Whatever Acer Is Doing To Your Laptop Is The Opposite Of Repairing It

Reader Alex bought an Acer laptop with a 3 year extended warranty, and honestly, we lost count of how many times he’s sent it in to Acer for repairs — but every time Acer sends it back it seems to get a little bit less functional. Now he’s finally had enough and is demanding a replacement. This has lead to a 5 month stand-off in which Acer is refusing to send him a replacement because it would be a “downgrade” from his current broken laptop. Alex has already replaced the laptop and was going to give up. We’re his last hope…

I purchased an Acer Travelmate 8100 my freshman year of college, and with it the 3 year extended warranty. The first two years I had it, it worked decently, but there were issues with the screen sometimes taking on a green hue. I tried twice to get it repaired, but nothing permanently fixed it. Given that the problem did not occur frequently I gave up trying to get it fixed, since doing so involved almost a month without a computer (a week each way for shipping and a little over a week in the shop). Also, on two separate occasions, I was told I did not have a warranty, and had to fax in all of the applicable paperwork. The first time this happened, I chalked it up to some sort of error in activating my warranty, but when my trying to set up my next repair three months later, I was told the exact same thing and there was mysteriously no record of anyone in the company having spoken to me ever.

Going into its third year, however, the laptop started to fail miserably. Innumerable problems started occurring, including my hard drive dying, my wireless card refusing to work, and of course my screen was getting worse. After sending it in two or three more times, and getting every part I know of in it replaced (according to the memos sent back by Acer), halfway through the school year my screen died completely and would only project an image for about five minutes a day if I was lucky. I once again started the process of calling Acer, setting up a repair, shipping it, waiting for it to be repaired, waiting for it to ship back.

The day my computer arrived, I opened it, turned it on, and before it could even finish booting, the screen died. Nothing I could do would bring the image back, and so I, fairly irritated at this point, have to call Acer again to set up a new repair. Despite the fact that I had just gotten the laptop back from its “repair,” and five minutes later it was unusable again, they refused to help me out with faster shipping, or faster repair, or anything other than a standard repair. After this repair, I get the laptop back, again the screen does not work, again I have to send it back in. This time I was told it would be sent to a “senior repair technician” and red flagged to move through the system faster.

Two weeks later, I get my laptop back from its second repair, and discover upon taking it out of the box that it will not even turn on, making it less functional than when I sent it to them. I call Acer back and at this point tell them that since they are clearly unable to repair my laptop, I would like a refund for it. I was not hopeful that they would agree, and they did not, but I had to try. They try to tell me that I need to send it in for repair again, and when I refuse and tell them that some other action needs to be taken, they start bouncing me between various levels of CSRs to try to get someone who would deal with me. The first higher level person I was assigned to gave me a direct number to reach him at in order to avoid the wait when calling them (which has never been under half an hour in the 15+ times I have called).

The next day, I discover this is not a valid number when I try to call. I work my way through the calling system again and am finally assigned to a helpful person. They tell me they will try to find a replacement computer, but since they no longer manufacture the model I have, it might take some time. A week later, I call back and am told that they still have no computer for me. When I ask how long this could take, I was told there was no way to tell. I suggest that they send me a different model computer, but they refuse saying any other model would be a downgrade from my laptop and they cannot do that (despite my willingness to).

At this point it had been more than three months since I had a working laptop, and being an engineering student this was wreaking havoc on my life, so I finally simply had to buy a new laptop. The last time I talked to an Acer representative was about five months ago, and they said they would call me when they have a replacement computer. I had given up on this, but recently started reading the Consumerist and figured if there was any last hope of resolving this situation, it was with you.

If it makes you feel any better, Alex, you’re not the first person to run into trouble getting Acer to repair their laptop. It took this guy 7 months.

We’re not sure what the terms of your warranty are, but you have several options. First, you can launch an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) on Acer and see if that shakes a laptop loose. If you bought this laptop with a credit card, contact your credit card company and tell them that Acer is not abiding by the terms of your warranty and has refused to replace or (competently) repair your computer. If your credit card has decent warranty protection they should be able to help you.

As a last resort, consider filing a small claims lawsuit against Acer. It sounds hard and scary, but it really isn’t. Here’s some information about what small claims court is and how it can help you. For more information about launching an EECB, click here.

Comments

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  1. Zerkaboid says:

    The OP made the first big mistake here: Buying an Acer, seriously?

  2. Walrii says:

    The laptop is 2 years old. How in the world is Acer incapable of finding a model with better specs?

  3. campredeye says:

    Acer needs to rename to Failure

  4. seeker1321 says:

    I agree Neophilack, although their desktops are not to bad, their laptops have a horrible reputation.

  5. rwakelan says:

    @Walrii: it would be a downgrade because any replacement would have Vista on it…

  6. mariospants says:

    I really don’t like laptops: there just isn’t enough room in those cases to allow adequate ventilation and since everything is wedged up so close together, one little twist of the shell is enough to probably break 30 solder joints. I’ve never heard of a truly good laptop repair, usually they have to replace the whole damn thing.

  7. sleze69 says:

    This is why I always get an on-site warranty. My computers are always fixed in front of me.

  8. EvilSwine says:

    Having worked at a place that sold and repaired Acer / AOpen (same company) this really doesn’t surprise me. Do yourselves a favor stay away. We sent one laptop out for repair to have the hard drive replaced came back with new screen and same dead hard drive.

  9. HomersBrain says:

    Nelson Munz, “that was the day I threw computers off the Interstate bridge,”
    Marge Simpson, “That’s how we got our Acer !”

  10. alyssariffic says:

    @EvilSwine: Well I guess we know what happened to the replacement screen for Alex’s laptop

  11. Optimistic Prime says:

    @Neophiliack: I bought an Acer a year and a half ago, and *knocking on wood* no problems. Sometimes it’s the user of the product, but here it sounds as if the screen was legitimately crap to begin with.

  12. Scuba Steve says:

    My first pentium was an Acer.. Pentium @75MHZ, 16 Megs of ram, 800 Meg HD.

    It was the bomb.

  13. chumleyex says:

    Aopen isn’t Acer..

    As posted before, I used to work there. Call them every day and escalate your butt off. Write the BBB and send them a copy of the letter. What sucks is that I know some of the people doing the repairs.

  14. GenXCub says:

    Yep, back to the old consumerist… very first comment blamed the victim. Commenting standards indeed.

  15. kevinhall says:

    I don’t know about Acer repairs (sorry OP, that really sucks), but this is one of the reasons my last two laptops have been Dell. Though there are reasons they aren’t the greatest, they do offer a repair at home plan where I can get parts (including a new LCD when one burned out) overnighted to my house and a tech sent out to install them in under 24 hours. I called in with my burned out monitor around 6pm and had the new one installed by noon the next day. No shipping the computer out and waiting for weeks or even letting it out of my sight for a minute. If you really depend on your laptop it’s the best service plan I’ve found.

  16. mike says:

    Small Claims Court FTW.

  17. Zerkaboid says:

    @GenXCub: The comment wasn’t meant to be malicious, just meant to point out that Acer has a pretty horrid reputation, and while it’s a bad situation to be in that’s not the posters fault, there should be no surprise that it’s happening.

  18. Crymson_77 says:

    @campredeye: You need to shorten that so it meets with the design specifications of their current name. I would suggest: Fail

    :D

  19. MrEvil says:

    Unfortunately with Small claims court good luck collecting. The only way you’d have a chance at getting anything is if Acer has some tangible property present in your state. Such as an office they own or manufacturing facility. As far as I know with most of these computer manufacturers (unless they sell in the big box stores or are named Dell) most of their tangible assets are over in Asia.

  20. Aisley says:

    “I purchased an Acer Travelmate 8100…”

    Alex, Alex, Alex, Acer? What, were you not thinking? Do you know what Acer stands for? Acertainty of neverending headaches.

    After so many attempts to repair it, you need to do the following:

    a “poor me I need you to defend me” letter will make it to the desk of the State or District Attorney (you choose), with a notarized copy sent with the nice UPS-FEDEX-DHL service to the desk of the legal department of Acer. Believe me, this works. Of course you HAVE to attach all the copies and notes of your ordeal with Acer.

    This is what I did when I had problems with a Toshiba laptop. I was recommended to go to small claims court, but the truth is that I do not like courtrooms. So, I decided to write to my State Attorney. The original of the letter of course did not have the “CC” to Toshiba Legal Department; a bit sneaky, isn’t it? But make sure that the copy to Acer is notarized.

    One thing you need to know. The State Attorney’s office probably won’t even acknowledge they received your letter. But boy, Acer is going to call you faster than using a modem. And you’ll see how a better laptop materializes for you. They preffer to settle this way instead that State Attorney in court!

  21. AgentTuttle says:

    I have to believe that they did nothing to your machine but sit on it for a few weeks and send it back. How else could it EVER be that they would send you a machine that would not even start up?

    That being said, next time buy a friggin mac. Yeah, it costs more, but it is a million times more reliable, so therefore, worth it in the long run.

  22. JeffMc says:

    Anyone know if a chargeback would work here? It turns out that this is not the product he thought he was buying (working computer with competent warranty) but there’s some sort of time limit on chargebacks isn’t there?

  23. k6richar says:

    i dont understand how a company cannot make a reliable laptop
    i have an old IBM thinkpad T21 it is a pentium 3 1.1 ghz to give you an idea how old it is, since i dont actually know(but it is at least 4 years old likely a few years more). Thing runs flawlessly and i have never had to repair it.

  24. zonk7ate9 says:

    @kevinhall: Word. Dell has awesome warranties, and I’ve never had problems getting them to replace parts. Plus I can usually replace the parts myself so they just ship me the part and let me replace it myself. Then I just put the broken part back in the box put on the prepaid shipping label and call DHL to come pick it up. I don’t even have to take time off work to wait for a tech to show up.

  25. Breach says:

    As a PC repair tech I can say first had Acer machines are total crap and built poorly.

    We had one that apparently had a model wide issue with improper grounding, if you touched it in the right spot it would shut down!

  26. revmatty says:

    @mariospants: Depends on how well it’s designed/manufactured. IBM thinkpads are tough as hell. People always complained about paying a premium price for IBM hardware as opposed to say Gateway, but I’ve used dozens of computers from dozens of companies over the years and I’ll say this: you get what you pay for.

    I’ve been running an HP and an iBook for 8+ hours a day for years now and not had any problems with heat.

  27. rtwigg says:

    Thank goodness I found this thread. I was about to buy an Acer from NewEgg. Not now!

  28. sega8800 says:

    EECB on Acer? Joke?

  29. likefunbutnot says:

    Proper notebooks say Thinkpad on them.

    Thinkpad customer service goes like this: You dial the number, you hit 1 for “Computer Product”. You hit 1 again for “Thinkpad”. The line rings. Some dude in Atlanta (and they say “I’m Mark in Atlanta” or whatever) picks up the phone and he takes care of you. This generally means getting a part shipped overnight, to arrive by 9AM, or a box for your dead notebook, which will be back in your hands three days later.

    That’s the level of service that *anybody* who owns a Thinkpad gets, and it makes dealing with companies that are supposedly famous for their service (e.g. Apple) look like slobbering lummoxes in comparison.

  30. OnceWasCool says:

    Acer has always been LOWEST BIDDER electronics. If you need a computer, buy a computer. If you need something that was made in God know where, with parts that were dirt cheap for a reason, then buy an Acer.

    Another
    Company
    Easily
    Ruined (by greed)

  31. OnceWasCool says:

    @likefunbutnot: AMEN to the Thinkpad being great on quality and customer service. If you want something solid, go for it!

  32. lingum says:

    I’ve had an Acer laptop for 3 years and it has been fine. Now that I’ve said that, it’s probably setting my house on fire right now.

  33. Dyscord says:

    I was considering Acer myself. Now I know better. Maybe Thinkpads would be good. They always look like the could survive a nuke.

  34. likefunbutnot says:

    OK, here’s some truth for folks looking to buy a notebook, or a computer in general (for future reference, not for the poor guy in the article).

    1. Laptops aren’t made by the company with the name on the label. There are actually only a dozen or so companies that make notebooks, usually called ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers). Acer most typically uses two of the biggest firms in the industry, Compal and Quanta.

    … which are the same two companies that make HP, Dell et al.

    2. Notebook designs are made to the specifications of vendors. Generally speaking, there will be a difference in the quality of components for a notebook depending on its intended market and use. This is not surprising, right? A $400 Acer is not going to have fantastic electronics in it. It gets to be $400 because the ODM skimped on the quality of capacitors and ICs and whatnot.

    This also means that you can’t say your Dell Vostro or Inspiron is better than that crappy Acer just because it’s a Dell. They’re BOTH low cost/low quality models.

    3. On top of this – and this is important – Notebooks that are designed and marketed for business use offer a lot to consumers, above and beyond the crap they sell in retail outlets. I don’t know of any retail outlets that sell business-model notebooks.

    a. Business-model notebooks are designed to have replaceable and interchangeable parts, so that IT workers dealing with a fleet of Latitudes or T61s can easily make repairs.

    The other thing about that is that IT workers very often deal with *hordes* of notebooks, if that’s their job. One commenter here might say “My personal HP Pavilion that I bought at Best Buy has been fine for two years!” That’s lovely. Someone who manages 2,500 HP 6500-series notebook is in a much better place to make a comment about the quality of the hardware they’re dealing with.

    … and it’s an Apples vs. Oranges comparison, because the Pavilion probably wasn’t made by the same ODM, nor does it use many of the same parts.

    But in terms of having more experience, give some credit to the folks who have to put up with more than a couple notebooks at any one time.

    b. Extra parts are easily obtainable for business model notebooks. This starts with little stuff like AC adapters and moves all the way up to mainboards and displays; go look on Ebay for Thinkpad or Latitude parts, then look at what you can get for Acer-anything.

    c. Business model notebooks have better service options. Personally, after years of having Indian and Chinese professors, I don’t have any problems talking to East Asian tech support types, but as a rule Business Computer products sold in the USA are likely to be supported by residents of the US.

    As an aside, Dell’s Vostro line, supposedly targeting small businesses, doesn’t qualify as a business product; people who buy Vostros get to talk to the same people who support Inspiron and XPS systems, which is to say the Home Support people. Way to court those business customers, Dell!

    d. Business notebooks often have better software configurations. Like, say, Windows XP instead of Vista, and fewer 30-day trials of crappy Norton/McAfee security software.

    e. Business notebooks don’t really cost more. Go to Dell’s Home Store. Configure an Inspiron. Once you get that base configuration to a “sane” point (2GB RAM instead of 512MB etc), you’ll find that there’s a Latitude in the Small Business store that’s around the same price, weighs less, runs longer on its battery and has a more durable chassis.

    f. There’s an expectation that business notebooks will be moved around a lot. That means that business notebooks will have reinforced chassis and the like. My Thinkpads have a solid, single piece titanium rollcage around the base, for example.

    4. Until very recently, 3 year warranties were standard on a lot of business notebooks from HP, Dell and IBM. They aren’t, any more, but if a consumer has any interest in owning an actual portable computer, it’s important to know that there are two different items that make up a notebook warranty. There’s the “Warranty” which is usually sold and covers the hardware for defects. There’s also an “Accidental Protection Plan” which covers things like coffee spills and unfortunate baggage handling incidents. My advice is to purchase both, or the equivalent of both, for as long as you plan to care about your notebook. Notebooks are designed to be portable, and they’re also very delicate. Stuff breaks, no matter how careful you are.

    All in all, the only time consumers should really be looking at those super cheapie notebooks is when they really, honestly don’t want anything more than a disposable computer. It’s just that simple.

  35. @likefunbutnot:

    word

  36. Stavro Mueller says:

    In response to the above comments ‘get a real laptop’ ‘acer is crap’ et al, when you fly on a regular basis and have to bring a laptop, I find it much easier to lose my $400 Acer than it is to lose a $1500 IBM/Lenovo or a $2000 Apple. While I wouldn’t recommend it for gaming or daily office/gaming use, sometimes it’s great to have a laptop that I can replace by going to Wal-mart with $300, then restoring my programs with a disk-image off my FTP server.

  37. FrankReality says:

    @likefunbutnot:

    I totally agree – my work machine is a Thinkpad T60 and I liked it so much that I bought one for my youngest son in law school and another for me.

    Service is exactly as you say – no friggin’ script readers from India, fast and efficient US-based personnel.

    Recommended.

  38. Ultraprison! says:

    i have an Acer. i (not so great with computers) thought the keyboard was broken because when i pressed certain keys, unrelated symbols would appear. j=3, m=q, and so on.

    took it to best buy… my first mistake. they said they ran a diagnostic on it and then sent it to acer. i got it back nearly a month and a half later. KEYBOARD STILL BROKEN.

    though not. had a friend look at it… the numbers lock was on.

    still havent gotten my $150 back.

  39. ultra1bob says:

    Message to Acer:
    That settles it… I for one won’t buy your laptop.
    Better to deal with a company that believes in customer satisfaction.

  40. Marshfield says:

    I’ve had good luck with company-provided Thinkpads of the T40 line. Also had good luck with Dell Latitude 600-610 line, also provided by work.

    the gateway personal laptop I’m using now is… not quite as solid.

    My brother in law asked me today what to buy, I told him to buy a Vostro 1000 with XP installed. After reading all the comments here, I feel even better about my recommendation.

  41. metaslugx says:

    @Stavro Mueller:

    Exactly.
    Laptops break, you’re lucky if they last 3 years without a repair (though this case is just ridiculous, note to self, don’t buy Acer) So it doesn’t make much sense to buy an expensive one for yourself. By a general rule, the more expensive, the more problems you have.

    Now, if you can convince your company to pay for it, like I say with Microsoft office and Windows, go for the nicer one.

  42. artfuldodga says:

    I had almost the exact same thing happen to me, Acer needs to smarten the f*ck up, that said, Dell has my business now.

    If anyone cares to see what I went through, read
    [forum.notebookreview.com]

  43. fudged71 says:

    HOLY SHIT same thing with me. I have talked more with Acer customer service representatives this summer than I have with my own friends!
    On my Acer laptop, my Memory Stick reader stopped working, and then I had troubles with the DVD drive. The door often would not close properly, and it also could not read or write.
    After several calls to customer service (where they would give me software fixes to a hardware problem, of course), I got the bugger sent in for repairs. When I got it back, they had replaced my secondary hard drive (WHY ?!), the DVD drive could still not burn an entire disk (although the loading mechanism was fixed), and on top of that, the memory stick reader wasn’t even mentioned in the service request letter it got sent back with, and wasn’t fixed.
    I literally JUST got off them phone with them. Since I got it back from them, I have called several times, just to stay on the line for an hour to hear that, “oh, our system is down. call back again, thanks.” About 80% of the representatives that I get on the line with are not trained well enough to effectively deal with my situation. On top of that, it sounds like they have recently switched customer database systems, or something of the sort, and there were errors with transferring things over. When I called, just now, they had NO RECORD that I had actually sent the laptop in for repairs. They had service requests from before and after, but none of the actual “repair.” They actually need me to fax in the sheet that came back with my laptop, just so they can verify that the repair actually happened,a and that I’m not cheating out on getting repairs after my warranty. There should be no reason that I would get penalized for having to wait for repairs, because of their own shitty representatives, and their own shitty database systems. That is there problem, not mine. Don’t buy laptops from Acer. They put bloatware on your system.
    Honestly, the only reason I want my DVD burner fixed is so that I can make the Vista factory install disk, so I can switch back to XP.
    I am never buying from them again

  44. fudged71 says:

    p.s. my problems occurred in the weeks leading up to the expiration of my one year warranty

  45. blackmage439 says:

    I am in no way surprised to see people having problems with Acer. The company is not based in the US, and barely has any ties with this country at all, even with the acquisition of IBM’s PC manufacturing. They simply don’t care what we think. It’s a Chinese company; the whole country only cares what the Western world says when its something negative, even if it’s true.