Toshiba's Netbook Repair Runaround Is Demoralizing

One might think that the warranty repair of a netbook that failed after less than three weeks of use would be simple and painless. One would be wrong. Robert asks in his e-mail to Consumerist about Toshiba, “are all computer companies this crappy?” Yes, some of them, but it’s a sad day in America when customers buy a laptop and can expect to encounter the same hardware failures and general runaround that Robert writes that he experienced.

On August 27 I bought a new Toshiba NB255-N245 netbook. That thing was awesome, did everything I needed. Yesterday, September 14 (18 days after purchase) the hard drive inexplicably died. After one call to customer service to verify the problem, I was told to take the computer to an authorized repair center near my home.

Here is where the fun begins, today I took the netbook in to the repair center. They told me it wasn’t something they were allowed to work on.

Call to Toshiba #2: find another authorized repair center.
Call second repair center to see if they will do the work. The second repair center states that Toshiba is no longer allowing local repair centers to work on netbooks.

Call to Toshiba #3: Toshiba rep confirms this. I ask how to ship in my computer. Rep hangs up the phone (I think it was an accident). On a side note, on this call I was told that any local repair center would charge for the work. I asked why, since this computer is under warranty, would I be charged for any work at all. Toshiba rep told me that is the agreement they have.

Call to Toshiba #4: Toshiba rep is happy to help, but states that I have to pay for shipping to the repair center. I ask why, seeing as this laptop isn’t even 3 weeks out of the box, and still well within warranty, should I have to pay for anything. Toshiba rep says that is in the warranty agreement. I tell him I understand, but question the wisdom of a company selling a product that fails within 3 weeks and still charges the customer for anything. Cutting myself off, I ask the rep what he would do. He states that he would ask to speak to a manager. After speaking with the manager, asking the same questions and getting no response (she literally didn’t say anything until I would ask if she was still there, and then would only repeat the company line.)

In short, I bought a laptop that had a major hardware failure 18 days after purchase. At no time was I offered a refund, exchange or help. I was misled multiple times over the phone, and I have to pay to ship a broken product, that is under warranty, in for repairs.

On a side note: In 2002, I bought a Citizen watch. In 2006, out of warranty, the watch broke, so I took it to an authorized retailer/repair guy near my house. He couldn’t fix it so he sent it in with a bunch of other stuff to Citizen (I was going to pay for it). It was just a broken gear. Citizen fixed the watch and returned it at no charge. The totals of the repairs and shipping couldn’t be more than $15. I only buy watches from them now.

When I asked the Toshiba reps why I should ever do business with their company again, none of them had an answer.

Perhaps that should be your answer.

Back in April, we published an executive customer service contact for Toshiba laptops. They might be able to help.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Tracer Bullet says:

    As much as Dell is hated on, they’ll at least send you a box to ship your product back to them, and cover shipping and handling, if it is busticated and under warranty. Alternatively, you can request to just have them ship you the parts, for those of us who know how to fix it themselves.

    • SynMonger says:

      There’s also onsite support for hardware installations.

    • corrie06 says:

      Dell’s great. They’ll send parts next day for warranty fixes. I’ve also had great luck with HP and our laptops. They always send the coffin the next day and turn around time is usually three or four days.

    • danmac says:

      Dell also includes OS software when you purchase computers from them, which is why I have legit copies of XP, Vista, and Windows 7 64-bit at home that I can use whenever I want to format a system or swap out a drive.

      I know there’s a lot of hate for Dell here, and I’m not saying they make the best computers, but they could be a lot worse.

    • pterrell says:

      And I usually buy from Costco. The prices are usually not the lowest, but they have the 90-day return policy. So the OP could take his netbook back to Costco and return…

    • JANSCHOLL says:

      You know why Dell is hated on? When my computer desktop went kaboom 11 months into a 3 year extended warranty, I contacted their help desk and they told me to open the case and look to see if anything was unplugged. I will never buy a Dell anything again.

  2. Blackadar says:

    Can you return it from where you bought it and get a full refund?

    • Aedilis says:

      Sometimes yes and no. For example, I am a Best Buy Silver Rewards Zone member. So I would have 40 days to return the laptop and excluding a 15% restocking fee. If I wasn’t a Silver Rewards Zone member, I’d have to pay 15% and only have 14 days.

      I’ve had to pull this twice in the last 3 years where I had to return a notebook for a defect out of the box. Both times they were more than pleasant about it.

  3. Halliday says:

    Did the OP buy it from a local store? After all that I would just return it to the store.

  4. Taliskan says:

    Did OP buy directly from Toshiba or from another store/company? If so, I would try returning/exchanging to the store/company is Toshiba isn’t willing to help.

  5. bitslammer says:

    If something like this happened to me I’d just grab the receipt and return it to wherever I bought it. If this is how Toshiba is treating you now just think about how they will in the future.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Many places have a 14 day return policy on computers… I would probably buy another hard drive and fix it myself, but make sure I never bought another toshiba!

      On a side note, I’m about to buy a netbook. Now I know to stay away from Toshiba.

      It bugs me that a laptop company insists that a computer be sent in for a hard drive. Dell would call it field replaceable, and send you a replacement. I replaced a hard drive in my sister in law’s Toshiba using a drive I had on hand to speed the turn around. I then called Toshiba to replace the drive, but they wouldn’t do it unless I sent the whole computer in.

  6. tiatrack says:

    3 weeks in, I’d just return it to the place you bought it.

    I had a similar issue with a grind and brew coffee pot. It stopped brewing after a couple of months. While it had a 1 year warranty and the company agreed to fix it, I had to pay to ship it to them (and those coffee machines are HEAVY!). I said no way, and returned it to Macy’s for a full refund the next day.

  7. tiatrack says:

    3 weeks in, I’d just return it to the place you bought it.

    I had a similar issue with a grind and brew coffee pot. It stopped brewing after a couple of months. While it had a 1 year warranty and the company agreed to fix it, I had to pay to ship it to them (and those coffee machines are HEAVY!). I said no way, and returned it to Macy’s for a full refund the next day.

  8. Bativac says:

    I am about to purchase a Toshiba netbook for my wife. Anybody else had negative experiences with Toshiba, either hardware-related or customer-service related? The laptop I researched had great reviews online but stories like this make me nervous.

    • SynMonger says:

      Every manufacturer has stories like this one floating around somewhere. Whether it’s Dell Hell, or HP making you want to dig a hole to throw your computer into, everyone’s customer service department has shafted someone out there.

    • rpm773 says:

      This goes back a few years, but my wife had a Satelite model. She had problems with the power adapter not allowing a charge to be taken. She also had a weird issue where static electricity would build up in the unit, and cause it to reset. Or at least that’s what Toshiba told her was happening – there was a TSB on it.

    • Vermont2US says:

      I bought a Toshiba laptop for my daughter last November, and this summer the power connection inside the laptop broke off…no fault of my daughter’s, I was sitting right next to her when it happened, and she wasn’t trying to force the power adapter in or anything, it just broke. I called Toshiba Customer Service and they said this wasn’t covered under warranty. I was surprised, and asked to speak to their supervisor. They had none on duty at the time – it was a weekend – and said I could call back on Monday, which I did. I spoke to a Customer Service Manager who also said it wasn’t under warranty. I asked to speak with their supervisor, and was told they didn’t have one and I couldn’t go any higher!!

      I then sent a nasty-gram straight to Toshiba at this website and told them what happened and how unhappy I was. I then brought the laptop to a local computer store and they were quite helpful in locating a replacement part online and explaining to me how to replace it myself, which I did. About 2 weeks later I got a call from some guy at Toshiba Executive Customer Service offering to repair the laptop that the customer service rep and manager were wrong and it is a covered repair, but at that point I had already done it myself. I sent him a copy of my part invoice and they promptly sent me a check for my cost. I advised him in my fax when I sent a copy of the invoice, that there were numerous negative comments online about Toshiba laptop repairs, and that I didn’t see how I could post anything positive online about this situation, to which he never responded.

      Believe me, if anyone asks me about getting computers serviced locally, that store that I went to in town is definitely getting my referrals! Toshiba gets just bad reviews from me.

      • jamar0303 says:

        Seeing as how it was contacting Toshiba Japan that got a response I’d say maybe that’s where you should be getting any future Toshiba laptops. They even come with WiMax if you buy them there.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I love my Toshiba. It’s a workhorse and has never failed me since I bought it in January 2007. I think a huge difference for me is that I run multiple app’s to keep it running healthy such as a registry cleaner which I think helps the most.

      I think that this situation with the OP is not dependant on Toshiba but just bad luck and this could have happened with any of the PC companies.

    • Zeratul010 says:

      Their hardware is generally good, but their shipping and customer service suck out loud. I tried ordering a top-end laptop from them – it took a month, got rerouted 3 times, and finally got lost a state away from me. When I called Toshiba, they told me I could wait another 1.5 MONTHS for a new one. I told them to cancel the order and give a refund – they tried to tell me that it wasn’t an option until UPS completed their investigation into what had happened to the package. After telling them that UPS’s investigation was between them and UPS, it still took another week, multiple calls, and the threat of a fraud complaint to the California AG’s office before I got my money back – and another set of calls after that when they tried to keep the money for the warranty on the now-refunded laptop.

      It’s a shame, because Toshiba does make some quality hardware. But from what I’ve heard, my story isn’t even exceptional when it comes to Toshiba customer service.

    • davidsco says:

      DON’T do it. OP, I run a computer service biz, with over 840 clients throughout my region, I can tell you from personal experience, do NOT buy Toshiba (or Sony, for that matter) laptop. On top of their industry worst customer service, their laptops are garbage. Overheating, batteries that fail in short time, loaded with crapware, and poor design. Toshiba is NOT a computer company. They make low to mid-range electronics, just because they push out laptops does NOT mean you should buy one. Yes, they have nice speakers, to impress you in the store, but that’s like buying a car for the stereo. They are garbage. Google Toshiba Satellite class action and count the dozens they’ve had over failed hardware

    • homehome says:

      The computer tech’s experience with computers is gonna be slighted because no one brings their computer to a computer tech when everything is working fine, they only bring them when there is a problem. Every computer namebrand has a horror story and if you’re trying to stay away from one you might as well not buy a computer at all. Toshiba makes good computers and honestly as far as different companies, the only difference you will see will be customer service, specs and what internal parts they use. Other than that, they’re all the same.

      • davidsco says:

        No, your FAILED logic is slighted because. A, I recommend computers to my customers, I recommend Dells, and as a general rule, those with them have few H/W problems. B. I get calls for ALL manufacturers with software and virus problems, and other things, so my experience is with ALL makes. C. My opinion, oh short-sighted unintelligent person, is not just based on how many I get calls for, but with ACTUAL PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE USING AND WORKING ON AND WITH THEM. So please, when opening your mouth, 1. Get clue. 2. Buy brain.

      • davidsco says:

        Oh, and genius, they are NOT all the same. It’s the Motherboard, it’s the crapware installed, it’s the quality of the case. It’s the choice and power of the power supplies. Dontcha just LOVE when people with the IQ of a fruit fly, the experience of a newborn, and the intelligence of a moron open their mouths and PROVE how little they know? The WORST Thing is, the imbeciles try and pass themselves off as intelligent

  9. bkdlays says:

    Just wait until you ship it to them. Workin in the computer industry I have always found Toshiba to be a decent Laptops, until you deal with their service department.

    Their repair practices are terrible and they definitely don’t know the value of customer service.

    If you can return that computer, do it! You are already put off by Toshiba and you haven’t even dealt with them.

    Google it, you can’t miss it

  10. rpm773 says:

    I’m not familiar with all of Toshiba’s warranty service options, but my wife had several problems with her Satelite before getting rid of it. While under warranty, she’d have to run it to some old-school, independent computer store a few towns over, who happened to be a authorized repairer. And it would be out for at least a week, probably buried under all the crap this guy happened to have in his shop.

    I usually get a 3 year warranty with my IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads. And when there is a problem, I have the machine back in 3 days, even after having it mailed away for repair.

  11. SonarTech52 says:

    Shipping is not covered by many of the PC companies, and electronics companies in general, this helps to keep the price point down.

    Some companies will offer upgraded warranties that will take care of everything one example I know of is Acer’s Total Notebook Protection (I have one with this warranty.) The warranty extended the standard warranty from 1 to 3 years, adds accidentaly damage protection, and if it need to go for service, they will pay for the shipping.

    Also, I know from a friend, that usually within 30 days of purchase, the shipping would be covered no matter what warranty.

  12. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    The poster has my sympathy, but I don’t share his experience with Toshiba.

    I have purchased and supported over 520 Toshiba laptops in the last 4 years. I found the hardware very well constructed and the failure rate to be quite low. Out of that 520+ machines I have had 3 DOA machines, replaced only a couple of HDD’s. I have replaced a lot of keyboards as they tend to get well abused by my users. Bearing in mind I buy the Satellite Pro models not the entry level consumer items.

    Support initially was from a 3rd party who has progressively gotten less supportive. I now participate in Toshiba’s Self-Supporter program and do all the basic keyboard, ram, hdd, etc. stuff in house. This is very successful with relatively quick warranty parts shipping. For items not deemed FRU’s (field replaceable units) like broken screens I still send for depot repair.

    All things considered I have less trouble with Toshiba hardware and Toshiba support compared to past experience (in a different work environment) with Dell, HP/Compaq, IBM and beige box suppliers. I will be staying with Toshiba for the foreseeable future.

    BTW having done some work on Toshiba net-books and some of their other ultra small/light laptops… Wow they can be a pain in the bum.

  13. jeff_the_snake says:

    drop a couple bucks on a low end solid state disk and google how to install it. this will make your netbook as responsive as a much more powerful computer. then never buy another toshiba. these companies are only ridiculous because we let them get away with it

  14. jeff_the_snake says:

    drop a couple bucks on a low end solid state disk and google how to install it. this will make your netbook as responsive as a much more powerful computer. then never buy another toshiba. these companies are only ridiculous because we let them get away with it

  15. Dragon Tiger says:

    A few years back we had an issue with a Toshiba laptop. At the time, *only* authorized repair centers were allowed to work on them. I won’t even go into the repair center wanting a deposit for a warranty repair. The repair center confirms the unit needs repair and that it’s under warranty, and they order the parts from Toshiba. A week goes by and I call about status, and they say they haven’t gotten the parts from Toshiba, and that Toshiba holds parts orders until they can fill a shipping container in China and then sends them over. I call a month later, still no parts. I call two weeks after that, same thing. Two weeks later and the parts are in, but they are repairing the units in the order they were brought in, so it may be another week. All in all, it was over two months between the notebook failure and the unit being repaired.

    The next laptop purchases were HP, which maintains warehouses of parts across the country.

  16. Bernardo says:

    I was right about to buy a toshiba folio and after skimming some reviews (I almost preordered blindly) I found that the product had problems and the US customer service were doing nothing to help with it. Now after reading this story I think I am just going to steer clear of this brand for a while.

  17. Sheila says:

    OP, I had a similar problem and a fail with my 2-week old laptop. Here’s how I got my computer fixed.

    First, customer service is horrible. While I think they are sincere, I think they have absolutely no idea that they are sending their customers to tech centers which do not have the authority from Toshiba to repair their computers.

    Second, I searched Consumerist and found this post: and immediately phoned:

    Guy Lugo

    Don’t waste your time finding a tech center. You won’t find one. Just bite the bullet and mail it in. Guy will send you a box to pack it in with a call tag. I think it’s a 2-3 week turnaround. You can check status with customer service, but they haven’t a clue. At the end of week 1, I called customer service to find out the status of my laptop. Customer service told me it would be another 2 weeks. I had no idea it had already been delivered back to me and was sitting on my front porch.

    Be nice to Guy. He is good at his job and your laptop will be fixed fast and right.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Thanks, I’m saving this. My Satellite is fine but I was thinking about getting a netbook to supplement it. If anything goes wrong with it, now I know what to do.

  18. the atomic bombshell says:

    Sounds like Msi, but at least they didn’t try to make me pay for it — just “fixed” it 5 times. That was fun.

    (Note: it never actually got fixed)

  19. DanKelley98 says:

    Having some experience on a few, I was fairly impressed with Toshiba computers that I’ve considered buying one. Well, until now.

  20. anamika says:

    I had a similar experience with Lenovo. Never going to buy from that company again!

    • danmac says:

      Really? You should be safe with Lenovo, as they’re essentially IBMs in terms of product quality, service, etc. and widely regarded as one of the more reliable PCs out there. I’m not doubting you, just saying that your experience may be the exception rather than the rule.

  21. Branden says:

    i have a toshiba laptop. it’s audio stopped working. even though it was still just barely under and toshiba appeared to want to trouble-shoot the problem i see now that toshiba’s tactic was to simply delay any real solution long enough to allow the warranty to lapse and therefore not fix it. had i seen this coming i would have demanded a replacement immediately or sought a chargeback.
    now i’ve got a toshiba laptop with audio that works half of the time. with the exception of the audio problem i really like that laptop, but i won’t ever buy another toshiba due to this.

  22. sickofthis says:

    This makes me nervous. My niece just bought a Toshiba netbook from an Amazon retailer, and right out of the box it showed an error message about the operating temperature (I can’t remember what it said exactly). The retailer directed my sister to Toshiba, who directed her right back to the seller. My sister returned it for a refund. Unfortunately, despite my efforts to steer her to another brand, my niece bought another Toshiba from Best Buy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it holds up.

  23. snowmentality says:

    I feel your pain, dude. I went through a similar runaround with HP about 5 years ago. I finally had to get slightly forceful on the phone and start demanding a full refund before they finally relented and agreed to ship me a new HD so I could replace the thing myself.

    This is one reason why I’m happy I switched to a Mac, tbh. At least I can physically bring the thing into a store and get it fixed or replaced.

  24. Zclyh3 says:

    Toshiba use to make great laptops. Not anymore. As I’ve said in previous posts about purchasing computers, you have to consider the ENTIRE package of the purchase (purchase + warranty/support).

    Another reason why I buy Dell with their gold technical support. This is the BS you have to deal with if you just get standard warranty. Not worth the headaches.

  25. ja says: is an excellent source of information specific to Toshiba notebooks, and and are very good for laptops in general. Dell owners don’t need such web sites nearly as much since Dell’s own site has so much information.

  26. davidsco says:

    STILL haven’t figured out why people buy Toshiba laptops. They consistently have serious hardware deficiencies. Batteries that don’t hold a charge, overheating problems, they’ve had so many class-actions against them, I’ve lost count. People, Toshiba is a low to mid-range electronics manufacturer, NOT a computer company. Yes, they push out Laptops, but that doesn’t mean you should buy them. They are HORRIBLE. Loaded with crapware, poorly designed, and their customer service for computers is about as bad as there is. Fool and their money…