treading carefully due to the myriad issues with earlier Xboxes?

As James says ppl will vote with their wallets and pick up a second hand unit for similar price (I think GAME do them with 1 year warranty still?)

Member

But do you want to take a chance with a second hand unit? Especially when the price between second hand and new isn’t that great. Microsoft still offers a 3-year warranty, so you’d only need to use their OOW service after then. The value proposition between repair and buying new needs to change in my opinion.

Member
Kyle K. says:
22 August 2011

But isn’t this really in line with everyone else? Think about it for a second.

The 360 costs $199 and, according to their website, if you call in and order a repair it’ll cost you $120, or 60% the cost of a new console. Fill out the repair form online and it’s 50%.
The Wii, which can be bought for £92 charges 75% the cost of a new system.

Sony charged $150 to repair a $299 machine, or 50%. Now, with the price drop they’re charging 60% the cost of a new system.

How is this out of line with the industry standards being set by the other two?

Member

It’s a fair point Kyle. But from my sums in the UK, the cheapest Xbox 360 RRP is £153 for the 4GB console, making the repair cost just over 40% and with the Wii, the cheapest is £130, making the repair cost (remember £68 is the highest it can be) just over 50%.

Member
James says:
22 August 2011

The price has to come down or else no one is going to use this service.

As pointed out, there is around £60 difference between getting your PS3 repaired (and getting a 3 month warranty) and buying a brand new one and getting a full years warranty.

You could flog both the broken machine for spares (and get say around £20 at worst) and the controller (at least another £20) and end up with a brand new machine plus a free game with most purchases. It makes no sense for anyone now to use Sony’s service bar the fact they want to avoid the new CECH-3000 model with its slightly cheaper internals.

Sony were able to initially offer free repairs on the PS3 (I got my first 60GB done at around 15 months old) and my second 60GB was also repaired free of charge over a year after that, they initially tried to charge me but I wrote them a letter contesting the charge and they did it for free.

The fix in most cases is simply reapplying thermal paste if you DIY it, even with labour costs etc., I fail to see how it can cost them £135 unless they’re wasting money somewhere along the chain.

Member

My old “fat” ps3 is still going strong also. I also have a dutch Xbox360 that I bought before the playstation (now this is a properly old piece of kit).

I have honestly never had an issue with any of my games consoles, ps1,2,3, xbox360 so I don’t know what some people are doing to them. It’s only controllers I need replacements for 🙂

In terms of repairs, the PS3 is one highly complex bit of kit and far more secure than a 360 (which is effectively a PC in a box) and so I expect it to cost more to fix. For me it’s the PS3 network that lets it down