Disappointing Quality Control & Customer Service at Toshiba

  bunzena 21:40 15 Feb 2012

Toshiba Portege R830-138 and Docking Station strong text

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 parts 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.

  Forum Editor 22:40 17 Feb 2012

"I hope anyone out there contemplating buying a Toshiba might think again."

I think we need to get a couple of things straight.

First of all, it's unreasonable to suggest that others should 'think again' about buying a Toshiba laptop because of your one bad experience. Toshiba laptops are renowned for their reliability and build quality - I've had several, and not a trace of a problem with any of them.

Secondly, you say that you are fully aware of your rights under the Sale of goods act, but it doesn't seem to me that you are. Your purchase contract was with the retailer from whom you bought the machine - Toshiba has no obligation to you at all in this respect. Their contract was with the retailer, not with you.

You state that "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." Which isn't the situation at all. The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 came into force on 31st March 2003.

The regulations state that if a fault develops in your computer (in this case) within six months of the date of purchase it will be assumed that said fault existed at the point of purchase, unless the seller can demonstrate otherwise, and that you have the right in such a situation to require the seller to repair or replace the faulty goods, or to reduce the price of the goods by an appropriate amount (by way of refund), or to rescind the contract altogether.

Note that you do not have recourse to the manufacturer under consumer legislation - any dealings with the manufacturer are at your own risk.

Toshiba does not have a duty to replace your laptop under current consumer law, and any work which the company does on the machine is at its own discretion, and would only be carried out as a warranty repair.

You should have persevered with the seller, for it is the seller who is liable to you in law.

  Forum Editor 22:42 17 Feb 2012

This thread properly belongs in our Consumerwatch forum, and I'll transfer it from the Business forum now.

  bunzena 18:27 19 Feb 2012

Thanks for your reply Forum Editor.

Let me be crystal clear. I am fully aware of my rights under the Sale of Goods Act. But I am not sure you have read or understood the tone and content of my post.

Which is really disappointing.

My argument is with the response from Toshiba and whether that is reasonable – given their status as a respected manufacturer of premium laptops. My reason for the post was to put in the public domain, my personal experiences so that others might be able to formulate their own opinion and potentially avoid finding themselves in the same position.

So it all comes down to this.

If you’d spent £1,200 on a laptop for it to develop multiple faults – some of which weren’t fixed by the first repair – would you be prepare to give it another go? Because – under the Sale of Goods Act – that is the only option I realistically have.

Would you be prepared to accept losing it for another two weeks?

To have it come back with scratches on the chassis and fingerprints smeared over the screen?

To have to take time off for it to be collected and returned by courier?

If you are – then I’m a whinger. If not then, perhaps, take note of my experiences.

Keep in mind that these issues haven't emerged after 3 years of ownership - but after just 3 months. I’ve been left with an inadequately protected PC (losing the fingerprint reader on the eve of an overseas business trip) and having to ask my clients to put my presentation on their ‘laptops’ because my screen has failed (again). Red face and gnashing of teeth.

Of course Toshiba can use the Sale of Goods Act as a get-out-of-jail card. Of course Toshiba can say that they will repair it under the three year warranty. But is this reasonable? Seems to me that the hassle of the faults are being compounded by further hassle to me and the uncertainty of a second repair. Surely there is some moral responsibility that Toshiba should live up to in this situation. The retailer sold it to me – but Toshiba made this pup in the first place.

Of course this could happen with any laptop. They are complex things – and maybe I’ve just been unlucky.

Actually unlucky twice – if you count the problem with the docking station.

But when my nine month old iPad developed a fault it was replaced next day at the Genius Bar.

So all I’m asking for is a solution offered by one of Toshiba’s competitors.

And that’s perhaps the biggest point of all. No matter how good a laptop or a computer is going to be – if the service and commitment of a manufacturer isn’t what you might reasonably expect – you might – like me – end-up regretting what you’ve bought.

And that's where I've been most surprised by Toshiba.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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