Flickr: andrew_cosand
Flickr: andrew_cosand

Like a lot of people, I kind of consider most netbook warranties to be unimportant. Sure, most netbooks comes with a limited protection plan good for somewhere between 30 days and a year. But I can’t imaging paying $70 or more to extend the protection on a laptop that I bought for $300. If you plan on keeping the netbook for a few years and it does break, it might almost be cheaper to buy a new one than to pay for a long-term protection plan.

That said, many PC makers and retailers do offer extended service plans for netbooks. And it would be nice if their terms were easy to understand and enforce. One Best Buy customer sent in a horror story to The Consumerist today, detailing his frustration with an $80 protection plan he purchased for his netbook.

Long story short, the touchpad and power adapter stopped working and he wanted Best Buy’s Geek Squad to fix it. They refused, saying that the warranty had been voided when he wiped Windows and installed Linux on his netbook. While I could certainly see a Linux distribution causing problems with a touchpad if the proper drivers are absent, I don’t know of any situation where a change in software would make the power supply stop working.

What’s more, when he reinstalled Windows, the touchpad still didn’t work properly.

Ultimately, it looks like this problem may have been confined to a single store, because a call to Best Buy’s customer support elicited a guarantee that another store would allow him to return the computer, and he got a $25 gift card to boot. But that hardly covers the frustration.

It’s also worth noting that some warranties actually may be voided if you install Linux or another operating system.

So, if you’re thinking about investing in an extended warranty, you should probably ask yourself how much effort you’re willing to put into dealing with tech support or customer service folks.

Of course, maybe I’m just being cynical. What have your experiences with extended warranties been like? Sound off in the comments.

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11 replies on “What exactly does your netbook warranty cover?”

  1. I would never buy such a thing on anything relatively cheap and without looking into the record of the company. I hate dealing with customer support.

  2. Warranties are a rip off. ~85% of a extended warranty is PROFIT. Self insure by putting the amt of warranty in a savings account. Soon you will have soo much in that acct that you won’t need to add more until something breaks.

    This gives you all the protection PLUS flexibility to do other things with that money if you chose.

  3. Dual boot your Windows and LINUX – only turn off TCP/IP on the Windows “machine” so that you don’t need to worry about that? One way to do it, is if your machine comes with installable drivers, then reinstall the OS ( a good exercise), then when it is time to install the device drivers, do not install networking, wifi, etc for the Windows part of the dual boot.

  4. I voided my warranty for upgrading my ram. After this happened, I tried OSX for a while. I could not adapt, and that is when I saw online that MSI wind warranties do not void when upgrading ram. So I install XP again, but in the process, I lost my hidden partition with the install files. Because of this I knew my warranty was voided for sure. Then a couple of months later my screen breaks because I accidently drop my backpack. This is when I regretted that I did not buy the protection plan, but fixing the screen only took about $70. The Protection plan was $150 where I bought it from, so I am happy that I did not get extended service.

    1. Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
      There are some warranty wordings that do not mesh with US laws. For example- when the company says you can not open the case (break the seals) to service it…, that is not 100% correct as there is case law that maybe allows this, and would most likely allow “upgrading RAM” etc based on if it was “something that normal techs would do”. ASUS tried it:
      “ASUS covered one of the screws holding the access panel with a yellow “WARRANTY VOID IF REMOVED” warranty sticker. As pointed out by Cliff Biffle, this action violated the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act with regards to “unacceptable tie-ins.”


  5. Although, asus warranty service rocks. Quick phone service, fast shipping, and virtually no barrier to sending it in for work – and they fix more than what is wrong with it (I got a new battery and updated motherboard on my eee pc, when I sent it in for fan noise).

    1. Definitely agree with Asus service rocking – they repaired my 900HA with no fuss, and I was always able to talk to a person that I could understand and who knew what was going on when I called. Shipping took a while because of weather, but that’s not their fault. They said they’d call the following day and give me and update on the shipping status…and they did!

  6. HP told me that by installing Windows 7 on my dv2, I voided the warranty. Funny, since I bought the Vista Home Basic version and wasn’t eligible for the windows 7 upgrade … but more expensive versions of the same notebook (with no hardware upgrades) came with a free upgrade to windows 7.

  7. I buy applecare on the family’s mac notebooks. It has been money well spent. And they are pretty good at service. That being said, I would never buy such a thing on anything relatively cheap and without looking into the record of the company. I hate dealing with customer support.

  8. I personally think extended warranty on computers and most other electronics is a waste of money and is design to take more money from the consumer. I sell electronics and i usually dont tell my clients to buy extended warranty, I let them do it on their own. After the one year warranty then if it breaks its probably more economical to replace it or the problem might be so simple u can fix it urself.

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