By Meg Marco
Is there a difference between a Sony TZ ultraportable laptop and an Asus Eee PC? Reader Ignacio bought Best Buy's accidental damage protection plan for his $2200 Sony TZ laptop, and when he did, indeed, drop it — Best Buy threatened to replace it with a $600 Asus Eee PC, and finally decided to issue a $1200 gift card — the price of a 15" Dell notebook. Fair?
I would like anyone who has considered buying this plan for a computer or has one to be aware that this warranty is useless and a waste of money. Don’t buy it.
I had purchased a Sony Vaio TZ laptop about a year ago with the accidental protection damage (ACH) for several reasons, but mainly because the sales man suggested it for such a small laptop and for how expensive it was ($2200). Buying this warranty was a peace of mind that the sales man a year ago assured me of.
Jumping forward in time, a year later, I accidentally dropped my laptop and took in for repairs at the Geek Squad. The gentleman who attended me was very helpful and assured me that I would be taken care of with what he called “a high end laptop”. As a side note he even admired the size and weight of the laptop, which was the main selling factor for these laptops from Sony and why they were so expensive.
I received a call yesterday (10/31/08) from Best Buy saying the repairs were too costly and that my laptop would be replaced under warranty. I drove there today (11/1/08) to pick up a replacement. The attendant showed me a what she referred to as a comparable model (Vaio Z) and said I could take that as a replacement or use that money($2000) towards another computer , in essence store credit. I picked out a computer that was more expensive and she said it was fine, but I had to pay the difference. When we got to the register and as she started to ring me up, she stated that she had not done this type of return before and she asked a colleague to help her. She was told it was being done incorrectly and we were sent to talk to the supervisor of the computer department. This is where the trouble began.
I was told because of the specs of my computer the most comparable model was $600, which was an Asus EEE pc, but they would do me a favor and give me $1200 for a 15” Dell. When I stated to them that neither of them were comparable, because the sized and features that the TZ, they replied that they do it spec for spec and that my laptop only had 1gig of ram, a 1ghz processor and 100gig hard drive, and that was the closest computer. When I tried to explain to them that this computer was expensive because of the size features and ultra-portability; they ignored me and threatened to make my in-store credit less than $400 for some other netbook. I said that was not fair, the supervisor printed a gift card for $1200 gave it to me walked away. I asked to speak with the store manager.
The store manager, Huff, came and I explained to him what had happened in the last hour. He tried to understand what had happened and brought the supervisor from the Geek Squad department to help him out because he admittedly said, “I am not good with computers.” The supervisor told me the same as the rest that spec for spec there is no comparable computer, and that was the best they could do and I should be happy with that and instead of $600. I asked him to check Sony’s website so he can see that even a year later the TZ models are in fact cheaper, but more than $1200, and just as comparable with the one I bought. He said that he would not check any “junk” websites and only base his decision on what they had in the store. He told me to call Best Buy, and then yelled at the manager behind me, “This conversation is over,” and left. I was left standing at the cash register in the Customer Service area.
I called Best Buy customer relations from within the store, but they were of no help. They said they would not replace base on purchase price but “comparable technology.” When I said they were being unfair about comparing my computer the attendant on the phone said that was policy and there was nothing she could do.
So basically, to summarize, I bought a premium ultra portable laptop from Sony and it was compared to an Asus EEE netbook, under replacement, or a 15” Dell brick of a laptop that is worthless and not comparable. Salesmen are misleading when they are trying to sell you something. Good thing I didn’t order my laptop with the solid state hard dive, or else a comparable model would only have 60gigs of hard dive space. That is how “knowledgeable” the Geek Squad employees are, especially when the supervisor compares a premium notebook to a netbook.
I will not buy anything from Best Buy again. I spend thousands of dollars personally and more through my business, and I often refer my friends there as well. Not anymore, customer service is bad, the prices are more expensive when compared to internet shopping, and they rip you off. I encourage anyone not to buy from Best Buy and if you have to buy something there don’t waste your money any “peace of mind” insurance plans.
We think Ignacio should launch an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) and see what Best Buy has to say, but we thought we'd throw this one out to the crowd first.