Newegg: No, We’ll Totally Take Returns After You Install Linux

Yesterday, we shared the story of Norma, whose new Thinkpad notebook computer from Newegg had a serious display glitch after only a few days of use. She sent the defective computer back, only to be told that they wouldn’t exchange it because she had installed Linux. “This voids Newegg warranty,” the RMA department told her in an e-mail. “Unit cannot be accepted or resold as received.” We reached out to Newegg for clarification, and they told us that this is not their policy, and they do accept computers back after the operating system has been upgraded or changed. Yay?

Newegg’s Computer Standard Return Policy does not exclude a computer from being accepted for return if an operating system is modified or installed. We regret that this customer experienced difficulties in having her RMA processed and we have since taken the necessary steps to ensure that her issue is being properly addressed. Newegg’s top priority is, and has always been, to provide the best customer service possible. We remain committed to doing everything we can to accommodate our customers and their needs.

After we published the post, Newegg reached out to Norma and offered her an exchange for another computer, or a refund. She’s taking the refund.

I spoke with a “Public Image Professional” from Newegg who contacted me via email regarding my RMA. She immediately offered to replace the laptop or process a full refund, and I accepted the latter given all the issues I’ve had with them. I received an RMA confirmation telling me that it has been approved as a defective product return, and that I will receive a credit in 3-5 business days.

Thanks, Newegg, and let’s hope that no one has to get out the Internet pitchforks and torches to get your employees to follow their own policies from here out.

Newegg: Installing Linux On Your Computer Is Basically The Same As Breaking It

HP Pretends Linux Voids Netbook Hardware Warranty Gives Full Refund When New Ubuntu Distribution Breaks Netbook
Geek Squad Finally Replaces My Linux-Infested Laptop


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jawaka says:

    People are human. People make mistakes. People work for companies. Sometimes companies make mistakes. Good for them for recognizing that they screwed up and making it right.

    • krom says:

      Companies make policies. Companies train their employees in their policies. Employees follow those policies. When employees don’t follow those policies, companies reprimand those employees.

      * the company’s policy is stupid
      * the company fails to train its employees in its policies
      * the employee failed to follow the policies.

      None of those are good reasons. Newegg should address whichever of these were the problem here.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        The employee in question was a manager. They manager knew full well that they lied to the customer because this wasn’t some sort of esoteric question; they dealt with these situations every day and knew full well what the policy was regarding it.

        The “informal” company policy is DENY, DENY, DENY legitimate claims in order to boost the company’s bottom line and the manager’s bonus.

        • Scooby111 says:

          And yet, all the facts contradict you.

          Newegg addressed the issue quickly, directly, and has promised to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’ve spent literally tens of thousands of dollars with Newegg and they have never done wrong by me. I’ve returned defective items, incorrectly boxed items, and failed items and never had a single issue.

          • pdj79 says:

            Did you see who responded to them and made sure the wrongs were righted? “Public Image Professional”!!! That means it took someone from PR to make this right, ONLY after she had complained to a very visible consumer-centric blog that, with one post, can cause devastating damage to their bottom line in the form of boycotts and general avoidance. Newegg didn’t address the issue quickly as it took a public shaming to resolve. It should have never gotten to this point. For every 1 of us who are viewers of this site, there are 1,000 who are not and would have not had any further recourse but to try to either have a local repair shop fix her defective laptop or try to sell it for parts. Chargebacks might have gotten a form of resolution, but those are last resorts that should never come into play. I love Newegg and will continue to use them, but I am not going to whitewash this and applaud them for doing the right thing…they only did it because they were backed into a corner.

          • Blueskylaw says:

            1). Norma had defective Thinkpad with Linux installed

            2). Newegg manager said: “This voids Newegg warranty,. . .Unit cannot be accepted or resold as received.”

            3). Consumerist questions managers decision

            4). Public Image Professional (Spinmaster) agrees that it is indeed returnable.

            I’m not saying that Newegg is a bad place to shop, but in this instance either the manager was incompetent and didn’t know what store policy was or the manager flat out lied; it eventually took a public posting of her plight for Newegg to do the right thing.

            • Jawaka says:

              What you call incompetent others may call a mistake.

              But you wouldn’t know about those because you’ve never made one I’m sure.

              If this was a company that had a history of screwing their customers I’d probably be a lot less defensive of them but NewEgg is pretty well known for their customer service. I’ve been purchasing all of my computer equipment from them for years now and have never had a problem. I’m willing to give them the benefit of doubt until we start reading about them on a regular basis around here.

        • Jawaka says:

          I’d love to know how you know of NewEgg’s informal policy. Do you work there? Do you have a family member who works there who was specifically told to screw the customers?

          Again, take off the tin foil hat. People make mistakes. NewEgg has a reputation for excellent customer service but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make mistakes from time to time. Suggesting that these mistakes are actually planned without any evidence to back it up makes you look silly and paranoid.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      THANK YOU. (Brian Griffin’s voice)

    • dush says:

      Are you saying companies are people?

    • Bionic Data Drop says:

      Sure thing. It’s funny how they didn’t “recognize” this mistake until after a public shaming. I mean, it’s not like the guy spoke to a manager after he talked to a support agent. Oh wait…

  2. KrispyKrink says:

    “What have we learned here?”

    Easy. If it takes a “Public Image Professional” to achieve an RMA, shop elsewhere. Which pains me, I used to like Newegg.

    • dicobalt says:

      Sorry, I have had way more trouble with other companies. Newegg is light years beyond other companies who have no clue how to provide customer service and RMAs.

    • Grogey says:

      I still like them. Just because one person had an issue doesn’t mean the millions of others will, but people are people they will bitch and moan about anything if they can.

      • CTrees says:

        So, funny story. I order things, professionally. Competing vendors to support my employer’s production side and all that. We found out about something simple we needed (hard drives, something like that) which we needed asap, to complete a delivery. Some servers or something. Newegg has them in stock, good price, etc. I contact their customer support to verify their deadline for overnight shipping. We’re still before that, so I order, for overnight delivery.

        Next day, no shipment. No tracking number. Call, “oh, yes, we can ship overnight, but it can take up to three business days for a delivery to leave the warehouse and go to UPS/Fedex.” So… you have a deadline for overnight shipping, and offer overnight shipping, but even with every rush we can ask for, won’t actually promise to ship with any particular haste? We re-ordered through a different company and refused Newegg’s shipment when it eventually came in (a few days later).

        Honestly, I used to love Newegg. Had their sticker on the side of my computer (and bought all the components from them). Since the IPO, their customer service has bit, their pricing has gotten worse, and their reliability has tanked. They still have some of the best search tools around for computer components, but that overnight shipping thing was the last straw, for me. If Amazon isn’t an option, I tend to go with Provantage for the consumer sources – I’ve seen some fantastic pricing, even beating my specialty, volume dealers on some items, and reliability has been awesome (though that may have to do with the business account).

    • theotherwhitemeet says:

      My last order with New Egg was short and it was like pulling teeth to get in touch with someone who then just blew me off. Then I got a survey asking about how my problem was handled and I told them that it was very unsatisfactory and they didn’t bother to follow up at all. That was a couple of months ago and it has been my last order with New Egg.

  3. krom says:

    Dear customer, We understand that Linux gives you greater control over your computer than what is provided when you first get it. However, you may not install a Linux in your laptop. Modifying the hardware, even to install a Linux, is a violation of our warranty terms.

    What? You mean it does all that and it’s just software?

    • RvLeshrac says:


      This asshole is the reason we have to pay so much for consumer electronics. Billions on top of billions of dollars are wasted every year by the retail industry because consumers don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

      • Republicrat says:

        You seriously need to calm down. Seriously, there is nothing about this that warrants you throwing a tantrum. Your comments are crass and uncalled for.

        To the meat of the comment:

        You’re implying that she should have returned the machine in the condition it came in.

        Let me comment on this situation –

        Any retailer that has multiple quantities of the same model, which would be pretty much all of them, and any retailer that services the same model in store, which is a large number of them, has the capability of restoring the system back to hardware and software defaults.

        It does not cost them $200 to restore the laptop back to defaults.

        If they’re using harddrive cloning software, which any store that has a service desk will have, they can clone a laptop from an identical model’s drive to restore it in about 20 minutes or less. That’s probably less than $10 of time of a PC tech at the store. Not $200.

        The laptop is not unsellable (as you said in another comment) and to state that is quite hyperbolic. Nor is it $200.

        There is also another aspect that is not explored – should the store be selling a laptop with software that a previous owner could have manipulated? If she left Windows on there, how do we know she didn’t install malware and keyloggers?

        Every refurbished PC I’ve ever bought always came with a fresh OS install on them, likely for this reason. It’s best practice regardless of the user leaving Linux on the PC or not.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Having a ittle trouble with yer meds this morning?

      • wootbot says:

        I’m betting “serious display glitch after only a few days of use” would be the day the OP messed up installing Linux. There are very specific versions (“distributions”) that are certified for each Thinkpad model. Even then, there are steps you need to take to ensure the correct display driver is being used and is configured correctly. e.g.:

        The bottom line is that if you have issues, you need to restore the system to the OS it came with to make sure it’s a hardware problem vs. something you did improperly.

        • mikedt says:

          If you go back and read the original article, the OP booted back to windows via a USB drive and STILL had the display problem.

      • Chmeeee says:

        LOL u mad?

      • dpeters11 says:

        Even if it came back with the same version of Windows it left with, the system should be reimaged. It doesn’t matter.

      • Joe User says:

        You do know that NewEgg doesn’t refurbish the laptop, they send it back to Lenovo and they test, fix and restore it. They don’t even look at the HDD contents, it gets tested, wiped and restored or returned to the HDD manufacturer if defective.

        There’s no $400 loss because someone returns a defective laptop.

        • bar_foo says:

          There’s definitely some loss, because Lenovo will now sell it as a refurb, for less that the original price.

          • lordmorgul says:

            And in any case… it was defective… the loss was not the fault of Linux… but of the hardware itself.

      • longfeltwant says:

        Calm down. The manufacturer definitely always has to wipe the hard drive no matter what is installed on it, because they cannot trust what a consumer might have put there. They have machines to do this automatically, and to install a nice new copy of Windows. One hundred percent of returned laptops get wiped clean, so returning a laptop with new software on the drive makes no difference.

    • sendmoney2me says:

      Dear Customer, you do understand that all this command line BS isn’t what your average consumer wants right? so while linux may be a nice operating system, your average person won’t accept it

      • coffee100 says:

        You are aware, of course, that Android is Linux?

        And 900,000 new Android devices are activated every day?

        Might want to re-think your statement.

        • sendmoney2me says:

          its not the same. android is still primarily for smart phones. your average computer user will opt for windows or mac to avoid the command line stuff

          • OutPastPluto says:

            Your average user will never be given the option.

            As far as the command line stuff goes, a modern Linux is no worse than the others and Windows or a Mac can easily subject you to the same kind of command line stuff when stuff goes bonkers. Windows has the arcane registry as well as DOS level utilities and MacOS has the same kind of Unix-y stuff lurking underneath that Linux does.

    • sixsevenco says:

      You are correct, it does give you greater control. Utilizing and taking advantage of this level of control is very difficult for the average computer user. Most people will have a better experience with Windows 7.

      BTW, I run Windows 7 and Debian Squeeze in my household.

      • Crank says:

        Way to go. Pick a hard core I-love-doing-it-the-geek-way distribution like Debian to compare to Windows 7. Good job perpetuating the myth that Linux is hard to use.

        With a user friendly brand of Linux such as Mint or Fedora, the average user will likely have a better experience than any version of Microsoft Windows.

        • bbf says:

          They’ll have a better experience until they try to install the PC software they bought at walmart on the thing and then it will turn into a nightmare. There’s a reason why netbooks (which my opinion run much better with a lighter weight OS like linux) don’t come with linux installed on them from big box stores.

          • OutPastPluto says:

            They would have that same nightmare with a Mac.

            …or vice versa.

            “Dad, I tried to install this on my PC but it didn’t work.”

            “That’s the Mac version.”

  4. luusyphre says:

    I’ve learned that getting publicly shamed makes stuff happen

  5. Difdi says:

    It’s actually rather difficult to damage consumer computer hardware using only software. Oh, sure, you can stress things with overclocking, but generally not so hard that the tower bursts into flames the first time you turn it on. Generally, you need major business hardware for the potential to exist in any reasonable way, and even then, it takes some effort and skill (even if just skill at screwing up).

    The only situation I’ve ever heard of, where the damage was done instantly and irreparably was back in the days when telling the computer what size of drive platter it had was part of the install process. The specific act was referred to as “parking the heads.” There was one Trojan Horse that did exactly that (technically an ANSI bomb buried in a holiday image), and I heard a story once of a guy who accidentally created a DOS shell inside a MUD, and his beta tester wanted to see how realistic the “simulation” was. But it wasn’t easy to do accidentally even back then.

    • David in Brasil says:

      Ahh, the good old days. Back then, you could also damage your monitor by specifying a sync rate too fast or slow.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      Weren’t there also things that could infect your system and damage the BIOS?

    • RvLeshrac says:


      OK, first of all, parking was what you needed to do before turning a machine off and moving it, because there were no automatic drive brakes. Second, parking the drive on a machine that was running wouldn’t do any damage, you’d just lose whatever data hadn’t been written to the disc.

    • Benanov says:

      No, Parking the heads is on shutdown – and if you didn’t manually park you’d be in some trouble.

    • guspaz says:

      It’s trivial to destroy a machine using nothing but software. For example:

      1) Force CPU fan off using SpeedFan, as well as any other fans under software control
      2) Run OCCT/FurMark/Prime95/etc.

      Computers will only operate way beyond their thermal design tolerances for so long before suffering permanent damage. There are also fun things you can do in software such as overwriting the BIOS (kills machine without a hardware BIOS chip replacement), or nuking the firmware on things like DVD drives (can be permanent if there’s no way to restore working firmware). These can render a computer useless, even if they’re not strictly speaking physical damage. But the thermal fun you can have is certainly physical permanent damage.

  6. ILoveBacon says:

    What have we learned? Nothing, unless someone here is new to Consumerist. The rest of us already know that getting bad customer service experience stories out to the public will often get results.

  7. lemur says:

    My computers run Ubuntu. Yesterday, I used Newegg’s feedback form to tell them that given Norma’s story, I would not buy from them in the future.

    That they made it right is good but it does not change my mind. As others have pointed out, do I want to do business with a company that needs to be publicly shamed to act ethically?

    • kenboy says:

      I would. My view would be that Newegg now is officially on record saying of course they’ll take back a computer you put Linux on, and that the CSR who initially denied the return wasn’t following their policy. That’s probably the clearest guarantee you’ll get from ANY vendor that you’ll be able to do a return if necessary, since all you’ll have to go on from other vendors is presumably the word of another CSR, who may or may not be following that vendor’s policy, which you won’t truly know about until it ends up here on Consumerist.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      She returned the computer in a condition which doesn’t allow them to repair and sell it to another customer without spending money on top of the warranty repair. How the fuck is it unfair that they don’t want to accept returns they can’t resell?

      If she’d made the recovery discs before she wiped everything off, this wouldn’t be an issue.

      • Republicrat says:

        As I stated in another comment on this page – it takes about 20 minutes to clone a hard drive from an identical laptop to the returned laptop’s harddrive.

        That equates to maybe $10 worth of time of a PC tech. It’s also standard practice for returned laptops to be wiped and reimaged before sale because you don’t know what’s on the drive when the customer returns it.

        I’ve heard about a PC seller that denied returns based on what OS is installed. Even Newegg admits that this is not their policy. Someone in their RMA / repairs department unilaterally decided to invent policy. Maybe RvLeshrac works there.

        • wagnerism says:

          It was a defective machine that was not going to be resold unless it was refurbished.

          If they don’t wipe the drive when it is refurbished, look for yet another story on Consumerist where the buyer finds pr0n and the tax returns of the previous owner.

      • Here to ruin your groove says:

        Newegg admitted they screwed up. How the fuck is this hard for you to understand?

        • cyberpenguin says:

          Be kind to the clueless Windows drone.

          You need to understand their extreme limitations and problems with reading comprehension before you criticize them.

      • IGetsAnOpinion says:

        It’s defective so it doesn’t matter what software is on it. They should not sell it to another customer. They should send it back to the manufacturer, to repair, put the OS and software back on, and sell as refurbished.

      • KyBash says:

        How do you use recovery disks to reinstall the OS if the computer is dead?

  8. Blueskylaw says:

    “We regret that this customer experienced difficulties in having her RMA processed”

    The customer not only experienced difficulties, but they were flat out lied to. There is a difference between [It is against our policy to accept returns that have had Linux installed] and
    [I think this is policy but i’m not sure]. It seems that these days, corporations need a public drubbing in order to do the right thing (such as following the law and their own policies).

  9. cryptique says:

    I still have never had any trouble with Newegg, but the trickle of horror stories appearing here in recent months has me worried about future dealings with them. Has there been a change of ownership there, or anything else that might explain why these issues are cropping up now?

    • Benanov says:

      Yesterday while researching this story, I found stories from 2007 about how NewEgg & Linux don’t mix.

      This really hasn’t changed – NewEgg just needs a public shaming every once in a while.

    • crazydavythe1st says:

      In my experience if you submit a negative experience to Consumerist, it will usually get posted. I’ve also seen the most ridiculous complaints get posted. If you submit a positive story, it’s very unlikely it will see the light of day.

      So they could have 100 submissions about how awesome Newegg is, but they are very likely to ignore that in favor of 1 questionable negative submission.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        We post more of the positive stories we receive, if you set the bar at “above and beyond.” We very rarely post stories that are just, “X company wasn’t incompetent and didn’t treat me like crap.” Unless it’s Sears or something, because that would be truly exceptional.

        We just receive a lot more negative stories.

        • crazydavythe1st says:

          Off to Sears. Maybe I can get out of the store successfully with a soda or something :)

  10. SiddhimaAmythaon says:

    ya i was wondering Newegg has always had a+++ support for me. Even doing things like RMA swaps way out of return policy because manufacturer had a really cruddy rma process.

  11. Overheal says:

    Now if Newegg would drop the restocking fees for the CPU cooler I am currently sitting on because it’s not compatible with my RAM. Buying that kind of thing from a store from now on, where I don’t have to deal with this crap.

  12. Pete the Geek says:

    I’m happy that this issue was resolved with Newegg, though I wish she had taken the computer instead of a refund.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Why is that? Are you afraid your next purchase at Newegg will get you a computer with Linux on it?

  13. Torchwood says:

    That’s why I prefer Amazon and Newegg. What are they doing right that other companies are stumbling on?

  14. Captain Quack says:

    been a heavy NewEgg customer for years. always recommended them when asked for a good source. couple of months ago bought a Garmin GPS. defective out of the box. went to do the standard RMA. mentioned that one of the cables was missing as well. at that point was told they would not accept it as a RMA and I would have to go through Garmin. not accept a defective device because a cable was missing? slightly peved I asked if that applied to anything missing including bags parts came in and was told yes.

    RMA’d it through Garmin. got it back and discovered that almost all the POI info for my area was missing and/or completely inaccurate from NavTeq making it useless. (separate issue) contacted NewEgg for a return for refund and was told they would not take it back because it hadn’t been RMA’d through NewEgg.

    after spending 2 days trying to contact NewEgg corporate I got a internal phone listing with the name and number of someone mid level in the company. called RMA again and after 35 minutes they agreed to take it back with a 15% restocking fee.

    after reading about other people having the same kinds of problems NewEgg is now on my companies “do not purchase from” list. clients are being told the same thing.

    what happened NewEgg? you went from good to crap in zero flat.

  15. Crank says:

    Newegg and Consumerist, thanks for making this right. Newegg is back on my preferred vendor list.

  16. KyBash says:

    I wish I’d made a stink a few years ago when they wouldn’t let me open an account (being disabled, it’s impossible for me to meet their carved-in-stone criteria). But, somehow, I’ve survived not being able to buy from them.

    Then again, when I was asked to source computers for a non-profit, I used them as a basis for price comparison, so it’s a good thing they’re around. (Side note: local non-profits share information, so the vendor I recommend has sold about 100 computers here.)

  17. phudgee says:

    That’s interesting, because after reading that story, I too emailed NewEgg, and asked them the same question. Here is the response they sent me:

    Dear Charles,

    Thank you for contacting Newegg.

    Please kindly note that the RMA will be denied if the original manufacturers operating system was removed or changed. If you need any technical support or assistance after you change the OS, you may contact the manufacturer directly. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please visit our FAQs page. If you still require any assistance, please feel free to reply directly to this email.

    Thank you,

    Newegg Customer Service

  18. ICherub says:

    Only an idiot modifies a computer without backing up the stock configuration first (or making absolutely sure everything works perfectly), and someone who can install Linux should have the sense to do that. I can’t think of any other product you can modify and then return with impunity. Granted, if the hardware is actually defective, you should be able to return it regardless. But in this case it was a display issue, so a proper backup could have restored the system to stock before return.

  19. lordmorgul says:

    The mistake Newegg made was rejecting this before thinking it through… getting a public image specialist involved just makes that abundantly clear.