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.