Best Buy Might Replace Your Lemon Of A Laptop If It Breaks A Sixth Time. Probably Not.

Please don’t pull the cord on Howard’s laptop or it will die. Best Buy‘s Geek Squad has failed five times to coax his laptop’s ailing battery into holding a charge, replacing both the battery and the hard drive, and shipping Howard the same incorrect replacement battery three times. Howard now wants Best Buy to honor their lemon policy by giving him a new laptop, but it seems like every Geek Squad agent has a different copy of the replacement policy, and none of them apply to Howard. It’s almost like he’s asking for a price match! Let’s read his story, inside…

Just shy of three years ago I bought an Averatec 2260-EY1 for about $1000 from Best Buy and paid extra for their 3-yr warranty in anticipation of something going wrong, hardware-wise, as something usually does. Back in January of this year, I finally decided to address the fact that it was overheating constantly, the battery no longer held charge, and it often froze up and had to be forced into shutdown. I dropped it off at the Geek Squad with those complaints, and was told in vague language that if they have to fix three things about the computer, the 4th move would be to junk it and replace it, according to their “lemon” policy. They said they could do an in-house diagnostic, which would take about 3-5 days, or they could send it right out to the offsite repair people, who would then strangely do their own diagnostic regardless of what the in-house people do. I told them to send it straight out, of course. They said I would receive an update via phone or email within a week.

Having heard nothing, I attempted to follow up by phone, to no avail. I was continually referred to the Geek Squad status website, which was basically like tracking a package with UPS, only the package never moved or changed status at all. Almost a month later, it came back from its repair limbo. I came back to the store to pick it up, and was told that they had replaced the fan and the battery. I figured I might as well start it up while I was standing there, just to see how it ran. It ran slow. Veeeerrry slow. Way slower than it ever had on my watch — slowness was not a part of my initial complaint — and even the guy behind the counter had to agree that it shouldn’t take 10 full minutes to get from hitting the power button to loading MS Word. In the midst of all this, I noticed that the battery LED was still flashing green and orange, but I figured maybe they just hadn’t charged the battery after the last round of tests or what-have-you. The counter guy, while frantically helping two other people in person and one on the phone, managed to run some software tests while I stood there for over half an hour.

He seemed to think it was the hard drive, which could be fixed in-house, but first they had to run a few days’ worth of tests. I checked it back in, said goodbye to my livelihood once again (I’m a freelance writer), and kept my fingers crossed. At the very least, according to the first Geek to help me, a new HD would constitute the third “hardware thing” fixed, so if anything further went wrong, I might hit the lemon policy jackpot.

A week later, after several flabbergastingly fruitless attempts to gain information by phone, I return. They’ve replaced the hard drive, cloned it, and said I have to reinstall the OS myself. The Averatec didn’t come with backup CDs because it came installed with backup software instead, which took me a while to figure out. A Phoenix Recover Pro software customer service operator walked me (by phone) through the process of restoring the OS, and by the time this was all said and done, I couldn’t deny that the battery light was still flashing. Charge was not being held. If I unplugged the unit, it died instantly. That’s not how a newly replaced battery should work, no?

Here begins the real fandango. I call Geek Squad, told them I’d hit Thing #4: If they did indeed already replace the battery as they said they had, then if I’m still having power problems, it must be something else — a fourth thing — and so I’m due a new laptop, right? Not so fast. First, they have to replace the battery again, to be sure it’s not the battery. I’m not about to say goodbye to my most essential wage-earning tool for another month, so I enact the process of ordering one by phone through Best Buy Partsearch, still covered by warranty, at least until June. Since none of their systems are connected, I give them my name, address, make/model, and part number. Naturally, they send me the wrong battery. Wrong shape, wrong color, wrong model, not even close to what I need. I call them up, they email me a return postage label, I send the battery back and they were supposed to send out a correct one as soon as the wrong one was received. This one’s taking longer, so I call to see to what the delay is. The battery I need is on back-order. They don’t know when they’ll get one. There’s absolutely no way to find out. Supervisors, managers, Baron Wilhelm von Partsearch himself couldn’t have told me any more than what appeared on that one lackey’s very-slow-loading screen. If Nostradamus worked there, not even he could tell me when the correct battery would come in. I tell them my warranty’s expiring soon. They say if I haven’t gotten it by the expiration time, I should call customer relations and they’ll probably extend it for as long as it takes to get the new battery. And what if, given that the new battery didn’t solve the problem the first time they replaced it, the second new battery doesn’t, either? What then?

Water-boarding couldn’t have gotten these folks to err from their carefully scripted run-around. No one can see any of the information from any other department. Geek Squad is separate; in-house repairs are separate from the offsite people; Partsearch knows nothing about warranties, customer relations knows nothing about repairs, etc.. A week or so later, some anonymous genius decides to send me another battery anyway. Not only was it wrong again, but it was the same wrong battery. I spend another half an hour on the phone with some poor, disaffected, headsetted cubicle slave. He says I can always purchase a new battery myself, produce the receipt and Best Buy will reimburse me within a few weeks. Considering how dependable they’ve been so far, I decide not to bet on that. I order yet another battery.

At this point, it’s March. I receive battery #3…. THE SAME WRONG BATTERY, again. Now it’s just laughable. I stop laughing, however, when I speak to customer relations to begin laying groundwork for the trouble that surely will come in a few months when my warranty expires and I’m stuck with a problematic ‘puter. According to that fine chap, none of this gets me close to the lemon policy after all. Suddenly it doesn’t work the way it was originally explained. It doesn’t matter how many “things” go wrong — you have to have three independent work tickets, or service numbers, or whatever — it has to have been checked in on three separate occasions for hardware-specific issues, then on the 4th check-in, it might be eligible for replacement. What’s more, the battery replacement doesn’t even count as a repair. And then the real kicker: So far he shows I’ve got two check-ins, only one of which resulted in parts replaced.

Now hang on a minute there… What about the hard drive? The 2nd check-in resulted in an HD replacement! Not according to this guy’s records. Apparently, depending on who you ask, the 2nd check-in was only a diagnostic; Best Buy customer relations has no record of the HD replacement, but told me that if I have the paperwork to prove it, I should hang on to it and bring it into the store if/when the time comes to attempt to take advantage of the lemon policy. “Great,” I think to myself. “So it’s my own documentation versus the word of the store. That’s gonna be tons of fun.” Thankfully, I do have the documentation. I even have the old HD in a box with a Geek Squad bar code and an employee’s handwriting on it. I arrange for battery #4. This time the kid on the phone says he can see a picture of the correct battery — it’s black, not silver, just as I’d been saying all along. I feel hopeful — for completion of this stage, anyway.

Today, March 24th, I receive battery #4. That’s right, folks — the same wrong battery, just like all the others.

The truth is, my laptop still basically works. I’m using it right now — I just can’t unplug it, which kind of negates the whole “ultraportable” idea, which is a large part of why I bought this particular model. Meanwhile, a friend has an old laptop (yet still newer and more powerful than my Averatec) that also has a power problem that he doesn’t care to fix, and he’s willing to let me have the broken laptop for free. My plan is this: Take his broken Compaq to a trustworthy independent repair service, have it fixed (if cost effective), then use that one while submitting my Averatec to the Geek Squad once again, to let them sit on it indefinitely while waiting for a pterodactyl to come swooping out of the sky with the correct (but clearly obsolete) Averatec battery. All the while, I’ll plant periodic phone calls to Customer Relations, demanding status info and attempting to make sure that if/when the battery doesn’t solve the problem, they’ll still fix it, and maybe — just maybe — make good on the lemon policy.

My Consumerist comrades: What say you?

It’s clear that Best Buy has no intention of honoring their policy. When customer service agents stop talking about repairs in favor of talking about how their system describes the repairs, it’s time to escalate. Try to get results by calling Best Buy’s executive office. Or maybe just call your state’s attorney general and ask what other policies Best Buy is training their employees to undermine.

(Photo: David Baker)

Comments

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  1. WOPDingo says:

    WOW. Is there anyone on here who’s had a positive experience with Best Buy that CAN’T counter it with an equally horrendous story? Every time I’m in there, it’s either the 17-or-so-year-old employees that are woefully undertrained in BestBuy’s own policies, procedures, and/or products – and usually just don’t care. Or it’s someone who’s been trained to upsell me to everything potentially involved with my main purchase (so basically anything that might carry electrons from one point to another).

    This company is not only terrible, but is ridiculously lucky that, for many people now, they’re the only game in town.

    • nerdtalker says:

      @WOPDingo: “This company is not only terrible, but is ridiculously lucky that, for many people now, they’re the only game in town.”

      Too true. I feel like I’m supporting some kind of evil empire every time I set foot in the place, but sadly, they’re the only option left where I live. I loathe the store and its woefully depraved business policies, but, when I need something fast, they’re all we’ve got.

      CompUSA – Dead
      Circuit City – Dead

      We don’t have a Fry’s or a Microcenter, so Best Buy is it.

      I honestly am puzzled why Best Buy is still in business and the other two aren’t.

      • Zorantor says:

        @nerdtalker: I don’t shop at Best Buy no matter what. If there’s something I can’t get for a reasonable price at Target or Radioshack, then it’s off to Newegg.

    • xavimon27 says:

      @WOPDingo:

      I’ve honestly had an overall positive experience with Best Buy. I bought a laptop from them a couple years ago and had some issues with it so I took it to Geek Squad to have it fixed (under their PSP warranty) last week. Surprisingly, when I told the Geek Squad guy what was wrong with the machine, he asked me if I had backed up my data because I would be getting a new machine. Sure enough, I got a call Monday to pick a new laptop and I now have a much better machine than my previous one was. The laptop I took in wasn’t even that messed up, line across the screen, headphone jack that buzzed, and a trackpad with buttons that would sometimes not work, so I was surprised they just swapped it out. I like Best Buy but I still tend to shop around for the best price before considering going there.

    • Jenny Mauck DeBonte says:

      @WOPDingo: I’ve been a fan of BB since they opened one here in my town (we had a Circuit City first), 7-8 years. I’ve only ever had one problem with them and that was because of a miscommunication between them and HP. Other than that, no problems. I love our Best Buy, but apparently, we have the only one with competent and helpful employees in the entire country, though that may be simply due to locale.

    • lotussix says:

      @WOPDingo: yes. my ps3 decided not to work and i had the three year plan on it. i took it in, the agents said “grab a new one off the shelf.” and i walked out with a new ps3.

      in fact, they said that i was within the year manufacturer’s warranty so that my “replacement” plan would be valid if my ps3 failed again prior to the three years. kudos!

    • deep.thought says:

      @WOPDingo: I hate Best Buy because they rip everyone off like crazy with the markups vs. online, most of the time. That said, the service you get depends entirely on your location and the people involved. Some geek squad members will be as dumb as a post, but some will be really helpful.

      I was really worried about trying to exchange a technically defective netbook I had gotten for an amazing price a few days outside the return period, but when I got to the CS he didn’t even ask me to prove it was broken and even offered an outright refund.

      The point is your mileage Will vary as long as humans are working CS

      • AL Briones says:

        @deep.thought: That’s good that you got an exchange. Serious, that’s good.

        just 2 questions… I’m not looking to argue, I just wanted to know how you justify what you said “I hate Best Buy because they rip everyone off like crazy with the markups vs. online, most of the time.”

        and the 2nd item…”I was really worried about trying to exchange a technically defective netbook I had gotten for an amazing price a few days outside the return period,”

        Seriously, I’m curious. I’ve never had trouble at any place that I shopped. I think your lucky that you were able to get the exchange. so this is what came to my mind when you said your comments.

        Bestbuy has huge markups because they have employees to pay(They might not be great employees…)
        and
        You were outside of the return policy period, why were you worried? I would have been like, “alright…time to pour a cup of coffee and wait on the phone with the manufacture’s Customer service line.”

        I’m curious about the mindset, it’s like sociology 101.

    • Anonymous says:

      @WOPDingo: @WOPDingo: @WOPDingo:
      Oh Best Buy… Something about that moniker just doesn’t fit… The “Best” part I think.

      This occurence is exactly like what happened to me with my last Toshiba LEMON laptop. I was given the run-around by all geek squad salespeople (they are salespeople, not techies), while fighting with them after several wrong batteries, replaced HD, replaced motherboard, replaced dvd-rom, replaced memory.

      Neglecting to hold onto the initial paperwork, I had accumulated the 3 work tickets needed by THEIR warranty information that the laptop was due to be replaced (this was in 9 months time). I took it in expecting to have it replaced where I was told it had to be sent off for inspection. I said ok, and promptly went home and wrote the attorney general of my state, the repair facilities state, and Best Buys headquarters state.

      The laptop came back in 5 days, “repaired,” but I was told to go pick one out for replacement. I also recieved a $100 gift card from Best Buy’s Customer Service VP and a letter of apology. I used the gift card and returned all the merchandise and pocketed the $100.

    • Coyote says:

      @WOPDingo: Sure… I’ve had them replace stuff under PRP or even the standard return period that I didn’t expect them to allow. Years ago they replaced my MP3 player that, while not outright abused, probably broke because of rough handling.

      I had a problem with my HDTV, they fixed that… the service tech did have to come out 3 times before he had the right part, but I never got any problems, and I never had to call to convince them to send him back. When I needed a new lamp, they overnighted one, no questions asked, even though it wasn’t even dead yet, just flickering.

      • stre says:

        @Coyote: similar story here. i haven’t had any hassles with them at all. now, i’m also not buying much of anything from them that would likely require a warranty. no way am i buying a laptop from them, for example. so i go in, pick up some speaker cable or a video game or whatever with the coupons they keep sending me, and get the hell outta dodge.

  2. MartinFeardie says:

    It sounds exactly like every experience I’ve had with Best Buy, the Geek Squad, and their warranty policy.

    They’re right to go over their heads and be tenacious about it. Make corporate know you aren’t going away. Last year my HDTV was determined by an in-home tech to be unrepairable and I was to get a return in the amount of the original price to apply to a new TV. Of course, my local store would not honor what I was promised by the tech department, corporate customer service, and 1-888-best-buy. I called corporate as I was standing in front of the manager and talked to a corporate VP. 2 hours later I got my original purchase price back.

    Stupidly, I bought another TV from them and another $400 warranty. God help me if I have to try to use it again.

    • Adhominem says:

      @MartinFeardie:

      If everybody that got bitten by Best Buy customer service made their voices heard by shopping elsewhere, we’d have a lot better customer service.

    • Brent Tyler Brooks says:

      @MartinFeardie: Yeah, they will more than likely not honor their warranty either. I once bought an iPod from Best Buy with a 3 year warranty. They explained what all the warranty covered. One of the things it covered was a cracked screen. One year later, someone steps on my iPod. Luckily it is only a small crack and I can see the majority of the the screen with only minor leaking issues. So, I take it to Best Buy and they point on, in their brochure, where it says broken screens are not covered; however, they will send it in anyway. It should only take 2 weeks. “Only?” I think. Well, 3 weeks later, I get it back with a crack that extends from one side of the screen to the other. When I tell The Geek Squad it didn’t look like this before, they told me it was normal for cracked screens to do that. I demanded to see a manager upon hearing that lie. In the end, I got kicked out of the store for complaining. On the way out I managed to tell every single person I passed to leave the store immediately and to not support these corporate mongrels.

  3. Esquire99 says:

    The first thing that should be done is to request an actual copy of the policy. There may even be a copy of it with the warranty paperwork that was received when the warranty was purchased. Read the text of the policy and decide for yourself, as objectively as possible, if the policy applies to your situation. If you’re convinced it does, formulate an explanation as to exactly what it does and confront them with that. You have to have all your ducks in a row, otherwise they just run over you because they know the policy and you don’t. If you can’t raise particularized information from the policy, you’re dead in the water.

    Second, this is why it’s important to “set a tone” early on in your dealings. Allowing them to fuck around with your laptop for over a month essentially tells them that they can walk all over you and put your stuff at the back of the line, because you won’t stand up for yourself. Being assertive, borderline demanding, with the people you deal with is the best way to make sure they know that you’re not going to let them jerk you around. Once they’ve been walking all over you for a couple of months, they simply don’t care. You’ve proven that you’re going to take it, so they have no incentive to actually fix it.

    Finally, the only thing raised in this letter that I take issue with is the inference that a battery replacement should go against the lemon policy. The fact that the battery isn’t an integral part of the computer and is subject to degradation should make pretty clear that replacing the battery a few times isn’t going to get you a new computer. I think expecting it to “count” towards the lemon policy is a bit over-the-top. If they were having to replace the batter because the computer itself was damaging it, that’s another story. But here, where it was replaced because the battery itself was thought to be bad, it shouldn’t count as a tick towards a lemon replacement.

    • shepd says:

      @Esquire99:

      The charging circuit that charges the battery (which is what I think is bust, as I’ve had the same issue on a different laptop) *is* integral, though, and if they’d actually fix the damn thing (LOL!) he’d probably have a working unit.

      Probably.

    • aliasmisskat says:

      @Esquire99: But the battery was replaced originally, and the problem is still occurring. That would imply not a problem with the battery, or a degraded battery as you suggest, but with the computer itself, and therefore would be covered by the lemon policy.

      • Esquire99 says:

        @aliasmisskat:
        But it still makes sense to simply categorically exclude batteries from creating a tick against the lemon policy, given that they are a consumable.

        • aliasmisskat says:

          @Esquire99: I’m not disagreeing in theory, but given that they already replaced the battery, at no cost to the consumer, as part of a warranty repair, they have set a precedent with this customer that the battery is covered under the warranty. Since they did replace the battery, and the computer is still not working, the reasonable conclusion is that the problem lies somewhere else.

          Of course, this is Best Buy, and I’m fairly certain reason has nothing to do with their warranty decisions.

  4. aguacarbonica says:

    I had the same exact problem with Best Buy! They refused to count battery replacements as repairs, even though it was obvious after the second time that the battery wasn’t the problem. What’s more is that I told them that at least one of the problems was the adapter, and the incompetent idiot behind the counter told me that that just COULDN’T be it. So what happened next time I went? This Geek Squad tech plugged my adapter into a special machine they have in the back to gauge how much voltage it is producing (the other guy apparently couldn’t be bothered) and told me that yes, the adapter was messed up.

    I had loads of other issues, including a hard drive that malfunctioned, was replaced by Geek Squad, and then FELL OUT of my computer because it was installed poorly. Also numerous hard drive malfunctions. Was any of this enough to get my computer replaced? No.

    So finally I took my computer into a NJ Best Buy (I bought it in FL but I was at school) and asked the Geek Squad guy for a manager. I skipped straight over having the little tech guy look at my machine and told that manager that I wanted a replacement computer, and I wanted it today.

    The manager told me that the Geek Squad guy would have to look at it again and they would have to send it again because it wasn’t a lemon yet. I told them that was absolutely unacceptable because I was a student, and it was exams period, and I did not have time for Best Buy to keep dragging its feet and send my computer away for another ridiculous 4 week period of incompetence.

    I didn’t yell, scream, or whine. I was matter of fact. And you know what? They replaced my computer with another computer from a different manufacturer. And since my first computer was low end, and half a year old, I automatically got an upgrade because they didn’t have anything with specs that matched exactly. :)

    • Chumas says:

      @aguacarbonica: see, in FL you’d have to threaten to drag the manager outside by his ears and shank him with a broken Circuit City credit card to get that sort of service.

      • aguacarbonica says:

        @Chumas:

        The thing is, if you ask for the manager before anyone knows what the problem is, you get to monopolize their time for much longer and without all the anger and violence. Eventually, most normal people would get irritated and cave.

  5. taking_this_easy says:

    technically, battery life wears away during the life of the laptop

    that’s why Dell only gives you battery warranty for a year regardless of the total coverage….

    • Esquire99 says:

      @taking_this_easy:
      Exactly. More cycles = less battery life.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @taking_this_easy:

      Well for my part, at least, I had only had the computer for a few months before the battery couldn’t hold a charge, and had to wait four weeks on two different occasions for them to replace it even though that wasn’t the problem. In relation to a three year old laptop though, I can see the argument.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The poster should really read the terms and conditions of his warranty brochure that states basically that 3 separate work orders with 3 seperate hardware repairs/replacements and a need for a fourth would qualify for the no lemon policy. And yes, you are required to keep your service history in the event that they cannot look up one of your tickets.

    The problem is that the computer sales reps oversell & over promise the plan. But just like when I buy a car, and they promise the world with the extended warranty, I actually sit down and read the terms and conditions of the brochure and ask appropriate questions.

    I have used the service plans constantly from Best Buy, including for a laptop. The only time I misunderstood the terms and conditions of the no lemon policy is when I did not notice that the no lemon policy would not apply to renewals of the service plan. I renewed my service plan after the initial 3 years thinking that when the need for that fourth repair came, it would qualify under no lemon. I was declined at the store. I went back home and read the section that excluded renewals of the service plan for the no lemon policy. It was completely MY MISTAKE, and was written in black and white in the service plan brochure.

    I would advise to at least read the terms and conditions and not to have unrealistic expectations.

    ~Danny

    PS
    The shipping of the wrong battery so many times is inexcusable, however new batteries do not count as a repair because they are considered to be a consumable.

    If you are still under warranty, buy a new battery yourself and prove to them that it is still not retaining a charge. If this is so, and it is the fourth separate hardware repair, then let them ship it out. It will then be determined to be a “lemon.” It needs to be shipped out for the fourth repair before the warranty expires.

    • hogfan1234 says:

      @MerlinVinton:
      @MerlinVinton:

      It does state that in the terms and conditions brochure. I just bought a new computer today and invested in the warranty. I reviewed the brochure carefully before buying the warranty. Basically, there has to be 3 different problems with the computer and they replace it on the FOURTH problem. The fourth time, it still has to be sent out to service and the “service center” then begins what they call the ‘junkout’ process.

      It’s plain as day! Make sure to ask for some literature before you buy something so blindly.

  7. ludwigk says:

    Lemon repair policy is often based on existing lemon laws, but most of those are counted per-incident, not per-component. Even if they replace 4x parts in one repair, that would be a single count.

    Plus, a lot of lemon law’s include language like a “reasonable amount of repairs”, so it can be up for interpretation.

    Batteries are counted as ‘consumables’ in consumer goods, much like tires on a car. They usually count as 0, unless you’ve got some other issue like the DC in circuitry is causing the battery not to charge.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My laptop and I went through a similar experience.
    They will dick around with you until the warranty is up then —OOOPs too bad for you.
    The problem is really a little circuit breaker on the board of the computer. I Have a great new battery but I still shuts down early if unplugged.

  9. vastrightwing says:

    Best Buy/Big box warranties are a joke. Even if the warranty covers everything except accidental damage, you can bet money that every time you try to make a claim, they will reject your claim due to the fact that you damaged the device somehow. Lesson: buy direct from manufacturer. Big box stores will rip you off every time. If you happen to have a good experience, you are the fortunate exception.

  10. post_break says:

    Guess what, batteries don’t last 3 years. Stop trying to milk the warranty and go buy a battery for $75 and write another free lance article. Personally if someone was trying to get a new laptop because the battery is dead from 3 YEARS AGO I would give them the run around too.

    • supercereal says:

      @post_break: Yup. With pretty normal use, any of the batteries I’ve owned lasted around a year before I notice a dramatic decrease in charge capabilities.

    • Shel Tozer-Kilts says:

      @post_break:

      Huh. I guess the 5-year old Dell laptop on my shelf that *still* gets nearly 3 hours of battery life per charge is a figment of my imagination? Or my 1.5 year old Macbook Pro that has shown *no* degradation in the battery at all to date?

      • supercereal says:

        @Shel Tozer-Kilts: Yes, I would argue your Dell battery life is highly exaggerated after 5 years. That is, of course, unless you started out with a 12 hour batter when you bought it.

    • nakedscience says:

      @post_break: Well, since they can’t even SEND THE RIGHT BATTERY after FOUR TRIES, I’d say Best Buy has a *problem* wouldn’t you? He can’t even TRY a new battery because they can’t seem to send the correct one. And why is it that he had to suddenly get a new hard drive the first time he sent it in for repair? Fishy.

  11. post_break says:

    Look I did all the work for you too. [tinyurl.com]

  12. benn09 says:

    I got considerable run around from Best Buy when I purchased a replacement battery for my 3 year old dell. The confirmation email sent after purchase said it was shipping and where there was supposed to be a tracking number, there was only a blank spot. I called customer service and they said that the tracking number was not available yet but I would be emailed once it was.

    I of course trusted them, which was my first mistake, because a week after ordering it, I had yet to get a tracking number and was afraid my desperately needed battery was lost in the void. To make a long story short, Best Buy CS told me to call an 800 number which turned out to be Dell, which was odd considering I wasn’t purchasing an official Dell product. After getting the run around and spending about 2 hours on the phone with various customer service departments, the package showed up at my door. It had a tracking number on the front, and I put it into UPS, which showed that it originated from Best Buy’s warehouse in Oklahoma — which is again odd considering the reason why they told me to call Dell in the first place was because it was a special order shipping from Canada.

    Obviously, Best Buy doesn’t know which country Oklahoma is located in or how to treat their customers.

  13. AT203 says:

    This sounds most appropriate for small claims court, but there are other options. One of them may be to contact [www.computerlemonlaw.com] This is a service offered by Kimmel & Silverman, the automotive lemon law attorneys, previously mentioned on The Consumerist.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @AT203:
      The problem is the OP doesn’t even know if Best Buy has violated the agreement. Without a copy of the warranty and the lemon policy, he can’t know if they’ve done anything wrong. Taking them to small claims court without an articulable violation of the contract isn’t a very good idea. He needs to find his warranty paperwork, read it carefully and figure out if they’ve violated the agreement. If they have, then perhaps small claims court is in order. On the actual lemon law issue, contacting an Attorney is likely the best option, as those laws vary greatly and interpretation can be more difficult than the average consumer can handle.

  14. Andrew Mussey says:

    For fixing the Compaq: Depending on what’s wrong, it may be cheaper on your part to just pick up a netbook with an external keyboard. You don’t need much kick from a machine just to do freelance writing, and from what I’ve heard many of the machines still pack enough power to run Photoshop (feel free to correct those facts, anyone). The only issue with those are they keyboards, which tend to run a little too small to be comfortable for long term typing.

    Also, I’ve purchased 2 Toshiba M200 Tablets from this guy, and had a really good experience:

    [cgi.ebay.com]

    I realize, it’s ebay, so there’s some risk in it, but the only problem I’ve had with the two I’ve purchased from that vendor has been a less-than-perfect battery (which can be replaced with some off brand one for under 50$).

    • Ouze says:

      @Andrew Mussey:

      The used laptop you linked is $245. An additional battery costs $60 shipped. That seems like a lot of money to me to spend on a nearly 5 year old laptop with no warranty and miserable specs. For a little more you could get a new laptop with a new battery, a warranty, and far, far better specs.

      [www.newegg.com]

      (not that I am advocating buying a new laptop – if this stuff is covered under warranty he needs to pursue that)

      • Andrew Mussey says:

        @Ouze: Good point. My main motive for purchasing that one was the tablet functionality, so it differs from his.

  15. ryaninc says:

    Moral of the story: please, everyone, for the love of all things decent, never shop at Best Buy. :-(

  16. Keter says:

    Howard, I know that you really want Best Buy to honor their warranty, and I hope you can force them into doing so! But you’re giving up how much money in potential earnings to repair a 3-year-old laptop? Ouch! The lost earnings are like paying for a new laptop and not getting it!

    Honestly, I think your best move at this point would be to buy a good netbook (I own and highly recommend the Acer Aspire One) for about $300 and use it for your writing. I’m a professional writer and my Aspire One is every bit as good for writing as my high-end desktop (which I use for doing graphics). The Windows version runs XP and Office (or OpenOffice) just like a full size computer. You can go online with a netbook via WIFI, ethernet, or cellular broadband. It will definitely keep you up and earning – and unchain you from the power cord – while the drama with Best Buy unfolds, or until you can get a new laptop.

    Good luck! :o)

    • benn09 says:

      @Keter: I agree that it might just be time to invest in a new computer. It’s had a good, long run. From what the OP said, it doesn’t sound as if he has ever had any issues with it until now. 3 years is a good chunk of time for the battery to lose it’s life. While I was fortunate to get a working battery for my 3 year old Dell, this hassle may not be worth it if it has other issues too and you can get a new laptop/netbook for next to nothing these days

  17. Foetus-Income says:

    As someone who worked for the Geeksquad for a year or so (just quit recently even in these economic circumstances due to the job being unbearable), I know first hand how these “No Lemon” instances go down. In-store repairs pretty much never count as a repair at all. Even if the hard drive is replaced in store, it is extremely hard to get them to acknowledge it as a “qualifying repair.” So, that being said, the unit HAS to go out for service to count as a repair and even then only certain things qualify as a repair. Replacing a battery/AC adapter and any sort of software problems DO NOT count. In fact, it really is never even clear what does in fact count. Communication with the service center is very limited (through e-mail form) and hearing back from them would sometimes take weeks. Sometimes people got approved for seemingly nothing and other times people that had had their computer out 8 times struggled angrily (rightfully so) to get approved for an exchange under the No Lemon policy. It really was a completely abitrary process and I tried so many times to get people approved for the exchange, almost every time to no avail. In all honesty, it seemed as if the only times petitioning for customers to get an exchange would work was if they had the EXACT same repair three times. You could have your mobo replaced twice, but if your screen needs to be replaced twice as well, guess what? No exchange. It really is unfair how difficult GS/BB has made it to get exchange under their advertised policy. The salespeople speak about it so proudly, yet when push comes to shove, no one wants to honor it. Even aside from the lie that is the no lemon policy, the service center has an awful track record. So many times would computers and other electronic devices come back totally unrepaired. In the time that I spent there, I probably dealt with more dissatisfied than satisfied customers and never once did I not understand where they were coming from. To all those out there reading this, please, please stay away from the Geeksquad. There are so many qualified repair shops out there that charge so much less and are free from the corporate run around and all the nonsense that customers deal with from GS/BB on a day-to-day basis. Say no to Geeksquad!

  18. Bs Baldwin says:

    4 wrong batteries? wouldn’t that be a hardware issue? “yeah the battery you sent me doesn’t work, hell i can’t shove it in. sounds like a hardware issue to me”

    places like BB just don’t understand that it doesn’t take that much more money to please customers and retain them.

    • Ouze says:

      @Bs Baldwin:

      Why spend the money on training and trying to retain customers – Look at that story posted up in the comments by MartinFeardie (2nd post). He had a huge problem with the warranty coverage on his TV. After much hassling with corporate, he got his money back. Then he bought another TV and another $400 extended warranty from Best Buy. I’m not picking on him specifically, the point is, most customers are like that, and with that sort of mindset, why cook steak when they’ll eat shit?

      • Adhominem says:

        @Ouze:
        “”I’m not picking on him specifically, the point is, most customers are like that, and with that sort of mindset, why cook steak when they’ll eat shit?”

        LOL! Excellent wording and hit the nail on the head.

        Your average Best Buy customer:
        1)Buys 6 meter Monster HDMI Cables for $89.99
        2)Says yes to purchasing a $300 warranty on a budget laptop that cost 600 w/tax.
        3)Continues shopping at Best Buy even after failing to honor said warranty.
        4)Agrees to have GS “optimize” their computer purchase for $35.

        feel free to add to the list.

  19. gaya2081 says:

    The policy is 3 times sent out, on the 4th time out (yes you have to send it out that 4th time) they will junk it out for comparable technology. Some places are picky in that it must be sent out 4 times for the same problem. Hard drive replacements do not count towards this number normally. Remember this is for a lemon, not 3 or 4 separate parts on the computer breaking.
    Each time that it is sent out expect it to be gone a month.
    Also, if your warranty runs out and you had sent it out right before the warranty ended, you have 30 days to bring it back in for the same issue (30 day warranty on the recent repair).
    Hope this helps people are confused. Its how the extended warranty reads/is interpreted.

  20. Adhominem says:

    A 3 year full replacement plan warranty for a laptop is just asking for trouble. A 3 year old laptop is ancient and based on planned obsolescence, probably at least a quarter of them experience hardware trouble by that point.

    Best Buy has no problem taking your money for the warranty at the time of purchase, but they’re not going to want to replace your 3 year old laptop with something current so they’re going to do everything within their power, and sometimes beyond, to prevent that from happening. The rule of thumb, rather than the exception, is if you have to make a warranty claim prepare for a fight.

    How I think about it is, if you buy a 700 dollar laptop and they offer you a 3 year warranty for 300 dollars, put that 300 dollars away for your next laptop. Which means you only have to save another 400 over the next 2 years in case it breaks. Save yourselves some headaches people!

  21. Howard says:

    Hey Folks,

    It’s me… The Howard, Best Buy’s victim of the hour. Thanks to everyone, and especially the Consumerist, for the support and advice!

    I understand now that the battery doesn’t count towards the No Lemon policy. The problem is: (1) they claimed to have already replaced it with the first send-out, so I should not have to go through this again… (2) After all this run-around and communication failure, I can hardly be expected to trust them for a refund should I purchase a battery myself, and (3) they keep telling me that they do have the correct battery despite sending the wrong one so many times, hence drawing me into another exchange and drawing out the entire process, chewing up the time remaining on the warranty.

    Obviously, they want to jerk me around ’til my warranty expires. That’s clearly what’s going on. So, time is of the essence.

    To Esquire99:
    I appreciate the tough love. I’m also no doormat. I tried (to no avail) to get a supervisor on the line, and was basically rebuffed. They insist that no one will have any more information than anyone else, that everyone is busy and I’ll have to wait on hold indefinitely, etc… My tolerance for being on hold and getting disconnected anyway dried up pretty quickly. I admit it, they won — it ceased to be worth the aggravation, when I knew there were steps remaining toward the policy anyway.

    to post_break, and others:
    I paid for the warranty with full knowledge that in 3 years, the model and its components would be obsolete. That was the beauty of it. Assuming they made good on their offer, this thing would almost surely die, and I’d get another, for “free” (that is, for the $300 I paid for the warranty). I know that “comparable technology” scarcely exists at this point, and that even a model significantly cheaper than the one I bought will have better specs today, thanks to the rapid advance of technology. I paid $1k, plus $300 for warranty; if they swapped it for something that retails about $600 today, they’d still come out way ahead, and I’d have an upgrade.

    At this point, I’m leaning towards biting the bullet and buying myself the battery, just to keep the process moving forward. I mean, if I’m stuck with this machine, I’ll want a new battery whether they help me or not. A Customer Relations rep told me in clear words that the hard drive, if I can prove its replacement, would definitely count towards the policy. So, once I’ve amassed my own evidence that the power problem remains independent of the battery, I would then expect the lemon policy to come into play. There’s nothing in print about it necessarily being an off-site repair. The language is simply “service repair”, no stipulation of off-site vs. in-house.

    I’m considering contacting the executive office chiefly due to the gross incompetence I’ve been met with so far as well as the amount of time its taken to deal with it, given the hardship incurred as a result. Whatever the policy, the four wrong batteries I think calls for some attention from above. The fact that my warranty’s almost up means it’s time to bring in whatever big guns I can.

    Btw, in the midst of all this remains the fact that the 2nd “service repair,” which resulted in the new hard drive, was for an issue that Geek Squad apparently caused themselves. When not overheating, freezing, and refusing to hold charge, my laptop was running perfectly up to speed for 2.5 years, and only slowed so drastically down after whatever happened in GS’s custody. I figure there’s little point pursuing that angle, but it remains true that they fried the thing with their “tests,” then wanted to return it to me fried.

    The sticky widget is what to do while the laptop’s sent away. A week or two I could live with; another whole month is just ridiculous. I don’t want, nor can I afford, to invest in a whole new machine when there’s a glimmer of hope that I’ll get a new one as per the Lemon policy. I think repairing my friend’s Compaq, if possible for less than a couple hundred bucks, would be the best way to go. It would probably be a good idea to have the backup laptop around even if I do succeed in getting Best Buy to live up to its word.

    Thanks again, all!

  22. endless says:

    Some others have mentioned this, i will confirm it.

    if the harddisk was replaced in store, not at the service center, you will have a hell of a time getting it to count towards the no lemon. if its even possible at all.

    from my experience, if you replace it in store, it will save to 2 weeks in turn around time, but you dont get it counted. so choose wisely there…

  23. Zenatrul says:

    I just checked Bestbuy.com and noticed this lovely little thing in the FAQ.

    Security

    The Best Buy PRP is fully underwritten by a member company of the AIG group of companies.

  24. bluemoose says:

    Have you tried cleaning out the fans? That might solve your overheating problem.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sucks about the OP’s situation, but these terms are described in the policy, unfortunately. You can send off your laptop to service and have three separate hardware replacements, but this still only a single qualified repair. 3 qualified repairs net you a lemon-exchange.

    This seems like a miscommunication on behalf of the geek who gave the OP the initial rundown of the service plan details.

    Again, though, sucks about OP’s situation. :(

  26. calchip says:

    If you’re lucky enough to be in California, by state law, a warranty or extended warranty must be extended by an amount equal to the number of days it’s out of your possession for repairs.

    Also, I think one could make a reasonable argument that having had it gone for extended periods several times, with the problem unresolved, that regardless of what the letter of the agreement is, the intention is clearly there that you should have a working unit.

    I would think that if you can manage to get past the call center to a sensible person, you might get an expedited replacement if you just point out you’re tired of the loss of income and will be looking for consequential damages as well as replacement, but if it happens soon, you’d be willing to accept replacement as it will be simpler for you.

  27. Anonymous says:

    EECB worked for me a few months back. Got a call from corporate. I e-mailed the CEO and 4 other VP’s. Apparently the CEO was “out of the office” as stated in the autoreply. He was kind enough to provide an alternate email address where he can be reached…kept that email safe and sound. My 2nd EECB resulted in a call from the local GM of the nearby store. Very nice guy. Took care of my issue and then some.

    Be nice, to the point and relavant.

  28. Anonymous says:

    EECB worked for me a few months back. Got a call from corporate. I e-mailed the CEO and 4 other VP’s. Apparently the CEO was “out of the office” as stated in the autoreply. He was kind enough to provide an alternate email address where he can be reached…kept that email safe and sound. My 2nd EECB resulted in a call from the local GM of the nearby store. Very nice guy. Took care of my issue and then some.

    Be nice, to the point and relavant.

  29. FDCPAGuy says:

    1st: If you aren’t happy with your service fill out the survey at the bottom of the service order copy you get when you pick up your unit. These do get read by corporate and store GM/Geeksquad manager. Shame people don’t read all the way to the bottom of the paper they get handed when they get their stuff back.
    2nd: I had a screen replaced in 7 days by BB. The laptop only had to travel a few hundred miles to TN so it didn’t take long in the mail… but so?
    3rd: It seems like a lot of this stuff varies largely by store. There are two stores in my area and I drive farther to get to the one which never gives me issues with price matches or warranty work.

  30. stuartramone says:

    As an ex geeksquad rep who handled warranty calls i can tell you what the official policy states: There must be three completed hardware repairs and a fourth one pending. Pick up the PSP brochure at any bestbuy it usually has the no lemon policy in there. We were pretty much instructed to not give out no lemons so it could be an uphill battle. Consumer relations is just another third party call center you may want to skip over their heads and go corporate. Either phone in and ask for ‘public defenders’ (corporate) or try emailing execs.

  31. cmhbob says:

    Has everyone missed the fact that a brand-new battery wasn’t being properly charged? Everyone’s going on and on about how batteries wear out after 3 years, but he did get a new battery, according to the second paragraph. GS wanted to replace the battery a second time, and that’s what tripped off the 4 wrong batteries

  32. Max Murillo says:

    Here is some help from an employee..

    Usually they have to send it out to service 3 times and on the fourth you usually have a lemon so they decide to swap it out. Now here’s the kicker… if they can’t fix something and it’s not “cost effective” you dont need to go through the 4th time thing…

    My best advice is to talk to the SERVICES manager at your local best buy and be calm and tell him the situation… if not that talk to the General Manager of the store… if that doesn’t work then talk to customer relations. Usually that gets things moving in the right direction. Dont be an ass about it… be calm and tell them what’s going on.

    Sometimes talking to associates gets you nowhere… sometimes they do whatever it is in their power to get help you… just depends what kinda store you’re at

    Hope that helps

  33. bobcatred says:

    Okay, this definitely doesn’t excuse any of the bad behavior on Best Buy’s part, but I can see why they might not count this as “Thing #4″ Technically, there is a battery charging problem. They attempted to repair this by replacing the battery, which did not work. So everything they do at this point to resolve the charging problem is still the same issue. It’s not a fourth, new hardware issue.
    That said, the geniuses over there in distribution ought to be able to look at a freaking product number and send him the right battery so they can get this taken care of already. And he shouldn’t have to wait for months to get that taken care of. The Geek Squad should have spare batteries on site so that, at very least, this could be verified in less than 10 minutes.

  34. blash says:

    Idiots. If the battery can’t hold a charge and the problem isn’t the battery, then what is supposed to give the battery a charge? Ah, the motherboard. And if that needs replacing they might as well just replace the whole machine now tbh.

  35. AL Briones says:

    @undefined: @xavimon27: when you said…”line across the screen, headphone jack that buzzed, and a trackpad with buttons that would sometimes not work”

    was basically

    1.monitor is defective, need replacement. You cant fix that, its just a replacement.
    2.headphone jack that buzzed, is connected to the motherboard. so that is basically 1 whole unit. That during the making of that motherboard, it wasn’t made right. You can’t fix that either, so replacement.
    3.trackpad, defective in the making. again replacement.

    The cost of fixing, or replacing the parts were more expensive. So they gave you a newer laptop, which is not as expensive.

    Xavimon27 I am glad that they gave you a new unit, and not tried to repair. By any chance was it an HP? Certain HP laptops were manufactured wrong, and hp would send out usually newer or better laptops.

  36. wellfleet says:

    More advice from an employee… If you bought the accidental damage from handling warranty, not just the regular PSP, climb on a ladder, and smash the laptop on floor so it’s in pieces… Your batteries do not count as repairs, and I really think your MOBO is shot which is why your battery won’t charge, and fighting it out with the service center and warranty company is too much of a hassle… It will be deemed uneconomical to repair, presto new laptop! I served time in Geek Squad and please believe me, the agents in the store want nothing more than to fix your computer. At least in my store, they’re more artists than anything else. There is zero incentive for us, and zero joy, in seeing you suffer. None of us would want to be without a computer that long, either, and it sucks that you are going through this.
    Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
    Your best bet, if you don’t want to go the smashing to bits route, is to call 888bestbuy and speak with consumer relations. Escalate this to executive consumer relations. Be calm and polite, but kick it as high up the chain as it goes, you will get a new laptop.

  37. Anonymous says:

    I only use laptops for the very same reason you do, I have had one HP purchased from Circuit City, two from HP directly. I have never been a fan of the Big Box retailer simply due to the fact the Geeks at these locations are trained to derail you with their total lack of knowledge and experience.

    I’d feel better giving my lappy to my neighbor’s 15 son than to the Geeks.

    HP sold me on their extended warranty and was able to delivery with better-than-expected results when the time came (including full replacement of one in which the service center scratched the screen and clamshell.)

    My wife uses the HP now since I am a Switcher now. Time will tell how Apple responds to any issues I may experience with my new MBP. I hope I never have to put it to the test.

    Sorry for your bad experience but next time you may want to consider getting a new laptop from the manufacturer. Best Buy (and others) are a great place to go and touch the merchandise before you by online, but the cheap prices they offer are at a cost to the consumer.

    You could have added that 3-year warranty to the HP home store price for a better-built PC or bought one comparably priced and paid the extended HP warranty price for it as well.

    I do not mean to sound rude but what is an Averatec anyway? Also, all you paid the Geek Squad for was the chance to stand in line and be insulted by their total lack of proper training in technology, they are trained in distraction.

    They are great if you want your plasma TV recharged with plasma!

    I have had one

  38. Anonymous says:

    I purchased a netbook from Best Buy once. The computer was unable to connect reliably to wireless networks. I have used over 4 laptops and connected to networks in my house, friends’ homes, libraries, airports, restaurants, coffee shops, everywhere!

    But this computer would drop connections, fail to connect, and generally suck!

    So when I took it back to BB to return it as defective, I was told I had to let them look it over for 5 days and if they agreed I would have no restock fee.

    I told them it’s defective, there’s no need for any of that, I want my $.

    They said no. I said give me whatever money you can now, I am not waiting.

    They refunded me -15% restock fee.

    I promptly disputed with AMEX and charged back the difference successfully with no problems.

    I will never make another major purchase at BB again.

    I will pay a little more to but somewhere else, for example, at Costco.

    This computer was defective, they wanted to check it out for 5+ days, and that is bull Zhit.

  39. Anonymous says:

    I had a similar situation several years ago. The warranty they had at the time was if it was in for repairs more than 3 times they would replace it. Mine was in 4 times, for 3 different issues. The last time it came back still broken. They tested it right at the store and saw it had not been fixed. They said they would send it back. I told them at this point they need to replace it under warranty. They told me their warranty NOW states it has to be for the same problem. I explained that wasn’t the warranty I purchased. My warranty just said more than 3 times. He stated “well this is the one we go by now”. The manager agreed and gave me the ol 800 number.

    I called them the following day. They agreed that the warranty has changed and they no longer honor that part of it. I was stunned and again said they can’t do that. The person then suggested I sue them….so I did.

    Immediately upon being served with the papers they offered to replace my entire computer (including the monitor which I purchased with the tower but that was not broken), the cost of my warranty and even the sales tax. I accepted it and dropped the case.

  40. dragonlizard89 says:

    I’ve worked at a small computer store before, and I was quite proud of the fact that occasionally a computer would come in from GeekSquad or FireDog for us to fix. Those guys are quite incompetent in my experience.

    If the first battery replacement didn’t fix anything, then it’s obviously the motherboard that’s the reason why the battery isn’t charging.

  41. Snullbug says:

    Seriously, if you are still so misinformed that you think you can buy ANYTHING at Best Buy with any confidence that they will stand behind it, then chalk the purchase price up to education and move on.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Just to let everyone know Best Buy hires based on sales skill and pretty much don’t care about technical skills. I applied there three times and never got a call from them. I’ve been in a tech college for two years and plan on going another two years if I can get more loans.

  43. Anonymous says:

    The Terms and Conditions of the service plan clearly outline the no-lemon policy. The unit must be sent to the service center 4 times for qualifying repairs (4 separate times, a re-do doesn’t count; software problems are not qualifying repairs; battery/AC Adapter replacements are replacements, not repairs), and on the fourth time, the unit may be exchanged at the company’s sole discretion.

  44. Tom Gillikin says:

    As a former employee (computer supervisor, none the less)of Best Buy I can say that I had seen my share of pissed-off customers in my day. On the other hand, I probably saw about three no-lemon trade outs a week. So someone somewhere is getting their no-lemon policy fulfilled. Here’s the deal, as many people mentioned before me, be assertive. After a month goes by ask to talk to a STORE manager. The manager on duty is usually some cashier front end leader, nobody with the bonafides to help you out. If that doesn’t work, go to a different store and talk to a different manager. Lower volume stores will typically mean that the managers are a little more hard up for business, and will make concessions that other stores aren’t willing to make under the auspices of customer retention. Service plans can work, I have service plans on several of the items I own and have actually had my home theater receiver replaced by Best Buy because of a no-lemon replacement. Let the flames begin!

  45. Anonymous says:

    If as a customer you actually read things like your service/warranty information and receipts you wouldn’t get burned so badly all the time. Almost every complaint listed in here is at least partially because of customer ignorance. It is your responsibility to be informed about what you are buying or agreeing to when you purchase a service agreement. There are definitely bad best buys out there that have bad employees which is even more reason why you should make sure you read the information for anything that your purchasing.