Buying Laptop From Costco Extends Your Warranty And Your Aggravation

Last year, Tom bought a Sony laptop from Costco. Part of the reason why he chose Costco to purchase a computer was the warehouse club’s famed extension of manufacturers’ warranties: more warranty protection on a portable computer can’t be a bad thing. Except when it is. In Tom’s case, having another company involved just means that he can always get a very nice person on the phone at Costco who isn’t able to help him at all.

I bought a laptop from Costco in July 2010. A large part of the reason I selected them is because of Costco’s notoriously consumer friendly return policy and the fact that they extend manufacturer warranties from one year to two years.

I began having problems with my laptop (a Sony Vaio) in the early part of November of this year. I started to get a warning saying that my harddrive was about to crash and that I should back everything up. Then, true to its word, it did just that. However, I knew that I had almost seven months left on my warranty so I felt I was in good shape. Sadly, so far all I’ve received is the runaround from both Sony and Costco. When I called Costco initially they contacted Sony on my behalf. Sony said someone would call me within 48 hours. Since I called on a Saturday I felt that was reasonable. When I hadn’t received a call by Wednesday I called Costco back.

They called Sony again and this time Sony claimed that they what they actually said was that they would call me within 48 hours of the part arriving. But good news, my part had arrived the previous day and so someone should be contacting me to set up a time to come and install it. When I still hadn’t received that call by Friday afternoon (well past their own claim of 24-48 hours within the arrival of the part) I called Costco yet again. I was told, again, that someone would call me within 48 hours.

Guess what happened? This time they claimed that the repair technician called me but there was no answer. Of course, my phone showed no missed calls and there were no messages left at either of the two phone numbers I gave them. Their tech finally came out and replaced my RAM and my harddrive. Hoo ray. Problem solved.

For about 48 hours.

Then my computer started randomly turning itself off. Sometimes it seemed to be related to it being moved or jostled. Other times I wasn’t even touching it and it just turned off. So I called Costco who called Sony…again. This time the wanted me to ship it back it to them. They sent me a box, I sent it back and I waited.

It actually came back pretty quickly; within a week. Hoo ray. Problem solved.

For about 48 minutes.

Then my computer began randomly clicking on things. The selection keys on my mouse pad wouldn’t respond but the computer was clicking on things almost non-stop. It would “click” sometimes 30-40 times per minute. It just wouldn’t stop. So I called Costco who called Sony. This time I said that I was done and would like a replacement unit. Sony had replaced the RAM, the harddrive and the motherboard. Clearly they didn’t know what to do and I was tired of being without a laptop. They were adamant that I needed to send it back yet again. I admittedly don’t know much about the repair of computers but is there really even anything left to replace at this point?

I stood my ground insisting that I was not going to send the computer back. The Sony rep told me in no uncertain terms that it didn’t matter if they could never get it fixed, under no circumstances would they ever replace the unit. So apparently they’re using a definition of “warranty” that I was previously unfamiliar with.

I appealed to the Costco rep who was still on the phone. They’ve been on the line for every interaction I’ve had with Sony. (Which is admirable.) I asked if they could step in and replace the unit since it’s clearly malfunctioning and at no point has Sony even hinted at it being damaged. It just doesn’t work. But all Costco will say is that Sony holds the warranty and they can’t do anything. Which raises the question, what exactly does a Costco warranty get you if ultimately all they do is shrug their corporate shoulders and say, “I don’t know…ask Sony.”

As it stands, Costco is claiming that they’ll escalate matters and, of course, that they are “taking this matter seriously” but I’ve been without a laptop for a month now and my patience has reached it’s end.

I’m hoping that perhaps your website can help me resolve this matter.