Sony delivered grade-A customer service in our 2012 showdown, offering attentive phone help and a completely revamped social media presence. This year the hardware giant once again succeeded in providing stellar overall support.
Sony has expanded its level of service coverage in its flagship retail stores in the past year, while not much has changed in terms of phone and online help. However, with an A rating, Sony didn’t need to change anything.
During our tests, we used a Sony VAIO Duo 13, and asked how to set up multiple user accounts, how to connect a pair of Bluetooth speakers, and how to improve audio quality on our notebook.
Sony’s support website is simple and intuitive. Upon loading the site, you’ll see five large icons for Drivers, Troubleshooting, Manuals, Remote Codes and Videos/Tutorials. There are also large FAQ icons for Netflix, Windows 8, video transfer and startup issues. The website provides space for entering your product’s model number, which took us to a page dedicated to VAIO Duo notebooks.
On the site, we found a video for how to connect a Bluetooth device to our Duo in the Tutorials tab, and learned how to set up new user accounts within the Windows 8 FAQ on our product’s main help page. Finally, a quick search for improving audio quality brought us to an instructional article.
We spent about 10 minutes live-chatting with a representative named James, who helped us figure out how to set up multiple user accounts on our Duo 13. After asking our question, we waited about 5 minutes while James searched for a link with the information we needed. He then shared an official Microsoft video on how to add accounts in Windows 8, and asked if the link was working for us. The video was simple and useful, though we would have preferred if James walked us through the process.
Sony’s vastly improved social media presence from 2012 was just as impressive this year. On Twitter we asked how to connect Bluetooth speakers to our Duo, and after 1 hour Lyn linked us to a how-to document specific to our laptop. Lyn also helped us later on when we left a wall post on Sony’s Facebook page. Just minutes after asking how to set up multiple user accounts on our laptop, she shared a document on switching between user profiles.
Sony offers toll-free and priority calling options, both of which connect to human representatives. Sony’s non-warranty premium support options start at $49 per call for diagnostics, while it costs $99 to have a single hardware issue resolved. Alternatively, you can pay $199 for a year of all-inclusive service.
During our first call at 5 p.m., Erwin in the Philippines helped us with our audio quality question after we provided our name and model number. He gave us a specific Web address for downloading updates to our Duo’s audio driver. On this page, we were able to install a registry patch for better overall quality, as well as a Realtek High Definition audio driver update that eliminated a known sound-popping issue on our notebook. Erwin inquired why exactly we wanted to improve our sound, and told us to call back if there was still an issue. Our call lasted about 7 minutes.
Our next call was at 4 p.m. with a representative named Cuar, who was also in the Philippines. We asked how to set up multiple user accounts. He informed us on the duration of our Duo’s warranty and offered us an extension, which would have cost $149 for 2 years of service. After a very short hold period, Cuar then helped us set up a new user account with detailed step-by-step instructions. Again, the call lasted 7 minutes.
We made a final call at 11:30 a.m., when we spoke with Matt in the Philippines. We gave him our product information and asked how to connect our Duo to a pair of Bluetooth speakers, which prompted him to put us on hold for about 2 minutes. The Sony rep asked to access our Duo remotely when he returned, and took control of our notebook after giving us a remote access PIN. From there, Matt opened a window to search for a Bluetooth device, and found ours within a few seconds.
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After connecting us to our accessory, Matt noticed that our anti-virus software had expired, and suggested we either renew or find new software. While remote access might have not been necessary to complete our request, Matt was polite and thorough during our 15-minute call.
Thanks to its friendly and prompt support, Sony retains its A rating from 2012 and once again wins our Tech Support Showdown. Sony’s support site was easy to navigate, allowing us to quickly find answers to our questions. Sony also did a good job answering our questions via live chat, as well as through both Twitter and Facebook (most other brands don’t offer robust social support). Add in stellar phone help and it’s easy to see why Sony is still the tech support champ.