This is a short story about my experiences with Toshiba – and the above two products.
I bought myself a new laptop in September 2011 – together with a docking station. Neither were cheap – but I’ve owned Toshiba laptops in the past and have had a good experience with them – so felt the premium price would be justified.
Not this time.
The docking station was delivered ‘factory sealed’ but with a part missing. I spoke to Toshiba and the retailer – and each said the other would ‘sort out replacements’. I’m fully aware of my consumer rights under the Sales of Goods Act – but rather than simply return the faulty item, I assumed it would be sorted-out quickly. It was not. It was three weeks before the retailer supplied what I needed.
Shortly afterwards – the screen on the laptop began to flicker. After posting questions to an online forum – I spoke to Toshiba UK and arranged to have it sent for repair. It was duly sent to Germany and returned ‘fixed’ (and covered in fingerprints) some two weeks later. Not returned, I hasten to add, in the original box in which it had been sent.
The night before I was due to fly overseas the Fingerprint reader then stopped working. Despite many stressful hours spent online trying to find a solution – it became apparent that it had simply stopped working (no longer listed in device manager).
During that overseas trip – the screen started flickering again. So embarrassingly bad was it – that it became unusable in client meetings (I run a small business) and I had to use their computers.
Some of you out there may have more faith and patience than me – but by now I had lost confidence in this particular laptop – and the ability of Toshiba to put things right. In a little over 3 months of ownership – this combination of products had developed 4+ faults and had been out of practical commission for more than half the time.
When I asked Toshiba to replace the laptop – I was only offered another repair. Despite asking to speak to various people in customer services (over multiple calls) – I got the same response. Again, some of you may think this is reasonable. But I don’t. This number of faults, this amount of hassle, losing it again for a period of time, the possibility that what was new and pristine machine would be damaged again by a repair – I don’t believe is a fair response is simply to offer another repair.
So I wrote to the UK Marketing Director of Toshiba, Matt McDowell. A letter marked Personal and Private. I also copied in Masaaki Oosumi - Executive Officer, Corporate Senior Vice President of Toshiba’s Digital Division in Japan – as I had been previously warned by Toshiba Customer Services that any communication would simply be referred back to them. I sent the letter on January 16th 2012 – and today (more than three weeks later) I received a letter back from Customer Support Services. Whilst “completely understanding my frustration” – there is no chance of a new laptop. Instead, suggestions that I invoke the Sales of Goods Act to get a replacement from the retailer.
(For those of you who know – a replacement from the Retailer depends on the item being effectively rejected within a reasonable time. Their interpretation of a reasonable time – effectively rules this possibility out. I know – I’ve spoken to them. Yes, I could take things further, involve a solicitor, small claims court – but should I have too?)
In my letter, I pointed-out that according to Toshiba’s Group Customer Satisfaction Policy’. “We provide products, systems and services that are safe and reliable.” Based on my experiences – I’m not sure I’d agree with that.
For those of you who may now think I’m a habitual letter writer – an inveterate ‘whinger’ – I’m not and don’t believe I am. I put-up with bad service, I tend not to complain. I usually just make a note of what’s happened and resolve to shop elsewhere or seek an alternative next time. But this time I’m cross and disappointed.
We all get caught-up in the race for best specification and the lowest price when it comes to a buying a laptop. What we can never know – until it is too late – is how reliable it might be, and how you will be treated if things go wrong. I am surprised by Toshiba.
In a competitive market, products with a premium price and reputation need to deliver. I hope anyone out there contemplating buying a Toshiba might think again.