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Linux keeps man from receiving warranty repairs

By - Source: Tom's Hardware UK | B 9 comments

London, England - A British company called PC World has denied a repair request on a physical case defect for an Acer notebook only because it had Linux installed on it. The owner is currently seeking legal advice and has contacted a local CAB (citizen’s advice bureau) to make sure PC World is not acting improperly. His notebook remains unrepaired.

When 25-yr old Morris took his five month old notebook back to the same retail store he bought it from for warranty repairs, he expected it to be fixed promptly. Purchased with cash on March 29, the notebook came with the standard one-year manufacturer’s warranty which included hardware. The notebook is an Acer Aspire 9301AWSMi with a 17" display and is powered by a single-core AMD Turion processor. It originally came with Windows Vista Home Premium installed, though he’s now installed Sabayon/Gentoo.

He was having a problem with the screen’s left hinge. It was broken internally and a small crack has formed in the case. He owned a similar notebook previously with the same problem. The defect caused the crack to grow to the point where it eventually caused his notebook to completely fail. Morris believes this crack will also spread, causing the machine to eventually fail.

When two PC World technicians looked at his machine they agreed the hinge was broken and needed repair. In fact, they even told Morris this hinge problem is a very common issue with notebooks. He then expected them to take the unit away and repair it. But that’s not what happened.

They told him it couldn’t be repaired because it had Linux on it. Linux installations are not covered by warranty requests. He was told in no uncertain terms that Linux was the exact reason he would not be receiving any warranty service. He was told this by two separate technicians and, after being denied and asking to speak the manager, the notebook still remains unrepaired.

This story was originally posted yesterday and has already sent shock-waves across the Internet. The idea that a known hardware defect could not be repaired because of an owners choice to install an alternate OS is really something. Especially when Morris tells Tom’s Hardware he was not informed at the time of sale that installing an alternate OS would void the warranty.

A follow-up post was made today by Morris indicating he’s received countless emails offering advice and support on how best to proceed. He informed Tom’s Hardware that although he’s currently unemployed, he is in the process of seeking legal advice. He’s also contacted a local citizen’s action bureau but has not received a response yet.

The owner’s position is really very simple. Hardware failures, and specifically those which are known to be common like hinge problems, should not be denied because of any software installed. And especially so when that software would have no bearing on the defect manifesting itself through normal use. Linux did not contribute to this problem as it would’ve also happened if any OS was installed. And yet, PC world is denying warranty service for that reason.

It had been suggested to him that he temporarily re-install Vista to get the machine repaired, then go back to Linux. However, he informed Tom’s Hardware that it’s now been logged in their system that he has Linux installed. As such, his warranty options are gone.

The two PC World technicians who helped Morris agreed that the Linux policy was unbelievable. They even laughed about it in a sort of "we’re with you, man. Nothing personal, it’s just policy, you know" type of way. And yet Morris now sits with a notebook continuing to grow worse through normal use. It may eventually fail as his previous notebook did. And if it does, based on PC World’s Linux policy, he’ll be left out in the cold with only a broken notebook and bad memories of PC World to comfort him.

Morris has promised to keep Tom’s Hardware posted for any relevant developments. PC World is a sister company with Currys and other UK based retailers out of London.

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  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , 13 September 2007 21:24
    OK folks its time for a mass boycott of PC World in the UK... I'll start the ball rolling by personally committing to the plan!!

    (Actually since they sell over-priced crap its not that much of a sacrifice :-)

    Bob Wya
  • 0 Hide
    leexgx , 14 September 2007 10:24
    the notebook came with the standard one-year manufacturer’s warranty which included hardware.

    Re read that line 2-3 times (should not be PCworlds problem any way)

    i am suprrised that PCworld are even bothing to look at it as the warranty with Acer or Most laptops End after 16 days with the place you got it from he should contact Acer as its them who he has the warranty with

    whats daft is Haveing linux installed can not Brake an laptop in this way

    thay should of loged the laptop as WIndows
  • 0 Hide
    Jenny_L , 14 September 2007 21:15
    Surely to goodness retailers know that when we buy notebooks, computers etc that we are going to install more software.

    I wonder if this means that if I use an alternative washing powder to the one I received with my washing machine, I will lose my gaurantee???

    This is a rediculous scenario.
  • Display all 9 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    channelD , 28 September 2007 11:42
    Hi there! I work for Acer here in the states, and I assume that Acer UK operates in much the same way. Calling Acer direct would not have gotten him and different of a result. We ONLY support our units with whats comes pre-installed. If your computer came with Vista and you down-grade to XP (or vice versa), you are SOL on getting any type of support from us.

    Now, this may sound wacky to you people who are not tech reps... but think about it. somebody calls in with Vista on their computer and it came with XP and they can't get any drivers to work. You want me to waste my day trying to help somebody who jumped into something way over their head.

    And yeah, maybe it was a hardware defect. problem is, we run a full system diagnostic on every computer that comes in for repair. Guess what those programs are designed for... :D rumroll: WINDOWS. So yeah. We don't support Linux. At all. And while it may result in some people having situations like this, it saves the people who deal with a hundred tech issues a day a lot of headaches.

    That said, here's a tip: REMOVE THE FUCKING DRIVE. Fucking linux users who aren't wise enough to send the computer in for repair without the hard drive? Use your head. If they raise a fuss, feed them some bullshit about not wanting them to have access to your 'very sensitive' data. At the official Acer depot they have generic drives that they use on repair units that come in without a drive. It's perfectly legit. Of course you'll get the, "if it's a hard drive or software issue, that will limit our ability to fix the problem." disclaimer, and then you go "Yeah, I get that." and you're done.

    Seriously people. Use your head. Don't let such minor inconveniences screw you up this badly.
  • 0 Hide
    prommunications , 29 September 2007 14:12
    Under british consumer law, if a fault appears within 6 months of purchase, it is assumed that the fault was inherent at the time of purpose.

    All new goods must be of merchantable quality and fit for their purpose.

    Pc World may have their own rules and warranty specifications but they are committing an offence if their rules actually go against consumer law

    Sue the bastards they wil lose
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 10 May 2008 23:22
    Terrifying, the long tenacles of Microsft and American capitalism reach all the way to Britains shores and gives it to a Brit, right up the ass! Sometimes monopoly is a bad word, in this case it's disgusting. Microsoft should be boycotted for the trouble it has caused. Even we Canadians are not free of this monster! They influence all computer purchases in this country too. I hope Ubuntu kicks Microsoft's ass good!
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 18 June 2008 08:21
    That must be the dumbest thing I have ever heard.
    If I was in that situation I'd have sued the service/company.
    1. The damage should've been repaired, regardless of what OS the owner has installed.
    2. The people at the service department had no legal right to ask about the operating system or anything that was virtually on that computer. the computer could've simply removed the hard-drive or encrypted/password protected it. That's like saying "What OS do you have installed, and while we're at it, mind if you share all your company's secrets with us?".
    3. Whoever made that policy is a damn retard. No offense. That's like saying that Linux can manipulate the hardware to a point at which it defies the Laws of Physics and that it can cause the hinge to spontaniously combust...
    I am very disappointed. I expected a lot better...
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , 19 June 2008 02:21
    Wakey, wakey folks... This news item was posted 6 months ago...

    Anyone buying a PC from PC World is dumb anyways...


  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , 19 June 2008 02:26
    Opps I mean 9 months... Come on... Leave it!!