Help! Neither Best Buy Nor Asus Will Give Me A Laptop That Works

For the month of August, consumer advocate Christopher Elliott will occasionally be sharing some of the questions and problems he receives from readers. In this week’s case, Giovanna bought an Asus laptop at Best Buy that startedly began shutting down at random times. Since then, she’s been caught in a cycle of unsuccessful warranty replacements — but now that warranty is about to end. Will either party step up to just provide her with a working computer?

From Giovanna:

I bought an Asus laptop computer from Best Buy recently. Soon after I began using it, the PC started shutting down randomly.

I returned it to Best Buy, and they sent it to Asus. The manufacturer replaced the hard drive and then sent it to me. So far, so good.

I began using the laptop, but it kept happening – the computer would suddenly shut down.

I brought it back to Best Buy three more times. They restored the system software, so they assured me there can’t be a problem with the software. But the PC still didn’t work.

Best Buy sent the computer back to Asus again. They ran tests. Asus said nothing is wrong with the hardware. The computer went back to Best Buy, and it still shuts down randomly.

I brought the laptop back to Best Buy again three weeks ago. The technician who assisted me said that something is obviously wrong with the motherboard, and they sent it back to Asus.

I’m frustrated. I feel as if Asus and Best Buy are running down the clock on my warranty. I think they should just replace the laptop. Can you help me?

Chris Says:
Congratulations, you bought the laptop from hell. Asus should have recognized that the second time your retailer sent the PC back and replaced it instead of insisting the unit was problem-free. And when it refused, Best Buy should have either pressured the manufacturer to do the right thing, or offered you a new computer.

Why didn’t that happen? Well, that’s the funny thing about PCs like those manufactured by Asus. There are multiple parties who could be responsible, from the operating system developer (Microsoft) to the hardware manufacturer (Asus) and there are warranties and third parties that get involved, in your case, Best Buy.

It’s easy to slip between the cracks.

I don’t know the specifics of your warranty, but I can tell you this: All the way down the line, all of the parties involved have a powerful incentive to keep you from replacing the PC outright. The finger-pointing will continue until one of the parties gives up, and it’s usually the consumer who dumps the non-working laptop and buys a replacement, allowing Asus, Best Buy and Microsoft to keep their money. But that’s not an ideal solution.

From what I can tell, all of your haggling was done in person, so there’s no paper trail. I would have started two sets of correspondence: One with Best Buy, the other with Asus. Get their response in writing and compare one with the other for inconsistencies.

Best Buy will probably send you a form response. If that’s insufficient, try emailing someone at the executive level. Best Buy’s emails follow the firstname.lastname@bestbuy.com format. I’m absolutely certain that the company’s interim CEO Mike Mikan would enjoy hearing about your PC troubles.

Chris did manage to contact Best Buy on Giovanna’s behalf and the retailer has since replaced her laptop with one that works.

Christopher Elliott answers every week on his consumer advocacy blog. Email him with your questions at chris@elliott.org or like his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.

Comments

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  1. Marlin says:

    Another reason to NOT buy Asus products. They use to be good but have spread out so much their quality has dropped and CS is a joke.

    They are the new Sony. They are living off their old goodwill name, not their product now.

    • Overheal says:

      They still do quality components but it’s true that I haven’t heard a “good” story about their Customer Service.

      • blackstaffer says:

        I had a wonderful experience with their customer service. The difference is I didn’t take it back to the retailer. I called ASUS directly and they sent me a box the same day. I got it back 3 days later fixed with some replaced parts and haven’t had a problem since (4 years strong now).

  2. MickeyMoo says:

    Would a state “lemon law” apply in cases like this?

    • rgf207 says:

      I think that only applies to cars but I could be wrong.

      • Overheal says:

        The Geeksquad Protection plans have a lemon policy but theres no state lemon policy for electronics that I’m aware of. Had the customer a GSP plan, the third send-out would have been the last: under GSP on your third send-out if they determine it needs to be worked on a third time, they don’t bother, and give you the purchase price of your laptop back to you as a store credit. One of the many reasons I actually enjoy offering the service: to avoid warranty-hell.

  3. Scooter McGee says:

    So what is a good PC now? Asus, Dell, HP, Sony and Toshiba seem to have a lot of service issues and I’m leery of Acer.

    Lenovo? Packard Bell?

    • Marlin says:

      Funny that Lenovo is probably the best right now all round.
      Most, including myself, thought the chinese would just take the name and slap it on some cheaply made latops. But they have stepped up and made some really good ones and even improved on IBMs designs.

      • Scooter McGee says:

        I thought the same thing when I heard about the sale. My office Thinkpad is pretty nice, just completely freezes for about 20 seconds every so often. The Ideapads have some nice specs to them too.

    • lyontaymer30 says:

      A survey and study done by consumer reports (sister site) has shown that the failure rates from different brands from the highest and lowest is only a single digit different, so it’s not like one brand is so much superior than the next.

    • dangermike says:

      I just bought a toshiba android tablet (the excite 10) and I am more than satisfied with it. I’m not sure if it’s indicative of their laptop/notebook quality, but it’s enough to have at least earned them a shot for me.

      I would never own another Dell or Asus. The Dell (an XPS-m1210) was fragile junk. Its DVD burner wouldn’t burn (only play), its power adapter frayed and fell apart, and its video chip overheated frequently and severely enough to damage itself. The Asus was purchased with an accidental damage warranty from the manufacturer. As luck would have it, it was the first (and to this day only) laptop I have ever dropped. Asus flat out out refused to honor the warranty over the course of a couple weeks of emails and even a complain to the BBB. In fact, with the BBB complaint, they agreed to fix it but just stopped responding to me. The BBB accepted their agreement to fix it as a resolution but they never followed though. I hope the $700 for that laptop was worth it because it cost them literally thousands of dollars of future business from me, and I tell everyone who will listen to avoid them now. I also have an MSI X350 that’s taught me two things: Always look up disassembly procedures before buying a computer and despite the hype that they really can compete in the mobile arena now, don’t buy an AMD laptop. For about the same price as the E-450 based computer I use now, I could have had a Core i3 that doesn’t hot enough to smell like burning lint and hair. And I could have gotten my SSD into it without damaging the case and trackpad. Live and learn. Also, despite its broken-from-time-of-purchase keyboard and hinges that I had to epoxy back together, I kind of miss my Acer 4830T. It had a Core i5 and a 9300 mAh battery and could stay unplugged for 10-12 hours pretty consistently. But I fell asleep reading a wikia page for assassin’s creed and the combination of flash ads and blocked exhaust vents killed it. When my MSI finally goes kaput, I’ll look at lenovos, toshibas, acers, and maybe viewsonics. And intel-only.

    • Draw2much says:

      My guess is stop looking at brands and start looking at model numbers. You’re gonna get stinky customer service no matter where you go (unless, apparently, you’re a business class customer). So what you want to focus on is getting a laptop model that’s got the fewest complaints or the easiest problems to fix. If it never breaks to begin with, you don’t have to deal with crappy CS.

      Not the best answer but… :(

    • Overheal says:

      It’s not about brands anymore, so much as it is about company attitudes toward their warranties. Until we get better consumer advocacy laws such as those that they enjoy in the EU this will continue to be the case.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Wow I forgot about Packard Bell. My first laptop was a Packard Bell, purchased in 1992, which replaced an Amstrad desktop system.

  4. lyontaymer30 says:

    So has the computer been sent for 3 official repairs covered under the protection plan? If it has that should make it able to be replaced to complete the plan.

    • Overheal says:

      It would.. but it doesn’t sound like she purchased a plan.

      Even if you don’t purchase a plan Best Buy will still let you come into the store and route through their facilities for service and repair but that usually still leaves you out of pocket for shipment and such. That sounds like this is the situation with this customer. I’ve seen it happen more than once. I do like that we offer that service but it’s really not much of an enhancement, not nearly as much as buying protection at point of sale.

  5. lyontaymer30 says:

    So has the computer been sent for 3 official repairs covered under the protection plan? If it has that should make it able to be replaced to complete the plan.

  6. dandadan says:

    I’m a laptop technician and have a few pointers for those looking for laptops:

    Asus makes Sony internal components. Both companies laptops, service and support are horrendous. Both of these companies hate their customers and will do anything not to honor a warranty. My shop no longer works on Sony/Asus and scrap for parts any of the machines that come in because of so many returns.

    Acer/Gateway/Emachines (all exactly the same inside made by same company) have really gone down in overall build quality in the last few years as they focus more on mass market retailers and bargain basement pricing. Machines fall apart after a couple of years. Low build quality shows up in cracks, scratches and generally flimsy construction.

    Toshiba they used to make a very good machine. Their high end boxes are OK but the gaming rig they make is absolute junk. Low end Toshiba’s are just OK. I don’t like them anymore mainly because they just feel cheap. One big defect in a lot of models is the DC power jack that is attached to the base of the computer with plastic clips that break and cause the DC jack to just flop around inside the case. I have a repair we do with parts from Radio Shack so you don’t have to replace the entire base of the laptop. There are better choices of laptops.

    Lenovo – Laptop build quality is impressive. Forget about factory service. They have the most convoluted, obtuse, counter-intuitive warranty process guaranteed to frustrate even a hard-core factory service users like me. For that reason alone, I recommend you only purchase business class machines from them (separate service dept. for business machines). Too bad they seem to be going down the same road as Sony/Asus for taking care of their warranty work.

    Dell – World class service and support. Dell’s tend to use very weak optical drives that stop booting or writing DVD’s. I love Dell service and support. I use them a lot for customer machines that come in or on machines we buy used. I follow instructions and have few troubles, fast turn times and competent service. Stay away from Dell’s budget machines, M5040 for instance is an Inspiron machine but feels hollow and cheap. Go with the Latitude line, avoid Vostro (budget business class machines) and you will get a well made machine that is built well. You are better off buying a 2 year old Latitude with a good processor than a new consumer class machine. If you have lots of money to spend the Dell Precision Work station is an awesome machine but expensive. Alienware is pretty much the same inside as the Dell XPS (high end consumer machine) for thousands less.

    HP – They take a lot of heat for crappy machines. I for one have to give them my compliments on their new, better build quality and warranty service has improved. I stick with the HP Elitebook, a fine machine similar to the Dell Latitude line. Warranty support in my experience was competent and turn times were very good.

    I think it is important when contacting a manufacturer that you have your ducks in a row and can drill right down to the issue at hand. Sure it helps that I am a technician, but you have to treat the people on the other end of the phone with respect and remain calm at all times. Most of the time when I get factory service anymore I use the online chat with the rep. It gives me a log of the conversation and a paper trail in the event of any issues with the repair. Cool heads prevail. It never hurts to have a little background info.

    Now if we can all just pull together and drive Asus and Sony out of the laptop business the world would be a better place.

  7. canchita says:

    I actually had a very good experience with Asus. My laptop was trying to jump off the table and I grabbed it by the screen just in the nick of time. Alas, when I grabbed it I squished the screen and it looked like it was bleeding. It was totally my own fault but I called ASUS since It was still under warranty and in two days they sent me a prepaid box, I sent the laptop to them and a week later it was fixed and returned to me. I couldn’t have been more delighted!

  8. Fancyshmancypants says:

    God asus makes the shittiest laptops ever. I bought one, and within days it overheated and melted the keyboard, touchpad, and damaged the screen. The stupid fan malfunctioned and the computer did not automatically turn off. So I sent it in, and they fixed the fan, but not the screen, touchpad, keyboard. They told me they don’t fix cosmetic damage. Brand new computer, and it looks like shit. Not to mention the adapter was broken, and they told me they would send me a new one, which they didn’t. I had to send it in a year later because it wouldn’t turn on, because the motherboard committed suicide. Again, they told me they would send me a new adapter, which they failed to do again. Plus their customer service fucking sucks. They never make it easy to talk to anyone that will do shit. I had to call so many times to get anything done.