Why I Hate Toshiba

In a few seconds last night I turned from a Toshiba fan to an enemy. Was I overreacting? Definitely. Is this an unusual reaction? No.

Toshiba says: ‘No matter what’ … unique guarantee on all laptops for free”

No matter what*

* Terms and conditions apply

from Toshiba’s site

Toshiba's No Matter What Unwarranty
Toshiba's No Matter What Guarantee Falls on its ...

“No matter what, terms and conditions apply” shouldn’t really inspire confidence.

The terms and conditions indicate that “No matter what” doesn’t include things like negligence, improper handling, damages resulting from theft, theft from motor vehicles, damages occuring at a repair shop, any attempted repair that you made, “Failure to follow or apply TOSHIBA’s usage documents and instructions,” etc.

Which would be OK, if not for the bombastic slogan “No Matter What” accompanied by a picture of a man who was apparently walking with his notebook completely unprotected and dropping it. But the fine print says it doesn’t cover negligence or improper handling. And claims that it covers accidental damage and theft. But the fine print says that it doesn’t cover certain types of theft, nor damage resulting from theft.

And you lose the warranty if within 7 days you don’t register, fill out another form and get a link and activate that link within 72 hours of receiving it. And if there is theft or damage you have to have filled out the appropriate forms within 48 or 72 hours.

Again, possibly legitimate hurdles and gotchas. Which is why other companies don’t say “No Matter What.” Toshiba’s warranty doesn’t seem to be much better than other warranties, they simply make bolder claims that they weasel out of.

Take everything I said above with a grain of salt. I’m not objective. We bought a Toshiba laptop, actually the second one we bought this year. The salesman told us we had 14 days to register it. When we completed the various registration forms (which would have been easier without the broken links and other problems) we were told “Error, the machine was purchased more than 7 days ago, we can’t register it.” Great. Why?

In a few seconds, Toshiba turned me from a fan to an enemy. And for what? By denying me a warranty that I’ll probably never use? On an irrelevant technicality. I didn’t violate my warranty by some egregious action like taking my computer to be repaired. I didn’t register it in time, which doesn’t seem a particularly good reason to invalidate a “No Matter What” warranty.

Is the above account accurate? I think so. Is it a fair analysis? I’m not sure. Did I overreact? Most certainly.

I’m posting this as a management lesson (and because I need to vent). People get emotional when they feel they’re being screwed. In this age of Social Media, where Word of Mouth spreads so much faster, the cost of leaving angry customers is higher than it used to be. I mentioned in a previous post how I had 2 past co-workers who each described to me their tremendous anger at their employer for perceived slights from years earlier.

Two takeaways:

  • Don’t make a bombastic claim unless you’re willing to live up to it. Sure, you’ll get yourself some sales. But it’s not worth the enemies you’ll accumulate.
  • Don’t leave people feeling you screwed them, such as by penalizing them for technicalities like missing a registration date. Human nature has its dark side. We hate, and we want revenge. It’s not pretty, but it’s real. Find the things you’re doing that piss people off for no good reason. And stop doing them.

Postscript (February, 2012): We bought another Toshiba. My anger wasn’t enough to make me turn down what seemed like the best deal (and it is two and a half years later). We asked about registration and warranty, and were told we didn’t have to bother. Just keep the receipt. And even if you lose the receipt, we can get it for you from our system. So that was nice. Toshiba, if you’re still interested, we can be friends again. Thanks.