A few weeks ago a very violent thunderstorm swept through the area, and it brought me dark clouds in more ways than one. At some point, lightning struck the backyard just behind my home. The resulting thunder crack sounded like an artillery round exploding just outside. I nearly fell off my chair as the windows shook and a blinding flash swept through my living room.
After collecting myself, I went around and inspected for damage. Thankfully, there was no physical destruction, only a tiny burnt spot in the grass where the lightning must have struck. I thought everything was okay, but it turns out that the damage to my electronics was pretty deep. I ended up losing my primary TV and my backup. A computer in my office was slightly damaged. And to top it all off, my PlayStation 4 was also hit.
For the PS4, it booted fine, which let me eject the copy of Grand Theft Auto V sitting in the drive. But there was no picture. Given the fact that the TV it was connected to was also fried, I thought that might be the problem. But after lugging an LCD with an HDMI port from my office, the PS4 still refused to send any video or sound. So it seemed like the surge killed my video chip, or at least my HDMI port. I also tried using new HDMI cables just in case, but that too didn’t work.
Now, many of you have probably experienced something like this before. You get that sinking feeling when your electronics have gone belly-up. It’s kind of like being lost with no hope of rescue. All my gaming plans were suddenly as dead as my PS4’s video.
A lot of thoughts crossed my mind. Obviously, I am looking forward to the PlayStation 5, so I didn’t want to end up paying a ton of money to replace my PlayStation 4 when it’s nearing the end of its life cycle. But being without a working game console for months wasn’t a good prospect either. Plus, I was looking forward to The Last of Us Part II, which was just about to release when the storm hit. (Editor’s Note: You can read our review of the game right here.)
Thankfully, I discovered that Sony has a whole repair infrastructure designed to fix broken PlayStation gear. I didn’t really know what to expect, but figured they would know how to get my PS4 back online if anyone could.
It turns out that Sony has repairs down to a pretty standard process. And it only costs $99 for the repair, assuming your PS4 is out of warranty. Mine was because I bought it back in 2014. The repair fee includes shipping your PS4 to the repair depot and back to your home, so its not a bad deal at all.
I was really impressed with the repair process. After paying for the repair online, Sony shipped me a special box which would hold my busted PS4. You simply fill out some information about what is wrong with the console and pack it up in the little shipping crate. It’s pre-addressed, so you just need to get it over to a FedEx facility and away it goes. I was hopeful that it would be a quick process and my wife and I would once again be battling the minions of hell in Diablo III co-op.
Looking into the process, what happens is that the repair techs try and fix your machine. However, if they can’t do that, they might send you a refurbished PlayStation 4 instead. To check to see if I got my same console back, I recorded the serial number and also made a secret mark with black sharpie on the bottom of the case.
You can track your package using FedEx, and then your console as it moves through the repair facility. FedEx got the package delivered to the Midwest facility in just a few days, but it took over a week for the facility to acknowledge getting it, which was the only point of contention for me in the entire process. I would have preferred if the facility would have at least acknowledged getting the package, even if it took them a while to actually start working on it. There was a note saying that because of COVID-19, repairs might be delayed, which is understandable.
Once they actually started working on the unit, the process was quick. It only took about a day from the time a technician started working on it to the point where it was ready to send back out to me. I actually wondered if they repaired my unit, or if I was getting a refurbished one.
When it arrived back at my home, I immediately examined the PS4 and found my secret mark, plus checked the serial number. It all matched, so I had my same PlayStation 4 back again. And surprisingly, there was a very nice note from Sony thanking me for being a loyal customer for so many years. Plus, they included a copy of the Major League Baseball title, The Show 20! What a lovely bonus. Not only did I get my PS4 fixed relatively quickly, and certainly painlessly, but they gave me a copy of a PS4 exclusive game for free. That is a great way to foster goodwill with customers. I was certainly very happy.
I got the PlayStation 4 connected to my new TV, which I had purchased while the PS4 was away, and it booted right up for me and is working fine. It looks like Sony really cleaned the unit up too. I think they may have also replaced or cleaned the cooling fans. They are a bit louder now, and there seems to be more air blowing out the back.
The only odd thing is that while all of my game data is there, all of my saved games are gone. I was finally at the last level of Assassin’s Creed Origins after exploring the entire map. I was doing a New Game Plus on Days Gone and was having a great time using advanced weapons and a nice bike from the beginning. Both of those will require me to start over. Yes, I know I should have been saving games to the cloud with my PlayStation Plus subscription, but I didn’t. Of course, I do now, hindsight being 20/20.
I don’t know why the actual game data was fine while the saves were wiped, but either the lightning fried that part of the memory or it had to be wiped as part of the repair process. But that is a minor annoyance in an otherwise amazing experience. And I shouldn’t complain about having to go back and enjoy some great games all over again. Plus I can finally play The Last of Us Part II, and that game is epic.
All told, Sony really did a great job getting my PlayStation repaired quickly. They helped me out of a bad situation for a reasonable price, and even gave me an exclusive game as an unexpected, but highly appreciated, gift for being a good customer. I hope that none of you ever need to have your PlayStation repaired, but if you do, rest assured that there is a good process in place to get it fixed up and back over to you as quickly as possible. I am highly impressed, and wanted to thank Sony for doing an outstanding job resuscitating my gaming at a critical time when we could all use an escape from reality. They have my sincere thanks!
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5