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back to article Sony and BBC clash over PS3 problems

Sony has sent the BBC a stinging rebuttal after the broadcaster's Watchdog programme investigated an alleged PlayStation 3 problem dubbed The Yellow Light of Death. Watchdog launched the investigation because, according to the BBC, over 150 PS3 owners had contacted the show after their Sony consoles broke down without warning. …

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FAIL

Some rebuttal

One half of one percent of 2.5 million? That'll be around 12500 then, as the BBC said.

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WTF?

12mths Warranty?

Dont they have to give 24mths under EU law?? Or is it they give you a dirty refurb job after the 12mths

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And what is 12500 units out of 2.5m?

Half of one percent.

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FAIL

As pointed out..

"For £128 ($209/€142), Sony will swap your broken PS3 for a refurbished model."

tha comes with a 3, yes 3 month warranty. So if it packs up after another 4 months, you have to pay again.

(Ask yourself why they have pelenty of refurbed models they can sell you)

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Stop

Warranty ilegally being ignored?

UK Sale of Goods Act means that the warranty should last for as long as is "reasonable." For a cheap wall clock, then one year is appropriate.

For a top-of-the-line console, being charged more than £100 for a replacement after 18 months is not only insulting, but a breach of the Act.

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Watchdog

They spent most of the last episode claiming that 12 month warranties were bunkum and you could still claim for several years after purchase so long as it would be expected for the device to still work for many years. Then in this they claim after 12 months you can't do anything.

They also said it's £400 for a new PS3.

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FAIL

Hmmmm

So no surprise there then - BBC go on witch hunt, Sony go on defensive as they don't want an issue thats closely related to the microsoft RRoD

I've had to return my PS3 Three times because of disk read errors and believe me, only for the fact i kept the receipt Sony would have been sending me a "reconditioned" one. Just returned to store for straight swap, and in one instance a refund of €30 so not too bad all round then.

I did contact Sony and in their defence, they were very quick to offer replacement and also offered a very quick turn around time.

But it does smack of a cover up, trying to save face after all the gruelling they have given Microsoft!

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Anonymous Coward

Sales of Goods Acr

"Dont they have to give 24mths under EU law?? Or is it they give you a dirty refurb job after the 12mths"

There is no fixed limit. Sales of Goods Act says items must be 'sufficiently durable'.

A £250 games console should last 3 years at least in my opinion. If it breaks, demand a replacement or repair from the place you bought it. Warranties are a con, but they cover themselves by saying it doesn't affect your statutory rights. In effect, the warranty is redundant because your statutory rights cover you anyway.

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Sale of Goods Act

Under the Sale of Goods Act all goods are covered for 6 years anyway. If you bought it from Argos, simply take it back, show them the receipt and state that you're demanding it to be repaired for free under the Sale of Goods Act. The important thing here is that the Act deems that your contract is with the shop you bought it from, not the manufacturer. There is no need to pay Sony even 1 penny in order to get it fixed.

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6 years of Fit for purpose use :D

Sales of goods act.

Personnally I would expect a PS3 to last 3 years of heavy use. If it didn't then in my opinion it is not fit for purpose and is then covered by that said act.

That would require me contacting the retailer and making arrangements for repair or replace. If all else fails, small claims court will cost you £15.

0.5% failure rate is nothing in the tech industry. Sony have done a cracking job.

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Low failure rate

Let's see.... According to SquareTrade, the Xbox 360 has a 23.7% failure rate, the PS3 a 10% failure rate, and the wii a 2.7% failure rate.

https://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_Xbox360_PS3_Wii_Reliability_0809.pdf

So a 0.5% failure rate for the PS3 for the "yellow light of death" means that only 1 in 20 PS3s that fail have that problem.

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Whats getting me is

...most of the faults seem to be the motherboard. People are complaining they have lost everything (photos etc) which they could get back after the BBC fixes.

Why cant Sony do the same, or even swap the hard disks on the refurb replacement?

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Anonymous Coward

To be expected

This news doesn't surprise me. Sony are notorious for this kind of behavior.

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WTF?

BBC Watchdog: Protecting stupid people from themselves.

The problem with Watchdog is that for every genuine issue they report, another 4 or 5 are trumped-up bullshit where the numpty customer only has themselves to blame.

How many times do you see the representative of a company giving (or at least trying to give) reasoned and reasonable answers to some shouty Watchdog presenter's moronic questions?

"Why were customers not warned that SupaBleach isn't suitable for washing babies"?

That sort of thing.

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FAIL

Eat my SoGA, bitches

I have to pay after 1 year? Feck that. 3-5 years minimum (depending on use) would be a reasonable lifespan IMHO. My old xBox is only just now beginning to show signs of age, and it used to get hammered by the flatmate and me.

To put Sony's derisory "help" into contect, my 12 year old Dyson papped it the other day. For UKP64 (parts and labour), Dyson sent out an engineer to my home who then proceeded to replace about half the parts to get it working again. All his work has a 1 year warranty.

Will I buy Dyson again? With service like that - you bet your arse I will.

After reading this, would I buy a Sony anything? Probably not.

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Anonymous Coward

IANAL

Wow, I didn't realise that El Reg was popular with so many lawyers all of a sudden...!

Isn't the internet great..?!?

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If in doubt - SoGA

''But since the issue appears to affect consoles after 18-24 months of use, the BBC claimed that Sony said it isn't liable.''

You might have a claim under the Sale of Goods Act for up to six years although the burden of proof will be on you to demonstrate the fault was inherent and not down to misuse. Though Sony could have a get out clause that novel technology is not expected to meet the same reliability standards as more established ones.

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Balony

PS3 Failure is a non-story of the highest order. It is not a "massive problem" at all. Everyone i know with a PS3 has never had any issue with it. The same cannot be said about the xbox360. I agree that sony's customer service is a tad lacking, but the console is very reliable. They dont even overheat when left in a cabinet. This is shite journalism and the BBC will no-doubt hear more about it. I wouldnt be surprised if a law-suit lands on their doormat, because some of the accusations are just plain wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm....

I saw the bit about the PS3s last night as well and although the sale of goods act should force a retailer to sort something if it fails like this, why do I suspect all they would do is replace the console ( a refurb like others) and then still charge you to transfer any data?

A bit underhanded but if Sony want some good kudos from this rather than a "if we don't recognise there's a fault then it doesn't exist" mentalitity then maybe offering something similar to Microsoft's RROD problem would be a better option sooner rather than later. It may only be half a percent, but they forget how us Brits can moan!

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Grenade

Actually....

I was disappointed thet even Watchdog failed to point out that consumers have additional rights under the sale of goods act:

A fault which is not due to 'normal expected' wear and tear or user abuse occuring within SIX YEARS (five in Scotland) gives the consumer the right to claim a repair / replacement / full or partial refund.

However, the consumers must claim against the retailer rather than the manufacturer, if retailers refuse to honour this then the consumer should pay for the repair and claim the full amount of costs via the 'small claims' process, which can be done very quickly and easily online for a fee of £25

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Paris Hilton

Sony

I'm not defending Sony, my personal belief is that the PS3 should last longer than this. Of course the *vast* majority of purchased units *are* lasting longer than that...

Paris' electrical goods *never* last long enough

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Go

Sale of Goods Act = Your Rights

Sorry to contradict Alien8n but your statement "Under the Sale of Goods Act all goods are covered for 6 years anyway." is totally incorrect. The 6 years refers to the limit for bringing a court case in England and Wales (its 5 years for Scotland by the way as they have a different court system).

Goods are supposed to last "only needs to last as long as it is reasonable to expect it to, taking into account all the factors". Factors might include the materials the goods are made of, how much they are used, the environment they are used in. So for instance a set of cutlery should last a number of years, while a mobile phone might have reasonable lifetime of just 2-3 years and a paper/plastic kite might have a reasonable lifetime of just a few months.

A complex and expensive consumer electronics item used indoors, used with approved software / games (i.e original not copied games) and without any unauthorised "mods" to the hardware, and which is used a reasonable amount of time each day (lets say 3-4 hours per day) should have a reasonable lifetime of several years.

Sony's contention that they can get away with a one year warranty is facetious.

You should note that any claim you may have with a defective unit is with the RETAILLER (ie. the shop you purchased it in) and not the MANUFACTURER. You have a legal contract with the retailler and they are obliged to accept the laws which include the SALE OF GOODS & SERVICES ACT.

You should always retain your RECEIPT - your proof of purchase - and if possible retain any manuals (although its not necessary to retain the original box beyond a short period).

Take the item back to the store where you purchased it and ask to speak to someone. Its advisable to have everythign written down (preferably PRINTED) so you can detail the problem and also have a copy of the information here

Sale of Goods Act (UK GOVERNMENT WEBSITE)

http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/consumers/fact-sheets/page38311.html

You should not have to resort to it, but if you have reached the store manager and still cannot resolve your problem then take your goods away (never leave them in the store unless you have a written undertaking to resolve the issue to your (not thier) statisfaction). Then take the problem up with the Customer Service team at the company's head office.

Additional information can be found here

http://www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/

The last avenue is a Small Claims Court action. You should read up on this separately.

In general you are not obliged to accept vouchers, or a repair. Further you should be wary of acepting a repair as this may amend your rights at a later point.

You should of course note that the information above is pertinent to England & Wales (Scottish legal system has different procedures) and that you should seek legal advise if required.

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Megaphone

Sale of Goods Act

I'm fed up of people misinterpreting the Sale of Goods Act and its EU regulation counterpart, and thinking they have more rights than they do.

The EU provides a two eyar period of "protection", the SOGA extends this to 6.

This period is the period under which you can claim that your goods did not conform to contract at time of purchase. Contract here means that the goods are "of a reasonable quality" and (that old phrase which is also mis-used) "fit for purpose".

However the burden of proof still lies with the consumer outwith the first 6 months. If you take a product back within the first 6 months of ownership and claim that it did not conform to this contract, then it is up to the retailer/manufacturer to prove otherwise if they wish to dispute it. Outside of this period, however, and up until the end of the 6 years provided by the SOGA, the consumer must prove that the goods *were not* fit for purpose or of a resonable quality, or to go through a claims court if you choose to.

Now of course "reasonable quality" is not well defined in legislation, but electrical goods from *most* of the main brands (steering clear of any blanket statements here) these days are indeed of a reasonable quality and fit for purpose. maybe if you bought Technika from Tesco, you might be in with a chance, but not usually otherwise.

This period is *not* a guarantee period, and neither the retailer nor the manufacturer is under *any* obligation to repair/replace outside of the guarantee which they do offer.

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FAIL

Comprehension fail Raithmir ?

>"Then in this they claim after 12 months you can't do anything."

No they didn't, they *reported* that *Sony* claims not to be liable, but if you have half a brain this won't confuse you, you'll simply understand that they disagree with what Sony claims. Dur! They haven't contradicted themselves, their position is that Sony owes you a replacement because of what they explained previously about 12 month warranties being bunk.

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Alert

I don't understand

I actually think Sony are being quite reasonable here. Less than 0.5% failure rate is quite good to be honest. The Yellow Light is indicative of a non-specific hardware failure, so it's not some sort of major common fault. It's not like the RROD which killed at one point around 1/3rd of all devices were affected.

I also think Sony's stance on repair/replacement is quite reasonable. I asked around the office (most of whom are XBox owners) and they agree. I really don't understand why this is a story.

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0.5% is a BIG number!

companies will typically be subject to a recall, or at least extended guaranteed waranty service, for issues that effect azs little as 0.05%, and Sony themselves has done recalls where a known issue has effected as few at 100 units (typically battery recalls)

Rule 1) Buy a 3rd party warranty on expensive electronics ($40 to ensure a $400 device (plus accessories) for 4 years? where do i sign up...) I've bought a BestBuy warranty on every device over $10 I've ever gotten from the store. Total cost to date has been about $950 in warranty charges. It;s gotten me nearly $4,000 in replacements and repairs that would not have been covered by the original warranty from the manufacturer. When replaced, I allways buy a waranty on the newly replaced item, extending it to a new 3-5 year term, and I allways re-up 1 additional year when it's offered.

Rule 2) proper cooling is IMPORTANT, as is proper cleaning (the air cannister is your friend, keep those fans clean!)

Rule 3) it's a highly sensitive piece of electronics, it should be on a UPS with AVR, as should much of your other high end home threatre equipment. The #1 cause of all electronic device failure is circuit damage due to brownout! Surge protectors are USELESS.

Rule 4) ensure you homeowners/renters insurance policy has a seperate deductible for electronics damage and theft, covers replacement cost not market value, and is sufficient to cover ALL your electronics. I pay $6 a year for supplemental insurance, which lowered my dedictible to $100, covers not only what's in the house, but what's in my car or on my person or in my hotel room, it even covers what people bring inside my home, and short of documenting the seriel number (which is on the warranty card I allways buy), I don't have to pre-itemize items for the insurance company. The default policy only covered $5000 total in electronics and appliances combined, and only covered rdepreciated market value (which is $0 after 3-5 years on most consumer electronics!), and used the same deductible as the general policy, which was $1000, not $100.

Rule 5) Contact their consumer releations department and clarify your dissatisfaction and intent to never buy another of their products unless they take care of the issue, and have statistics for failure on hand (stating you have a massive family, and they look upon you for all their expensive purchases also helps, making that impact decision potentially 10 fold or even more expensive to their eyes), and be PLEASANT about it. Never take no, there's always someone higher up to escalate to...

Rule 6) when all else fails, there's allways class action. But before that, you have the BBB, FTC, and half a dozen other groups you can complain to. Sometimes evel the original reseller can help out and replace it when the company will not.

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Grumpy console engineers two cents

"The yellow light indicator is simply a non-specific fault indicator that can be triggered in a range of different circumstances”. - A bit unfair to "Hmmm" at that statement, because it's actually true.

I run a professional console repair business. I use the word "professional" to try and distinguish myself from the plethora of other "tech guys" who are running around these days telling people that they know how to fix video game consoles. Whose worldly information, it seems, Watchdog have referenced for their technical analysis.

Here are the facts:

Of all PS3s with the YLOD that come through my door..

20% have relatively minor electronic faults, or liquid damage.

80% have faults caused by bad solder joints, attributable to overheating.

Now, of the units with bad joints, probably 90% are absolutely choked with dust.

Obviously, with any computer you have to expect some dust collection, but the state of these would give Kim and Aggie wet knickers.

So, before we shout at Sony and accuse them of making an unreliable console, consider the following.. You buy a shiny new family car, then try to drive it across the Sahara. When it breaks down because the engine’s choked with sand – who do you blame? I’m pretty sure Ford would tell you to fuck off.

As for Watchdog inferring that it’s an easy fix, and getting a couple of plums in a van to fix a few machines.. what a load of pish. The gear that those boys used is woefully inadequate for the actual repair required. I guarantee that at least half the machines they fixed will be dead again within a week.

Not really sure where I was going with this, but there you go – I’ve said my bit.

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Boffin

@Wize

Disk swaps are not possible on a PS3 since the disk is encrypted with a machine dependent key.

Reheating the motherboard might fix the issue, but the best solution is to replace the motherboard (or the whole machine), which will cause loss of games-saves or other data on the disk, since it will not work in the newer system.

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@The BigYin

+1 on Dyson service - my 10yo dyson is about to be fixed on the same £64 service deal.

And their web site will sell you just about any of the bits that occasionally break, even down to the lurid lime green or purple accessories for my DC04.

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I had one....

I had a PS3 that went T~ts up, but not with the YLOD. Out of warranty and Sony replaced my PS with a re-con machine FOC - Well Done Sony, I'd never knock them.

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RE:IANAL

No, just people who know there rights. This sort of thing SHOULD be knowen by all.

Also, I think, If it did go that far, any court would find that the same fault in 12500 PS3s would be enough to demonstrate an inherant fault.

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Stop

@Mike Read

> Sony's contention that they can get away with a one year warranty is facetious.

> You should note that any claim you may have with a defective unit is with the RETAILLER (ie. the shop you purchased it in) and not the MANUFACTURER.

As you say, the claim is against the RETAILER, not the MANUFACTURER. So Sony are quite correct in saying that they don't have to repair/replace the product after one year. They didn't sell it, so have no legal obligation in that respect.

Any product (and especially one as complex as a PS3) will have faults. Watchdog have messed up by impling that Sony should be liable after one year - the retailer is.

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@Mike Bird

> Sony's contention that they can get away with a one year warranty is facetious.

> You should note that any claim you may have with a defective unit is with the RETAILLER (ie. the shop you purchased it in) and not the MANUFACTURER.

As you say, the claim is against the RETAILER, not the MANUFACTURER. So Sony are quite correct in saying that they don't have to repair/replace the product after one year. They didn't sell it, so have no legal obligation in that respect.

Any product (and especially one as complex as a PS3) will have faults. Watchdog have messed up by impling that Sony should be liable after one year - the retailer is.

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FAIL

Watchdog = Fail.

iggest load of tripe I have ever watched, and it's shameful I am paying BBC a licence fee to broadcast this tripe.

The reality of it, as far as I can tell is 12,500 PS3 failures in the UK, out of 2.5m consoles sold. That's 0.5% (the industry benchmark for this type of product is 3%), Microsoft on the other hand have 60% failure rates.

Watchdog have tarred Sony with the same brush as Microsoft.

All the failed units were outside their 1yr warranty, and with 99% of consumer goods, 1yr is all you get, its upto you to extend it if you wish for additional cost. This is perfectly reasonable considering the low failure rate. (Microsoft only upped theirs because they were forced to by the FTC in the US).

The "15minute fix" clearly does not work, as many of the units failed again afterwards, sure you pay more by getting Sony to fix it, but they clearly do a proper job on them, not a quick lash up.

Really the only real criticism was the 3month warranty Sony give on repaired units, if they were to up to a 1yr warranty, then I don't think people would complain too much at paying £120 (a 1yr warranty extension taken out after purchase is typically £40), especially considering it included 2 way door to door service and 48hr turnaround.

Worse still the article was written by, and partly presented by Iain Lee, Microsoft freelance writer, Xbox fanboy and author of this "gem" of Sony Hate...

http://tech.uk.msn.com/gaming/article.aspx?cp-documentid=7838134

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@ChiefPFF

The only person here talking sense. I used to work in the electronic repair business myself, and consumer items clogged with dust was a killer back then. Even worse when mixed with cigarette smoke.

I bet 99/100 of those failures are down to abuse.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: ChiefPFF 13:25

Finally! Someone with visibility on the issue!

I'd say your comment just about sums up the conditions around most breakdowns and I'm not sure where I'm going with this either...but nicely put.

Also, interesting how no one has come out with the old "Well, mine is OK so I don't think you have a problem" attitude, as seems to be common nowadays.

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Alert

Sony and BBC clash over PS3 problems

I have swaped and upgraded two bigger hard drives on two of my ps3 with no such problems.

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FAIL

oh the glory

after the mocking PS3 owners gave to xbox360 owners - does it feel to be done up the bottom? at least M$ gave us 3 years warranty, and our consoles cos pence compared to yours!! 128 quid will pretty much buy you a new 360, the Morrisons by us has 60gig ones for £139

i am now pointing and laughing

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WTF?

PS3 disk swaps - a matter of seconds

@Sentry23 Re: Disk swaps are not possible on a PS3 since the disk is encrypted with a machine dependent key.

You what now? I think they have to be formatted afresh for the new console (which the PS3 helpfully does when it detects an empty hard disk), but it'll take any sata 2.5" disk you care to stick in the slot - mine had a 40gb to 250gb swap the day I bought it, and is rapidly heading to it's 400gb swap when playtv runs it out of space...

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That's odd

this morning

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/watchdog/2009/09/playstation3_and_the_yellow_li.html#more

had this "self declared xbox fan" in it to which I suggested they should ask him about the red ring of death.

I now notice that "self declared xbox fan" is nowhere to be found in the whole article this evening.

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forgot to add

I've never owned either of the consoles in question.

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bgj
Boffin

rebuttal??

but surely 0.05% of 2500000 is around 12500?

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bgj
Headmaster

sale of goods act

Actually SOGA covers you with the retailer not the manufacturer

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Anonymous Coward

Backup

Connect a cheap USB drive and you can easily backup the entire system. Not a problem.

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Grenade

Could actually be quite clever...............

By reporting that the fault on numerous consoles could be down to one common fault they shift the onus of proof from customer to manufacturer/supplier and consequently if Sony cave and admit this any device exhibiting the YLOD would then have to be replaced for free by the manufacturer/retailer as the precedent has been set.

They should back up their data though as that is just careless.

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Why

"Disk swaps are not possible on a PS3 since the disk is encrypted with a machine dependent key"

And they get away with that ?

I'd love to hear Sony's overriding technical rationale for doing this.

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michael c:

on your point 1) - you do a recall on equipment that's _potentially dangerous_, not just might stop working. batteries get recalled if they might overheat and set stuff on fire, not just if they might stop working.

chiefpff: interesting! thanks.

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@Michael C

0.5% would be a "BIG" number? In what fantasy land do you live, where stuff never breaks? 0.5% is an exceptionally low failure rate for a gaming console.

Man, if you suggest class action suits against a company for a 1-in-200 failure, what would you suggest to do about the ubiquitous RRoD? An air raid on Redmond?

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Dead Vulture

new El Reg category?

Please file under "Fanboi Bait".

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FAIL

Hmmmm?

“Fewer than one half of one percent of [UK] units have been reported as failing in circumstances where the yellow indicator is illuminated”

But possibly many more, notice that they talk about the number that have been *reported*. How many units that have failed out of warranty will have been reported to Sony? Probably not that many. In those circs most people will be likely to take the unit to a specialist for repair rather than give Sony £128.

Even so 0.5% in two years is an unacceptably high failure rate for any product.

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