Dear Best Buy, Thank You For Losing My Laptops

David brought two laptops to Best Buy for repair; neither was ever seen or heard from again. Best Buy sent David’s first laptop, a Sony Vaio, back to Sony for repairs. Unable to find the laptop after one month, Best Buy declared it irretrievably lost and offered David an upgraded Vaio for $200. One year later, the second laptop broke. Like the first, it disappeared forever after being dispatched to Sony. David writes:

I just recently started reading The Consumerist, and Lorraine’s nightmare with her laptop repair reminded me of my own nightmare of Best Buy completely losing two laptops I sent in for repair, leaving me without any laptop for a total of 4 months, as well as all the data I lost on the first laptop. It all started a little over 3 years ago when a relative bought me a top-of-the-line Sony Vaio at a Best Buy.

Out of the box, the battery simply wouldn’t fit into the laptop. Taking it back to the store resulted in an employee turning the laptop sideways, lifting the battery up several inches, and slamming it into the laptop. Then I discovered that the special Sony A/V input cable didn’t fully go into its port, which meant that video input didn’t work unless I applied continuos pressure to push the cable into the computer. Best Buy alternated between claiming that that issue was impossible and accusing me of abusing the laptop.

Finally the issue that made me take it in for repair was an intermittent blue-screen that was usually triggered by picking up the laptop. After much going back and forth between Best Buy (and their diagnostics finding nothing wrong), they agreed to send it to Sony to look at.

After a month of no contact, I finally called Best Buy to figure out what was up with my laptop. They claimed everything was fine, and that it was taking long because of all the students that sent in laptops for repair over the summer. After another week, I try again, and find out that it was apparently never shipped to Sony. After more phone calls, they claimed that it had been shipped to Sony, but Sony had never received it. After yet more phone calls, it turns out that they have absolutely no clue where my laptop was supposed to be, let alone where it actually was.

Finally, over two months after I had dropped it off for repair, continuos phone calls with Best Buy blaming Sony, Best Buy agrees to replace my laptop. However, they no longer sold the exact same model, and instead offer me the new Vaio model if I pay the difference in price ($200). Drained and tired of being without a laptop, I agree.

The most amazing thing about all this is that one year later, this entire process repeats almost verbatim. The fan in my new Vaio dies and my processor starts overheating. Remembering what happened to my data last time, I back it up and take it in for repair (this time without the hassle of them denying the problem’s existence) and wait. Since my last repair, they had set up their website so you can track the status of the repair, which I do.

After two weeks of my laptop being “in transit to Sony”, I call to find out what’s up. After a week of phone calls to various reps, I find out that they have no clue either. After another week of phone calls, they finally agree that they can’t find my laptop, nor can Sony, and agree to replace it with a new laptop. The problem is that they no longer offer the high-end Viaos, and the closest PC equivalent is quite a bit of a downgrade. The closest laptop equivalent they have is a PowerBook, which after more phone calls, they agree to replace my Vaio.

Despite this agreement, another two weeks pass of them being unable to process the replacement order internally (apparently due to them only offering the PowerBook through their website, which is considered a separate company or something.) Finally, after almost another 2 months of being without a laptop and Best Buy completely unable to figure out how to get their website to send me a PowerBook, they agree to cut me a check for however much I spend on a PowerBook directly from Apple, and I’m free of ever having to deal with Best Buy again.

I’ve been very happy with my PowerBook for the last two years (Apple repaired the screen not too long ago in just two days), but I now wish I had documented this entire ordeal in the full detail it deserves. I wonder how many other people have had their laptop(s) lost by Best Buy?

P.S. Many of Best Buy’s customer reps/managers/V.P.s I spoke with promised to call me back after I spoke to them. Not one ever did, despite me waiting twice the time period they gave.

Best Buy’s cash-retention tentacles have grown stickier in the past two years; David’s story will likely remain the only instance we know of where Best Buy voluntarily reimbursed a purchase from a different company.

(Photo: JI Stark)