Sony faces class action lawsuit over missing serial numbers on lenses

Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master lens
(Image credit: Sony)

A disgruntled Sony customer has filed a lawsuit against the company after the serial number fell off his 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Despite costing $2,198 / £1,999 / AU$2,799, Sony uses cheap stickers to display the serial number on lenses – and through intense use these can easily fall off, making the lens invalid for free repairs and product recalls. 

Joseph Musharbash filed the class action lawsuit on November 01 in California, after being unable to take part in the 2019 product recall of the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens. Sony reported that lenses with a serial number between 1800502 and 1823192 could stop the camera from working properly, and affect the camera screen display, but offered a free repair to those affected – so long as your serial number was still fixed to the lens. 

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Many leading camera brands including Canon and Nikon engrave serial numbers into their products, so they are less likely to be tampered with or lost. Even Sigma and Tamron, who manufacture slightly more affordable lenses, print the serial number directly onto the lens – and many of their products cost significantly less than Sony's premium G Master lenses.

While it seems like a slight overreaction to seek damages for a missing serial number sticker, it has meant that Musharbash is stuck with an expensive lens that doesn’t work properly. There is a bigger issue here than his individual frustrations, though; such an affluent, well-respected brand should be paying more attention to the small details such as the positioning of the serial number and how it is affixed. Sony refused to repair Musharbash’s lens on the basis that it had no serial number, but it was no fault of the customer. 

In the class action complaint document obtained by Peta Pixel, Musharbash accuses Sony of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law that prohibits any "unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice." Musharbash also claims that the defendant Sony makes "false and misleading advertising claims by deceiving consumers about the extent to which it will stand behind the product in the event of a defect or design or manufacture is discovered".

As a class action suit, other people who have experienced this same issue will be able to join the complaint and be represented by Musharbash’s attorney. Class action lawsuits often have more traction than individual cases, as they affect more people. As a global corporation, Sony will have a powerful legal team that could defend itself against this claim but to appear sympathetic toward its customer base, the company should definitely give consideration to its serial number strategy. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.