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Saturday, May 17, 2003
PlayStation 2 owners file suit against Sony

Consumers are taking Sony to court over an apparently widespread problem with its PlayStation 2 video game console, News Channel 10's Consumer Unit reported. More than two dozen consumers have turned to News Channel 10 claiming their Sony PlayStation 2 units stopped working. The units displayed a "disc read error," usually after the users tried to play a DVD.

When the Consumer Unit first reported this story in January, a Sony spokeswoman told us, "We don't have a large percentage of unsatisfied customers. ... I wouldn't be in a position to comment on whether there's a defect."

But now, the Consumer Unit has uncovered a class-action lawsuit filed against Sony in California. The suit alleges Sony deceived thousands of consumers by marketing PlayStation 2 as a DVD player in addition to a video game unit.

"We believe based on what we have been able to investigate thus far that the Sony PlayStation 2 does not reliably play DVD movies," said Jonathan Shub, the lawyer who's handling the suit against Sony.

Even worse, Shub said, Sony concealed information from consumers.

"It's our belief based on our investigation that Sony knew or at the very least should have known that there were problems playing DVD movies and they have not thus far come forward and done any sort of recall or given any public announcement," Shub said.

The suit goes on to charge that Sony treated customers unfairly, charging them $120 to have their PlayStation 2 units shipped back to the company and repaired. That's about half of what it would cost to buy a brand new unit.

"People bought this machine with the expectation that it was going to work," Shub said.

The Consumer Unit found dozens of Web sites where people are either chatting about or complaining about problems with PlayStation 2.

One of them is Sony's own Web site. And there's a notice, saying Sony will delete postings about the "disc read error" problem because the Web site isn't the proper forum for technical support.

The class-action lawsuit mentions the large number of Internet postings as an indication that Sony knew about the problems.

"Our allegation is that Sony has been aware of problems and that they are not being honest with the consuming public about their awareness of the problems, and that they are indeed widespread," Shub said.

Sony declined our offer for an on-camera interview, but a spokeswoman said Sony is fighting the lawsuit, which has yet to be certified as a class action.

Sony "feels there is no merit to the plantiffs' allegations that Sony deceptively advertised the Playstation 2," the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman also said the representative plaintiff in the suit testified he never experienced game problems or a "disc read error."

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