I just got off the phone with SCEA customer support, and it was an interesting call to say the least.
After the usual rigmarole of robots and elevator music, I get a hold of a live human being. After describing the problem in detail, he says he'll need to transfer me to a specialist department that's dealing with just this single issue. I'm not sure if I should feel good about that or not. After holding for a short while, I get this "specialist" on the line, and start giving him model numbers, dates and what have you. Standard stuff.
Then it happens. The death knell of customer satisfaction; "we'll need to exchange your console".
I was about to throw the phone, because unfortunately for me, my warranty sticker is long gone. I bought my 60GB PS3 from GameStop, and they peel them off so that you can't go to Sony for repair, you have to go back to GameStop. God I hate Gamestop, but I digress. He asks if the serial number sticker has been tampered with, I say that it hasn't. He asks if the warranty sticker has been tampered with and I grudgingly, face fully buried in palm, tell him that I bought it from GameStop and that the warranty sticker is gone.
He hesitates for a moment, then kind of groans like he knows he's about to make me mad. He asks me to hold for short while while he pulls up information. I'm stomping around the room, fuming, swearing to never buy another Sony product again. I prepare to unleash the fury.
He comes back on the line. I brace to be told that I'm going to owe $170 to replace my non-broken console. He tells me that even though the warranty sticker is gone, Sony is offering me a repair or replacement of my PS3 be it under or over it's warranty time, sticker or not, as "a gesture of good will". I'll be mailed a coffin, and a pre-paid shipping label for free, and will be mailed either my current console with new hardware under the hood or a replacement, along with a 90-day warranty for whichever I get back. I quickly ask if I'll get the same model back, as if they're going to be sending me anything other than a 60GB one, they can keep it, free or not. He says that I'll be either getting my current console with updated hardware, or either a new or certified re-build, but it will be the same model, with full hardware backwards compatibility intact.
I ask one last time if this is going to cost me anything, at any point. It seems too good to be true, a totally free repair or replacement for a console I didn't even buy from them? One that's warranty is totally void? I mean, they didn't make a dime on my buying this PS3, GameStop did. He assures me that the shipping both ways is free, and that packing materials will be mailed to me, along with pre-paid postage, and that the repair or replacement will be done at no cost. Turnaround time is about about three weeks including shipping both ways, he adds.
I'm speechless. He asks if I'm still there, and if I have a pen and paper handy to write down my service numbers.
I'm still not happy about having to exchange my console on account of a single game not working correctly, but considering they could have offloaded this whole mess to Rockstar, saying it was their game's fault, I feel a free out-of-warranty repair is going well above and beyond the call. I am impressed.