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When Vendors Go Bad

Feb 19, 2010, 12:47 (47 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Doug Roberts)

[ Thanks to Doug Roberts for this link. ]

I admit it up front. I want to take $399 out of the hide of Newegg.com. Here's why:

I purchased a refurbished Asus K50 Series K50IJ-RX05 laptop from Newegg 4 weeks ago, for -- you guessed it -- $399. The laptop arrived three days later, and I installed Kubuntu 9.10 on it. No muss, no fuss, no hitches. Everything worked, right out of the box: wireless, graphics, the whole shebang.

Well, apparently everything worked. The laptop was a birthday present for my wife, you see. So the first thing she asked for was for me to install Skype on it so she could make video calls to her daughter.

No problem, says I. Presto, Skype got installed. Oops, the picture is upside down. This laptop was manufactured/assembled with the webcam installed 180 degrees out of whack!

Well, ok. I guess. There's a Video For Linux patch just for this situation. So I installed the patch (a library to pre-load prior to running apps that use webcam). Alrighty, the webcam video is no longer upside down in Skype. I handed the laptop back to my wife.

Day two: the wife says, "My laptop locked up." I asked her what she had been doing at the time. "Moving the mouse."

Oh, oh, this isn't right. The Asus K50 is running an Intel T4200 dual-core processor and the Intel 4500 graphics chipset. The Linux Intel graphics drivers are pretty solid. In fact, I've installed Kubuntu 9.10 on several nearly identical Acer T4200 laptops with the 4500 chipset, and they are all rock solid under some pretty heavy-duty use.

So, I installed the very latest Kubuntu update, which brought the kernel and modules up to version 2.6.31-19, and handed the laptop back to my wife. Again.

No go. Three - four times a day the machine just locked up. Randomly. Hard. Power cycle required to reboot.

So now I go to the intertubes to do some research (I know, I know) and discover [careful, big surprise coming] that the Asus K50 Series K50IJ-RX05 machines had the webcam installed upside down at the factory. Oh, and they randomly lock up several times a day. Linux, Vista, XP. Whatever. They lock up. There's a reason that so many "refurbished" units of this model are up for sale.

Clearly an unsatisfactory situation. So I contacted Newegg and explained that I was unhappy with the defective laptop they had sold me. After a brief consultation with her supervisor, the nice lady approved my RMA refund request and sent me a free UPS return label for me to use to ship the laptop back.

Not too shabby, I thought. This kind of service is why I have been a good Newegg customer for the past 7 years. Spending about $2,000 - $3,000 per year. For seven years. At Newegg.

Oops, not so fast. [I bet some of you saw this coming.] See the email I just received from Newegg:

Dear Valued Customer,

Thanks again for shopping at Newegg.com.

We recently received your RMA and your return was then sent to our Inspections Department for closer examination.

Incomplete return
User changed OS to Linux Kubuntu
System has been modified/altered original manufacturers operating system has been removed cannot access restore partition, this voids Newegg warranty. Unit cannot be accepted or resold as received.

RMA denied return to customer

Because Newegg would be facing a loss if we were to replace this item, we are returning the product to you and recommending that you contact the manufacturer directly to request that they repair or replace the item under your manufacturer's warranty. Please visit the following link to view a listing of all the manufacturers whose products we carry: http://www.newegg.com/app/contactmanufacturer.asp?DEPA=0

Kindest regards,

RMA Inspections Department

This email was sent from Newegg's Automated Email System so please do not reply.

That's right: I installed Linux on the laptop, and therefore Newegg is not going to honor my refund.

Need I say more? Newegg is now on record as a vendor from whom you purchase at your own risk. They have demonstrated that they will knowingly sell defective hardware, and not honor refund requests on same.

A very good way to go out of business, in my opinion.

Buyer beware.



Doug Roberts

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