Sony insists there is ‘damage’ to my carefully used headphones

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I am three months and 16 emails into an exchange with Sony that is going round in circles. In December last year I purchased a pair of WH-1000XM3 headphones which began to show signs of unreasonable wear this August.

The plastic casing on both arms popped out, leading to the ear cups hanging by an exposed wire. It doesn’t seem right that a pair of headphones costing £279 would be in this state after eight months of careful use. Sony replied with an ominous “Please note that this, from our end, will be considered as potential physical damage” thus presupposing the customer, and never the product, is at fault.

After I sent back the headphones, Sony concluded the set was damaged and does not fall within its guarantee. We have reached an impasse as every one of its replies now defaults to the (loaded) D–word. I can’t think of any other way of telling it the item has been used carefully, reasonably and responsibly in its too short life.

I am unwilling to pay a three-figure sum to have the headphones repaired. Surely Sony is able to accept that its manufacturing might occasionally be sub par? IV, Wrexham, North Wales

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You are not alone. Sony’s own community talkboard, along with Amazon’s and Reddit’s, are full of complaints about why a premium product appears to break after what the owners insist is normal use. In some cases, nimble-fingered owners have even used a bit of sticky tape to patch them up.

It seems to us that, under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act, the item is not fit for purpose, and you should certainly not be charged for repair. However, as always, it may be difficult to prove what constitutes “careful and reasonable” use. You have been dealing directly with Sony, but if you had bought the headphones from a retailer then you would have had to liaise with it.

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Sony says it has been in touch directly with you and adds: “One of our technicians diagnosed damage and an estimate was sent for a replacement headband at a repair cost of £102.15. As a gesture of goodwill they have been repaired and returned to IV free of charge.”

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