Thursday, October 5, 2006

Ripped off again

Last year, I had to buy a new computer.  Fry's knew what I planned to use it for and didn't talk me out of the Compaq.
Within a couple months, the Compaq died, and Fry's technician couldn't get even a flicker of power, i.e., the entire power system was fried. 
They gave me a better Compaq as a loaner.  Ten days later, that one also died, also of a power problem.  Took that one back to Fry's, with some new information that I had from several sources, including a professional geek, that Compaq is known for inadequate power supplies, and I should consider myself fortunate that neither of them caught fire (as many other people have experienced).  Compaq themselves told me I should turn it off for a portion of every 1/2 hour to avoid overheating ... oh, yeah, there's an efficient way to do business.
Fry's wanted to give me yet another Compaq as a loaner, but I couldn't risk alienating a third client in two weeks if that one also fried.  They wouldn't give me anything but another Compaq, so I refused another loaner and bought a Toshiba.
Compaq was willing to send me a new computer under the warranty UNTIL they heard that I had taken it to Fry's repair department.  Oh, if I'd sent it directly back to them, they would've replaced it, but because I took it to Fry's and Fry's sent it to them (basically untouched, since it was under warranty and therefore would be repaired by Compaq), Compaq declared the warranty void. 
At the point last year that my life was in upheaval because I'd been thrown out of my own home, and had cleaned until I'd made myself sicker, I got a letter from Fry's that if I didn't pick up the computer in 30 days, they'd exercise their rights under mechanic's lien, which I understood to mean that they would sell it.  Since I didn't really want the computer, and getting permission to move back into the house was my top priority, I didn't make it to Fry's in that 30 days.   It was fine with me if they sold the computer and gave me the proceeds.
However, I've never gotten the proceeds, and an attempt to have Mastercard backcharge them for the original purchase price got nowhere, so I had to file in Small Claims Court.
They called me this afternoon to "explain"that they donated it, and under mechanic's lien, they owe me nothing.  I'm not totally familiar with mechanic's lien law, so I will have to do some research, but as far as I know, if someone files a $1000 lien against your $1,000,000 house, they are only entitled to the $1000 ... not the whole value of the house.
And, since this repair was being done by the manufacturer under the warranty, the value of their mechanic's lien should be zero, therefore, I should be entitled to a payment of the entire fair market value of the computer if it had been sold as refurbished.  That Fry's chose to donate it rather than sell it doesn't let them off the hook for making sure that I have something for my money.
Clearly, I will never be dealing with Fry's again, and after what I've learned about the potential fire hazard, I will never buy another Compaq.