For the month of August, consumer advocate Christopher Elliott will occasionally be sharing some of the questions and problems he receives from readers. In this week’s case, Giovanna bought an Asus laptop at Best Buy that startedly began shutting down at random times. Since then, she’s been caught in a cycle of unsuccessful warranty replacements — but now that warranty is about to end. Will either party step up to just provide her with a working computer?
I bought an Asus laptop computer from Best Buy recently. Soon after I began using it, the PC started shutting down randomly.
I returned it to Best Buy, and they sent it to Asus. The manufacturer replaced the hard drive and then sent it to me. So far, so good.
I began using the laptop, but it kept happening – the computer would suddenly shut down.
I brought it back to Best Buy three more times. They restored the system software, so they assured me there can’t be a problem with the software. But the PC still didn’t work.
Best Buy sent the computer back to Asus again. They ran tests. Asus said nothing is wrong with the hardware. The computer went back to Best Buy, and it still shuts down randomly.
I brought the laptop back to Best Buy again three weeks ago. The technician who assisted me said that something is obviously wrong with the motherboard, and they sent it back to Asus.
I’m frustrated. I feel as if Asus and Best Buy are running down the clock on my warranty. I think they should just replace the laptop. Can you help me?
Congratulations, you bought the laptop from hell. Asus should have recognized that the second time your retailer sent the PC back and replaced it instead of insisting the unit was problem-free. And when it refused, Best Buy should have either pressured the manufacturer to do the right thing, or offered you a new computer.
Why didn’t that happen? Well, that’s the funny thing about PCs like those manufactured by Asus. There are multiple parties who could be responsible, from the operating system developer (Microsoft) to the hardware manufacturer (Asus) and there are warranties and third parties that get involved, in your case, Best Buy.
It’s easy to slip between the cracks.
I don’t know the specifics of your warranty, but I can tell you this: All the way down the line, all of the parties involved have a powerful incentive to keep you from replacing the PC outright. The finger-pointing will continue until one of the parties gives up, and it’s usually the consumer who dumps the non-working laptop and buys a replacement, allowing Asus, Best Buy and Microsoft to keep their money. But that’s not an ideal solution.
From what I can tell, all of your haggling was done in person, so there’s no paper trail. I would have started two sets of correspondence: One with Best Buy, the other with Asus. Get their response in writing and compare one with the other for inconsistencies.
Best Buy will probably send you a form response. If that’s insufficient, try emailing someone at the executive level. Best Buy’s emails follow the email@example.com format. I’m absolutely certain that the company’s interim CEO Mike Mikan would enjoy hearing about your PC troubles.
Chris did manage to contact Best Buy on Giovanna’s behalf and the retailer has since replaced her laptop with one that works.