My refurbished computer from TigerDirect doesn’t work. Can I get my money back?

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By Christopher Elliott

Jane Tabachnick orders a refurbished computer from TigerDirect. It doesn’t work, and she asks for a refund. Why can’t she get her money back?

Question

I bought a refurbished computer from TigerDirect recently. I was not aware at the time that the computer would come to me via Blair Technology, one of the company’s partners.

The first computer arrived and did not turn on. Blair agreed to replace it. 

I received a replacement, but it stopped working after a week or two. When I spoke with Blair’s support about getting a replacement computer, a representative there told me if I had any problems, they would refund me. I agreed to let them ship me a new computer rather than get a refund.

 The next replacement computer did not work. 

I requested a refund and called both TigerDirect and Blair multiple times, only to have each of them say the other one is responsible. TigerDirect told me I need an authorization number, and then Blair Technology told me they didn’t issue RMA numbers.  I wrote to the executive offices of both companies and did not hear a word. 

I’ve asked my credit card company to get me a refund and they have not been successful. I would appreciate your speaking with the companies and getting me a refund for the $213. I have the dead computer sitting here waiting to be returned for my refund. — Jane Tabachnick, Montclair, N.J.

Answer

Refurbished computers are hit-or-miss. You might get a problem-free computer that lasts five years or more. But you might get a dud. Or two. Or three.

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Your case is extraordinary. Usually, if you get a nonworking product, the replacement will work. You were exceptionally unlucky.

Here’s the problem — and it’s not your problem. TigerDirect didn’t sell to you directly. It was just the middleman. Your computer came from another company, Blair Technology. Many companies do this, but when they do, it’s important to remember that the business that sold you the item (in this case, Tiger) is the responsible party. So it doesn’t matter that one company issues an authorization number and another doesn’t. That’s not your concern. It’s their problem.

Although I don’t publish the executive information for TigerDirect, it’s fairly easy to find the names of its managers and their emails online. I would have sent a brief, polite email to one of them, asking them to help you break this logjam. It looks like you tried that but were ignored. I have some additional tips for getting better customer service by using the Elliott Method, my proven strategy for obtaining excellent customer service.

You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted the company on your behalf. The company reached out to Blair to address the RMA problem and then refunded your purchase. 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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