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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > How CompUSA destroyed my Powerbook

How CompUSA destroyed my Powerbook
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mjames
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Nov 30, 2004, 04:14 PM
 
Here's my horror story.

On November 13th, my 15" Powerbook's hard drive dies. As if that weren't enough of a nightmare, it gets worse. Since CompUSA is the only Apple dealer in my state, I take it to them to see if they can recover the data off it. They can't, and so they send it to Apple for a hard drive replacement.

Fast forward two weeks later to this week. I go to CompUSA to find out some information so I can track my repair status with Apple. The computer has been shipped, but is on "hold for requote, initial quote insufficient" with Apple because it has suffered damage that indicates it had been dropped. Apple tells me it has damage to the top and bottom of the case, the housing bezel for the HD is broken, and there is a problem with the DC inboard (Apple's wording).

Now, this is where I get stunned. I handed my precious Powerbook to CompUSA in perfect exterior condition, not even a scratch, and I'm very picky and particuliar about it. Now Apple is waiting for a decision about who will pay for repair costs, because AppleCare doesn't cover this.

I call Apple and go through several lines of support, finally getting to customer relations and the lady says Apple will take pictures of the damaged computer and get back to me later this week ... another 3-4 days of waiting. She says the box it was received in was not damaged, so it couldn't gotten damaged in shipping. Apple would have documented that, and they didn't.

I've made numerous trips to CompUSA because they don't answer their phones or voicemail. And of course, when I went, the manager was on his break. I keep getting the run around. I finally get a call from the manager saying he wants to see the pictures, will do what is fair, etc. He won't commit to covering the damages or costs, but he doesn't say no, either.

If the Powerbook is significantly damaged when I see the pictures and it can't be repaired to like-new condition in a timely manner, I'm going to demand compensation from CompUSA for a new Powerbook. Aren't I entitled to this? I will even take CompUSA to court if they don't agree to pay for these damages. I shouldn't have to accept a Powerbook that is not in as good of a condition as when I left it, or one that has been pieced together.

Bottom line, something happened between the time I handed it to them in perfect exterior condition and Apple received it. CompUSA had the Powerbook sitting in their back storage room for several days because I had requested them to backup the data off the hard drive (they weren't able to get any data off it).

CompUSA has sure lost a customer here. Any reaction, advice, etc. are welcome.

It'll be almost a month now without my Powerbook. I rely on it more than 99% of people, I run a website business off it and have work I need it for. The sheer inconvenience, a half dozen trips to CompUSA, and crap I've been through the last few weeks is incredible.

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Dog Like Nature
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Nov 30, 2004, 05:53 PM
 
I know this doesn't help you now, but how about making the person in CompUSA who receives your PowerBook sign a form (of your devising) that indicates the product is in excellent external condition with no damage? Then they can battle it out between them as to who's going to pay, because you'll be in the clear.

Of course, I can see them refusing to sign anything, and as they're your only choice in your state, you'd be in a tough spot.
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MrCaN
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Nov 30, 2004, 06:41 PM
 
Hey, not alot of good news. I used to work at a CompUSA and when you bring in your computer for repair, the make you sign a big form with lots of small printing. Well, that basicly says that if anything happens to it, they are not responsible, not that they will admit to anything. Prepare for the person who checked it in to lie about the condition. CompUSA believes in "the customer is always right" as long as it doesn't cost them any money.
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djpluv
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Nov 30, 2004, 08:01 PM
 
If worse comes to worse, you can write a letter to the state Attorney General's office - division of consumer affairs. I've done this once to deal with an unfair merchant...sometimes a letter from the Attorney General is all it takes to get some cooperation.

also..i noticed your location is listed as being in VA...there's an Apple store in Arlington (i bought a 12" PB there)....and there's another in Tyson's Corner (In Tyson's 1, i believe). Not that does you any good now, but in the future it might help.
     
t500
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Nov 30, 2004, 09:52 PM
 
If they could not fix the Power Book and send it out you should have some sort of documentation right?

Anyway about Comp USA not being responsibly is just a CYA thing. That should be for things like scratches and such. You have a reasonable expectation that your Power Book would be handled carefully. Accidents Happen, Trashing an Item you brought it to repair is unacceptable. How old is the Power Book?

If its an old one you may just get some kind of credit or maybe an Apple refurb...

If the manager can't help, go to the corporate offices. Dont threaten just do it. Send all written correspondence registered mail. Keep all the names, dates, and time of who you spoke with. They have more power. As long as you did not acknowledge the damage you can rattle their trees.
     
vdrummer
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Nov 30, 2004, 10:12 PM
 
Hopefully you'll never have this happen again, but if it does, call Apple direct and skip going to CompUSA, a local Apple store, or any other intermediary. When my Powerbook last needed repair, I called Apple, Apple had Airborne deliver a box, I packed my 'Book up and gave it Airborne directly, right from my house. Got the 'Book back in four days, repaired by Apple (in Texas, I think - I'm in CA).
     
Macola
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Nov 30, 2004, 10:21 PM
 
Originally posted by vdrummer:
Hopefully you'll never have this happen again, but if it does, call Apple direct and skip going to CompUSA, a local Apple store, or any other intermediary. When my Powerbook last needed repair, I called Apple, Apple had Airborne deliver a box, I packed my 'Book up and gave it Airborne directly, right from my house. Got the 'Book back in four days, repaired by Apple (in Texas, I think - I'm in CA).
Ditto this, I did the same thing with two PowerBooks (Ti and 12" Al), even though I have CompUSA and several authorized Mac service centers in town.
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madmacgames
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Nov 30, 2004, 11:22 PM
 
Originally posted by mjames:
Aren't I entitled to this? I will even take CompUSA to court if they don't agree to pay for these damages.
When I read this I thought it would make a pretty good Mastercard ad (prices rounded/guessed for effect):

Repairs: $250
New powerbook: $2500
Spending an extra $25K to stick it to the "man": priceless
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LORL
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Nov 30, 2004, 11:45 PM
 
Basically, it is your word against theirs, and yours doesn't matter for anything compared to theirs. How would anyone know that you aren't lying?

I certainly believe you, since CompUSA is a horrible company...but you have to take measures to protect yourself (taking pictures of the computer before handing it in for service, etc).

You can't take CompUSA to court for anything. You probably signed a contract limiting your rights - and I am pretty sure CompUSA corporate lawyers would destroy whatever lawyer you could dream of getting.

Sorry for the loss.
     
MrCaN
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Dec 1, 2004, 03:01 AM
 
Originally posted by t500:
If the manager can't help, go to the corporate offices. Dont threaten just do it. Send all written correspondence registered mail. Keep all the names, dates, and time of who you spoke with. They have more power. As long as you did not acknowledge the damage you can rattle their trees.
Remember, CompUSA was bought by the Mexican Mob family a few years back, so you might not want to complain to high.
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robbie stogs
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Dec 1, 2004, 03:10 PM
 
Your in Vienna? You should have gone to Tysons corner apple! Which CompUSA did you take it to?


-Rob
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SpaceRockness
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Dec 1, 2004, 05:03 PM
 
CompUSA has the worst service staff and the paper you sign waves most damage claims while it sits on their shelf.

Well before that Mexican(Carlos Slim?) privitized CUSA there were posts elsewhere of wrecking Macs, when CUSA was the only authorized center in my area to replace my iMac's PSU(a month to repair)... they busted the shell clips and claimed no responsibility. When my analog board blew they cracked the shell(it kept falling off exposing the CRT). In the end luckly it was a lemon but Apple had to replace an iMac trashed by CUSA... I had to use duct tape to hold the shell in place before shipping it back to Apple!
     
DeathToWindows
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Dec 1, 2004, 06:14 PM
 
one should not go to compusa without a cricket bat and the will to use it against someone's head

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mgehman
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Dec 1, 2004, 06:25 PM
 
A few things, the piece of paper you sign isn't worth the piece of paper in court. If they damage it, no contract will protect them legally. It is like the little signs you see in coat rooms that say they aren't responsible for losses, guess what, they are. Just saying it doesn't make it so. If you have pictures of the powerbook prior to shipping, print them out and take them to the manager. Pictures are better than words anytime.
2nd, sending it to Apple directly is the preferred solution, except that he said he wanted the data off the hard drive, which Apple will not do.
3rd, if CUSA doesn't give you any satisfaction, call your local newspaper, the one thing big corporations hate is bad PR. Local papers love this kind of stuff, especially if they don't advertise with them.
If all else fails "Lawyer up"
Don't let the bastards win.
Hope this helps
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iolaire
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Dec 1, 2004, 06:31 PM
 
You have proof that it was not damaged - the what CUSA requested fixed from Apple should indicate what was wrong.

If it was broken (DC inboard) could they have performed any diagnostics??? So CUSA either needs to admit that they broke it or admit that they did not even test it out, as I'd think the service tech should be able to recognize broken housing before sending it in to Apple?
     
Red Wolf
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Dec 1, 2004, 06:31 PM
 
If there isn't an Apple Service Provider (or at least one you trust) in your area you can call Apple at 800-SOS-APPLE and arrange to ship the damaged Mac in. If you're under warranty this is 100% covered and is a great solution for laptop owners. Apple sends you a box overnight, you put your Mac into it, and it ships back to Apple overnight. Apple does the repairs and ships your Mac back to you overnight again.
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Drakino
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Dec 1, 2004, 07:19 PM
 
Originally posted by Macola:
Ditto this, I did the same thing with two PowerBooks (Ti and 12" Al), even though I have CompUSA and several authorized Mac service centers in town.
I trust my local Mac reseller/service center quite a bit. I have had 2 minor failures on my Powerbook, and both times I took it in, handed it over for 20 minutes and had it back in my hands inperfect working order. They also get all my buisness, and in doing so, I am rewarded not only morally for helping the small guy, but also by some nice discounts and exclusive events they do. Apple stores are too new and cycle through employees too much to establish a good business relationship, so I will avoid shopping at them even if one open closer then the one 60 miles away.
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macaddict0001
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Dec 1, 2004, 07:28 PM
 
Originally posted by SpaceRockness:
CompUSA has the worst service staff and the paper you sign waves most damage claims while it sits on their shelf.

Well before that Mexican(Carlos Slim?) privitized CUSA there were posts elsewhere of wrecking Macs, when CUSA was the only authorized center in my area to replace my iMac's PSU(a month to repair)... they busted the shell clips and claimed no responsibility. When my analog board blew they cracked the shell(it kept falling off exposing the CRT). In the end luckly it was a lemon but Apple had to replace an iMac trashed by CUSA... I had to use duct tape to hold the shell in place before shipping it back to Apple!
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ShadowKatana
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Dec 1, 2004, 07:51 PM
 
Originally posted by iolaire:
You have proof that it was not damaged - the what CUSA requested fixed from Apple should indicate what was wrong.

If it was broken (DC inboard) could they have performed any diagnostics??? So CUSA either needs to admit that they broke it or admit that they did not even test it out, as I'd think the service tech should be able to recognize broken housing before sending it in to Apple?
Good points particularly the fact that CompUSA would have checked the computer before sending it to Apple.

I remember my service provider documented everything they noticed about my PB before they repaired it - wouldn't hurt to see whether they have some sort of documentation prior to repair.
     
zelet
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Dec 1, 2004, 08:38 PM
 
Originally posted by mjames:
I had a similar horror story from CompUSA - here is the quickest solution. Find out who the District Manager is and in your nices, most undestanding way tell him what happened and let him know that all you are looking for is your Powerbook in the same condition you sent it in. He WILL help you. Don't waste your time with other levels of management.

Good luck,
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theJeff
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Dec 1, 2004, 09:08 PM
 
When this is all over, the best you can do is what I did after CompUSA screwed me over. Don't ever shop there again, and recommend to everyone you know to refuse to shop there as well.

Between me and the company I work for, I used to spend maybe $20,000 a year there. Not a lot in the whole scheme of things but it's now money that will go to other companies (ones that don't treat their customers like adversaries.)
     
ralphh
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Dec 1, 2004, 09:40 PM
 
Hi, I'm a former Mac tech for CompUSA. I think I may have some insight that will help.

IF the guy who checked in your laptop is NOT the one who dropped it, he is unlikely to lie about its condition at check-in time. If he remembers you, he may be your best ally in the store. That is, barring an impulse to protect a co-worker (unfortunately possible) or evil store-level management who might pressure him to recall differently (unlikely). Most CompUSA store managers are honest, and even the others would avoid the hassle they'd be buying into by conspiring to lie.

You also need to know what the tech who tried to recover your data says he remembers about the laptop's condition. With the amount of time he would have spent with it, he is sure to remember whether or not it had apparent damage when he got it. That being said, he is probably also the person who packed it for shipping and did most of its handling in-store, and therefore most likely the person who dropped it.

Then again, any of the techs may have dropped or knocked it off a shelf while rummaging in storage area for another laptop.

It is a little worrisome that the store manager did not return your call right away. He or she should have at least been interested in hearing your story, even though he would not have been able to promise you anything until after he talked to all of the tech shop staff.

If talking to the tech shop and store managers seems to get you nowhere, going to the district manager (his name and number should be posted in or near the entrance) will be your best bet. Don't do this unless the store manager really is being a jerk, because, as I understand it, district manager interventions take money out of his paycheck. Give him half a chance to talk to techs involved and try to be fair first.

Good luck.
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sdf
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Dec 1, 2004, 10:16 PM
 
It wasn't CompUSA. I've had the same problem dealing with Apple directly. Their Powerbook shipping boxes suck and cause a lot of damage.

I suggest calling Apple again, and also writing to Macintouch and anyone else you can think of who might run the story where people can read it.

I got satisfaction when it happened to me (it came back with a shatered hinge, multiple dents, and wouldn't turn on) just from talking to Apple. Our IT head worked various Apple support staff for about an hour and I ended up with a nice, shiny Powerbook G4...

...which also needed to be sent in for repairs...

...and came back dented. But it was just a dent, so I lived with it.
     
ratter
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Dec 1, 2004, 10:31 PM
 
Ehh? There are two Apple Stores within a short driving distance of Vienna, VA. And numerous local, reputable Mac shops, too.

But either way, best of luck getting it resolved.
     
Paco500
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Dec 1, 2004, 11:39 PM
 
If the damage happened at the Vienna CompUSA, I know somebody in management there. PM me if you need help.
     
NeonGE
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Dec 2, 2004, 12:48 AM
 
Originally posted by ratter:
Ehh? There are two Apple Stores within a short driving distance of Vienna, VA. And numerous local, reputable Mac shops, too.

But either way, best of luck getting it resolved.
Three, actually.

Soon to be four.
     
dennisbolt
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Dec 2, 2004, 12:53 AM
 
I just had my PB die (on its way to Apple Texas right now) I called Apple and they offered to send a box, but I asked about data recovery and they told me to go to a local dealer/repair or CompUSA because Apple would not recover data and Apple stores do not recover data. I have never had any good vibes about my time spent in CompUSA.

The local independent guy took my HD out and transfered my data over to my firewire drive. Now I just wait. I will have to pay the local guy for his time recovering data, but hope the time at Apple will be good.
     
LordJohnWhorfin
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Dec 2, 2004, 03:31 AM
 
This is typical small claims court material. Make sure you keep a documentation of all your visits to the store, calls, people you talked to, what they said, etc...
You will need to prove by a preponderance of evidence that your PowerBook was in perfect condition when you left it at the store. Filing these cases is very inexpensive, around $50 in most states. You don't have to hire an attorney, either. Cases are usually handled quickly and efficiently.
You will need to prove that you made every reasonable attempt to solve the problem amicably with all the parties involved before filing.

Writing a letter to your state's Attorney General is also a very good suggestion; you may even be able to file a complaint on-line (I did this in California regarding an issue I had with CompUSA, and it took care of the problem within a couple of weeks).

There is a good lesson for anybody sending in equipment for repairs: make sure you document the condition of the equipment at the time of shipping. It will prove invaluable in the future if you have problems such as these. Even a Polaroid taken at the CompUSA drop-off counter would turn this into an open and shut case in small claims court.
     
zzimbob
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Dec 2, 2004, 09:19 AM
 
I had a bad Mac repair in '97 at CompUSA, and I will never use their repair services again. I bought a PowerMac 7600 from them, and after a few months, it would not shut down - it would only restart. After I took it in, they said that the motherboard needed to be replaced. They had it for over a month, during which time they kept promising me that it would be ready "in a few days" or "at the end of the week." I finally had to leave a stern message with the store manager before I could get it back. Once I did get it back, the mobo died the next day. They were quicker to fix it the second time, but I will never trust or use them again.
     
ratter
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Dec 2, 2004, 09:39 AM
 
Originally posted by mjames:

It'll be almost a month now without my Powerbook. I rely on it more than 99% of people, I run a website business off it and have work I need it for. The sheer inconvenience, a half dozen trips to CompUSA, and crap I've been through the last few weeks is incredible.

I feel for you here, I really do. I had CompUSA rip the cables right out of a Sawtooth power supply. But if you truly do rely on your PB so heavily....BACK UP YOUR DATA. If that's your business, you need to be able to absorb a hard drive failure and not miss a beat. Spare drive, spare machine....it only costs a few hundred bucks.
     
driven
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Dec 2, 2004, 11:10 AM
 
Year 2000: I purchased a 6 month old iMac on ebay. The sound board didn't work. I went to CompUSA to get it repaired under warantee.

3 months later they still couldn't fix it. I called Apple. Apple called them. Apple called me back and said that they were now "officially" annoyed with my repair center and would be sending me a new machine.

the original iMac that I had had a 13GB drive and was 400Mhz. They said they now only had a 500Mhz model with a 30GB drive (iMac DV SE) and "would I mind" the upgrade. I was THRILLED. That was my first experience with CompUSA repair and also my first experience with Apple. It made me an Apple customer for life. (I've subsequently purchased a G4 Cube, a G5, 2 iPods, etc.) :-)

Needless to say ... I'll never go near CompUSA repair again. DOH.
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MilkmanDan
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Dec 2, 2004, 11:36 AM
 
Bad service can happen anywhere. Over about 6 years my family and I have had random computer issues ranging from bad mobos to bad HDs. I'd been taking our mac to a local small business mac store, and I was never happy with them. I always got the run around, and they were always very short with me. Heck, they always treated my mother badly (so she says) after I went off to college. I eventually gave up on them and now go to a different store across town, because they are a heck of a lot nicer and honest. If something is going to take two weeks, say it'll take two weeks. Not 'in a few days' for two weeks.
     
mjames  (op)
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Dec 6, 2004, 12:10 AM
 
Originally posted by robbie stogs:
Your in Vienna? You should have gone to Tysons corner apple! Which CompUSA did you take it to?


-Rob
I am in college in Lexington, KY. No Apple Stores, but I should have and will use Apple Direct next time.

Update: This thread got a ton of replies and I somehow wasn't notified! This story had a happy ending. CompUSA's manager somehow convinced Apple to pay for the repair costs because it was obvious that I was not responsible for its damage. I got it back Friday and it looked good as new, and no problems with it two days later. It's pretty much a new computer with a new HD and all exterior casing.

I never got to see how it looked in its damaged condition like I thought I was going to be able to, but it doesn't matter now. I never found out HOW it got damaged or who is responsible, but my suspicion is that CompUSA is still responsbible because they settled the issue with Apple on my behalf.

But I am still never shopping their again. All in all, it was a horrible experience with a lot of uncertainty and elapsed time (HD died on Nov. 13, got it back on Dec. 3). And if CompUSA damaged it, which seems likely, they never admitted to it or apologized. So I am officially boycotting them.

I was worried it wouldn't turn out well, but I did have people who could attest to the computer's condition prior to me giving it to CompUSA, so it would be more than my word vs. theirs. Thankfully, I have a like-new PB at no charge to anybody and I'm happily back to normal. This was quite the learning experience for me (I now know to avoid middlemen at all costs, I now use .Mac and backup everything DAILY, and I appreciate my Powerbook more than ever). I'm glad it worked out with no nasty legal action, but I would have gone that route if I had to.
( Last edited by mjames; Dec 6, 2004 at 12:22 AM. )
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driven
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Dec 6, 2004, 12:28 AM
 
Congratulations on getting your machine back. It sucks to be without it.

Hopefully this point forward will be incident-free.
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STAT
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Dec 6, 2004, 12:32 AM
 
Originally posted by driven:
Hopefully this point forward will be incident-free.
Magic 8 Ball says....It's Doubtful.
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ScottHall
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Dec 6, 2004, 10:07 AM
 
Mjames,

My name is Scott Hall and I am the Technical Services Director for CompUSA's Eastern US region. I was reading the forums when I came across your posting - please email me at my listed address so that I can help you get your notebook back to its original condition. I'm sorry to hear that your experience has been less than a pleasant one.

Scott
     
buffalolee
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Dec 6, 2004, 11:17 AM
 
Oh? This is a pleasant surprise. :-)
     
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Dec 6, 2004, 01:26 PM
 
Originally posted by STAT:
Magic 8 Ball says....It's Doubtful.
That's odd mine say's most likely
     
ideasculptor
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Dec 6, 2004, 09:32 PM
 
This is late, but I didn't see anyone mention it. Believe it or not, complaints to the Better Business Bureau are VERY effective when dealing with large companies like this. Every publicly available complaint is ammunition against them in future lawsuits, so they'll do just about anything to keep you from making a complaint officially public.

I had a very similar circumstance with a wintel laptop at Best Buy. 3 weeks after purchase the mobo started smoking and stopped booting. I took it back asking for a replacement (3 weeks!) and the said it would be repaired. Long story short, it took 3+ months to get the laptop back (1.5 months before the manufacturer even opened the box it had been shipped to them in). AT the 3 month mark, I submitted a claim to the better business bureau. 2 days later, I got a call from the service tech, saying it would be shipped overnight, despite having been told the day before that a motherboard would take 6 weeks to be shipped from overseas. The day after the computer arrived, a letter arrived making which included a gift certificate for use at Best Buy.

2 years later, I was still having problems with it, and when I finally got frustrated enough to go back to Best Buy, they acquiesced to my demands to call the thing a lemon as soon as they looked at my record. Someone had obviously put a note in my file. I walked out of the store with a brand new $1600 Sony laptop, plus a $200 rebate form.

--sam
     
   
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