I'm accustomed to technical support being fairly incompetent
and clueless, but Acer seem to have taken it to a new level.
They have taken to telling direct lies and seem to be
attempting to defraud their customers.
I don't think I'll
ever be buying Acer hardware again.
I bought an Acer laptop a couple of months ago, through
Misco. I phoned Misco and tried to get them to ship it to me
without the preinstalled Windows Vista operating system.
They said that it was not possible.
At that point I should have taken my business elsewhere, but
quite a good deal — ISTR it was a return, or something
like that, so it was quite cheap. So I
ordered the laptop anyway, and then when it arrived I
declined to accept the End User Licensing Agreement,
installed Linux on it and contacted Acer for my refund as
Acer's first response was that they would be able to refund
the £20.30 that Windows Vista was worth, but that they
"will require a
£51.99 payment to have the machine brought in to the repair
centre so we may remove this for you. This will cover the
courier and engineer's labour fee."
This seems to be an obvious scam to prevent customers from
obtaining the refund to which they are entitled, and I
didn't accept it. I wrote a letter to their head
office, returning the Windows serial number sticker and
giving photographic evidence that Linux had been installed
on the system, wiping the old operating system. And
demanding my refund within one month or
court proceedings would be issued.
Acer responded to this, retracting the demand for a £51.99
payment but still claiming that the laptop had to be shipped
back to them at my expense. They said that they needed to
"action the following:
- Validate that the Operating System has been removed from
the Hard Disk.
- Remove the Microsoft COA (Certificate Of Authenticity)
- Verify your proof of purchase to ascertain that you are
in the specified timeframe to refund this product.
- To verify if any back up recovery disks have been made
and if so, recovered from you.
- A signed form from you, which may be given to Microsoft
and which agrees to hold Acer harmelss from any claims by
third parties in the event that you have produced any false
information on the request."
I pointed out that it was not necessary for them to have the
system shipped back to them to achieve their requirements. I
offered them remote access to the system in order to verify
that there was no trace of Windows left on the hard drive,
and asked for a copy of the form they mentioned. I also gave
them a copy of my proof of purchase, reminded them that I'd
already sent back the sticker, and stated that I
had made no backup copies.
At this point, they went silent and stopped responding to my
email — even when I reminded them that the deadline
was approaching and I was about to file the court claim for
my refund. They did eventually start responding again after
months, when I informed them that I had finally got
round to filing the court case.
This did seem to get their attention, but they still claimed
that they needed the system to be shipped back to them. When
I spoke to an engineer on the telephone, he claimed that it
wasn't sufficient merely to check that the hard drive had
been wiped, and compare the serial number reported by its
firmware with the one in
their records. He said they had to actually take the laptop
apart and read the serial number from the label on
the hard drive, because I might have put a different hard
drive into the laptop and flashed its firmware so that it
pretended to have the same serial number as the original.
I pointed out that this was somewhat far-fetched, and if I
was so inclined it would be much easier for me to just copy
Windows off the original hard drive, send it back to them
for validation, then put it back again afterwards. He
agreed, but said that their agreement with Microsoft was
that they must verify that the OS had been removed
from the original hard drive — what happened
that wasn't their problem.
At this point, with the court proceedings already filed,
they agreed to pay for the courier (and the court costs).
Since it would only take a few days, I conceded. Before
shipping it off to them, however, I took a screwdriver and
carefully aligned all the
screws so that I could tell if it had
Imagine my surprise when it came back and they
hadn't opened the case! Despite all their
protestation that they needed physical access, and that they
had to open the case and physically
read the serial numbers from the hard drive, when they
finally got the opportunity to do so they didn't bother.
they did was check the partitioning and serial number
through software —
which they could have done months ago, remotely.
As far as I can tell, it's just a huge scam to prevent
customers from claiming the refund for the
unlawfully-bundled software, by making it cost
more to do so than they get in the refund. I certainly
would have given up a long time ago if it wasn't for the
principle of the thing.
Now it seems entirely clear that Acer are simply attempting
to defraud their customers, though, I shall be reporting it
to Trading Standards to see what they have to say about the