When Laptop Screen Cracks, Office Depot Comes Through

Usually, when a message arrives in our mailbox containing the name of a big-box office supply store and the word “saga,” it means that a sad tale of incompetence and woe is in store. But that’s not the case this time. “I’ve never had a corporation help me this much in my entire life,” Curtis noted in his e-mail. When something went wrong with the screen of his Gateway laptop that be purchased from Office Depot, Gateway offered to fix the screen for $200. He wrote to Office Depot about the problem, not expecting much, but ended up stunned at the help he received from corporate.

He wrote about the experience on his blog, and gave us permission to repost it here:

I’ve gotten incredibly lucky in dealing with Office Depot, and for the first time in my consumer history, I’m glad I’ve chosen someone.

A few months ago, I was working on a web design project (that didn’t really pan out) and my laptop failed. I had no choice but to go get another. I did a bit of research into what was currently available and decided on a Gateway NV55S02U. Office Depot was the only place in town I could find that had anything with a working GPU for a sane price, so I bought it there.

Then, midway through February, disaster struck. I got to my psychiatrist’s office and opened it and the screen was broken. I went into the store and was turned down on a return. Then, I contacted Gateway’s support, which is like saying you’ve tried contacting Charlie Sheen’s humility. I was offered a $200 repair from them, which is sort of ludicrous for a screen repair.

I was about to give up hope, and I contacted Office Depot’s customer support on a whim.

I sent this message. I’m not exactly proud about the contents, but it was straight from the heart. I rely on my system way too much, but having it helps me a lot.

In 4 days, I got a message from [redacted] at corporate. I wasn’t expecting much, but I went along with his questions. A few days later, I had just forgotten about it and was doodling in my notebook when I got a call.

He’d searched around town, and he couldn’t find anyone who’d do the job for under $90. He’d talked the store manager into taking a return on it, despite it being out for 6 months and likely being my fault. I went in to get an equivalent, and they wouldn’t offer one since all of them were out of my price range. So I left again.

I got home, and was disappointed. I sent him another letter. “They offered to upgrade me to an actual equivalent system if I paid the difference, but the amount it’d take to get to anything would cover a new screen on mine. Should I just give up on them?” was the gist of it. He could’ve just told me to go away here, and been completely in his rights. Or he could’ve told me to take the trade, and been above average in customer service.

He sent me back a letter of “No, tell me the difference. I’ll see what I can do.”

I found a system that was faster (!) than mine for less than any equivalent that was on sale, and told him it’d be $100 in difference.

He shipped me a $100 gift certificate.

I borrowed $60.10 from one of my best friends in the world to cover the mail in rebate and tax, and went in today and got my new system.

I’ve never been so impressed with the empathy of a corporation in my life. If I need ANYTHING that they carry, I’ll go there first from now on.

Thanks, [redacted], you’ve renewed my faith in the entire system. I genuinely appreciate it.

I’d also like to give a special shoutout to [redacted], the assistant manager of the store. He was extremely patient and was the person who dealt with me through most of this, and did his job incredibly well. He was the one who refused me on the exchange, but he was entirely RIGHT to until I could cover the difference. It’s not often I see someone in a position of management who knows how to handle people that well.

The Office Depot Saga [arcaneblog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. SkokieGuy says:

    Okay is this a blog post or a detective mystery?

    So he bought the computer “a few months ago” and the screen broke in February. Of course math is hard, but seems like the computer would have only been one or two months old? But the post also says “talked the store manager into taking a return on it, despite it being out for 6 months” So what is it?

    The post both says “opened it and the screen was broken” [not his fault?] then later says “likely being my fault” – so which is it?

    • SBR249 says:

      6 months is a few months ago in my book. It doesn’t even matter in this case anyway, most return policies say 30 days, anything more than a month is probably outside of that unless you bought it at Costco.

      As for the broken screen fault thing, the first is a statement of fact – he went to open it one day after transporting it somewhere and it was broken. The second is speculation – screens don’t break on their own and it’s probably not a manufacturer’s defect so it’s probably his own fault, an accident that occurred while he was moving the laptop. What’s the problem there?

    • Jawaka says:

      Well, screens don’t just crack on their own.

  2. consumed says:

    If this story is true, this guy is very very lucky this is a loss on Office Depot’s balance sheet. Laptop screens just don’t shatter themselves and $200 is not “ludicrous” at all for a damaged LCD. The only way a laptop screen breaks is from physical damage/impact or neglect. The LCD is half of the cost of laptops these days.

    This guy should feel extremely lucky that he didn’t have to shell out that much money for a new computer.

    Office Depot definitely went above and beyond in this case, and if this guy’s story is true they definitely were under no obligation to help this guy out and nobody else out there should expect to get the same treatment. I’m sure they probably sell a warranty against ADH – actually they do: https://www.productassist.com/officedepot/en/footer/faq.html#q5

    • MrEvil says:

      With TN panels in laptops these days I’d say $100 tops. They’re ridiculously cheap to produce. Now a broken screen on a mac book (Apple uses more expensive IPS panels) I’d say would cost much more to repair.

      • sirwired says:

        The labor to replace the panel is quite extensive and prone to disaster. (Also, the purchase of individual parts is always more expensive than buying them in bulk to run an assembly line.) $200 is a VERY reasonable rate.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          I have swapped many laptop screens. It’s really quite simple.. But I agree that it sounds like the screen was physically damaged and getting an assembled LCD part is going to cost more money.

          Now I always buy laptops with screen upgrades, so I can’t buy any parts for less than $200.

  3. Rocket says:

    $200 isn’t that bad for a laptop screen replacement. My laptop screen died, and I decided to fix it myself. I found a replacement screen for ~$110. So $200 for parts+labor isn’t too bad.

    Anyway, bravo to Office Depot for doing the right thing :-)

    • MeowMaximus says:

      I have always had good luck & good experiences with Office Depot. Their customer service people are polite & efficient.

  4. webweazel says:

    Strangely enough, I am looking into replacing a laptop screen right now. My relative broke the screen in his laptop, and I offered to help him fix it. The computer is less than a year old, and still under warranty. (not a breakage warranty)

    I checked out instructions on how to replace the screen on YouTube, removed the bezel and 6 screws to see the label on the back of the screen and get the correct model number to order it. Took me all of 10 minutes to do. I put the broken screen back in for now, and it took 10 minutes. I found a replacement screen online for $60 with shipping of about 3 days.

    “In 4 days, I got a message from [redacted] at corporate.”
    “I borrowed $60.10 from one of my best friends in the world to cover the mail in rebate and tax, and went in today and got my new system.”

    For a total time replacement of about an hour, including taking out and reinstalling the screen twice, plus the time spent finding the part, which was just a few minutes, how much is someone’s time worth? Hours on the phone to support drones, time spent in emails sent in, waiting (4 days) for replies, etc. Replacing it yourself would ultimately take less time and stress, and the computer could be back up and running in less than a week. With faster shipping, it could be a matter of a day or two. It’s actually pretty simple to do nowadays, the screens are not that expensive, and installing one is a pretty simple process overall, usually only requiring a small-sized Phillips screwdriver.

    Sure, they got an upgraded system, but how much MORE time will they have to spend to get their files transferred over to the new computer now? How much time have they spent on this already? How much downtime has the computer had already? Cash money spent is almost the same as a replacement screen. Something to look into.

    • homehome says:

      Everybody doesn’t have the skill or want to to do that. Many ppl aren’t even comfortable with doing software stuff, you think they’d do hardware?

      • webweazel says:

        That’s very true, but there are a lot of people out there who might be sitting on the fence about it, or have an older computer with a broken screen stashed in the closet, and perhaps some of them might become inspired and think, “Hey, let me go check out a YouTube video….*watches* ….Hmmm, I CAN DO THIS!”. Then, when they do it, they may have confidence enough in themselves to try other things like it. Never know!

        Strangely enough, my mom-in-law wants me to wait for her to come by the house before I install it. She is not a person who is generally interested in anything mechanical whatsoever. The only thing she knows about cars is where the gas goes. She wants to see how it’s done, as she is curious about the internal workings and such. I’m extremely surprised at that! So, you see, it does happen from time to time.

  5. Sean says:

    I found a replacement screen for that Gateway for around $70. Laptop screens are actually pretty easy to replace. I replaced one on my wife’s Dell in under 15 minutes. It was just about 8-10 small screws.

  6. dandadan says:

    Bravo for Office Depot. It’s refreshing to hear about a company stepping up to the plate, even when they obviously could have told the guy to go pound sand. $200 for a laptop screen is about the going rate. I charge $160 for a standard laptop replacement screen. Larger screens cost more money plain and simple.

    My addendum for this is that particular model of Gateway computer is extra flimsy. I get them all the time. People close the screen by grabbing a corner and the strength of the hinge vs the flimsiness of the back cover of the screen causes them to easily shatter.

    Moral of this story: You don’t save money buying a cheap computer. They just break faster.

  7. Jawaka says:

    Really? He used autism as an excuse to guilt Office Max into replacing it?

  8. CarlS says:

    “My addendum for this is that particular model of Gateway computer is extra flimsy. I get them all the time. People close the screen by grabbing a corner and the strength of the hinge vs the flimsiness of the back cover of the screen causes them to easily shatter. “

    Alright then. So where’s the Class Action paln?

  9. wasabirobot says:

    While it is great that Office Depot helped him out, you might as well publish accounts of all of their charitable giving and activities. Because that is what this is, right?