Today was supposed to be a great day. Some would say it was like Christmas coming early, but alas it was more like Y2K!
It’s been almost nine months since Sony announced the successor to the PlayStation 3, and today, November, 15 2013, the PlayStation 4 was finally released. I woke up this morning with such anticipation. I quadruple checked to see if my package was in transit, then headed to work already watching the clock for the end of the day, and at 2:00 pm I received a noticed that my PS4 was waiting for me at home. Finally!
I rushed home and quickly, but gently unboxed the system and plugged it in. All day I’ve been reading about random issues that people were having from signal issues to network connectivity problems. It was suggested to download the mandatory firmware updated (1.5) to a USB drive instead of attempting to get it from Sony’s servers, so that was I did. I powered on the system and it booted perfectly. Then it asked me to plug in the controller using the supplied USB cable, set the preferred language, connect my (non-existent) camera and set my time zone and date; so far so good. Finally, the user agreement screen was displayed, I quickly selected accept and was presented with a screen that said, “Setup of your PS4 is complete. Enjoy an exciting world of entertainment!” This was going to be AWESOME!
The next step was to install the new firmware. The instructions said to power down the system, hold the power button down until you heard two beeps, and proceed in “safe mode”. Once I was in “safe mode” I plugged in the USB key which contained the update and selected “system software update”. The PS4 attempted to read the drive but then presented me with an error saying that it couldn’t find the USB drive. Then it happened; my TV screen went blank. My first thought was maybe the PS4 was restarting, but I could see blue light was still on, but now it was flashing! Oh no, it was FLASHING! This was the signal error I had been reading about all day. This couldn’t be happening to me, it only happened to people on the Internet. I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers and powered the system down. Maybe if I turned it off and unplugged the power cord, it would do a hard reboot and magically fix the issue. I’m a computer guy, so I tell people a dozen times a day to try restarting their system; 95% of the time this fixes their problem. Five minutes went by and it was time to power this thing back on. Flashing blue light appeared again. Then reality hit me, I was a launch day statistic, my brand new PS4 was broken.
Time to call Sony (800-345-SONY). The first thing I heard was an apology saying the “PlayStation Network is currently down but it should be up shortly“. Well if you’ve read my last article [ditching the disk] you would know that even if my PS4 was working, I still would not be able to play any games on it. After an hour and thirty eight minutes I was finally connected to a live person. I told him my sob story and his response was “Aww man, that sucks! I’m really sorry to hear that.” “It sucks indeed,” I say. He then explained the process I would need to go through to get a working system again. It consisted of them sending me a “coffin” (an empty box) which I would then place my PS4 into and ship back to them. Once it is received they will attempt to fix it or send a working replacement. The whole process would roughly take two weeks.
So I’m back to square one, waiting patiently for my PS4 to arrive so I can finally be a part of the next generation of gaming systems. “Greatness Awaits”… eventually.
“Eventually” may be sooner rather than later! I spent a sleepless night in forums reading about other people’s issues with their PS4s and trying to figure out how to get mine replaced as quickly as possible. Some people were saying they had their “coffin” overnighted to them, with a pre-paid return overnight shipping label already on the box. while that gave me hope for Monday; my continued search led me to a conversation on Reddit. One guy wrote that he had called the SONY store and they offered to replace his broken system if he brought it in (though he got a second busted unit!). I figured I’d take a chance this morning and give the SONY store here in Midtown NYC a call. After several minutes on hold, they told me to call back at 10 AM and speak with a manager who might be able to help me out.
10 AM rolled around and I was on the phone with the manager of the store. After being on hold for about 12 minutes and having flashbacks to last nights hour and a half wait on the help line for SONY I was starting to get worried. Then the magic happened. The manager of the SONY store went the extra mile for me today. She apparently called the corporate headquarters for SONY and got the okay for me to bring in my bricked PS4 and my Amazon receipt, and she would replace it with a brand new one from their inventory.
So here I am all packed up and ready to head down to the store to pick up a new console. I’ll keep everyone posted and once I get it plugged in and turned on, I’ll add another update. Check back later to see if I have better luck the second time around.
I arrived at the SONY store and introduced myself to one of the salesperson, thankfully they already knew my story so I was ushered over to an existing line with two other people returning their PS4 due to the same “flashing blue light of death” error. I asked them where they purchased theirs; one was from BestBuy and the other was from Amazon. We all shared our disappointing stories with one another and felt lucky to know that this store was going to help us. Apparently this SONY store had twenty five PS4’s on hand designated for returns. The guy helping us told me that I was the sixth person today with a return but he knew four other people that were going to stop by later.
Overall, the process at this store was long, but great. They tested your replacement system right in front of you and updated the firmware too. The two guys in front of me had no problems with the setup or updated firmware on their new systems and left the store happy. Now it was my turn; I filled out the customer return slip and watched as he turned on my soon to be new PS4. Can you guess what happened? If you guessed “flashing blue light of death” give yourself a pat on the back. Apparently I have no luck when it comes to this system. Even the sales associate was shocked and disappointed.
He called the manager over and said, “What form do I fill out for a replacement, replacement system?” She told him to just write on the first form “DOA” and grab another system. We unboxed my third system and waited with baited breath as he turned it on. Eureka! It turned on without any issues. We updated the firmware and inserted Just Dance 2014 to make sure the disc drive worked, and it did. It looked like my journey was finally coming to an end. I shook his hand like he just helped bring my child into this world and turned to walk away and that’s when I notice two other people standing behind me with their broken PS4’s. I wished them all good luck and rushed home.
Once I arrived at home, I slowly unpacked the box, plugged the system in to my TV and pressed the power button… it still worked! The time had finally come for me to sit on my couch and enjoy all the joys that this system has to offer.
If you would like to friend request me on your new system (if you can turn yours on), please do so! PSN Name – ECastro75