Sony will always hold a special place in my heart. I've supported them ever since I was able to spend my own money. When I needed to buy a gadget, Sony was the first stop. I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars over the years on their products, and I have had nothing but positive experiences. I've also owned every one of their game consoles…including three PlayStation's, three PlayStation 2's, four PSP's, and two PlayStation 3's. And like I said, I've never had a problem. Until I bought the PS Vita.
I was always on the fence about the Vita. Not because I didn't trust it would be great but because the cost was just a little too high. I eventually decided to wait. After all, they would drop the price eventually. Little did I know the surprise Sony had in store. One day, while at my local game store, I noticed an advertisement by Sony on the front of a Vita box that read as follows.
"Over $55 Bonus Value. 8GB Memory Card, AT&T Data Session And A Downloadable Game With Activation For A Limited Time Only."
This was a blessing. I would be getting a free 8GB memory card! A free AT&T Data Session and a downloadable game! Brilliant! I pounced. I couldn't have been happier. Sony once again proved they had the key to my heart and knew how to manipulate it in just the right way. I didn't even need to buy any games; I was getting a free one as soon as I activated my free AT&T Data Session pass.
After tearing apart the packaging and looking for the AT&T pass and the code for a free game, I found nothing. Confused, I did a Google search. That's when I read the truth and felt devastated. If you wanted the free game and the month of AT&T 3G service, you had to pay AT&T for a month of 3G first…Sony, my dear, dear Sony. They lied to me. Desperate to prove I was the one who was wrong, I read every single last word on the box. Nowhere, not even in the fine print, did it say that I had to pay to get these promised bonuses.
At first, I was hurt. Sony had lied to me? They had…lied? I felt betrayed by a friend. Like finding out your best friend just stole $55 from your wallet. The hurt quickly turned to anger, and like smacking that friend in the mouth for daring to steal from me, I went straight to the Better Business Bureau and filed a complaint. When I was done filing the complaint, I started feeling regret. Had I overreacted? I just wrote five paragraphs demanding Sony give me the free game that was promised, and now I started to think I may have let my anger get the best of me.
I was furious that they would stoop so low. Sony doesn't do that. They don't resort to such tricks. However, I felt regret nonetheless, and after a few days I had cooled down. Sony may have lied, but I was sure they would make it right. After all, the free game couldn't be more than $10 or $20, and that's nothing compared to the thousands and thousands I've spent on their products over the years.
A few days later, I got a reply. It was from the Better Business Bureau, telling me Sony had replied to my complaint. I felt like Sony was coming in for the hug, and I was tearing up ready to embrace the friend that I slapped in the mouth. After all, he was only stealing that $55 because he was too ashamed to tell me that he was dying of cancer, and he needed exactly $55 to pay for his chemotherapy. I was ready to forgive and forget. Too bad Sony wasn't.
Here is their reply.
"Thank you for contacting Sony Computer Entertainment America, LLC (SCEA). I am writing you in response to your original letter, dated February 25, 2012.
SCEA apologizes if Mr. Grabowski felt mislead into believing that by purchasing a PlayStation®Vita, that he would automatically receive a free month of the AT&T data session and a free downloadable Activision game. Unfortunately, we will not be able to fulfill Mr. Grabowski's request of a free Super Stardust Delta without a purchase of one month of the AT&T data session."
So this is how it's going to be, Sony? A loyal customer, a friend, a man who has spent years singing your praises isn't even worth $10 to you? I researched it and Super Stardust Delta, the free game, is only $10 on the PSN store. To Sony I am worth less than the cost of a movie ticket. They trained me at an early age to love them. They enticed me with their well-produced commercials. They welcomed me with a warm hug and a smile. And when I got upset with them, they dropped me quicker than the PSP Go.
To Sony, I am next to worthless. I told the Better Business Bureau that I was not, in fact, happy with Sony's response, and I again demanded they give me what they told me I would be getting when I purchased the Vita. Their manipulative wording on the box had told me that I would be getting these "bonus" goodies when I activated the free AT&T pass, but nowhere did it say I had to pay them first. It turned out that the "activation" they were talking about was a paid month of 3G from AT&T. If that isn't manipulative advertising, I don't know what is.
After another few days, I got another response from Sony. This one was much shorter.
"SCEA stands behind the original statement."
And that was that. Sony had made it clear that they had no intention of admitting they had manipulated me. Lied to me. Used me. They were willing to lose my business forever over $10. Now, I am a pretty determined guy. And I sure as hell don't like to be manipulated. And because of this, I have decided to take Sony to small claims court. I have not begun this yet, but I will next week.
I often read about manipulative advertising on everything from shampoo to automobiles. Companies often can't help themselves. The wording they use on their products to entice you can just as easily be used to deceive you. How many times have you bought something, brought it home, and found out it wasn't what you thought it was? It's common for us to be fooled every now and then; we can't always be on guard.
However, that doesn't mean we have to sit back and take it. For once, I want to be able to say that I did something about it. I didn't just toss it up to corporate greed and forget it ever happened. No, this time it's war. This time, it was a friend stealing $55 from my wallet. And I don't care how far his cancer has spread. I want my $55 back. And since when is chemotherapy only $55?
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!