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Interview: Watchdog Consumer Group Member

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes canis?

Here at TheSixthAxis we have been following the PS3 / Watchdog story closely. We wrote about it on the night of the broadcast and then we published an open letter (which was quoted by the Telegraph) to the BBC Complaints Dept the next day. Over the course of the weekend other sources have been picking up on the story and basically covering the stuff we already did on Thursday and Friday. We’ve been busy too though, securing an interview with one of the guys who was on the show getting his broken PlayStation 3 fixed. As is his right, our source would like to remain anonymous.

We will respect that, of course. We can say that he was one of those consumers on the show and he is also a community member at TheSixthAxis.

Amongst the most interesting and pertinent points made in this interview is the claim that Watchdog encouraged the guests (or at least this particular guest) to “embellish” their story for the report. Perhaps eschewing accuracy and journalistic integrity for scaremongering and sensationalism? I’ll let you read the full interview yourselves and make up your own minds as to whether the report was carried out in a professional and honourable way. Our questions are in bold and the replies are standard text. Nothing has been added or edited from the responses.

How long did filming take?

We were asked to attend from 2pm until 8.30, the actual filming probably started about 4.30, with rehearsals about 2.30. They said it may run over time by about 15 to 30mins, but we were still filming bits until about 10pm, left the BBC around 10.20pm.

During the filming did you or anyone else mention that you didn’t agree with the figures the Watchdog team were quoting?

We talked amongst ourselves, and voiced our opinions on a few matters, but I can’t remember anyone directly querying their research

Were you told to embellish your story of how your PS3 YLoD’d?

A categorical yes.

Did the engineers find a common fault with the PS3s that had YLoD’d?

We didn’t really get to speak to the engineers directly, nor would WD let us watch the actual repairs.

We were told that all of the Units had exactly the same problem, which I think was the melted connections between the CPU or GPU, which was caused by overheating.

Did you or anyone else highlight that any YLoD’d PS3 can still have its hard drive removed and the data saved?

We were all aware that this was possible, but I don’t recall anyone mentioning it to the WD crew doing the filming/interviewing.

Were you told that the YLoD condition is limited to launch 60GB models?

No, they didn’t even ask if we all had the same model. I know 3 of the on show fixes were definitely 60gb, and there was at least one 40gb model. Pretty sure there was an 80gb, but can’t confirm.

How was your conversation with Sony regarding your personal console?

Kind of like banging my head against a brick wall. After logging my complaint, and giving my reference number to the CSA, she said “so what’s the problem?” I thought it would be pretty obvious if she actually bothered to read the info on the file.

Anyway I then spoke to a manager called -removed-, he was very nice to speak to, but didn’t really help. He said that the flashing red light meant that my Ps3 just need a service, and when I asked him if he thought that my Ps3 dying so soon out of warranty was not very good, he agreed and said he would personally expect them to last a lot longer than mine had. After not really getting anywhere after about 40 mins I decided to end the call, he did offer me a 12 month warranty instead of the usual 3 month one to ‘compensate me’ for the poor experience I had gotten.

How much did you have to pay to get it fixed?

I actually didn’t pay anything (unless you count the license fee or car parking cost), but had I gone through Sony, it would have been £145. I considered Console Doctor for £70.

Did you think the Watchdog report did a good job of covering the problem?

No, it lacked vital info on things like models that were affected, any decent explanation as to what had happened to the console, and they only aired the brief story of what had happened to one of the people on the show, when the 3 of us had different circumstances as to what happened in each instance.

They also only concentrated on the YLoD problem, when they could have also brought up the issue where the bluray drive fails, although Sony honour those fixes as they recognise it as a problem.

All that said I think they have helped people like myself get the problem recognised on a large scale, via a platform which Joe Public has greater access to, where as forums will generally only be accessed by people with a direct interest in the site.

Do you think more could be done to get to the roots of the problem?

If you mean by WD then yes, they could have had the technicians explain how they did the fix, highlighting what had gone wrong and given their own opinion of what/why it was happening.

As far as I have found through my own research the problem lies in companies are no longer able to use lead solder, and the replacement material isn’t as good at coping with the heat. With the ‘evidence’ I have seen I would say the issue lies in that and there was either not enough testing to see how long a typical unit could last.

Do you think Sony are right to charge for YLoD fixes?

Not sure how to answer this one, I’m a bit on the fence. If it is a problem with the manufacturing that has caused the YLoD then no, I think they should bite the bullet, admit to the problem and pay for the fix themselves. On the other hand, no company would offer something like that, unless faced with a law suit, and I can understand why they want/need to charge for it, especially knowing how much was spent developing the console, and that they sold millions of units at a loss from the beginning.

Sony have highlighted that they make a loss with the current £128 charge. What value would you like to pay for the fix?

I think a price in line with the other companies out there who offer a fix would be fair, or a price match policy. I probably would have paid between £70 – £100 but I was told by Sony that the cost included the collection and return of the Ps3, which I disagreed that I should have to pay for that, especially when I had followed all of the advice in terms of usage and placement of my console. Whilst the repair would be more thorough and use official components, the fact that I would have lost all my data on the HDD is what ultimately put me off using their service. Also the Slim rumours being  batted around made me want to hold on.

Let us know what you think in the comments and you can also head over to the thread on our forum where some of our community members are attempting to gauge the true scope of the so-called ‘Yellow Light of Death’ issue.  Please note that TheSixthAxis cannot vouch for the authenticity of our interviewee or his answers, but we have it in good faith that he absolutely was there at the filming.

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