I am not some pie-in-the-sky idealist when it comes to dealing with retail. I know that there are limits on customer service, etc. Bad employees, sure. Rude employees, yep. Stupid employees, check. But I rarely expect outright fraudulent statements by a major retailer. Once you take away the commission incentive, a lot of fraud disappears, which is why many of the retailers dumped it (it also eliminates really pushy salespeople and a range of other disincentives to deal transparently, that turn off customers).
Let’s back up to November of 2011. I bought an Android tablet, a Toshiba Thrive, from Future Shop. I’m pretty good with computers, but I’ve never had an Android before nor a tablet. So I shelled out $50 for them to do a bunch of setup on it. As I expected, once I saw what they did, I realized I could have easily done it myself, but the tech walked me through it, helped me configure a few things that would have taken me some time to find and get working, so all in all, that was okay. However, the service plan was a different story.
Normally, for most of this stuff, all the expert sites will tell you to run from the product service plans. And I would have run too, except for some fraudulent statements of the salesperson.
First, he told me that it was a “no pain” service plan — if anything went wrong, I could bring it back to FutureShop and they would deal with the manufacturer, etc. Well, according to customer service when I did eventually have a problem and brought it back to the store, all the salesmen do say that but it is not actually true. So FS knows their salespeople lie to the customers but apparently don’t bother training them properly. You see, in the first year, it is just the manufacturer’s warranty. Which it says in the agreement fine print. So you deal DIRECT with them. In other words, I had to ship it back to Markham to the Toshiba warehouse for repair. I shipped it express, paid for insurance, double packaged it, $40. Back from Toshiba in 3 days. Nice. Except that FS should have been handling that.
Secondly, they said, if anything goes wrong, and it comes back 3 times, it is considered a lemon and they replace it. Except, reading the fine print again (which wasn’t provided until after the sale completed), plus terms and conditions change over time, “software” problems are excluded. Well my problem isn’t a hardware issue — they just need to reflash the operating system because it glitches and crashes. And they don’t distribute the O/S image files, so only the manufacturer can fix it. So it probably won’t get declared a lemon.
Thirdly, there was supposed to be a separate 30-day lemon clause in the warranty too — if it was gone for more than 30 days, they replace it. Nope, terms and conditions say 60 days.
Finally, the computer is with them now (we’re into the second year so it is under FS warranty), and it has taken a month for them to do what Toshiba did in 40 minutes last summer. It’s the same issue, O/S needs to be reflashed. I even gave them a nice little set of instructions to tell them it happened before, what needed to be done, blah blah blah. Nope, still gone for a month. And when I checked with customer service today, I found out that it isn’t actually at Toshiba. Nope, FS techs fix it. Wait, what? That wasn’t the deal. It is supposed to be Toshiba fixing it and FS doing the liaison with them. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure FS doesn’t have the image file and the techs CAN”T fix it without the image file.
Which means, I think, in another month, they’ll have to throw up their hands and replace the tablet even under their crappy warranty conditions. That would be nice. Because as much as I have liked the tablet up until this point, we’re almost 18 months past original purchase, so currently available tablets have progressed way past what they were when I bought the first one.
Heck, I might even get the size (7″) that I wanted in the first place at two-thirds the price with faster processor. Stay tuned.