Some time ago, during my Friday evening fest of wine drinking and communing with Facebook, I reached a particularly engaged moment and knocked over my glass of wine.
Being well educated by Whizz on what to do in such circumstances (I also know that I should put my mobile phone straight into a bowl of uncooked rice after retrieving it from the toilet bowl), I took out the battery and turned the machine upside down onto a towel. Nonetheless, the next morning, it was seriously dead.
Fortunately, nay imperatively, we have accidental damage cover on our contents insurance, so I rang Direct Line, and after noting the details of the accident, they told me they would have it collected to check whether it could be fixed. My laptop was very old, and already limped, in fact the wine incident, although entirely accidental, turned out to be well worth the loss of the wine, which I did not, dear reader, squeeze from the towel to drink later, despite what you may think of me. In short, I ended up with a shiny new Toshiba laptop. What a result.
After a couple of weeks my new laptop began to go, quite literally , on the blink. One minute the display was quite normal and the next, everything was green and yellow. I persevered because the fault was intermittent, and we all know how intermittent faults get dealt with by manufacturers, don’t we? But finally, the green and yellow periods outdid the normal moments and it became too difficult to read the screen, so I called Toshiba, well their agents, on the number on their website.
Very helpful they were. A polite young man asked me to take out the battery and put it back in again and was then baffled enough to think the fault needed further examination at their service depot. He sent me very precise instructions on how to wrap it up, what to include and what to remove, and my machine was collected exactly as expected. I settled down to wait, sans computer, feeling like someone had cut off my arm, but confident that they were looking into the problem and replacing whichever part was faulty.
I should point out here that I was expected to sign forms to confirm that there was a fault, and that if there turned out not to be a fault I would be expected to pay for the laptop’s return, but there was a fault, so I knew this would not be a problem.
Of course I was mistaken. On the date I was expecting the return of my shiny computer. I received this, by email:
We are contacting you in regards to the repair of your unit. An Estimate of Costs (EOC) has been generated because there were no faults found which is not covered under the scope of the warranty. This means that you will have two options:
– Pay for the return of the unit.
– Have it disposed of free of charge.
This is detailed within the document attached. To make payment or discuss this further please contact our support team on 0333 222 7444 quoting the reference number at the top of this email. The payment details are also in the EOC document attached, should you wish to pay via bank transfer.
Please note that if you choose to have the unit disposed of we will require a signed copy of the disposal form in the attached document, either by post, email or fax, otherwise we shall continue to contact you.
If you require any further assistance please call us on the number below or simply reply to this email.
Attached to the email was a bill and a further letter. The bill was for £64, and the letter contained much the same wording as the email with an extra paragraph, which incensed me more than ever: Please also note that if you do not reach a decision on how to proceed within 25 working days from the date the estimate was issued, the following action will take place:
– If there are warranty repairs to be completed, we will ship the unit back to you with those repairs only.
– If there are no warranty repairs to be completed, we will notify you of our intention to take the unit into our ownership.
My ghast has never been so flabbered, and I was straight onto the telephone to the number they so helpfully provided. The ensuing, circular conversation, with an agent whom I can only describe as laconic, left me in no doubt that my laptop was being held to ransom for the sum of £64.
In COBOLesque programming language:
Repeat conversation until agent becomes bored then perform brush off and slam down the telephone
Me: …so you are asking me to pay for the return of my own laptop because you can’t find the fault
Laconic agent: You may have perceived that there was a fault…
Me: Do you think I’m some ignorant bimbo who doesn’t know one end of a computer from the other?
Laconic agent: We seem to be going round in circles here.
Laconic Agent: Is there anything else I can help you with?
Me: Well it seems not.
Laconic agent: long pause. Thank you for your call.
End brush off
Next step, a call to the consumer Advice department of Citizens Advice. I was told by a pretty amazed adviser, to write to Toshiba’s Head Office, explaining what had happened, that there was nothing in the guarantee that precluded me getting the machine back if they could not find anything wrong, and reminding them that I sent the computer back on their advice.
Soon I had a very apologetic telephone call from a lady in Head Office. Perhaps it was a loose connection, and certainly they would make sure it was sent back to me free of charge. I even obtained her assurance that in the event of a recurrence of the fault, I should contact her and she would make certain that it was dealt with properly.
How long must I wait for my replacement ‘arm’ to arrive? Five more working days. I was slightly placated but by no means impressed.
Five days later, I got another email: Good news! was its title. Inside I was advised that on carrying out a routine check on the computer before its dispatch, wha’ da’ ya’ know? They found a fault.
How long must I wait now?
You guessed it, five days.