Play:5 Defective Hardware

  • 14 November 2017
  • 20 replies
  • 1042 views

My Play:5 died 2.5 years in, due to a hardware failure as diagnosed by the Sonos team. I spent $500 on that speaker and the Sonos response was to offer me a "discounted" $350 replacement speaker ($850 for one speaker in 2.5 years). Instead of making it right and replacing the speaker, keeping me in the ecosystem, allowing me to continue to build my speaker set (I had full intentions of buying 3 additional speakers in the near future), and continuing to buy speakers as presents for family and friends, I now will spend a significant amount of effort relaying my story to my friends and family. Please believe me when I say that I will make sure that I discourage any contact of mine from buying into the Sonos ecosystem or purchasing a new product, and I hope this reaches anyone here as well.

I can't begin to tell you how disappointed and frustrated I am with the non-resolution to this issue. I tried really hard to walk the reps through the reality of the situation and the company response was to let me walk as a customer and ambassador and become an active opponent of Sonos going forward.

Part of my frustration is that I really enjoyed the product for the short amount of time I had it. I have a Playbar as well and am now just waiting for it to die on me too. I'm also bummed that I will have to move on to another company for products.

Here is what I don't get: Sonos made a very clear decision to move on from me over what amounts to $350. I've already paid in $1,200 for my first two speakers, I've given 3-4 Playbars to friends as wedding presents, and I have given other speakers to family members. I should be a high value customer! Add on my future purchases (not just for myself but additional gifts) and I don't understand how making it right now doesn't outweigh all the future lost revenue, as well as the lost revenue from my negative recommendations going forward. I just can't figure out the business decision there, say nothing for customer service.

I mentioned this to my customer service rep, but if the unit economics are so prohibitive to rectify a true "outlier" like mine (as he said I was), then doesn't this mean that the truth of the matter is that this is not an outlier case and that the company cannot afford the amount of similar cases like mine? That seems systemic to me and a bad representation of the Sonos product line.

Again, I need to let you know how disappointed this makes me. I'm confused at the decision-making process. I really tried to explain this to my customer service rep, and if you guys record calls, I would beg someone to please listen to it - even if it's just for training going forward. I was really optimistic that if I just spoke to someone and walked through the situation that it would make sense and I could go forward as a loyal customer and brand advocate. I'm not sure how to express how much this makes me feel sad and frustrated that this was the outcome. Sorry, this is long-winded and I'm not sure if anyone reads these but this whole process really struck a nerve and hurt me. I feel personally let down and it has really put a damper on my day.

20 replies

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Sorry that you are going through this.

I have to admit that I am concerned about the long-term viability of my investment. I had a PLAY 5 fail on me a couple of months ago. Fortunately, it was still under warranty, but the fact that it failed within a year is not reassuring. A one year warranty seems awfully stingy and does not project confidence in their products.
Thanks Mike. I just don't understand it from either a business or personal perspective. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how I got here and how this didn't get handled correctly at some point. Agreed, I weighed the issue of buying into such an expensive ecosystem when I first jumped in, but I was more nervous about future product upgrades and potential integration issues with partners such as Spotify and Stitcher. It honestly never occurred to me that a basic defective hardware issue would be the root cause of my separation.
Userlevel 7
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Hi qbjacob16, we understand the frustration, it's always a shame when any devices have issues. That's in part why we have an out of warranty option for qualifying situations, like yours. Even if you're outside the warranty period, we still try to help. I'm not sure if you noticed, but the replacement cost is for replacing your first generation PLAY:5 with the new PLAY:5 gen2. The gen2 is larger, sounds better, has an extra speaker and way more bass. It's redesigned from the ground up, and the replacement cost is a pretty big discount for the latest and greatest. It's a huge improvement.

I know you have a ticket with the team and I believe someone was going to be reaching out to you soon there. So please feel free to follow up with them if you have any questions.
Hi Ryan-

I'm very aware of that fact, but it doesn't help me at all. If there was an option to just get a new Gen1, I'd gladly take it. I didn't ask for this and have no incentive to upgrade out of my own pocket. I bought the speaker with the intention of using it for its full intended lifecycle. Spending $500 over 5-10 years made sense to me. Spending $850 in 2.5 years with a negative experience from the company makes no sense. And I have little faith that the new speaker will last the intended time either (same goes for the 2 year old Playbar I have in my living room - if that dies early and I've spent the additional money to replace this Play:5, I would be furious).

I spend a lot of time researching consumer electronics before I buy them, especially for major purchases like this at $500-$700 per unit. I take great care to maintain my electronics so that they last as long as possible to justify buying premium equipment. If that premium equipment is a failure with no remedy from the company, I'm going to take my business elsewhere and alert my network so that they don't also make the same mistake.

Your justification for the replacement cost does not resonate with me. If I go to a restaurant and order a burger and it comes with a hair on it, the restaurant will make sure I get a new burger at not cost to me. I don't blame them for the accident, but I would take it very personally if they said there were no more burgers but I could order the lobster and pay an additional 70% of the lobster's menu price (a "discount" in their mind). The lobster is better and way more delicious, but now I've spent the equivalent of 1.7x the cost of an entree through no fault of my own. If that happened, I'm walking out of the restaurant and telling everyone I know not to go there. But a restaurant would never do that because they know the potential damage and lost revenues from my return visits and my word of mouth recommendations to friends and family are worth way more than the cost of a replacement entree, even if the entrees are not "equal" at that time.

Sonos is looking at this in a very short-sighted manner. You've captured my dollars (and your margin) to date and maybe my customer lifetime value has reached a point where you believe the customer acquisition cost of a new person to replace me outweighs the $350 you would be out of pocket in the near-term to provide me the replacement speaker (and I'm using $350 because I'm assuming the difference is your margin - and I really really hope that you've removed all margin to get to that and are not getting incremental margin on this offer). However, if you're discounting the thousands of dollars that I would be putting into your business over the next years for myself and others, plus the recommendation factor, then someone with decision-making power is in a position that is over their head. Not only did I have plans to buy more to round out my home audio setup, when that natural and expected 5-10 year lifecycle is up, guess who gets more revenue when I replace those used up speakers? As I stated, I've personally brought multiple people into the Sonos ecosystem by giving your Playbars as gifts. There's a multiplying effect that you should be taking into consideration as well.

I want to believe that the intention behind your reply was for information/clarification purposes only and not to try to convince me that my position in this matter is unfounded; so I will stick with that assumption and I thank you for the info.

I heard the management team was looking into this last night, but have not heard back since then. I look forward to discussing this with someone in the near future and would be happy to continue the dialog if it's constructive.
Userlevel 7
Badge +21
I would feel a lot better with a longer Sonos warranty or a supported option to buy a third-party warranty from some place like Square-Trade. When you are looking at a $500 to 700 for a single unit having an option for failure recovery would be comforting.

Has Sonos considered talking with the folks at squaretrade.com and getting Sonos listed? They might cover Sonos under Misc. Electronics https://www.squaretrade.com/miscellaneous-electronics but a dedicated listing would build much more confidence and likely at little or no cost to Sonos. Looks like $85 for three years on a Play 5, $149 for a Play bar or base.
Userlevel 1
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Your frustration is understandable. You lost a speaker and faith. The reaction from Sonos is also understandable. The spreaker is out of warranty and they're trying to keep you as a customer with a nice offer. That's how warranty and out-of-warranty works at Sonos, but also at other companies. I can also understand they're not giving you special treatment because you've always been a loyal customer.

Me, personally, I would take the play 5 gen 2. Well, at least, this would look like a good opportunity to convince my wife to replace those old play 5's 🙂
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Has there been any update on this, qbjacob16? I recently went from dipping my toes in the water to buying a sound system for the entire house. Reading something like this concerns me, and makes me wonder whether or not I should just bring everything back and wait for another solution to come along.
Userlevel 7
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Has there been any update on this, qbjacob16? I recently went from dipping my toes in the water to buying a sound system for the entire house. Reading something like this concerns me, and makes me wonder whether or not I should just bring everything back and wait for another solution to come along.

You simply are NOT going to find any "other solution" that does not come without the risk of early failure. All mechanical, electro-mechanical and electrical risk failure before service life has been reached.

If failure of your devices out of warranty is something that causes you concern then as suggested you should look at taking out your own insurance. I'd avoid those that the stores try to sell you and buy a policy that suits your circumstances.

Are Sonos products any more prone to early failure than their competitors? I don't know. And I am also sure Sonos wouldn't give us the relevant quality data no matter how nicely we asked. But we do have the benefit of this well visited forum and we know that people who are disgruntled by failure of their Sonos products either within or without warranty are not backwards when being forward about their unhappiness or concern. With that in mind, though we do see posts from people with failed units, we do not see lots and lots of threads on the subject. This suggests to me that Sonos do not, as yet, have any endemic product quality issues affecting the life of their products that is either better or worse than their competitors.
Well said, Stuart_W!

All electronic devices are subject to a small failure rate, it's the nature of electronics, and Sonos, with an entire computer inside of each device, is certainly no exception. But based on my perceptions of the amount of sales they have, and the relatively few people who come here to complain, their failure rate is low.
Userlevel 1
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I feel your pain. I just purchased my Sonos Play 1 the other day and expecting it's arrival today. I've had one bad experience with a Samsung 55" TV a few years ago in which I bought at Best Buy. Brand new in box and when I went to turn it on it was nothing but a faded screen. Yes it's very frustrating when you purchase something new and its a lemon. But sh!te happens. I think the products these days are nothing like they were 20+ years ago. I also had a Bose headphones (wired) that went south on me after a year. Replaced with a new Bose. But had to pay $49 extra.
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I just got news that I have a hardware issue after an hour phone call about my Play 5 Gen 1. Can't wait to see what they quote me. Worst part is it happened within Moments of Updating my Sonos app to the Bata Version a couple of month back. Shortly after the Play 5 came on by itself and now plays White Noise when plugged in, on or off and crappy sounding music. I have 5 Sonos players and am having major reservations on getting more for a new house build coming up.
I know I am late t the show, but I did want to add my 2 cents. I have a play5 that is failing, and I believe the failure is completely software which in my mind is more frustrating than a hardware failure. You would think they could perform an upgrade and resole a software issue (like all software companies do). My Play5 is in a state where it just blinks a slow white lite, I have contacted support and they said I would get a replacement, low and behold they did not tell me it would cost me money, I found that out when I received the RMA email. 2.5 years old and a software problem (which is their issues) cast me 270 more to replace. I agree with qbjacob16, this is not the type of customer service I would expect. I like he have multiple Sonos devices 2 play5, sounder and 2 play1 and I have purchased 2 others for my son. This experience is very frustrating to say the least.

As for Airgetlam statement above I disagree, I just sold a pair of 25 year old klipsch floor speaker for almost what I paid for them and they worked flawlessly, as well as my 18 year old Yamaha rx v1 its receiver that was 18 years old. I may agree a component may fail, but if it is that rare just give the loyal customer a replacement. If Sonos feels they are the best then stand behind your products and don't take advantage of your customers.
So why exactly should a company have a limited warranty if all they are going to do is ignore the terms of that warranty? Did Sonos misrepresent the fact they had a 1 year warranty? Do you know that you agreed to that warranty upon purchase? Are you aware that they are not obliged to give you a replacement at a discount, yet they are offering one?

Also, if it were a software problem, this thread would be hundreds of pages, not less than one page in over a year. Software problems do not manifest themselves in such limited ways. See the Playbar problem from last year that actually was software. That thread saw thousands of posts in a couple days.
Hi qbjacob16, we understand the frustration, it's always a shame when any devices have issues. That's in part why we have an out of warranty option for qualifying situations, like yours. Even if you're outside the warranty period, we still try to help. I'm not sure if you noticed, but the replacement cost is for replacing your first generation PLAY:5 with the new PLAY:5 gen2. The gen2 is larger, sounds better, has an extra speaker and way more bass. It's redesigned from the ground up, and the replacement cost is a pretty big discount for the latest and greatest. It's a huge improvement.

Ryan,

I have learned over time that consumer technology is well, ultimately disposable. It is the Faustian bargain. I too have had my Play 5 burn out. Around the same amount of time 3 years. It was a Gen 1. Just last week it bricked and stopped working. I am happy however that you have "out-of-warranty" options to replace the speaker with Gen 2. I would like to pursue that offer. What do I do next? I would be happy to send my bricked Gen 1 back. Let me know.
Userlevel 7
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Best to call Sonos on Monday and set up an exchange, Sonos staff is spread thin on the forums.
Has there been any update on this, qbjacob16? I recently went from dipping my toes in the water to buying a sound system for the entire house. Reading something like this concerns me, and makes me wonder whether or not I should just bring everything back and wait for another solution to come along.

Hi jpatdaley-

Sorry, I did not see this until now. The resolution was the same as before - either spend an additional $350 to buy a brand new speaker (so $850 in 2.5 years), or walk. I chose to walk.

I'm using a Google Home in the meantime, and while the sound quality is not quite as good, I'm able to sync multiple devices in different rooms which WAS the differentiator for Sonos. I'm hoping Google continues to expand and upgrade their hardware so that the sound quality improves, but I'm just fine with this as as stopgap.

As a follow-up, I've actively discouraged 10-12 people from joining the Sonos ecosystem and I've convinced everyone I bought Playbars for to not purchase anything additional from Sonos (after apologizing for getting them involved in the first place).

For those commenting on the limited warranty, I completely understand that they are well within their right to enforce that. All companies put those warranties on their products for protection, as they should - you don't want someone making an unreasonable claim. That does not mean that they are bound to them, and many companies choose to retain loyal customers over hard and fast rules like this. I thought the value proposition was clear - lose me, my network, and all future purchases associated with our collective negative feedback or just replace the product that failed, nothing more. I don't think my claim was unreasonable, especially if its such a unique case. It wouldn't set an unnecessary precedent, unless it is not actually an outlier.

Btw, Sonos stock is down about 50% since their IPO last summer.
Userlevel 2
I too got an offer of an 'discounted' exchange. Discount was around 25% compared to RRP, so I actually don't think that's any value for me.

Certainly won't be buying Sonos again with such a short lifecycle period of their products.

I'm not sure it's a hardware problem though, as when I factory reset the unit, it appears the bass is working on the 'ding-e-ling' setup sound although it's VERY short....

I'm not sure it's a hardware problem though, as when I factory reset the unit, it appears the bass is working on the 'ding-e-ling' setup sound although it's VERY short....


Some hardware issues strike a few minutes after reboot.
Userlevel 6
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I too got an offer of an 'discounted' exchange. Discount was around 25% compared to RRP, so I actually don't think that's any value for me.

Certainly won't be buying Sonos again with such a short lifecycle period of their products.

I'm not sure it's a hardware problem though, as when I factory reset the unit, it appears the bass is working on the 'ding-e-ling' setup sound although it's VERY short....


Hardware failures are rare on Sonos, as this forum shows. Threads on such are tiny compared to the moans about features and software issues. I too had a Play 5 Gen 1 fail after just over two years. Frustrating but i took the offer of the new Gen Play 5 and am very happy with the discount offered but if the subsequent Play 5 Gen 2 failed in the same time-frame I would be less enchanted as a new item would not be such a significant upgrade..

One thing that is frustrating is there is no repair service. I'f like the opportunity to chose between an £150 repair or discount in a new unit.
Userlevel 2
Yes - a 25% discount is not something I dig. It's the same I can get anywhere else on Black Friday and the like.

And I'm not going to buy Sonos again if the don't last any longer.

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