Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Laptop Warranty Blues

Three years ago, when I purchased my Toshiba Tecra A4 laptop, I also purchased the extended three year “drop kick” warranty for an additional $254.15. It was my understanding that this would cover any problem I had with the machine for three years.

I should note here that I seldom buy extended warranties.

The laptop though is another issue entirely. I lug my laptop around everywhere. It goes traveling with me, it goes out on the patio, into the mall and god knows where else. I should also note that I am not exactly what you might describe as a gentle person. The point being that I am a little rough on my equipment. Buying a “drop kick” warranty seemed to be a prudent thing to do.

As it turns out, my little laptop has proven to be a fairly tough little machine. With the extended warranty period coming to an end next month, I never needed to use it, until a few weeks ago that is. It wasn’t the computer itself that encountered problems. It was the AC adapter that gave up the ghost. Of course a laptop without an AC adapter is a laptop on limited life support. I dug out my extended warranty papers and called the 800 number. No problem, I was told. They would ship a new AC adapter out to me in 7 to 10 business days.

That’s a problem. My laptop battery life is around four hours. In the past I have given thought to having two AC adapters, one for my office and one for home. I decided that this was the opportunity to do just that so I bought a universal AC adapter. When Toshiba sent me my replacement I’d have two. It’s a plan. So far so good.

After waiting ten days and not receiving my replacement adapter I called Toshiba again to find out what was up. Of course I doubt I was actually calling Toshiba but rather some call center in India. This time the representative informed me that it often takes 10 to 15 business days for these parts to arrive. What happened to the 7 to 10 days I was told previously?

The guy didn’t have an answer for that except to say that the guy who promised a quicker delivery was misinformed.

“Can you at least tell me that it was shipped?”

“It was shipped,” he told me. He couldn’t tell me when though.

I began to suspect that they might be dragging this out. Recall that I only had a little over a month left on my warranty period. I began to envision a month and half of chasing a hundred dollar AC adapter. They were going to try and grind me down.

Taking his word, I waited the requisite 15 business days for AC adapter. It never arrived. I called again. This time, when the representative got on the phone I started right in on him.

“Let me begin by saying that I know this isn’t your fault and I am not angry at you.” I then proceeded to give him my name, address, the serial number of my laptop, the service order that the first guy gave me and the date and time of my last call when I was told the item had been shipped.

After that I simply said, “I'd like to speak with a supervisor please.”

Without any argument he asked me to hold while he got a supervisor.

As it turns out, all the supervisors were busy. He then gave me a different 800 number to call. He told me that this was a Customer Relations number. He suggested that this might be a better approach for me at this point. He also gave me a new “case number.” I imagined my little file at Toshiba was getting bigger and bigger. I thanked him and hung up.

The next morning I called the new 800 number. This time the woman I spoke with politely informed me that the AC adapter wasn’t covered by my warranty.

“Wait a minute, I already have a service number.” This time the fact that I already had a case number meant she couldn’t help. It wasn't her area. She gave me yet another 800 number.

The next live person I got on the phone was immediately subjected the whole litany of my Toshiba travails complete with serial numbers, order numbers, and bad 800 numbers. Once again I told the person that I was certain he was nice fellow and that he personally had nothing to do with my little drama but, despite all that, he wasn’t likely to be able to make me happy at this point either. I asked him to connect me with his supervisor. He readily complied.

I waited no more than five minutes on hold when Betty came on the phone. I immediately took a liking to Betty. She was all business. She had already reviewed my case before she even got on the line.

“Somebody messed up,” she offered.

I told I appreciated her candor.

“The order was booked but never sent,” she explained. In very short order, Betty confirmed that the item was in stock and with a few keystrokes sent it down into the system and to my front door.

My brand new AC adapter arrived two days later.

Before Betty and I parted I asked how I could ever find the real Toshiba customer relations again. I still have six weeks left on my warranty after all.

I wanted Betty’s number.


macsmom said...

So beautifully written!!!!

Dave W said...

I must say, my only warranty experience with Hewlett Packard was actually pretty good (even better than I feared). I had a sound card go bad literally two weeks before my two-year extended warranty was scheduled to expire. HP sent me a box, packing material and FedEx label to me in order for me to send my laptop to California to get it fixed. Exactly seven days later after I dropped it off at FedExKinkos, I had my laptop back in my hands working the way it should.

Garmin also replaced my new GPS that went bad and had the replacement one in my hands within eight days after I sent my broken one to them.

Anonymous said...

Betty rocks my world

andreyaradford said...

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