Raphael Milion paid $950 for his Toshiba laptop. Best Buy cheerfully accepted the money, but two months later, when he complained about a frozen mouse, the company gave him a “not our problem” response and deferred to the manufacturer.
Sound familiar? If this hasn’t happened to you at some point, it’s probably happened to someone you know. Contracts and warranties are written so as to make it difficult to get problems like Milion’s fixed, leaving countless consumers stuck with electronics and other products that simply don’t work.
Worse, we are made to feel as if it’s our fault — for not reading the fine print in the adhesion contract, for not paying extra for an “enhanced” (and highly profitable) warranty or just for not making a more informed buying decision. But make no mistake, my friends: The blame is not yours, and it’s not Milion’s.
Here are a few details. Back in January, Milion bought a Toshiba laptop at a Best Buy in San Diego.
“Approximately a month later, I noticed that the touchpad kept freezing,” he says. “It was unbearable, and it is impossible to work with it.”
Milion phoned Best Buy and asked if he could return the computer. Best Buy told him to contact Toshiba.
“Toshiba did two remote desktop assistance sessions,” he remembers. “But they could not solve the problem.”
The only solution: return the laptop. But Milion, a Ph.D. student, was on an academic deadline and this was his only computer.
Meanwhile, the warranty clock was ticking ….
“As soon as I could, I sent Toshiba the computer,” he says. “I paid $30 for a special box and shipping, as recommended by Toshiba.”
That was this spring.
The freezing mouse wasn’t the only problem. The computer made funny clicking sounds and it had an odd asymmetry in its hinges. In short, it was a lemon.
“The computer came back and, to my surprise, they did nothing,” he says. “The maintenance report said that they only have unplugged and plugged the touchpad connector. They have not even documented the noise and the hinges. The mouse is still freezing, making it impossible to use. And they scratched my computer when opening the screws.”
You call that service? C’mon, Toshiba.
“I called Toshiba immediately,” he recalls. “The first two attendants couldn’t help at all. I reached a supervisor. She read the report, and it was clear that they were careless about my complaints. They haven’t identified any hardware problem.”
Oh, before I forget, here are executive contacts for Toshiba. Not that they were of any use.
Undeterred, Milion returned to Best Buy. After all, he’d bought the computer from one of its stores and it was a “Best Buy exclusive” model. Surely, they would help.
“They said it is impossible to exchange the laptop,” he says. “I asked to talk to a manager, but all he could offer us was to send the computer back to Toshiba, which I couldn’t agree to. I can’t be without a computer for another 15 days, and I don’t trust Toshiba anymore.”
And that’s where our advocacy team comes in. We contacted Toshiba on Milion’s behalf, believing this was all a simple misunderstanding.
It wasn’t. Toshiba ignored our repeated requests to help their customer. My advocacy team is shocked at the complete lack of customer service.
Of course, these so-called store policies that force you to send a computer back to the manufacturer let companies like Best Buy off the hook. But in the end, Toshiba made the PC, allegedly stood behind it, and it failed to do the most basic follow-up for this student.
If you could see me now, you’d see a guy who is overheating with rage like a vintage computer running on a new OS. Just because Toshiba and Best Buy can do this doesn’t make it right.
Oh, I know. He should have read the contract, should have read the warranty, should have done his research. Comment away, my friends. But that doesn’t make me any less upset about what happened to Milion.