By: Wolf von Baumgart, Consumer Affairs Editor
Consumers Beware! Good looking storefronts, neatly arranged shelves of trendy merchandise and low prices can be very deceptive if the store does not have a fair and honorable way of dealing with defective merchandise.
On January 27, 2017 this reporter purchased a Hewlett-Packard Notebook 15-AY009DX Model X7T50UA laptop computer with 1 TB of storage for $379.99 from BEST BUYS ( on 1165 N. DuPont Highway ) in Dover, DE. It seemed to work well enough for two weeks until a weird feather-shaped distortion appeared in the upper left hand corner of the screen after normal use. The unit was not dropped nor was excessive impact or pressure applied to the touchscreen. Three days later, after gently touching the screen , I heard a faint cracking sound and the screen totally distorted. Apparently, there was a preexisting hairline crack in the LCD screen and the unit was useless from this point forward. The screen was obviously initially defective or had been subsequently damaged in shipment.
I subsequently contacted Hewlett-Packard’s customer service website (which is not easy to navigate) and was instructed to take the computer to a local authorized service center – in this case, BEST BUYS in Dover. I turned the unit over to the Geek Squad service desk and was informed that repair would take between three and five weeks. Approximately three weeks later, I was informed that I should have contacted HP directly for a warranty claim. This was not feasible as the line was busy and it was impossible after numerous attempts to talk to a live human service representative to explain the nature of the problem. I was given an initial estimate of $125 for a replacement screen and $200 for labor, making repair uneconomical. The Hewllet-Packard warranty purportedly covers parts and labor in manufacturer’s defects from one year from the date of purchase.
Earlier this afternoon, I picked up the defective laptop and was informed that “screen damage was not covered under warranty”. Exemption of user-caused breakage under warranty is legitimately understandable, however, this was clearly a preexisting defect and BEST BUYS evaded any attempt to fairly resolve the matter. This is just a miserable and rather sleazy excuse and built-in scheme to sell expensive extended warranties. Consequently, I was sold a piece of junk and my only recourse is to find a replacement part and do the work myself in order to avoid exorbitant labor charges or buy an identical unit from a reputable dealer and use the lemon laptop for parts.
It was interesting to note that another customer, also very disappointed by BEST BUYS / GEEK SQUAD service was nearby and used less diplomatic language. Accordingly, I would not advise purchasing products at BEST BUYS or engaging the Geek Squad for computer repair, unless you enjoy getting the run around. The Midlantic Dispatch, as matter of policy, will no longer purchase products at BEST BUYS due to its poor customer service.
The investigation continues and we will keep our readers informed of other consumer pitfalls as we uncover them.