Woot: Thanks for the Broken DVD Player

We’ve been a member of Woot since Feb ’05, but until the other day, we never saw anything we needed. Then our DVD player broke, and Woot had one, and it was like 40 bucks, and so we finally tried Woot!

5 days later a totally broken DVD player with a 30 day manufacturer’s warranty showed up at our door. The player will not even turn on.

More inside.

According to Woot’s return policy:

    “Unless we specifically tell you not to, call the manufacturer of the product you bought. You will likely get a replacement of a new model or better item from them. If we still haven’t dissuaded you, email rma@woot.com with your woot order number, the name of the product you are returning, and the detailed problem with the item. We will respond with return authorization by the next business day. Because we aren’t likely to have a replacement in stock, you should be prepared for a refund-only option if that’s all we can do. Know that return freight will be at your expense. Again, you will probably get a better deal from the manufacturer, or whoever else handling customer service for that product.”

So that leaves us with a 30-day manufacturer’s warranty (from date of purchase, which was several days ago.) The warranty does not cover any shipping costs. So, while Woot seemed like a nice idea, the reality is pretty crappy. For what we will end up paying to ship this item to California and back, we could have just bought a player from someone who would take care of us if the product was defective. Woot! is a very popular site, and we often feature deals from them on Consumerist, but we have to say that we wish we’d never wooted.

We’re not the only ones experiencing difficulty, we’ve also received complaints from two readers about a Woot!ed Belkin XM Radio and a Cobra Electronics handheld GPS 1000 not working. Woot states its policy very clearly, and that there is risk involved in purchasing from them. Is the risk worth the reward? We’re not so sure.

Since we don’t foresee needing a blood pressure monitor or a “game bridge” any time soon, we probably shall not woot again, and this makes us sad. —MEGHANN MARCO

Some Product Information:

Toshiba SD-4990 DVD Player
Pricegrabber Price Range: 71.00-116.99
Woot! Price 39.99+5.00 shipping

So, what do you guys think? Should we pay to have it sent to Toshiba and repaired “again”? Or cut our losses and get out now?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Plaid Rabbit says:

    That’s odd – I got a RMA box for a dead hard drive from them, and they fixed it lickity split. This was about a year ago, Maybe they just changed the RMA policy to not include return shipping?

  2. Nifle says:

    All the products I’ve bought from Woot have been fine, even the refurbished ones. Maybe it was a case of oops with the UPS guy? I’d say give them another chance.

  3. matt1978 says:

    That’s why you should rock Jellyfish. No Barbie Vacuums, and the item is direct from the maker.

  4. sporesdeezeez says:

    Yeah, I have to say, Consumerist…you’re being a bit hasty to bash Woot. After almost two years of recommending them – nay, featuring them daily – and all of two complaints in that time, I think reversing your opinion on the worthiness of their service on the basis of a single unsatisfying experience is quite inconsistent.

    Besides, this a quality control issue with the manufacturer. You can’t expect Woot to ensure that no single N.I.B. item will be a brick – not only because no merchant can do that, but also because they told you – caveat emptor.

    You’re the mighty advocates of customer service escalation – why not call the manufacturer, zip up to executive C.S., and demand shipping reimbursement?

  5. cudthecrud says:

    Rip it off to Toshiba. They’ll replace it (or upgrade it) and you’re only responsible most the time (and specifically with woot) for shipping it to them, which isn’t that bad. In all honesty, you’re still going to make it out with a good deal when you like at pricing from other retailers.

  6. Joe says:


    so you received (1) Tosh DVD player DOA – and you wished you didn’t wooted? Woot a crappy reality??

    Ever try to return something from Amazon, BB or CC?

    Come on – you already knew the unit with HDMI (and cable) that upconverts was a steal @$40 (even refurb’d).

    As other’s have stated – either get your rma from Woot – even better – POST on the item’s thread at their site for advice – OR send it back to Toshiba – most likely for a new or upgraded unit.

    must be a slow blog day..

  7. NoThru22 says:

    This is a huge overreaction if I’ve ever seen one. Woot sells products for well below retail price and that’s mainly because they get a bulk deal on things and do not have to warehouse them or have a retail storefront. You can’t expect them to store 1,000 of every item they sell like Best Buy, so if the manufacturer cannot help you, a refund is all you could expect. I have used them several times and have been nothing but happy, but if I received a broken product once or twice, it definitely would not stop me from jumping on the next deal.

  8. limiter says:

    I agree, overreaction. I bought a refurb wireless mouse and keyboard for my PVR and I saved like $90 off what they sell new for and it works great. One bad DVD player = woot.com is evil? Shouldn’t you contact the woot RMA or Toshiba first before you bitch about how crappy they are? If Toshiba tells you to go to woot and woot tells you to go fuck yourself then that is when you should post about how crappy they are. If the shipping is expensive ask them to cover it.

  9. William Mize says:

    I recommend that you do what you often tell *us* to do – call the manufacturer. Maybe you’ll get a spectacular CSR on the other end who will be authorized to send you, free of charge, an even better DVD player.

    At least you’d be following your own advice – it’s a phone call – and get another blog entry out of it.

  10. cynon says:

    Maybe you’ll get lucky dealing with the manufacturer. I Wooted once and ended up with a used digital camera that was supposed to have been new. No complains though, since it came with an equally used 512MB card and everything worked.

  11. trixare4kids says:

    I have wooted about 20 things from them over the past 2.5 years and I’ve only ever received one defective piece of merchandise. I shipped the item (a cd/dvd copier) back to the manufacturer and it was replaced with a new, perfectly good model.

  12. Timbojones says:

    Is there no authorized Toshiba repair center near you?

  13. Itch says:

    I hope now that you’ve vented, you can consider what to do with an even head.

    Yes while paying for a returns shipping is annoying, its something companies are usually up front about. It bit me in the ass when I had to ship a PC case back to Newegg one time for being DOA. But I knew that was the risk I was taking, and quality is usually top notch.

    At the same time, I have to just say that Toshiba has excellent customer service. I had one of thier series 2 tivo/dvd units for just over a year. Finally tried to connect to my Lan and it went bonkers. Shipped it off and they actually upgraded my unit to the next larger size w/ burner. Didn’t even have to ask, and it was sent the day they recieved my old unit.

    So try Toshiba customer service out

  14. fishfucerk says:

    bought at least 5 or more woots, no broken items. let’s face it, *anyone* can have a single bad experience with an online retailer that’ll put them off them forever, while others can have great experiences. If there were a solid pattern of woot items being fucked up (outside of BoC items), well, that’d be another issue, but usually they seem to get to get to folks fine, and hey, the shipping is only $5.

    The only item I’ve heard a lot of complaints about is the projector screen they throw in with deals sometimes — apparently it often gets damaged in shipping. Everything else probably has the same rate of failure you can expect from a refurb product.

    The really sweet deals seem to have largely vanished after they launched the 2.0 website — that is, they could get away with pricing things higher because they had a larger and less discriminating audience. I hardly bother with woot anymore, although at the least it typically has better deals than the crap offered by most other one deal of the day sites.

  15. I think Meghann is pulling a Threadless Ben on this one.

    I’m a fan of woot! as much for its writing as for its deals. I’ve wooted a handful of times this year and been quite satisfied.

  16. desonos says:

    I gotta agree that this is being blown way out of proportion; you guys have made a big point with some posts that you will get nothing if you don’t ask for it, and yet here you are not even trying. And, btw, paying for shipping on RMA’s and warranty repairs is pretty standard.

    Try following your own advice, then come report to us about how it went. But next time, try not posting about it first.

  17. free2571 says:

    Got that Cobra GPS mentioned above. It took 12 hours of bitter struggle and 3 different computers to get it programmed and working. Woot was right, it wasn’t broken, it was just the unfriendliest package I’ve deallt with in years.

  18. jpleonard says:

    I received a MP3 Player that was a little tricky. I emailed Woot, and they offered a refund. So why not send it back?

  19. I totally agree with everyone who is telling consumerist and Meghann to suck it up here.

    This kind of whining makes consumers look bad.

  20. lisey says:

    woot has terrible customer service, I will never use them again. I had an awful transaction with them recently and was pretty much told “oh well” after almost 3 weeks of waiting for it to ship. But when I contacted the distributor about a similar order they stated they could ship it in 2 days for the $5 I saved it was not worth it.

  21. skadus says:

    I almost Wooted on that same DVD player. Glad I didn’t now.

    2 things that made me decide not to get the Toshiba (well, besides the fact that I already have a DVD player, though it doesn’t play divx CDs):

    1. Refurb (Not that that stopped me from getting a rather nice HP laptop for my Mom earlier this year, but it still makes me leery)

    2. The comments section. ALWAYS read Woot’s comment section on the item. It’s the same thing I do with any other online purchase for hardware. Scan the positive reviews so you see how many people like it and why, then read all the negative reviews and see how they even out. Usually the negatives revolve around one specific problem that a lot of people commonly have (in this case, it was the lifespan of the player).

    You shouldn’t’ve gotten a defective player, I agree, but one of Woot’s biggest things is caveat emptor.

  22. 44 in a Row says:

    Just for the record, by the way, I got this same Woot, and though I haven’t seriously put it through the paces yet, it seems solid enough. I read the comments about the lifespan, but at the end of the day, for $45 I’m okay if it only lasts a year or so.

  23. pooryoric says:

    I’m a big fan of Woot and have wooted several times. I hooked my wife up and she’s a major Wootaholic. We always make a point of reading the comments and doing some independent research, but so far we haven’t caught a lemon. Or a bandolier of carrots.

  24. tz says:

    I’ve wooted often, and am overwooting today. I got the Cobra GPS – and it is cheaper and more useful without attaching to a PC than most other handhelds.

    My worst Woot was a wireless webcam – everyone else found it nearly useless, though it sort of worked. It was hard to configure and “worked” though was difficult and barely useful.

    Everything else has been great. But I do read the comments. Sometimes there is a reason they are cheap.

  25. Ben Popken says:

    Stephanie writes:

    ” First, as mentioned before, it’s worth a call or email to possibly get a free replacement.

    Second, if that fails, offer it up to folks at Makezine.com, Hackaday.com, or similar. Maybe somebody can make you something useful from broken crap in exchange for blog fodder? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! “

  26. bilobag says:

    I actually bought the same dvd player from woot which also happened to be my first purchase. When I plugged it in using the included hdmi cable, I also thought the player was a dud. So I called Toshiba and realized I had to pay to ship this thing back for repairs. After spending only $45 on it for my first woot, I felt the urge to hurl it off my balcony. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I started searching on the internet for answers and saw that other woot buyers had the same issue. I attempted to troubleshoot the issue myself by trying to use the RCA cables and thank goodness I finally had picture and sound. After playing around in the menu I figured out how to turn on the hdmi output and now everything is working perfectly. So the real issue is that Toshiba includes terrible setup instructions with the player and that the player comes unintuitively configured to output in s-video instead of hdmi. So please don’t waste your money yet and try out my fix. Let me know if it works for you. It turned out to be an awesome woot for me…upconverting dvd player plus hdmi cable for $45. Can’t beat it!!