EEEPC Return A Recursive Hellhole

In the battle for customer satisfaction, if Mike’s letter is any indication, it appears that ASUS is (still) under siege attack by General Incompetence.

Mike writes

Dearest Consumerist,

I bought a 2G EeePC Surf from Asus via Amazon in January, as the $300 price point was great and I thought it would be the perfect laptop for taking back and forth to class. It worked very well for a while and I was quite happy with it, until it stopped left-clicking after about 4-6 months. Neither pressing the actual left-click button nor tapping worked, both of which previously worked fine. It seemed odd to me that these would be related, but right-click and tab still worked so I could get around fine for my purposes, for awhile. Eventually the tab key stopped working, and then the right-click went. It seemed as if input was slowly dying and at this point it was unusable. In order to make sure it wasn’t a weird software issue, I re-imaged the drive with the CD they provide, booted it into a fresh install, and sure enough when prompted to agree to the initial installation agreement, I couldn’t click, tab, et cetera. I also tried another Linux live CD (Xubuntu) with the same results. At this point it seemed it couldn’t be software, so I did some googling, and couldn’t find anyone with remotely the same issue. Time to RMA, I thought!

First I filled out an RMA request online, filling in a detailed description of the issue, serial number, information, et cetera. They responded to this by posting a reply on their web tracker, not by emailing me, so it took me a few days to notice. Their response was a one-liner, which basically said “call someone else.” I called the number given and they naturally had no access to the information I previously entered, so I had to provide it all again. This person gave me a case number, and a number of someone else to call, who finally turned that case number into an RMA number (after asking more of the same questions), which arrived in my email (though they had botched the spelling of my name and address and I had to call to correct this).

I unfortunately wasn’t that surprised when the email instructions said to include a description of what is wrong in with the packaging so they know what to fix, and where to send it back. I guess the RMA number and associated information I gave three times was all for fun!

So I pack it all up very safely, documenting the process, and take it FedEx. I paid ~$25 to ship it, which got me $300 insurance and a signature required (at this point I was not that trusting of Asus and their communication, so if it turns up lost, I want to know who lost it).

I call on a Thursday around 5:30EST, the day after the tracking says they received it and I am informed they haven’t received it. The woman on the phone said the receiving department is closed but she took my number and assured me they would call me back the next day. Shockingly I received no call, so I called back on Monday. Now the news was that
not only did they receive it, but they had already repaired and shipped it back to me, and would I like the tracking number? Sure, great!

A few days later I receive the package, open it up, and find my EeePC inside with an RMA document. Due to some identifiable scruffs and an off-kilter spacebar (that’s not a bug, that’s a feature!) I realized it was the same one I sent in, which isn’t necessarily a problem, but I figured this problem would have warranted a replacement. Either way I open it up, turn it on (the battery is very low and requires plugging in, thanks Asus!), and to my dismay find that I still can’t
left-click or tap, although the other keys appear fine. Oooooh nooo.

So now I call customer service Monday on my lunchbreak, and talk to the Vanessa. I informed her I RMA’d my EeePC but it isn’t fixed, so she happily transfers me to a number that rings forever. I patiently wait a few minutes through the ringing, then my lunch break is over, so I shelve it until tomorrow.

Tuesday arrives, I call the lovely Vanessa again, inform her of yesterday’s event, and she transfers me to the same number again. I promptly call back, explaining it just rings, and she explains that I was in a queue and someone will pick up, but now I lost my place by hanging up, and she’ll put me back in line. Ring…ring…ring…

So, I call their support number (1-888-678-3688), select option 3 for support, and then option 1 for notebooks (makes sense, right?). After a 10 minute hold time (at least this line has a proper hold system) I get someone, who tells me EeePCs aren’t notebooks, they have their own category, which I need to choose from the menu. So I called back,
waited through all the options, and hear EeePC at option 4. Sounds good. I explain my situation to them, and they say sure, we can help, we’ll transfer you to the RMA department. They do so and guess who picks up? No one but the lovely Vanessa! After telling her what has just happened (impossible, she declares!), she transfers me to the ringing number again. Argh! I decide I better stick it through and see if this goes anywhere, and after 10 minutes of ringing someone picks up, who says they are too busy to answer calls, but they can take my number and someone will call me back. I attempt to explain what has been going on, and he says he can transfer me to RMA (Error: Maximum Recursion Depth Exceeded!) or a technician. A technician is a new and exciting option so I ask for that. After being on hold for 10 minutes, my lunch break was (well) over and I had to hang up.

On Wednesday I call EeePC support again, and talk to Chad. She asked for all my information again, gave me a new case number, and transferred me to the RMA department. Here I got Clinton, who turned my case number into an RMA number, and told me to send it back. I told him again I already sent it back just last week for this same issue, and it wasn’t fixed. I asked if they could pay for my shipping to them, but he said they don’t do that with EeePCs. I asked him how, even if I was willing to pay ANOTHER $25 to ship it back, I could be sure they wouldn’t just send it back broken again. He said he couldn’t answer that question. What he COULD do, is transfer me to customer support, as they are the only ones who can help. So, I take this option, I’m back to Vanessa, and she seems frustrated to keep having to deal with me (I guess I can’t blame her). She verifies they never pay for shipping both ways on EeePCs, but can transfer me to a manager. I take this option and get a voice mail. I explain my situation, very clearly leave my number, and hang up.

This was over a week ago and I have, astoundingly, not received a call back. Where in the world can I go from here? I understand they are under tight margins on a $300 laptop, but it is under warranty and those issues are not my problem. I was perfectly willing to pay for shipping to them the first time; however, the issue wasn’t fixed the first time and I obviously should not have to pay to send it back immediately afterwards. Even if I was, I have so little faith in their
RMA and Customer Service departments that I fear it has little chance of fixing my issue anyway. Can Amazon or my credit card company help me in any way? Since it isn’t functional, a refund could be helpful to put towards a different laptop. What’s a boy to do?


It sounds like you need to escalate up the ASUS corporate ladder. I don’t have any direct contact information for ASUS, but these posts should give you some ideas for leapfrogging over the incompetent service drones.

Judging how the company seems to like putting the “ass” in ASUS, yes, you could be better off calling either Amazon or your credit card company. Amazon might let you do an exchange or refund straight up. If you paid with a credit card that offers automatic extended warranty protection on purchases, you might also be able to judiciously effect a return. Just call them and ask!

If anyone has any secret phone numbers for penetrating to someone at ASUS with a brain, we’re all ears.