Protection Plan Protects Radio Shack From Replacing Your Keyboard

Thomas got a good deal on a wireless keyboard and mouse at Radio Shack, and also went ahead and bought the warranty and replacement plan. The plan that lasts for one year. Six months later, the item wouldn’t work. So just drop it in the mail or take it back to the store where it was purchased for a replacement, right? Not so fast. The Shack was determined that he wasn’t going to bring home a replacement keyboard on their dime.

In October 2011, I purchased an wireless keyboard/mouse from at the [address] Radio Shack in [redacted]. At the same time, I also purchased their 1 year replacement/warranty plan.

Fast forward to April 27, 2012 — the keyboard stopped working. I attempted to return the item to the store I purchased it at, under the warranty. I was told that I would have to call the 800 number and file a claim first.

So, I called the 800 number and filed a claim. They then sent me to website to print a return shipping label. I had to find a box to fit the item into, package it up and take it to a fedex location to send it back to them. Only then, would they issue a gift card for the replacement. Mind you, this is all over a $19 item!

In the meantime, the associate at the store told me that I would need to either purchase and pay for the replacement, then come back for a refund when the gift certificate arrived or be without a keyboard until the certificate arrived.

I can’t be without it, so I purchased the replacement on 04/27/12 and paid for item (it was $29), assured that I would get a refund when I got the certification.

Today, 05/13/12, I returned to the store with the certificate I had received to get my refund. I was then told “The price of this item has gone up to $49 since you bought it and there’s nothing I can do about that, so you’ll have to pay the difference”. Ummm, NO!

I insisted she call the manager, who was only reachable by Phone. After talking to the manager, she returned to the counter and again said, “There is nothing we can do about it, the price went up”.

In any other store (even Best Buy) — you walk in, give it back to them, they give you a new one — you leave. One trip and it’s done. This is absolutely ridiculous!

So, step 1 — send a complaint to Radio Shack corporate — Check.

Step 2 — Tell the consumerist family all about it, Check.

If I don’t hear back from them with a reasonable offer to resolve this tomorrow — I’ll file a complaint with the BBB and start a chargeback from my credit card.

Has anyone else ever been through this with them? How did it work out for you?


Radio Shack’s Hassle-Free Replacement Plan Full Of Hassles, Doesn’t Replace Item


Edit Your Comment

  1. FatLynn says:

    Wait, they sold you a protection plan on a $19 item? What?

    • CommonSense(ಠ_ಠ) says:

      I also can’t believe this person would accept a “gift card” refund under the warranty.
      If it were me I would only accept a direct or better replacement of the actual item.

      Once they give you your money back, then you lose out if the item now costs more.

      • thesalad says:

        not the way it works, which is why I never buy the waranty on anything for RS.. (or really only step in if I absoloutly need one and don’t want to travel the 20 miles to target/ BB)
        They say that you get a GC for the replacement product, not a swap out.. it’s awful.

  2. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    OK, is anyone else confused?

    He bought the combo for $19. Then bought it again for $29. And was then told he had to buy it a 3rd time for $49? I’m missing something here.

    Not even sure why he would be a 1-year extended warranty on an item that probably comes with a 1-year manufacturer warranty. And I’m guessing he didn’t read the details of that policy to see that it required this whole “mail it in and we’ll send you a gift card” nonsense.

    • scoutermac says:

      I’m confused as well.

    • ovalseven says:

      Yes, it’s a little hard to follow. I was confused too, but I think I figured it out. He he went back to Radio Shack with the $29 keyboard, receipt and the return confirmation. They were willing to refund the $29, but they weren’t going to let him keep the keyboard unless he paid the difference ($30).

      The expected solution was for them to refund the $29 and let him keep the keyboard. That way he walks out of the store with a new keyboard to replace the one he bought for $19.

    • Admiral_John says:

      I assume they’re telling him that since the price of the original keyboard that stopped working had gone up he wouldn’t be given a replacement without paying the difference.

  3. Random Lurker says:

    Find out when the manager is actually on duty. Come to store then, with your documentation. Be polite, but don’t leave until it’s settled. Works especially well if it’s a busy time and there are other customers in the store.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      Then they call the cops and threaten you with arrest for trespassing if you refuse to leave.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Who in their right mind buys a protection plan for a $19 dollar item.

    Seriously, WHO???

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Agreed. Don’t pay for a warranty if you can afford to replace the item yourself. This is insurance and it makes everyone a ton of money.

    • balderdashed says:

      Before Circuit City went bankrupt, I bought a few DVDs there. And each time I shelled out perhaps $14 for a new DVD, the cashier would attempt to sell me a “protection plan,” which I think added a buck (maybe two, can’t recall) to the DVD’s price. If some people hadn’t gone for it, they wouldn’t have kept trying to sell it.

      • t325 says:

        Back when CompUSA was around, they tried to sell me a $5 protection plan on a $7 tube of CPU thermal paste. CPU thermal paste is a consumable item. It doesn’t break.

        It would be like selling a protection plan on a printer ink cartridge. Although I guess if I could buy a $5 protection plan on a $20 cartridge, and when it’s empty, bring in the empty cartridge, claim it doesn’t work, and walk out with a brand new cartridge, it would be worth it.

  5. Scuba Steve says:

    I will be so glad when every single radio shack shuts down. They treat their employees like dirt, they treat their customers like dirt, they have huge markups on somewhat niche items, and manage to eek out a meager existence due to lack of knowledge of how tremendously bad they are.

    At least Best Buy understands that occasionally providing customer service will win you customers. Radio shack has a “do whatever you can to make a sale” mentality.

    • George4478 says:

      You’ll be happy when 33,000 people lose their jobs? You’re quite a humanitarian.

      • NorthAlabama says:

        how ’bout this, instead…we’ll be happy when a new, customer focused company comes along with fair prices, and pushes radio shack into bankruptcy or closure…

    • some.nerd says:

      Surely, you jest? Where else will people be able to buy coaxial RF adapters for their Atari 2600 and Intellivision game systems?

  6. ThinkingBrian says:

    I’m laughing at this point because this is just ridiculous, all that work for a $19 item when there is a 12 month parts and labor warranty that should cover it without the replacement warranty. Now Radio Shack losses a customer over $19.

    So since the OP has gone this far, he might as well file the complaint with the over questionable business practices if the he followed the terms of the replacement plan. He shouldn’t be out any money, not $29, not $49, not paying the difference of anything, it shouldn’t matter what the price of the item is. And then if its not resolved, stop shopping there.

  7. TuxMan says:

    There must be more to this.

    Having the price go up has nothing to do with the refund. The refund is for the ammount on the reciept at the sale price paid. This happens at all retail stores when an item is bought while on sale.

    Let you in on a little secret. You buy a replacement and take it home. Shush. Don’t tell anyone that your old one is broken. Then return the broken one for a refund.

    Really, a protection plan on a $19 item? Not the brightest crayon in the box are ya.

    • Rick Sphinx says:

      Very true, but the point was, he should have been able to be ‘in and out’ with his new keyboard. One trip, instead of two.

    • Nidoking says:

      “Then return the broken one to be exchanged for a new, non-refundable one.”

      They don’t often give refunds on defective merchandise when they can replace it, for exactly that reason.

  8. Rick Sphinx says:

    1: never by extended warranties. Radio Shack sell extended warranties on almost every item. Why do I need a warranty on a $9 power strip? Please.
    2: Radio Shack, why do you want this kind of publicity, just replace it, charge the company who holds the warranty, the extra cost. Customer service is key, just satisfy them and move on, not worth arguing about it. Both Radio Shacks time involved alreay, cost them about 50 keyboards now.

  9. Captain Spock says:

    Who buys a wireless keyboard as their only method of input? (unless it is bluetooth for a tablet, unlikely at 19 dollars) One always has a wired keyboard as backup.

    Apparently the OP dumped his wired keyboard as soon as he entered the ($19) wireless future!

  10. Portlandia says:

    Wait you bought a protection plan on a $19 item and you think RS is the dumb one here? Okay, you got lucky this time but seriously?

    ll these protection plans are administered by an outside company. You have to follow the rules of the plan, which includes sending back your item to a company and waiting for a replacement.

  11. Hi_Hello says:

    Op need to read what he bought before even buying it. Walmart protection plan is the same thing.. I’m guessing radioshack uses the same company.

    i bought a air mattress. 1 year warranty. Gift it wouldn’t last a year. the warranty was a dollar or something. 2 month later, it had a hole.

    Gave my S.O. the receipt and warranty card, told her if she do the whole procedure she can have the gift card (around $60). Called the 1-800 number, printed the label, went to UPS (they help her pack it) and send it to the company. email came through that the gift card is good to go.

    the protection plan wasn’t for a replacement on the air mattress, just a gift card for the value at the time i bought it. I like this protection plan better than a replacement warranty, that is why I bought it.

  12. framitz says:

    Totally blame the OP. Who in their right mind purchases a keyboard at RS? Who in their right mind would pay for an extended warranty on such crap?

  13. 2 Replies says:

    This is why I don’t shop at radio shack for anything other than electronic components.
    Their merchandise is garbage, and their employees are usually pushy since they’re working on commission.
    If it’s cheaper at RS, just go to Best Buy and they’ll match the price.
    As demonized as the big-box stores are, their customer service is ALWAYS better than Radio Sham’s.

  14. polishhillbilly says:

    Microsoft Hardware replacement is the way to go.
    buy a Microsoft hardware item (keyboard, mice, headset), and it comes with a no questions asked free replacement.

    been using it for years….

  15. Jawaka says:

    I’ve never known a replacement plan that allows you to walk into a retail store and walk out with a replacement of the product instantly. You almost always have to call a toll free number first to file a claim first and they generally send you a cash card for the amount that you paid for the product. These warranties are held by third parties, not the stores in general.

    • bben says:

      Actually, I have done just that at a local Best Buy. I had a hard drive crash, and needed a replacement right away. Purchased a new Hard drive (NO extended warranty) took it home an plugged it in. After fiddling with it for several hours I decided it was defective out of the box. The next day I took it back, along with the receipt. The guy at the desk did not even call the manager – he told me to pick out a new one and bring it to his register – He marked it as paid and generated the new receipt along with the paperwork saying it was a replacement for a defective unit. The new one is still working after 4 years.

      That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

      • TornadoRex says:

        That’s a return not a warranty replacement. Any retail store would have done that for you.

      • MissingNumber says:

        Saying good things about Best Buy? I think you might be on the wrong website.

  16. Starrion says:

    This is the expected behavior at Radio Shack.

    Don’t buy stuff there.

    If you must buy stuff there, don’t get the extended warranty.

    But otherwise, I blame the OP for shopping at Radio Shack.

    “Hive of scum and villany” and all that.

    • Jawaka says:

      Before we crap on Radio Shack for this what other retailer that sells replacement plans lets you simply walk into their store and walk out with the replacement in hand?

      • temporaryerror says:

        Actually, when I worked at RS, on some things we actually did just swap them out. It was against policy, but there was some way that we made it work.

  17. partyone says:

    I dont shop at Radio Shack anymore, it makes my skin crawl. I feel like I am walking in to a cemetary or a K-Mart.

  18. scoopjones says:

    Keyboards, like many computer components these days, are a totally disposable item. You’d probably find a decent (and nicer) replacement at Goodwill or a Salvation Army store. Try it, you’ll be surprised!

  19. Slatts says:

    A lot of folks are ridiculing the OP for buying a purchase protection plan. He was probably thinking that if he paid for the PPP, and his keyboard broke, all he had to do is return it and grab another keyboard off the shelf. If that were the case, and if it were only a couple bux, it might have been worth it, especially if he uses the hell out of his keyboards and breaks them often.

    I can imagine the thought process was, I know it’s going to break, so pay a couple bux (assuming it was inexpensive), and swap it out free when it does.

    I agree that it most definitely was not worth it given the way the Shack runs the program. Some blame might fall on the sales staff, who’re known for selling the warranties by saying just that — “If it breaks, you’re covered, just come in for a new one, yadda, yadda, yadda” leaving out the whole “return it by mail for a gift card” rigamarole.

  20. Davester says:

    I did my time back in the 90’s as an RS employee. Contact the regional manager.
    We were instructed that if the dispute was $50 or under, the customer is always right. (oh, and to push the extended warranties.)

  21. scottd34 says:

    why not just call the manufacturer to honor their warranty? or better yet, its a keyboard just buy a new one, its not like they are expensive unless you want a gamer one

  22. nocturnaljames says:

    your problem is two fold, 1 you shopped at radio shack, 2 you wasted money on a protection plan.

  23. rambo76098 says:

    Yup, this is Radioshack’s rediculous replacement plan: Item breaks, you ship it to Radioshack’s contracted out return center, they process and mail you a Radioshack giftcard for the amount you paid.

    (used to work there for a short time).

  24. makoto says:

    As someone who works in retail and deals with these protection plans all the time… It goes like this.

    You buy the item and the protection plan.
    The item remains under manufacturer warranty. When the manufacture warranty runs out, then your purchased protection plan kicks in.
    If something should happen to your item, you MUST contact the 800 number. The store is not equipped to exchange your item financially or physically. It is sold to a third party company. If you play your cards right (i.e. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS), there is no trouble for you or for the company. You might be aggravated you have to send your item back but listen, the sooner you get it in the mail, the sooner it comes back and it should occur within a week.

    The issue with the OPs incident is not necessarily about the replacement plan, however. That should truly be noted.

    Again, as someone who works a register every single day and is in charge of dealing with customer complaints, etc, I can tell you for certain….it went down like this:

    1. Customer goes through the rigmarole listed above.
    2. Comes back in for the adjustment after purchasing the item a second time to replace the damaged item while it is being received. The item was on sale at the time.
    3. Customer returns nearly a month later to have a refund of the MEANS of PAYMENT (i.e. rather than cash, he uses a gift card to pay). Therefore, the POS transaction would look like RETURN $29+ tax. And then, SALE for current price of $49.

    Given the exigent circumstances, I personally would have over-ridden the price to get a customer like this out the door because they cause problems (no offense, OP). However, having unfortunately dated a former Radio Shack employee, I can also tell you that they are not at liberty to mark down items so freely. The reality is, a manager should have been present and made an executive decision to over-ride the item. Otherwise, the customer should have been patient and perhaps, always had a back-up keyboard. Sorry to say. Don’t we all?

    Just wanted to shed some lights on what most likely occurred. I can literally see it going down everyday when people don’t stop to realize that what they encounter as inconvenience is just the brunt of self-entitlement hitting the corporate fan.

    • TornadoRex says:

      There is two things I see “wrong” with what the RS store did in this situation.

      First, the customer doesn’t *need* to call the 800 number. RS employees can do it in-store to submit the claim for them (and box it and ship it).

      Second, as has been said there’s a sort of “$50 rule” store managers can use to make price adjustments. This should have been done by the manager, though it is at their discretion. Usually they do it though unless the customer is being a dick.

  25. calchip says:

    This was over 10 years ago, but I had an experience with a portable CD player I had originally bought at Radio Shack with a 5 year replacement plan… which I bought because I knew I’d beat the crap out of the thing and it would almost certainly break within 5 years.

    So… 4 years into the plan, the original CD player broke. I took it in to RS, they sent it for repair, it came back as “unrepairable” and so RS gave me a brand new unit (different model.) The new unit lasted all of 6 months and crapped out. I took it in (still under the original service plan), they sent it in, and again declared it unrepairable and gave me another new unit. That one lasted only about 3 months before it died.

    I took that unit in, they also declared it unrepairable, but this time I said, “Look, the first one lasted 4 years. Each of the previous two have lasted under 6 months. Can I pay the difference and get a better unit? I’m going to be out of warranty soon.” They said no, but they’d take care of me for at least the warranty period of the replaced unit (one year, in those days.)

    Sure enough… the 3rd replacement unit crapped out at about 4 months. I took it in, and all the sudden, they tried to tell me that it wasn’t under extended warranty any more, and the one-year warranty didn’t apply either. I got in touch with the district manager, but he was just a dick… said he absolutely wasn’t going to replace it, and I was out.

    Found an email address and wrote a thoughtful note to the VP of marketing communications explaining why I felt this wasn’t right, and that I’d be happy to pay the difference between the value of my unit and an upgraded unit that (hopefully) wouldn’t break.

    A day later, someone from corporate called me, asked me if replacing my $49 unit with a $179 Sony disc player would be acceptable. I said I hadn’t been planning to pay that much of an upgrade… her response was “No, this is on us.” I gratefully accepted, wrote a note of profuse thanks… and have continued to shop at Radio Shack (though generally not for consumer electronics, more for parts and specialty items.)

    I don’t know if it would be possible in 2012 to still get that sort of response, but I was glad to see that someone, somewhere, cared about keeping a longtime customer happy.