Full disclosure: This is a bit of a rant. It has nothing to do with the work I do for Amalgam Insights or the areas I typically cover. Think of it as a cautionary tale instead.
Just a bit under four years ago, I bought my college bound daughter a brand new laptop. It was an Acer Aspire with 8G of RAM and a one terabyte hard drive. Four years ago, that was pretty good; Today it’s just normal.
One of the reasons I chose the Acer is that I had such good luck with them in the past. I still have a functioning, 15-year old Acer laptop that I use to stream Spotify to my stereo. That laptop has been around the world with me and was even dropped on it’s side in Taiwan to no ill effect. Well, except for my foot. That hurt for awhile.
This new Acer, however, was not like my old workhorse. Instead, it was trouble from the get go. First, the hard drive failed a few months into it’s tenure. I had to jump through hoops to prove to Acer that it was the hard drive and had to argue with them about paying the shipping costs. They wanted me to pay to send it to the repair depot. Seriously!
Quick tip: When something is under warranty and it doesn’t expressly say that you have to pay to ship it to the repair depot, they might have to cover it.
Then, there was the Windows 10 upgrade fiasco. The update started on it’s own and bricked the computer. It took me two solid days on the phone and chat with Microsoft to get it to it’s pristine Windows 8 condition. While that wasn’t Acer’s fault, it’s not like they weren’t expecting the Windows 10 upgrade in just a few months after selling the laptop to me. Better testing or a warning that it wasn’t Windows 10 compatible would have been nice.
After getting the laptop back from Acer with a new hard drive in it, the display started acting funny. Not right away mind you but just after the warranty was up. While using the computer, the display would go white. If you closed the lid and opened it again, it would be fine… for a while. Then, it would do it again. Everything was fine if there was an external display plugged in but otherwise it kept turning white. A truly irritating problem since an external display is hard to carry on a trip or to the library. After a few months of that, I bought my daughter a new HP laptop and she’s been happy with it. At the time I threw in the towel on the Acer, it was only two years old.
I decide that I might be able to live with the quirks of the laptop since I was only going to use it for occasional traveling and not everyday use. Of course, just a few months before a bunch of travel was scheduled, power problems began. Basically, the computer would no longer charge. At this point, I just gave up and bought a new Dell for traveling.
Today, I did a tear down of the Acer, mostly to salvage parts. I discovered the roots of the various evils of this rather forlorn laptop. First, it was obvious that something had damaged the cable running from the display to the motherboard. It had been inexpertly wrapped in electrical tape. When the display was moved around, even a little it would disconnect from the motherboard and reconnect when the lid closed. Since this problem originally presented itself after the first repair, I tend to think it had something to do with said repair.
The root cause of the power problem was also readily apparent. The barrel connector for the power supply was not fully secured to the frame of the laptop. It allowed the connector to wiggle around just enough to finally break the connection to the battery charging electronics.
Bad design or lousy workmanship? You decide. Either way that, plus a failed hard drive and a repair that may have damaged the display cable, pretty much soured me on Acer products for a long time.
The moral of the story is: If you have a major component fail in the warranty period, just demand a new laptop or your money back. This “ship it to us and we will fix it” policy seems designed to repair it just long enough to get to the end of the warranty. I have laptops that are still in use that are 15 and 8 years old. Heck, I have a functioning laptop from 2001 and another from 2002! They are too under-powered to be useful but they still run. There is no reason to expect a modern computer to last barely longer than the warranty period.
I can’t send the computer back (and it’s in pieces now) but I certainly can make my ire known with my wallet. No more Acer for me.