PC Specialist Faulty Laptop and Refusal to Repair

  R3von 19:23 27 May 2014

Hello forum,

I am currently having a nightmare with PC Specialist and wanted to share it with everyone here on the PC Advisor forums to spread the word about my experience and see if anyone has any advice.

The bare facts are:

  • I bought a laptop from PC Specialist in January 2012
  • In April I reported it as faulty
  • PC Specialist have come back to me saying that they repaired it by installing a new graphics card, and that solved the issues
  • PC Specialist now want to charge me £361.56 for the new graphics card, having already charged me £35 for having the laptop picked up

I have since discovered, through research into consumer rights, that under the Sale of Goods Act, PC Specialist have a duty to repair it at no cost to myself, including transport. Having pointed this out to them in an email to [email protected] I got a reply from Jack Turner of the PC Specialist Support Team saying the following:

"Sadly the machines fault has occurred 4 months after the 2 year warranty has expired.

Inherent faults have to be proved that they were present within the first 6 months. This is not the case for this item.

As a result we will require payment for the replacement item which is now out of our and the manufacturer’s warranty and cannot be covered by ourselves."

I replied over the weekend saying that I understand the burden of proof would rest on me in any potential court action to prove that the graphics card was inherently faulty, but that this seems obvious: there was no accidental damage. The repair email didn't explicity say the card was faulty (alas), but it is implied. In any case, there is no evidence that it was anything other than an inherent fault. I would just need a technical report to back up the "inherent fault" point (if I was in court).

The real irony is that their argument rests on the basis that they are perfectly happy for their laptops to break after two years. And this from a company that advertises itself as having "excellent service, excellent prices and excellent after sales technical support." (their website) - yeah right. I might add that I paid for a "Gold Warranty" - sounds great but then ... they are now trying to avoid their duties under our contract.

I sincerely hope I can get this resolved quickly and painlessly, but judging on the progress so far (laptop arrived with PC Specialist on 25 April) it's probably not going to be the case. But just as important is to spread the message so that other people know what they are getting into when they buy from PC Specialist.

  RTrower 03:09 28 May 2014

Product care is one of the biggest fixes in UK retail... Go around the problem if a quick and positive resolution is your desire.

Make as much noise as possible (those who shout loudest and all that). Don't make the mistake of solely pursuing the retailer and when you need to, go for the throat of the computer brand itself.

I had a problem with one of the biggest computer outfits on the planet, when I spent £2500 on a notebook, that's CPU, burned so hot, it warped my screen within two months of purchase. I went back to the Bangkok based seller and outlined my case for a replacement item. Their laws on such things, are less customer friendly than the protection, we consumers get over here... Very little hand holding and somewhat Darwinian.

I took the retailers refusal on board and made a number of approaches to the technology editor at a prominent newspaper... I approached him with a mixture of humour and righteous indignation, outlining my disgust at how this product was represented in Thailand and how best to deal with the situation.

I got the direct line phone number and email for the boss of the actual computer brand, who's products were not being adequately serviced (not the retailer). Within 2 days i got a brand new computer with a slew of apologies from the shop... I also was asked my the boss of the brand to never contact him again. :)

Be bold, tenacious, fair and gracious. Nine out of ten times, you'll get what you want.

  Forum Editor 06:53 28 May 2014

The first thing to say is that the 'Gold' warranty covers replacement parts and collection costs for up to two years, although labour costs are covered for three years. Your supplier is therefore not "trying to avoid their duties" in respect of those costs.

The 'inherent fault' provision in current consumer law refers to defects that reveal themselves within the first six months from the date of purchase. You say that it seems obvious there was an inherent fault in the graphics card, but what makes you say that? You would, as you say, have to demonstrate it was true if the matter went to court, and that might be very difficult indeed.

The Sale of Goods Act provisions say that a trader's responsibility for faulty goods lasts for up to six years from the date of purchase, but after six months the burden of proof lies with you. In reality this means that you would have to find a recognisable expert to produce a report demonstrating that the item concerned was faulty, and had not been damaged by use.

My advice is always to avoid court action whenever possible; it can be costly, and there is no guarantee of success. It is far better to attempt to negotiate with the supplier in a measured, calm and rational manner. I wish you the best of luck. Please post back to your thread with news of any progress.

  R3von 20:57 28 May 2014

RTrower, Forum Editor,

Thank you very much for the advice. I will take it to heart.

I should clarify one point - I do not mean to accuse PC Specialist of anything they are not guilty of. Slander/libel is not my bag. I do not claim that they are shirking their "Gold Warranty" duties, as they have been performed (i.e. labour costs covered). I do however wish to draw particular attention to the fact that despite me buying their top warranty cover (at the time of purchase) - "Gold Warranty" - it is a particular irony that I am being treated this way, that "they are now trying to avoid their duties under our contract", or to be more precise, their duties under the implied terms inserted by the Sale of Goods Act. Specifically as regards quality and durability.

And this is my main point. This is a company that prides itself on its quality. Part of quality is durability. The graphics card in the laptop I bought died after two years and three months. Does anyone on this forum think that is reasonable?

Yes, this is a rhetorical question, but I would like to stretch beyond the rhetorical to ask advice on whether anyone actually thinks this is durable enough to satisfy the "reasonable person" test?

Personally I have owned a few laptops myself, and known a lot more laptops that my friends have owned over the years. I don't profess to be a technical expert, and I certainly don't have the quals to say whether the graphics card was faulty from the beginning, but personally, I have never known a graphics card to die after two years and three months before - please advise me if this is actually a reasonable lifespan for an expensive, high-end, quality graphics card.

One thing I can confirm is that the graphics card has not been damaged by use, as there has been no accidental damage to that laptop. I can honestly say that I have treated it with utmost care. I wasn't even using it for six and a half months as I was on an operational deployment in Afghanistan.

I have had no reply yet from PC Specialist.

I am hopeful that this is because they are now giving my request of repair due consideration, rather than the previous reply I received, within 40 mins of my sent email - clearly I have no clue what goes on behind the company shield, but it seemed a lot like a "knee-jerk reaction" of Computer says No.

Again, many thanks for the replies and advice. I will update here if/when anything happens.

  R3von 21:02 29 May 2014

PC Specialist have got back to me. Their reply is as follows:

"We are unfortunately unable to offer a repair or replacement of the component in question for free as the whole machine is out of warranty. We cannot be held accountable for the times when components fail nor the fact that the machine has not been used for a certain period of time, which should in your thoughts be taken into account. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how long the machine has or hasn’t been used for, the system is out of warranty and was already by 3 months when the request was made to send the machine back for repairs.

"The cost of collection and redelivery cannot be refunded as again this is part of the service of repairing the machine."

So a reasonable person setting out their counter-argument.

They still don't address my primary point, which is: they haven't given me any evidence to suggest that this was not an inherent fault with the graphics card. They haven't sent me, e.g. a report which says that it was accidental damage that I just didn't know occurred, or anything to explain why the graphics card has died after two years and three months. The only evidence I do have, i.e. the tech's report, implied that there was a fault with the graphics card.

So - am I justified in pursuing this further? Because I seriously feel like they are trying to fob me off.

Plus, I still haven't got a straight answer (and may never get one) as to if they think a quality graphics card should break after two years and three months?

  Woolwell 21:54 29 May 2014

Components fail and regrettably, as far as I am aware, there isn't a specific time period (it could be almost immediately or after years). Your laptop is out of warranty and I think that you will not get anywhere further. I don't think that they are trying to fob you off.

  wee eddie 22:09 29 May 2014

The sad thing is that, had you taken it into a Specialist and got a Report, before you sent it to them. You might have had firmer ground to stand on.

As it stands, Woolwell has the definitive answer.

  alanrwood 09:40 30 May 2014

You might have an argument that the goods were not of merchantable quality and did not last as long as should be expected for such an item. In general failures will take place within a short time of being new after which failures are very low for a long period until wear out starts to increase the rate of failure. (This called the Bathtub curve. This implies that there are failures at any time during the lifetime of a product but that for the majority of that time the failure rate is low after the initial "burn-in" period. I am undecided as to whether a court would consider 30 months as a reasonable life time for a product. I would suggest you take this up with trading standards or take some legal advice as to what is current accepted standards.

  Mr Mistoffelees 11:34 31 May 2014

Now that the graphics card has been replaced, I would think it impossible to prove a claim that the original had an inherent fault. Furthermore, you don't say how much use the laptop has had, where you used it, ie on table, lap or on a stand or whether you made sure the ventilation openings and cooling fan were kept free of dust and obstructions.

  R3von 21:33 01 Jun 2014

Thanks to everyone who has replied, it's good to get your opinions, so thank you for them.

I think this will be my key take-away point from this whole affair:

"The sad thing is that, had you taken it into a Specialist and got a Report, before you sent it to them. You might have had firmer ground to stand on."

I will definitely do this in future just in case the manufacturer refuses to repair, as in this case, so I have legally permissible evidence.

"you don't say how much use the laptop has had, where you used it, ie on table, lap or on a stand or whether you made sure the ventilation openings and cooling fan were kept free of dust and obstructions."

So I have owned the laptop for two years and four months now; the fault became manifest after two years and three months. I would estimate the use at the time of the fault as one year and eight months' usage, on average gaming for an hour or two every day over that time period. I always use any laptop on a desk in my room, which I clean weekly. I make sure there are no obstructions for the fans as I have had problems with previous laptops overheating. Every so often I clean out the dust.

My feeling at this point is that I am unlikely to get any farther with PC Specialist due to my lack of evidence and the extreme difficulty of obtaining any at this stage. However, I do still believe that I was supplied with a faulty product, as previous laptops of mine have always worked for five plus years without problems. More pertinent to this laptop, I have treated it very well, it has not been subject to any damage (and there is no other possible cause that PCS have suggested to me), and the cost - £1700+ - creates a reasonable expectation that it will be reasonably durable if treated well and in normal use.

I spent that kind of money because I wanted to have a laptop that would not only last for five or six years, but remain able to play new games for that time period. It has not even achieved the first of these objectives.

So, outside of the issue of whether or not you think PC Specialist should repair it (and you know what I think), there is unquestionably a very big question mark over the quality of products that PC Specialist supplies. Personally, due to the problems this product has caused me and the character of the customer support I have received, I regret buying from PC Specialist and I will not be doing so again. Clearly I encourage everyone to make their own choice (and some people will, I am sure, have had good experiences with this company), but I would urge caution when dealing with PC Specialist. It is worth considering how much you are willing to spend on a product that may break after two years and three months - to which PC Specialist's reaction will be that it has lived its natural life - and life support will cost you £396.

I hope I have been balanced and fair - I have tried to just put across the facts before then adding my opinion. For me it's probably going to be a disappointing outcome, but everyone can and will have their own opinion on these things.

  wee eddie 22:01 01 Jun 2014

Thanks for the latest post. This is the first indication of the nature of your machine.

At that price point, it has to be fairly close to the bleeding edge. Such equipment is always likely to be a bit more temperamental than the cheaper, tried & tested models and, as a Gamer, you may have been running it at close to its designed capabilities.

Much as I sympathise with you. I think that you're on a looser.

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