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September 6, 2004
Where Not To Buy A Laptop

I mentioned earlier that my laptop crumbled under the strain of my Republican convention blogging; it started malfunctioning on Saturday evening, which (fortunately) happened after the convention, but still presents me with an incredible inconvenience. Since I just bought the computer on July 29th, I presumed that CompUSA would try to do their best to make this right. Unfortunately, that presumption was incorrect.

I took the Toshiba S126 laptop back to the CompUSA outlet in Bloomington, MN, where I was told that despite the six-week-old status of the laptop, my only option was to send it back to the manufacturer, despite my having purchased a three-year maintenance agreement from CompUSA. I told the CompUSA clerk that I needed my laptop for my business, which requires me to be mobile, and that being without my laptop would create tremendous difficulties for me.

I inquired whether CompUSA could just provide me with a loaner by using my laptop's hard drive (I know the problem is hardware related) during the intervening time that Toshiba needed to replace the motherboard. I was told this:

* Yes, that can be done.
* The manager whose approval would be required decided to go home early.

So CompUSA must routinely allow their stores to go without the supervision required to ensure customer concerns get addressed. I asked if another CompUSA in the area might have their manager on duty. After waiting 10 minutes for the clerk to make the calls, I was told this:

* The nearest store had a manager on duty.
* They did not have a laptop available as a loaner.

Sensing that this was going to be futile, I instructed the clerk to call the manager who decided to go home early to get approval for the loaner. He disappeared for another 10 minutes, and when he returned, he told me this:

* The manager wasn't available.
* He didn't need the manager to authorize the use of a loaner with my hard drive swapped in.
* CompUSA would charge me $100 per week for the use of the "loaner".

I explained that with that pricing, each week would cost me roughly 10% of what I paid for the laptop to begin with. I also expressed my unhappiness with what I felt was terrible customer service, given that CompUSA sold me a defective machine less than six weeks ago. I then asked how long it would take for the computer to get fixed. He told me that it could be as long as three weeks, which meant that my "loaner" would have cost me $300, or about a third of the computer's original price.

But here's the best part --

When I asked why that was, he told me that Toshiba had problems with inventory control, so they didn't know what parts they had on hand at any one time.

So here's my advice to anyone who is looking to buy a computer. Don't buy a Toshiba, because God help you if it requires any parts replacement. And don't buy anything at CompUSA, whose idea of customer service after they take your money is to shrug their shoulders and explain to you in a half-dozen ways why it isn't their problem they sold you a pile of crap.

Tomorrow morning I will call Lee Weissbec at the Bloomington, MN location to find out what exactly they intend to do for me beyond passing the buck. I'll update you as the issue develops.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 6, 2004 6:09 PM

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» CompUSA -- only for small parts, not systems from One Man's Vote
Several years ago, I had a problem similar to the one reported by Ed Morrissey with a Toshiba laptop bought at CompUSA. The Professor notes similar problems with the chain reported by other people and wonders if this suggests that... [Read More]

Tracked on September 6, 2004 8:57 PM

» CompUSA's Customer Service Problem from QandO
Via, Instapundit, I notice that both Ed Morrissey and Doug Weinstein have had some Customer Service problems with CompUSA. Both of their stories seem oddly familiar to me. A few months ago, I bought the new Sony DSC-F828 8-Megapixel digital... [Read More]

Tracked on September 7, 2004 5:16 AM

» Hey, Nathan... from the madman in the park...
Ed Morrissey is having CompUSA problems. I'm stunned -- STUNNED -- that someone would experience problems with CompUSA. He should really listen to the people telling him to buy a PowerBook though. I needed some service on mine a couple [Read More]

Tracked on September 7, 2004 11:15 AM

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