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Newegg refuses to repair defective laptop because user installed Linux (consumerist.com)
271 points by sequoia 1142 days ago | 159 comments



I am a Linux user, and I have wrecked laptops with it before. It is easy to overheat or otherwise abuse a laptop by having improper configs.

For example, I had a battery become unusable because Linux often failed to sleep when the lid was closed because some dialog box was blocking. It would run in the bag with no ventilation when I didn't realize it until the battery drained and it would fail to shutdown until the hardware fail-safes took over and I realized my backpack was too hot to hold. Did this a few times and the last time, the battery wouldn't charge anymore. After getting a new battery I became very conscientious about whether it actually was asleep before I put it in the bag.

I have had this happen in Windows before as well, in one case it would wake up if I forgot to turn off my Bluetooth mouse when I put it away. Since it was already closed, there was no trigger to go back to sleep so it would run itself dead in the bag and eventually the plastic near a hot component melted. Turns out there is an option in the Windows device manager to tell it not to wake on Bluetooth that prevents this.

However a defect in the factory-installed operating system that causes failure is something you have to warranty. A defect in the user-installed operating system is not. However, I have no idea how they could trace the problem to the operating system. Not sure how they would ever know that Linux is installed. Any good Linux user would wipe the hard disk before returning a computer to the manufacturer for repair :)

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This is an important point. It used to be that there really wasn't a whole lot of damage you could do to a machine with software, sure there was the 'set the monitor horizontal refresh to zero and burn up the flyback transistor' but that was about it. These days however, in an age of tightly managing clock speeds, heat, voltages, etc all under BIOS/driver control to maximize battery life, it is possible to not only damage but to completely brick a machine if it has either broken or malicious software running in 'ring 0'. And that puts people like NewEgg in a tight spot, having already to deal pretty evil stuff [1].

Then if you combine that with there is no way to 'restore' a laptop to its original OS install if you've re-partitioned and overwritten the 'recovery partition' on the hard drive. Nobody bothers to send recovery CDs any more, that is $3.85 in plastic they can't (or won't) put into the box. So now if you install Linux you've made it effectively impossible for the vendor to even attempt to start from a 'known good OS' and determine suitability. It does kinda suck.

That said, I prefer Amazon's policy as well and as more folks move there NewEgg will either adapt or die.

[1] Evil doer activity (documented) - get some bad memory (generally for free from some scrap pile, 'buy' a laptop, take its good memory out, put dead memory in, 'return' the laptop. Sad really. All the engineering effort that goes into thwarting the petty schemes of evil people.

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Am I the only person that images my manufacturer's HDD when I first get a new box? I thought that would be fairly standard operating procedure for any geek who wants to avoid this sort of crap.

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Hell, I do this twice when dealing with in-laws. The first time to make sure I can restore the OEM partition, and the second time so I can restore the thoroughly sanitized install when they filthy it up with malware and browser bars.

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No you are not, like others I typically swap the drive with an SSD so I can return to 'factory' easily. That generally however involves breaking the 'factory seal' on the bottom which for NewEgg is one of their deal breakers.

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This is why you buy Thinkpads. They've got a great warranty system, post the whole maintenance manual online, and don't void the whole warranty for single item changes (basically you change a hardware subsystem and you can't get warranty on that bit but the whole bit is still eligible)

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I'd double check that next time you buy a new ThinkPad. I broke the screen on mine recently, and chose to replace it myself after being quoted an eyewatering (nearly cost of laptop) amount to have it repaired. The tech support person told me in no uncertain terms this would totally void my warranty.

Just worth checking.

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If there are no warranty stickers, and you don't make any obvious changes or damage to the machine, you sometimes get away with 'breaking' the warranty. I've had this occur for a laptop that required opening to change the RAM (voiding warranty by all supporting documentation). I restored the original RAM before warranty, and they fixed it all the same.

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Maybe it's just for minor changes, simple user upgrades instead of huge replacements like the screen? shrug I've never had to warranty my Thinkpad anyways thanks to them being tanks.

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As a data point, the last 3 laptops I've bought (Toshiba, Toshiba, ASUS) did not require breaking any 'factory seal' to swap out the hard drive.

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Or pull the original HDD and replace it with a nice SSD. Should something happen, pop in the original HDD and away you go.

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"away you go" sans all your data.

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Away the computer goes to the RMA processor, sans all your data. This is bad how?

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Clonezilla was the first word that popped into my head when I read the original post. Also helps resale value to put the 'factory' OS back on with the recovery partitions &c.

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I am a Linux user for years now, and I have never even come close to wrecking anything with it with 'improper configs' or otherwise, on a laptop or desktop.

The problem you describe is not a matter of an 'improper config' wrecking a laptop due to the awful user-unfriendliness of Linux. It is a matter of you messing with something you didn't understand, jamming the machine in a bag to overheat, and then having to replace the battery.

There does not exist an operating system which is impervious to this kind of nonsense.

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What you say is completely incorrect.

Linux distributions (keyword: distributions) have often shipped in a default configuration which can result in damage from overheating. There's no need to accuse the OP of "messing with something he doesn't understand."

Vendors often perform QA on hardware to ensure that it operates properly in conjunction with an operating system. When hardware is designed such that it requires particular operating system behavior to prevent damage then it is absolutely reasonable to require that operating system be used to maintain the warranty. Closing the lid of a laptop is completely normal behavior -- and it's a fact that many linux distributions ship with a configuration that will not properly suspend the device, leading to potential damage.

This is not a matter of "user unfriendliness." This is primarily a matter of hardware vendors limiting their testing to the behavior of certain operating systems (and thus limiting their warranty -- you can't warranty what you haven't tested; what isn't well-specified). I wouldn't be surprised if Apple refused to warranty a device which had Windows installed on it.

There's no need to get religious here. It's merely an issue of vendor support, and hardware which relies on particular OS behavior to operate safely.

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Just to be clear, the issue has more to do with the vendor-supplied OS vs consumer-installed OS. My biggest overheating-when-should-be-sleeping issues have almost always been Windows on a Dell. But I have had it happen on a Cr-48 and MacBook as well.

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I recently discovered that bad software can really cause hardware to fail. I switched from using the proprietary AMD fglrx drivers to the open source radeon driver a few years back. For some time, my notebook has been running pretty hot after being powered on for a few hours, even when idle. I always put this down to a dust-blocked heat sink. When the problem persisted after cleaning out the fan and heatsink and replacing the thermal grease, I started to research other causes. Turns out that clock gating, a technique that clocks down the gpu when it is idle in order to save power and reduce heat output, is disabled by default in the open source radeon driver [1]. However, I discovered this too late - the constant overheating has already seems to have damaged the gpu to the point where random color artifacts appear on the screen and the system will freeze after being powered on for a few hours.

So as it turns out, Linux may really be bad for your hardware. Still, there's no way I'm going to stick with Windows on my new notebook.

[1] https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/ATI#Powersaving

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Linux is not bad for your hardware, misconfiguration is bad for your hardware.

Annecdotally, heavy graphic card use on any laptop (yes even running windows) will cause a heat death in a shorter ammuont of time than normally expected.

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No, in this case, Linux really is bad for your hardware. Reading gp's wiki link, it would seem the feature to clock down the GPU is disabled by default because it's still a work in progress. That would mean that although it works in a lot of cases, it's not yet truly dependable. And if it's not yet truly dependable, then it's not able to dependably care for the hardware in the best way possible. And as such, Linux can be bad for your hardware, though it isn't always.

Any rebuttal you might throw at this reality would make me to look at you more and more like this. :)

http://xkcd.com/644/

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Per your claim, some driver for some piece of hardware has a disabled feature which you can use to mess up your hardware.

So why don't you just freaking avoid enabling that feature?

Is it Linux's responsibility to absolutely prevent you from shooting yourself in the foot after taking very special effort to research the best way to blow it off?

Question: does OS X fully support every possible bit of hardware which you can technically make to run with it, with every feature you want? Is it absolutely impossible to shoot yourself in the foot with OS X?

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You misunderstood. The lack of the feature (of clocking down the GPU when it's not used) caused his issue. He did not enable it.

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>It is a matter of you messing with something you didn't understand, jamming the machine in a bag to overheat, and then having to replace the battery.

Wrong.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AsusZenbook#Suspend

>If this workaround not used, there have been reports that the laptop's memory controller setting may be screwed. After an incorrect suspend, if the corruption happens, many memory blocks starting with ~1G will be corrupt. Good way to see it is to use "memtest86+". The only way to fix controller setting is to open the case and plug off the battery. Please note that on this ultrabook the battery is not a user serviceable part and this could mean that by opening you can get your warranty void! If you start Windows or Linux with a corrupted controller, you will get system crashes or/and damaged file system. More info here: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=42728 and https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/962798

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I think almost everyone carries a laptop in a bag, and most don't have ventilation. The problem was that even though my linux configs were set (correctly) to sleep when closing the lid, it would often get prevented from sleeping by a program or driver that didn't respond properly to the sleep request. I did mention the case where Windows had a similar issue.

I was only trying to show that the OS and Software can play a big role in the health of the hardware. Software bugs can cause hardware failure, and a notebook not going to sleep when the lid is closed is usually a bug unless it is specifically configured to do that.

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Wrecking things with a default build is still an option with binary blobs and sneaky variant hardware. Our dev team standardized on the x120e's a while back; the first one or two were great, but the second batch had a serious flaw in about half of them -- the fan speed reported to the kernel is inverted. (How you invert a PWM count, I've got no clue.)

Same distro, same config, and half the batch has a death wish, shutting down the fan in response to increased CPU temp.

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The point he is making is Newegg shouldn't have to warranty a defect in a user-installed OS, not whether or not Linux is user friendly.

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Do you understand the meaning of the word "anecdotal"?

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She should contact Lenovo directly. I've fried my Lenovo T61 with overclocking and they still repaired it immediately. Additionally, they expressly stated to REMOVE THE HDD. This is obviously a cop out by Newegg, since any technician worth his salt could just run hardware diagnostics on it. According to the buyer, she did that AND booted a normal Windows and the errors persisted.

Didn't we just have an article about how great Amazons UX is? Well, i guess this is the Newegg version of that, just inverted.

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For every warranty repair I've ever done with a manufacturer they have asked for the HDD to be removed before sending the unit in. As a retailer, or maybe even just a drop shipper in some cases, I just don't see NewEgg doing anything other than replacements.

I certainly wouldn't expect, nor trust, Amazon to do this.

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Shouldn't it be the firmware's responsibility to prevent overcharging, overclocking, overheating, etc. - unless explicitly overridden?

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Yes it should. Blaming the OS is like blaming a userspace program for a kernel panic.

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In the brave new world of ACPI, the OS tells the firmware "I'll take care of that, trust me, I know what I'm doing". Your computer starts with fans at full speed for this reason, but once the OS assumes control, it's in control.

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Something that also happens often is that Linux has problems sending the hard drive to sleep properly and you end up with a "I'll stop and start it 3 times a minute" scenario which is able to wreck a HDD pretty quickly compared to normal usage

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A bit of a tangent but this is one of the top reasons I buy Apple laptops. Sleep/Wake is pretty much flawless. I occasionally had some hangs on wake back in Tiger or earlier versions of Mac OS, but never with Leopard or later.

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Weird, because every now and again my Macbook will just die after waking up. I also find that while initially it was really fast and worked great, it's now really slow and takes up to 10 seconds, while my linux laptop (which doesn't even have an SSD) wakes up pretty much instantly

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Is there anything suspicious in the system log? I'm guessing that you might have a kext (like for VMWare Fusion of VirtualBox) that's misbehaving when waking up.

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My apps crash frequently after I wake up on Lion.

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Some of the newer PCs aren't too bad with this. My desktop sucks with sleep, but the two laptops I use are pretty flawless (though one's battery is terrible). I haven't shut one down in 3 weeks, and the other in a week. They're pretty standard, too; the good battery life one was around $600.

Haven't used a Macbook, though, so can't compare.

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Both me and my father have had "sleep" incidents with our macbooks where the computer ran at full blast with the lid closed in our bags until they were too hot to touch. I'm on Lion now and I still occasionally have this problem. Apples are not immune, but I agree that they are the best at sleep and wake I've had so far.

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Happens to me all the time. I also have often the problem with a black screen after sleep :/

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I'm also a long-time Linux user and while I have seen Linux destroy hardware (X11 was misconfigured and fried an LCD back in the day), it is certainly not common and pretty difficult to do these days. I don't think the risk is high enough to justify voiding the hardware warranties completely.

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I've seen that happen with windows as well. Opened program wants to close, but needs to save or some such, laptop overheats. Sometimes it's just a lesson learned, I wouldn't say it was Linux that wrecked the laptops though.

I do find it interesting that newegg isn't using a CD loaded testing suite anyways, using windows PE or a DOS based environment. (like Eurosoft's PC-Check software.)

There's also the fact that it should take about, ten to fifteen minutes just to slip the hard drive out, hook it to an imaging workstation, and image the default OS over to it. (My imaging station takes 5 - 10 minutes). To the best of my understanding it's pretty much assumed that when you send stuff in you are waiving your right to have the same data sent back anyways.

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I have had this happen when I was running a XP mode virtual machine in a Windows 7 laptop. The Virtual Machine prevented the main OS from going to sleep.

It was surprising my backpack didn't catch on fire.

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Is it really that hard to engineer in hardware or bios-based failsafes? It seems like bad design to leave basic hardware safety issues to the OS.

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File a chargeback. Show your credit card company the return policy and how you didn't violate it, and you will get your money back.

This is precisely why you should always pay with a credit card online.

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I am not to familiar with credit cards and their fraud or return policies. Why exactly is it easier to refute charges with a credit card, more so than a debt card?

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I think it boils down to the Truth In Lending Act [1] requires credit card companies to provide more protections than the Electronic Fund Transfer Act [2] requires banks to provide. And according to Wikipedia, the TLA is ~10 years older than the EFTA, so at one time only credit card transfers were protected at all.

And regardless of the law, it kind of makes sense. A debit card transfers money directly from your account to the vendor's account. With a credit card they have to get the money from Visa, and Visa has to get the money from you. If you say, "This isn't what I wanted, I'm not paying," it doesn't matter with a debit card because the money is already gone. Visa isn't going to get screwed, so if you threaten not to pay, they're not going to give money to the vendor until it's settled.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_in_Lending_Act

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Fund_Transfer_Act

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What a nice explanation. Here's an FTC page that amplifies this:

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre04.shtm

This page relates to your maximum loss if you lose your card, but it also details that the two instruments are governed by different laws.

If you lose your credit card, your max liability is $50. But if you lose your debit card, there's a sliding scale of liability (going all the way up to, "your entire balance") depending on how soon you notify your bank.

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For a long time, there was no mechanism even to protest a charge on a debit card, so conventional wisdom has always been that credit cards were superior. Another poster here seems to be indicating that that's not the case any longer, but I haven't seen evidence of that claim yet.

From an outsider trying to reason why that's the case, this is what I've come up with: when you pay with a debit card, the money was yours, and now it's theirs: it's effectively an immediate transfer from your account to the recipient's account. When you pay with credit card, on the other hand, you promise the credit card company to pay some amount of money, and the credit card company promises to pay the merchant some amount of money. Credit card companies pay merchants in batches, not for each individual transaction, and so there's a significant amount of time before any money actually changes hands. Furthermore, even if you contest a charge after money has changed hands, the credit card company will simply withhold the contested amount from the next batch payment to the merchant, who is under contract with the credit card company to resolve the dispute appropriately or simply lose the money.

Credit card companies have a lot more leverage than individuals to lean on companies to respect their own return policies.

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While I agree with your story, I do not think the difference comes from credit/debit. I have a debit card and I do not get any credit with it. However it has a VISA logo and I can still successfuly make complaints to my bank to get transactions reversed. I think the benefits are thus provided by VISA/etc, regardless of what services your bank provides through the card, like credit.

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> I think the benefits are thus provided by VISA/etc, regardless of what services your bank provides through the card, like credit.

See my above reply - they may provide similar services as if as a "courtesy", but the legal obligations for both parties are very different with credit and debit cards (very much in the consumer's favor, if the consumer is using a credit card).

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> Credit card companies have a lot more leverage than individuals to lean on companies to respect their own return policies.

Not just leverage, but an obligation. Or rather, even if your debit card says Visa or Mastercard on it, they have no legal obligation to get your money back. You don't have an obligation to pay the merchant, but the impetus is on you to get your rightful money back (the debit card company may help, but they are not required to).

With a credit card, they don't exactly have an obligation either, but this time it works in your favor - it's the credit card's money, not yours, and while you still have no obligation to pay the merchant, this time it's the company's money that is on the line (the collateral, so to speak). So they will fight tooth-and-nail to get it back, because technically if they don't, they can't collect any money from you.

(They may still try, but then you have to weigh the cost of a legal battle with them as well).

Think of this in the context of theft/fraudulent use of your card, and you'll see why debit cards are very risky indeed. (Remember that, even if you manage to get chargebacks on your debit card, you may still be liable for the fees for the temporary, eventually-reversed overdrafts!)

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All new major debit cards come with the same ability to chargeback and coverage for bogus charges. But as mentioned elsewhere the major difference is that the debit card uses your money for a transaction and the credit card uses the bank's money. You could claim that the bank wants to get their money more than they want to get you back your money, but realistically it's probably more that the system is setup better currently for credit cards.

But the my vs. the bank's money is the reason I use my credit card almost exclusively for in person and online purchases. If I go to the Kwick-E-Mart, and pull out my PayPass (or other RFID) enabled credit card and someone snipes my credit card number from it as I swipe for cheetos, I'm fine if it's a credit card. They can run up 20k in charges on my credit card and I don't care (even if the credit card company doesn't stop it), I'll call my bank and tell them that they need to fix that, and probably go find a bad guy, also, I'm not paying that.

If they run up 20k in charges on my debit card before I or my bank notices, I am missing $20,000 from my account. Then I have to hope that the bank can and will fix it before my bills are due.

If used properly credit cards are month long interest free loans with no risk if someone steals the loaned money. Debit cards are wooden door to your bank account with a really aggressive, sleepy, deaf hound that you have to sic on the bad guys after you realize your money is gone.

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I've never had a debit card. Every time I've opened a bank account, I've asked for a plain ATM card with no Visa or MasterCard logo instead. It's safer because there's a mandatory PIN and an enforced daily withdrawal limit.

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A plain ATM carc might be very difficult to use to get money from your account in developing economies. We had issues with our MasterCard debit cards in Nicaragua.

"Visa, accepted everywhere," I always thought, "Yeah, and everywhere Visa is accepted so is MasterCard." Apparently, that is not the case.

Just FYI, if you're traveling to a developing nation, make sure that your ATM/debit card will work to extract cash from your account.

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It doesn't cost the credit card company any money to to a chargeback, they just shaft the merchant whether the chargeback is legit or not. It's not like the merchant is ever going to stop taking Visa or Mastercard -- they'd lose way too much business. On the other hand, consumers are much more likely to switch credit card vendors if they get a better deal or better service elsewhere.

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It is very possible though that doing this will result in blacklisting of your name/address/card from their systems. You generally don't want to do a chargeback on a merchant you ever want to deal with again at some time in the future.

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Interesting. I'll definitely have to consider changing my online purchasing practices.

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Because it is part of the agreement with Visa. You purchased something that came with an agreement, they didn't hold up their end so you can reverse the transaction. End of story.

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It kind of sucks from the vendor side. But, yes, there's a lot of power to the consumer.

Please be sure you legitimately feel that Newegg violated their return policy before exercising this power.

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A debit transaction processes as an EFT against your checking account. A credit transaction goes through your credit card company. You don't get the liability coverage Visa/Masetercard/Amex offer you when you pay with a debit card - its up to you and your bank to try and get your money back, not the big credit card companies' lawyers/fraud departments.

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Partly because it just is. Partly it is because with a debit card you would have to fight to get your money back whereas with a credit card the provider would have to fight either you or the retailer to get their money back if there is a dispute.

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Debit cards carry reversal rights as well - at least in the United States. It's simply a mechanism to protect credit and debit card holders against technical issues, quality issues, fraud, etc.

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Reference? This contradicts everything I've read up to this point and I'd like to verify it.

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http://whatconsumer.co.uk/visa-debit-chargeback/

Seems to have been big news in the UK. Having trouble finding the same for the US, though.

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The only time I tried to reqest a chargeback for a debit card (one order charged twice because of an application glitch in the card processor's system) the bank asked me to prove that I did not receive the goods. It's not easy to prove a negation.

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> Debit cards carry reversal rights as well - at least in the United States.

It's provided as a service sometimes, but the legal obligation is very different (essentially absent altogether), as are the incentives.

With a credit card, the 'default' is that you don't pay the credit card company (and you have no reason to), so they lose out on the money unless they get it back from the merchant.

With a debit card, the 'default' is that the merchant wrongfully holds onto the money, and unless they get it back, you lose out on the money. Since they have no legal obligation to settle that dispute even when the customer is in the right, they may not, in which case you (the debit card consumer) lose out.

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Way easier IMO and I have done both.

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For what it is worth I actually contacted newegg at http://help.newegg.com/app/ask/site/US/category/74 and asked them what they thought.

I'm a big fan of newegg and hope they continue to bring competition to amazon. I am hoping this is just a small oversight and it will be corrected shortly.

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I stopped being their fan when their return policies changed. Now there is something called "Restocking fee" and I have to pay for shipping?? I don't think so.

I use Newegg to research products but once I find what I am looking for, I search for the model on Amazon and end up purchasing there, knowing return policy is much better for customers.

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Heh, me too. Also, I just discovered http://pcpartpicker.com/ yesterday. Looks pretty cool. I might do my research there and buy on Amazon. I might feel a little less guilty. :) The restocking fee policy (which screams "shady retailer" to me) on Newegg is only reason I stopped shopping there.

OTOH, Newegg seems to have a much larger catalog of tech items than Amazon.

Also the search feature on Amazon is quite bad: try searching for '16 gb ram' and sort by price. It will insist on showing you 2 gb packs also.

Everything except the default sort order sucks. Which doesn't inspire confidence that Amazon isn't listing the items with the highest margins on top.

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Out of curiosity, how did you hear about pcpartpicker? (I created it, so I'm always interested to know how people find out about it. Hope you find it useful!)

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Saw a build on a post in the the hackintosh sub-reddit, the link to which was posted here on HN. Great site.

Since you're here, I'm going to file a bug. :) I just noticed that the following motherboard isn't showing an amazon price for me: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/gigabyte-motherboard-gaz68xud3h...

although amazon has it: http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-Intel-DDR3-Motherboards-GA-Z6...

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Thanks! I've fixed up the motherboard price for Amazon, though the price I list is when fulfilled from Amazon.com directly and not from their marketplace merchants.

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Nice website! Do you have any plans to add server hardware to the lists?

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Definitely. No ETA yet, but that is on the roadmap.

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Nice site, very useful. Do you scrape all your data?

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> http://pcpartpicker.com/

Built by an HNer: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1883123

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I love pcpartpicker. It's great to see someone reverse engineering the pc part sales cycle. The fact it helps people communicate complete builds and see compatibility between parts is a nice feature too

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Thanks, Alex. I've really appreciated the feedback and encouragement you've given me.

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I discovered the site because of this thread. Big thanks as I just picked up an I5-3570K with a $60 discount.

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Yeah I was surprised by those changes as well when I had to return something. The CSR I spoke to apologized then sent me a prepaid label and charged me no restocking fee.

So great customer service but the charges almost seem arbitrary when the CSR can just apologize and wipe them out...

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From their FAQ: Does Newegg.com pay the return shipping cost for defective merchandise? No, Newegg.com does not pay the return shipping cost for defective merchandise. We are not responsible for product defects, because we do not manufacture the products we carry.

However I had the same experience as you when trying to return a defective mouse:

Me: I'm not going to pay return shipping. CSR: Ok, we'll send you a shipping label.

It's confusing and arbitrary.

What's worse is that you have to return it to their CA facility and wait a couple of days for them to decide to ship out a replacement, which is a two week turn around time for customers on the east coast.

Overall Newegg's level of price competitiveness and service is slipping; I see no reason to order from them unless avoiding the sales tax on that order is worth it.

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Newegg.com does not pay the return shipping cost for defective merchandise. We are not responsible for product defects, because we do not manufacture the products we carry.

Under the Sale Of Goods Act 1979 in the UK, that's actually illegal.

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In some US states, too; many of our states have a code modeled on the Uniform Commercial Code. In Massachusetts, at least, all items come with an implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for purpose, e.g. that it's worth selling and useful. Sellers cannot legally waive those warranties.

As a buyer, my only responsibility is to allow the seller to pick up the item from me. If some site tries to pull a New Egg on me, I point them to the relevant laws, and make a very gracious offer - not only will I allow them to pick the item up, I'll even pack it all up for them in a box.

Lesson: Check your local laws before assuming that these "no returns" or "restocking fee" policies have any weight.

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> So great customer service but the charges almost seem arbitrary when the CSR can just apologize and wipe them out...

Only a fraction of total customers has your experience, so the cost -- marginal if only for a minor fraction prohibitive if for majority of users -- of keeping you happy as a customer is marginal. But they can't do that for everyone.

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Yeah I asked a CSR about this. They said their policy is that they don't offer one but will give one without questions if you ask. I guess it's to reduce costs by charging people who won't bother asking. It is a strange policy, but I can live with it.

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Wow ... I've spent thousands of dollars on merchandise from Newegg and it's a bit sad that it may have come to an end. What I really appreciated was competitive prices and excellent service. Perhaps you can't have both and stay in business.

It's a very sad day.

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Likewise, I've spent thousands. Stopped buying with newegg when they sent me a defective HDD and told me to RMA it with Western Digital.

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What? Amazon is no stranger to restocking fees on electronics.

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Can you elaborate? Both pages below imply that you get 100% if you return within 30 days.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_r...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_9...

In contrast, the newegg page mentions the restocking fee clearly (2nd item).

http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/ReturnPolicy.aspx

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I bought an Acer Aspire Timeline laptop on Sept 16, 2009. I returned it on October 10. Amazon took a 15% "Partial Refund Deduction" off the refund amount.

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Thanks for the info. I guess it's more complicated than I thought.

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What gets me is "system cannot be resold as received" - I mean, sure, a customer should wipe their data off the disk... but would NewEgg really ship a system to a new customer without doing a fresh install of the OS if it was running Windows?

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Don't know about NewEgg, but I have personally received a windows PC from Staples (UK) that already had a user account for 'dave' on it.

I am not a Dave.

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And so the day has come in which Newegg has become just another internet retailer.

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Their site has been steadily getting more annoying to use for a while now. It feels like they want to be Amazon.

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Seems like the opposite, at least as far as returns go. See this recent example of a customer's experience returning an item to Amazon: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4091840

Also, I think few would agree with you that Amazon is annoying to use or that wanting to be like Amazon is a "bad thing".

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Who wouldn't?

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There's money to be made in providing the best experience for purchasing computer equipment, which is what Newegg used to provide. Newegg has lost the focus necessary to maintain that experience; e.g. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA01200095...

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But the good bits of Amazon are the customer service and product delivery.

The Amazon website is - and I say this gently for any Amazon workers reading - fucking awful, a hateful experience. (In the UK.)

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Wanting to be and being able to be are vastly different things.

Trying to be Amazon when that's not a feasible goal is a bad idea.

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You should hope to be better than Amazon.

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Yeah, except amazon has always had amazing customer service, at least for me. That said, I doubt I've spent less than $2k per year there any of the last 5 years since with prime amazon became the source of everything we used to buy at target.

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Their prices seem far less competitive in comparison to other retailers than they were about two years ago.

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I think the kind of price disparity they enjoyed was bound to dry up. There's only so much innovation and undercutting a retailer can do before they're just not profitting any more.

My local brick and mortar computer store checks most of their prices against Newegg regularly, has a "will match anything on newegg 100%" all over their ads and in their store, etc. I don't use Newegg because I can get the same thing in 30 minutes instead of 3 days, without paying S+H, at (or better than) the NewEgg price.

Now, if y'all want a retailer who is KILLING IT on accessories and wires and offering zomg-level discounts on quality goods: www.monoprice.com is your home!

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I always wonder wether an incorrectly configured ubuntu kernel or drivers could actually damage modern computers. I remember viruses from the 80's that supposedly could kill the machine by asking the bios to increase and decrease voltages or hdd spin in such a way it would deal physical damages to the machine. Might have been a computer legend though.

Note: When returning laptop, desktop, smartphone or anything I always tend to be anal retentive and put everything back in place, including software and OS so there are no arguing wether the problem is software or hardware (obviously I only need to send back hardware defective devices).

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Tangential to this story but anecdotally I've been hearing of lots of situations recently where newish laptops have had screen problems soon after purchase and the brands involved have varied (ASUS, Lenovo, Acer, etc). And by "screen problems", I mean electrical ones either with the panel itself or with the controller, resulting most often in parts of the screen or the entire screen dancing towards full white.

I wonder if there is some shared panel manufacturer who has been dropping the ball lately?

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It's probably just a coincidence. Most electronics have a manufacturing failure rate so these things can happen.

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And a screen problem is pretty much obvious to anyone straight away.

Intermittent problems on anything else will either not be noticed by ordinary users or blamed on Windows!

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I had a really bad experience in the past with Newegg and their lower levels of customer service. At one point I documented and blogged it, but that blog is no longer up unfortunately.

Anyway, the good news is that once I got in touch with someone higher up the chain they were like, "That never should have happened" and worked to make it right. It just took a ton of kicking and screaming to get there, which really wasn't worth it on my part, but in the end, they did the right thing.

One thing I'm seeing more and more is that companies are holding back their lower tier support employees from actually being helpful. For example, have you ever had one of those "Instant Online Chat Support" things help you out? No, they are always so unempowered its not even funny.

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I've used an "Instant Online Chat Support" for TurboTax (answering questions) and at my auto repair company (to schedule appointments). Worked fine for me. When done well, it can be vastly superior to phoning in. But like you said... the people on the other side need to be empowered.

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I used the online chat support for an Asus laptop whose monitor went out after a few months. I kept asking if this was a human or a machine because it felt incredibly automated. But in the end, it was very helpful and I got the information I needed to ship the laptop on their dime and got the laptop back a week or two later and things were great.

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I've used Typefrag's livechat feature and it was very useful for finding out information about why my ventrilo server was down and when it'd be back up. Which is what instant connection services are for in my opinion, contacting to ask questions and get answer immediately not to get things sorted at a level that would require any sort of changes.

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I have had bad customer service from NewEgg in the past I'm not surprised by this. Now I buy almost everything off Amazon and only go to Newegg for stuff that can't be DOA (cables and such)

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I would definitely shop monoprice over newegg for cables.

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Not that Newegg sells them, but I've had bad luck with Monoprice's analog cables (1/4" or XLR).

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Cables can certainly be DOA. Miswired jacks, broken strands... these things happen.

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When wiring our datacenter, buying bulk ethernet cables, you'll find a bad cable every 100 or so cables. Still beats the failure rate of making cables yourself.

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On the other hand, if I'm wiring them myself, I can just cut the end off and try again, since I've got a whole pile of ends right there, and the equipment to do it. If I'm relying on the bought cables, it could be quite painful to re-run the wire.

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But that doesn't preclude the possibility of keeping a box of jacks and a crimp tool, just in case.

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Note that the NewEgg's refusal is based on the original OS being missing rather than a new OS being installed according to that email. My guess is that the user formatted the HD before installing Linux. Most OEM PCs now come with a recovery partition which is used to perform a factory reset. If the user erased this partition, then NewEgg would be unable to reset the device to its initial state for testing. It would be similar to the user returning the device by not returning important CDs.

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This is not the community they want to alienate.

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Agreed. Surprising response from Newegg - we've had no problem returning machines that were defective here at work. Filing a chargeback appears to be the best solution in this case.

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True, and it just goes to show you need to treat ALL of your customers with respect because you never know who are the ones who can Hurt or Help your business.

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NewEgg has really lost their way over the past 2 or 3 years. I have gone from don't even check anywhere else to checking NewEgg last. Amazon almost always beats them on price now.

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Is it at all possible that Linux Mint in some way collided with a driver or some other critical infrastructure?

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My thought exactly. I'm kinda curious as to what harm linux floffin off can do. Don't get me wrong, I still use and love Linux, but there is always a problem with linux, so far it's always in software/doesn't affect hardware, but I guess it's possible to do damage to the hardware?

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I have never heard of the mere act of installing Linux damaging any hardware, ever. I would like to hear substantiation before I start believing that.

Back in the day you could hose your CRT by trying to set a graphics mode it didn't support, but that would take a special effort to do.

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http://lwn.net/Articles/300202/

Can't find the followup that explains the actual bug, but it had to do with the kernel unmapping some unneeded memory and ...blah... and whacking random garbage into the eeprom of the network card. All you had to do was boot linux once and your network card would never work again, at least until you went to the trouble of flashing it.

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The post is titled "e1000e and the joy of development kernels"

This is hardly a matter of 'improper config'!

Why on EARTH are you running DEVELOPMENT KERNELS (not just talking about newish kernels) on your bare hardware? Is that something normal users would do? Why? How would they even acquire and install them?

How do you expect to ensure that bleeding edge open source development drivers cannot be used to do stupid things? Some kind of legal prohibition on making any drivers until you have been vetted by some central committee?

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??? You wanted an example of linux damaging hardware, I gave you one. I'm sorry it's not to your liking.

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I have had HP India refuse servicing my laptop (its speakers went kaput) because I had VLC installed. According to them, greater than 100% sound amplification in VLC was to blame.

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It doesn't matter who the vendor is, extended warranties from the retailer are braindead.

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It was an RMA, not an extended warranty repair. But I agree with you anyway.

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This is NewEgg's chance to either gain or lose 1% of its customer base. Since margins are so tight on computers, and NewEgg costs for software support will decline, isn't this a no-brainer from a business perspective?

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I think their customer base of people who use Linux, might want to use Linux, or who are just plain disgusted by this behaviour is way way more than 1%.

Remember that the people who will be upset by this (techies) are the same ones who put NewEgg on the map to start with.

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Newegg used to be awesome - I have spent thousands in the last 6 years with them, but their customer service is terrible. Their customer service pretty much reads a script and keep repeating the same thing.

I think all companies have a life cycle: 1. New company, so customer is treated well/ 2. Company grows and becomes successful 3. Company needs to show ever increasing profits. Starts taking shortcuts to save money, and starts to ignore what made them great in the first place.

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I now try to buy all my electronics at Amazon instead of NewEgg or TigerDirect due to the poor return policies at Newegg and TigerDirect with DOA items. NewEgg used to be better than it is now but they have gone downhill in the past two years. TigerDirect has always had poor return policies.

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The policy quoted states you can't return it even if it is opened.

"The following conditions are not acceptable for return, and will result in the merchandise being returned to you: Any desktop PC, notebook or tablet PC that has been opened"

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Looks like they've fixed this specific problem.

http://consumerist.com/2012/06/newegg-no-well-totally-take-r...

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I don't buy at newegg or have any other incentive to side with them but... in my past experiences, Linux didn't really have the most compatible hardware drivers. Am I the only one to think that?

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this is a thinkpad. they've always been the top-end linux hardware of choice. i've had thinkpads for decades with linux. as long as you select the right wireless card there are no issues - distros even have special packages for thinkpad compatability.

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Not just that, in fact, a guy from Canonical commented on reddit saying that this specific model was certified for ubuntu.

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It's not relevant; the owner tested it with a Windows install on a USB stick to ensure Linux wasn't the issue. And while Linux doesn't always have the most compatible drivers, I've never seen them fail in that kind of way.

Anyway, the problem here is that Newegg are refusing to replace it simply because of the presence of Linux; by far the most likely explanation is that the hardware really is defective and Linux isn't at fault.

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Is there anything in the returns policy to prevent you installing your own custom drivers under Windows? From the quoted bit, it didn't look like it... If that's okay, why shouldn't installing Linux be okay?

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They need to put presser on Newegg managers. It's simply ridiculous.

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Couldn't she just reinstall windows and send it back?

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That would depend on how dead the machine is.

Let's assume we're talking about a dead screen, motherboard or power supply.... it's going to be hard to re-install windows then.

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You could get a second hard drive. Pull the first one out, put the second one in, do whatever you want. When/if it's time to return, put the first drive back in. They'll wonder why you've barely used it but whatever.

I did this when laptops were $1500. Now that they are $400 it's usually not worth the bother.

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The purchaser would have good reason to zero out the drive before return. That would protect personal data and coincidentally not leak any additional usage info to the supplier.

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Sure, if she wanted to go through the hassle, and paying the shipping.

Not to mention, the laptop may not have come with an installation disk.

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I bought 10 identical Shuttle PCs from newegg.

One was DoA and I returned it with an RMA - they sent it straight back to me because I had returned it in the wrong box. The serial # on the machine didn't match the barcode on the box!

They seriously expect you to keep the individual box for every unit? Or are they just a scam that try and stop you every returning anything?

Anyway - haven't bought anything from them since.

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If you had said you were returning a two year old unit for warranty repair, and it was denied because you did not use the original box, I would sympathize with you. Expecting you to keep all your boxes for years would clearly be ridiculous.

But for a DoA unit? You couldn't keep the box for a few hours or days? Seriously?

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Picture this: You bought 10 of something, all identical items (minus some sn on the box). You throw away the packaging material for 8 or 9 of the 10 items (remember, it's all identical). You then have a device DOA/fail that isnt the EXACT packaging you saved. What difference would it make to newegg take the item out of the box and scan the barcode inside? A little customer service goes a long way.

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I kept one box and the styrofoam in case I had to return a unit.

I remember Sun once sold mini box versions of their workstations (rather than the original pizza box) - their claim was that at the square footage cost of a Wall St trading floor the machines would pay for themselves in 'n' years.

Then there was a note on the pallet sized box that the machine + 19"CRT came in - saying that you had to keep it for warranty returns!

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If you would like to petition Dell to start to include Ubuntu/Fedora/RHEL on all of their machines and stop the whole "Dell Recommends Windows 7" monopoly cartel join this idea on ideastorm and let's try to get our voices heard...

Dell Ideastorm Multiboot Linux: http://www.ideastorm.com/idea2ReadIdea?id=0877000000006ixAAA...

Dell Linux & Windows on all Laptops/Desktops: http://www.ideastorm.com/idea2ReadIdea?Id=087700000008iglAAA...

Dell Sputnik Ubuntu Laptop: http://www.ideastorm.com/Idea2SessionIdea?v=1339521444920...

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Newegg: party like it's 1999...

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downvoters clearly haven't been linux users cca 1999...

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