What Is CompUSA's TAP Service Like, Post-CompUSA? Not So Great

(Update: The new CompUSA contacted us to say they will make sure all TAP agreements from the previous incarnation of the company are properly honored.) Remember when CompUSA shut down? Before it emerged from its ashes to fill my inbox with daily email circulars, it announced that Assurant Solutions, the company that underwrote its Technology Assurant Plan (TAP) extended-warranty service, would be honoring all remaining TAP agreements. Now a Consumerist reader, Tom, has a problem with the power cable on his laptop, and Assurant Solutions says they won’t replace the frayed cable: “[The CSR] tells me that he is unable to help me any further since the damage isn’t accidental.” Apparently “honoring” means “we’ll take your calls, but turn you down.”

I feel really stuck after being on the phone with Assurant Solutions. I have a Toshiba laptop which I bought for $2,000 from CompUSA 2 years ago. Also, I bought the TAP extra service for 3 years of additional service. About a year ago, my ac adapter stopped sending power to my laptop, and I had it replaced with a cheaper brand through TAP, no problem.

Now about 2 weeks ago, I noticed my wires were fraying and I wasn’t getting power to my laptop. And more recently, when I went on vacation, the wires became completely detached, no more power. But I wasn’t too concerned, I still have a year of coverage.

So I look up the number for support and I call and talk to a Christopher who is quite helpful. He notifies me that CompUSA has been bought out, and his company (www.assurantsolutions.com) has taken over the extended warranties. He also tells me, under the new warranty with his company, I am entitled to 1 battery replacement, 1 screen replacement, and 1 ac adapter replacement. Great! So I tell him I need my adapter replaced, and tell him my wire has become disconnected.

He then tells me that he is unable to help me any further since the damage isn’t accidental.

Tom tried to reason with Christopher, but got nowhere. He tried to escalate the call to a manager and was told one would call him back—but nobody did. Tom called back and argued with another CSR who refused to provide a manager, and who eventually just ended the call:

“I tell him if he is unable to help me, get me someone who is, but instead, he talks over me and says “thank you for calling” and hangs up on me.”

Now, I feel helpless and stuck with no where to go. Mario was nice enough to give me their homepage, but after quickly searching, I can’t find any email addresses or phone numbers, except for the number I originally called. What can I do next? Who can I call/email? I feel royally ripped off, paying $500 for a warranty program that doesn’t do anything.

Has anyone had success with getting Assurant to honor their TAP agreement? These similar complaints on ConsumerAffairs.com make it seem unlikely, with Assurant claiming warranties aren’t on file or that the terms of the warranty have changed and they’ll no longer make the requested repairs.

Tom, you may want to try contacting the executive offices at Assurant Solutions to ask for more details, such as a written copy of exactly what your TAP covers under Assurant.

(Photo: dump by oddsock, sign by walkingsf)

Comments

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  1. petrarch1614 says:

    how can frayed wires not be accidental? are they saying its intentional?

  2. rport says:

    I had something similar with Circuit City’s protection plans a couple of times. What eventually happened on one is that the BBB got involved and they managed to force the warranty company to do something. The second time, the BBB got involved and someone at Circuit City’s HQ told them that the case “was being handled” (even though it never was). From that point the BBB wouldn’t touch it.

    My advice – get the BBB involved ASAP against Assurant. Even if you do nothing more than file a complaint about how rude they were and how little the helped, it’ll be a start.

  3. The_IT_Crone says:

    What the… NOT accidental? Most company would say that a severed AC actually IS accidental. This is so odd. They’re definitely not abiding by the contract/agreement.

    It makes me so nervous, I have a huge Sony plasma TV that still still has a few years to go on this pseudo-service plan. I have already had it serviced, like a month before CompUSA announced it was closing. My service plan was to cover EVERYTHING… is this still true? Teach me to ever buy a service plan again.

  4. ThomFabian says:

    So, I suppose the opposite of “accidental” in this case would be “deliberate”.

    “Yeah, COMPUSA? I broke this daggum Laptop charger on purpose, send me a new one”

  5. Quatre707 says:

    Assurant is the evil company behind many retail stores’ extended warranties such as Staples and CompUSA. I feel sorry for anyone who had purchased coverage from CompUSA, at least with Staples you can walk into a store and take your issue to a manager in person.

    Assurant warranties are almost as much bullshit as those from Best Buy. Take this for example, all extended warranties “from” Assurant cover up to $1,000 in power surge damage… or so they are advertised. Unfortunatly when you do have a computer destroyed by a power surge, and you call Assurant for service, you will be told there is no coverage unless you can prove your home owner’s insurance does not cover it.
    How kind of them to force their customers to go through all that extra trouble, wasting their time, and reassuring them they had wasted their money on the original warranty purchase.

  6. ITDEFX says:

    A few months before CompUSA closed down in my area (fairfax,va) My mom’s camera started corrupting memory cards for some strange reason. So we took it in for service since she was covered with TAP. Came back two weeks later and it seemed like the memory card corruption was fixed (their solution was “RESET TO FACTORY DEFAULT”). However auto focus was completely screwed up. So we sent it back again because Autofocus was working fine before we turned in it. We got it back and the report said they replaced the lens (cost them 180 bucks) but everything was working fine.

    Then CompUSA shuts down, several months later the camera starts making this weird click/glitching sound and still has problems auto focusing. The nearest Compusa is in MD and they said I have to take it up there to be fixed. Now they are gone and we are left with a crapped out camera.

    A year after Compusa closed down, the building has STILL NOT BEEN OCCUPIED! From what I read Compusa owed a lot of back rent when they went under and I guess on one wants to pay up for their mistakes.

  7. elislider says:

    i worked at compusa. they love to deny everything that should be convered under TAP. its pathetic

  8. P41 says:

    Most likely they mean it’s normal wear-and-tear instead of ‘oops run over by a bulldozer’ style accidental damage. Check the terms of your warranty. In my experience the service people say the opposite, like oh no that broke because you dropped it (I didn’t) as opposed to just packing and unpacking so many times that it wears out.

    I think things such as laptops are a) expected to be damaged by user before short-lived pieces can wear out, and b) If they aren’t, are likely to be in poor enough shape that the blame goes to user anyway.

    You’re in a poor position to enforce breach-of-contract. Might consider just reconnecting the wire or finding a new adapter.

  9. mikemar42 says:

    I worked for CUSA. I told customers that tap covered everything, even if it didn’t. Then I’d sell them the most expensive tap I could. I didn’t care about using the price scale, if they agreed to pay for a 400 platinum tap on a 500 computer fuck them I sold it. Every lie helped put more money per check in my pocket. I made some nice spiffs. People lie all the time, get over it. I made stupid people pay more than they should, presidents lie and send young men and women to shoot, bomb, and disembowel five year old children in wars. Grow up, read your contract, and call 1-800-Compusa, that is if you did ask for the tap booklet when you bought it. You did didn’t you ? Dealing with service plans are worse than dealing with Lucifer himself sometimes. If your a customer that after all these years still believes getting the warranty is a good idea, you got what you deserved.

  10. junkmail says:

    @mikemar42: There’s a special place set aside in the deepest, darkest regions of hell just for people like you.

    That being said, you do have to be pretty broke-brained to shell out for the extended warranty.

  11. ColoradoShark says:

    @mikemar42: Thank you for providing your comments. It is very instructive to have your point of view about how employees on commission just see customers as pockets to be picked.

    Yes, we are lied to by politicians all the time. That is why Congress has a ridiculously low approval rating. We want better.

  12. JeffDrummer says:

    My Tom Tom died and the EXACT SAME THING happened. I considered writing but figured it was just me.

    They did say they were going to issue RMAs no less than three times but never did.

    At least my warranty didn’t cost as much since I knew the manager of the store as a close friend…

    Jeez I loathe that crap hole.

  13. mindshadow says:

    Unfortunately mikemar42 hit the nail on the head. I worked at CompUSA and it’s true that most salesmen would tell you anything to get you to buy it. Not only because of the nice padding it added to your check but also because if you didn’t sell it you got yelled at or fired.

    So glad CompUSA is gone. What a horrible place.

    And remember folks, never ever EVER buy an extended warranty from a retail store. They’re all shit. If you want proof just read the terms of the warranty.

  14. sean77 says:

    Well, how much is a new adapter online? It should be between $20-$50 online. Hardly something to go all warranty over.

  15. MunkyBoi says:

    “Extended Warranties” are typically designed to exclude the most likely situation – if they weren’t designed that way, the companies underwriting them wouldn’t stay in business. Often, the retailer selling it has very little to do with fixing the item in any way, they just get their cut for selling the contract. There are exceptions, but they’re few and far between.

  16. aront says:

    I never had any luck with TAP which is why I stopped buying there entirely and started buying at Best Buy (say what you will, my Best Buy has good service).

    Incidentally, why doesn’t the OP just accidentally drop his AC adapter in the toilet?

    Ps, If you have TAP I already felt sorry for you prior to CompUSA closing, now I just can’t imagine how awful your situation is…

  17. sponica says:

    My dad has a TAP from Compusa, and so far it’s been not too bad. They sent him a new CD/DVD drive when that started acting up…although I have no idea if it was a hardware problem or a software problem. Then his computer completely crashed before he had a chance to install the new drive. Apparently they only do onsite service calls, so he can’t just send him the desktop. But maybe that’s for the best, so he doesn’t lose his computer in a black hole known as repairs.

  18. badfad says:

    While the photo illustration that goes along with this post is incidental, I’d like to note that you all are looking at a photo of the Maui County landfill and those are the West Maui Mountains in the background.

    Pristine Hawai’i.

  19. RedBraid says:

    I do IT support for small companies in my area, and I have to say, if you are buying a laptop, get the “business” version.

    Go to PCConnection (or your favorite vendor), and get the laptop that has a _three_ year manufacturer’s warranty. Those models are a little pricier than the consumer grade, but they are better built, and you get better tech support from the company.

    As far as I know, all of the big names have business class machines: HP, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Gateway…

    And they are only a little bit more expensive than the consumer grade.

  20. dolphswim3 says:

    I’ve been dealing with them for 7-8 months now – and I’ve had to have my computer sent in 4 times now for repairs. It’s a nightmare trying to get anyone to do anything, and they aren’t helpful at all. I kept calling them, just about every day, and would speak to a CSR, and then to a manager. I finally had one manager tell me that they would call me back, but never got an answer to him as to what would happen if they didn’t call me back. Good luck trying to get anything repaired – and if you do get the elusive box that you’ll need to send it off be sure to take pictures of your computer and note its condition before you send it in. The last time I send my computer in they damaged the plastic screen surrounding my laptop monitor.

  21. LittleEnosBurdette says:

    Just fix it. The plug on my lappie finally frayed to the point of failure. Went to Rat Shack and got a 2 pack of replacement plugs for $3 and change. Cut off the frayed end, soldered on the replacement, and was back in business in an hour. If you can’t preserve the RF filter before the plug (wire too short to attach the new plug), you can get them at the Shack also for another buck or two.

  22. Ubermunch says:

    Ok… maybe this is a stretch for some… But…

    You’re better off trying to fix and/or maintain your own computer. I do not believe that there is even *one* honest soul in “tech” support for computers, networks, software, etc. Steer clear of these weenies by first, buying the parts for your computer and putting it together yourself. Mwave will mount the processor on the motherboard and fully test it (with a decent guarantee) and that is by far the worst part. After that, all you really need is some basic computer skills, a screwdriver, and some time and patience. Most computer assemblies in a miniATX or ATX chassis are pretty straightforward. Make certain to have all the protections in place SW-wise too… McAfee, Lavasoft’s AdAware, etc. so that you are not infected or zombied.

    With a computer that YOU personally built and secured with decent software… you will be able to take care of it better because you will know what each piece does, the SW, what drivers are required, etc. and what issues are caused by each component – even what noises are normal. It will take a lot of the mystery out of the machine…. so what if the learning curve is a few months (or years).

    Even with a well maintained homemade desktop, troubles will pop up. In these cases I say it’s better for people to research and fix the problem **themselves** than to trust some half wit, reformatting, shop lizard. I recently had to fix a drive problem on my laptop that was exceedingly difficult to find and fix (PIO fallback that was nonresetting – MS programmers are buttheads): a PIO default setting that kicked in and crippled my drive as a result of one bad boot. It took HOURS and HOURS of my time to finally research the correct fix (hard edits to registry) but the fix was perfect, it solved the problem, and no reformat or data loss was required.

    If you use a computer… learn it… build it… maintain it… upgrade it… Don’t pay a submoronic loser with a Phillips head screwdriver and an internet pr0n habit mess with your most vital appliance. Well, for me… my second most vital appliance ;-)

  23. komit456 says:

    I had to deal with TAP for a replacement Toshiba laptop battery (about a week before my warranty expired). Apparently at some point along the way between CompUSA and Assurant, customer records got ‘lost’–however, I had my receipt and faxed a copy of it over to them and voila I was in their system.
    After about 10-15 minutes on the phone, I got a UPS mailing label to print. I mailed my battery a couple of days later, and a few days later got a replacement (much faster than the ten business days that they suggested). I would have been sunk without my receipt though, because otherwise there would be no record of my purchase.

  24. Woofer00 says:

    @Ubermunch: I both agree and disagree. For a high end machine, all you said is true. However, it takes an exorbitant amount of time to research parts, compatibilities, and to find the best prices. Even then, you may still pay a premium, and the time invested may very well have cost you more than the savings of doing it yourself. For systems that cost under $1000, it is far cheaper and easier to simply go to a mass-market builder such as Dell/HP/Toshiba/IBM/etc.

    For laptops, there is simply no choice. I know of only one, possibly two user-buildable laptops, and they are some of the least friendly machines on the market.

    As far as fixing your own problems, the technical knowledge required to dig through regedit or BIOS settings is far above the typical users skillset. I would personally rather just drill it into a user’s mind that backups are as an essential part of life as reformats, rather than let anyone try to do a registry repair or modification.

    Paying GeekSquad/FireDog/bigboxtechsupport for the repair is ultimately a waste of money. Post a craigslist ad for tech help or reach out to your teenage neighbor. A 6-pack of beer or a pie of pizza is usually more than enough to justify two or three hours of tech support.

  25. Nick Wright says:

    I worked for a company that subcontracts under Assurant. By the time the repair jobs came to us the customers were already fed up, so we got the short end of the stick. Glad I’m not a CompUSA customer.

  26. Dobernala says:

    @sean77: Whats the point of a warranty if you’re not going to use it?

  27. Dobernala says:

    @Dobernala: Or rather, not going to use it when something breaks?

  28. sean77 says:

    @Dobernala: he already used it once, he said that when his adapter broke the first time, TAP replaced it with a cheaper generic replacement. When that broke, he couldn’t replace it a second time. I say he’s better off buying a new one online instead of fighting to get another cheapo generic adapter that will break in a year.

  29. kls525 says:

    @Ubermunch: To say: “I do not believe that there is even *one* honest soul in “tech” support for computers, networks, software, etc.” is the same as saying that all white people are prejudiced or all black people are not prejudiced. The majority of us(and I HATE this term) “old school” techs are completely honest with regard to their benchwork. Unfortunately, I have to agree with you concerning this latest generation of “techs” who couldn’t find their collective asses with both hands. BTW – Kudos to mikemar42 for confirming that fervent inbreeding and a lack of personal integrity combine to create the ultimate in retail salespersons.

  30. tmadd says:

    Guys, all this back and forth is completely missing the point. As a servicer who has repaired thousands of products under every extended warranty in the book, this is simple – what do the terms and conditions say?

    Just get them out and read them, it’s simple.

    My guess is we have the blind leading the blind here – a customer who doesn’t know what questions to ask and a customer service rep who doesn’t know how to get the right information across.

    Typically most warranties cover normal failure (i.e a part fails in normal use) and not “abuse”. If my LCD screen just stops working one day, it’s covered. If my LCD screen stops working because someone SAT on it, it’s not covered. Simple.

    I’m guessing the customer service rep felt that the AC cord becamse “frayed” through abuse. Maybe he’s wrong, but I think everyone reading this would agree that it’s unlikely an AC cord would “fray” in normal use. I’ve had many laptops, am a frequent business traveler so it gets plugged and unplugged many times a day in less-than-ideal conditions, I’ve certainly loosened up the plugs to the point where they have to be plugged in “just so” to work, but I’ve never “frayed” a cord.

    Now… jam the cord in a drawer and shut it on it? That’ll fray it – but it’s not normal failure, it’s abuse. Everyone out there – look at your AC cord right now and think about what it would take to “fray” it – is that normal use or abuse?

    There are any number of warranty terms and conditions that are “buyer-unfriendly”, but they’re in black and white. If you don’t want to agree to those terms, don’t buy the warranty. Once you buy it, either don’t complain about the terms you agreed to or ask for a pro-rated refund (I think that’s legally required in many states…) Good luck!

  31. RAL3213 says:

    I purchased my Sony VIAO laptop on August 28, 2005, along with a 3 year TAP plan online. I have been having a problem with CompUSA honoring my TAP plan now for over a month. I first called on June 29 and told them what happened to my computer. After almost an hour on the phone, the guy told me to order the system restore CD’s for my computer and try that. He also told me that I would have to fax in proof of my purchase to show that I had purchased my computer and my warranty. I faxed in my Web Order confirmation showing all of my purchases, including the computer and warranty on July 1st.

    On July 10th, after I had tried the system restores CD’s and they did not work, I called back CompUSA. They told me that the fax was not received because the first guy had given me the old fax number that they do not use. Then they transferred me to someone who was able to find the fax, and told me it would be 3 more business days until it was put into their system.

    I called back July 15th, and was told the fax had still not been put into their system. After being given the run around by this guy, I asked to talk to a Supervisor. The Supervisor said he would “personally take care of it tomorrow and to call back tomorrow” and I would be able to get my computer sent in.

    I called back the next night, and it still wasn’t taken care of. I requested to speak with a supervisor again, and it ended up being the same guy from the previous night. He told me there was nothing that he could do and it would be 2-3 more business days before it was in their system.

    I called back on July 21st and explained what had happened and the girl that I talked to told me it was still not in their system. I requested once again to talk to a supervisor and she put me on hold. After being on hold for 20 minutes, she told me that no supervisor could be found at the time and one would call me back.

    After waiting around all afternoon for a supervisor to call me back, I finally called back. I spoke with a man who told me that I needed to re-fax my information in because the fax had not been received. (Keep in mind that this is after talking to five different people, including a supervisor twice that the fax had been received). He told me then that after the fax was received at the correct number that I should have been given in the first place, it would be another 3 business days.

    After waiting the three business days, AGAIN, I called back on July 25th. This woman told me that the information that I had supplied was not enough for them to create a contract.

    I had found a number to call that said that they were the OLD CompUSA (866-366-0642) so I tried giving them a call. This got me to the same number I’ve been calling and the woman informed me there was nothing that they would do.

    I took my computer to Circuit City over the weekend, only for them to charge me $32 to tell me that they are not equipped to fix the problem with my computer, I came home to search and found this website. After reading the statement from Lonny Paul, I decided to give CompUSA another chance.

    This morning at 8:30, I called 1-800-COMP-USA as Lonny Paul stated, and explained the problem that I was having. The guy that I talked to stated that he didn’t think there was much that they could do, but he would have a manager call me back. I left my name, phone number, cell phone number and email.

    After waiting until 4:00 and receiving no call or email from anyone at CompUSA, I decided to call back. I explained that I was waiting for a phone call from a manager and no one had gotten back to me so I called back to try and resolve this problem. I explained the problem that I’ve been having, and explained that I have never been treated so rudely by any company. This guy told me that I was “wasting my time” by calling them and proceeded to tell me that CompUSA had been bought out and the only reason they still have the name was in order to be allowed to open stores in Texas. He repeatedly told me that I was wasting my time and was very aggressive about this. He also implied that I was wasting his time by calling the number. I even read him the statement that Lonny Paul had left on this site stating that this was the number that I should call if I was having problems with my TAP plan being honored. He told me to contact my credit card company, which I have done and now have to wait 14 days for my statement to come to try to prove that I really have purchased this computer. At no time was there any kind of apology for no manager calling me back or for the problems that I have been having.

    Hopefully this will help someone out, or Lonny Paul will read this and realize that he needs to talk to his people in “Customer Service”.

  32. itango says:

    This is actually funny because I had the same exact thing happen. My AC adapter cord was frayed and they claimed I didn’t have insurance on it.
    20$ to some Chinese company and yay I have a new AC adapter! (that interferes w/ guitar hero guitars when plugged in..)

  33. AJArnot says:

    I worked for Comp for their final few years. Although they kept an electronic database of TAP (Technology Assurance Program) purchases dating back to the late 90’s that was accessible by either phone number, serial number, or name/month/year information, customers have to know, and I always heard the cashiers warn, that the database was only a back-up–a convenience, and to be sure to save their receipts. I have to assume that doing so is common sense, anyway, right? Compounding the problem is the frequency with which customer information was entered incorrectly (one incorrect character can cause a negative search result), and serial number information was either not entered at all, or entered incorrectly. It is highly likely you will need that receipt these days. Assurant admitted to very few of the TAP plans I own, originally purchased under three different phone numbers that I provided their rep today. {I saved all of my receipts, but they are not well organized, so I tested them out by having them search via my personal information.} Before Comp shut down, I printed phone-number specific lists of all of my past TAP purchases. I had to use that list today to provide an Assurant rep with a receipt number for a laptop renewal plan. The rep said the record did not come up when she searched using the phone number, which, by the way, my list shows the plan was originally purchased under. Since at least one of my purchases was admittedly accessible by phone number, they have either lost data, or purged data, or maybe, for some reason, they push their reps to require the receipt before going forward. Whatever it is, expect to need your receipt.

    By the way, there must have been miscommunication regarding the AC adapter this poster talks about, because Comp did not sell accidental protection plans for laptops, except in the case of a broken LCD screen. A frayed adapter would not be covered under the plan, but your friendly Tech Shop Manager might do you and the Sales Manager a favor, and lie to the TAP group about the nature of the problem in order to keep the customer happy–a common occurrance when we could get away with it.

  34. Sean M Gibson says:

    I’m another CompUSA TAP sucker. I think we might have a class action case here given the consistent breach of terms and clear business policies designed to thwart customer service requests.

    I’ve returned my HP dv6275 four times, and the battery four times. This process started last October. My warranty is about to expire (3/31/09) and I’m scrambling to hold them accountable before the contract expires. Time for a note to the BBB and Consumer Affairs.