Buying electronic gadgets outside the Philippines is a common act of seafarers and OFWs. The main reason for purchasing abroad is due to a much cheaper price especially in places like Hongkong, Taiwan, UAE, KSA to name a few. But are you sure that it is a better choice than buying here in the Philippines? If you ask me, I would rather buy my next gadget here in the Philippines. Why? Because I already learned my lesson the hard way. Let me share my own experience the last time I bought a laptop in Singapore which I still regret until now.
I’m an avid computer gamer and while on-board the ship it really helped me a lot in surviving those days and nights in my cabin where the loneliness of being far away from my loved ones haunt me. The best thing on my wishlist is to have a powerful laptop (i7, at least 8GB RAM, 2GB dedicated Video Card) for my gaming thirst. So I sold my old laptop to my crew-mate and bought a new Acer Aspire V3-571G at BUDGET Electronics Pte Ltd in Harbourfront Centre, Singapore last May 2012. At first I hesitated to buy an Acer brand simply because it will be my first time to own an Acer product and I don’t know its quality yet. But since I really wanted to have a new laptop with specification stated above and it also fitted my budget, I decided to purchase it anyway. My decision was finalized when the salesperson told me that it has a 1-year International Traveler’s Warranty which really sounds good because I thought it will be a great assurance for my new laptop. I also asked him if the warranty is applicable in the Philippines and if my laptop has a problem can I return it to Acer Philippines, which he surely replied “Yes, Sir!”.
I was very excited with my new laptop and after installing all necessary software I was able to play games like Crysis 2 in hardcore graphics settings. It was great fun at first but it only lasted for about 2 weeks until the laptop suffered a blue screen problem. The problem occurs only during playing games so at first I assumed that the problem is with the video card software. So I downloaded the latest software but still the problem occurs again. I tried reformatting and reverting to factory default but still the problem remains. Until I decided to disable the video card and the blue screen problem never occurred again. But I don’t want a laptop without a video card! That’s why I paid a premium price for that laptop because of its gaming capability and to know that it can’t perform 100% makes me mad. So I decided to return it to the shop where I bought it, but I was not able to do so because the last time we were at Singapore the ship undergone a Port State Control inspection so I was not able to leave the ship due to responsibilities assigned to me. So the next option I had in mind was to return the laptop to Acer Philippines thinking that it still has a 1-year International Traveler’s Warranty that the salesperson is boasting when I bought it and I’m also about to go home in a couple of months.
In August 2012, I went to Acer Philippines in 1651 Paz M. Guazon St., Paco, Manila to return the laptop and told them the problem with it. So they asked me for the sales receipt and I told them that I bought it in Singapore and I insisted that it is covered with International Traveler’s Warranty. I was devastated when the personnel informed me that I’m not covered by the warranty. See the excerpts below that they gave me from their website http://www.acer.com/worldwide/support/itw.htm.
Elegible models : Acer Branded Notebooks / Netbooks and Tablets
Scope: The ITW is a separate program from the local warranty
- ITW cannot be interchanged with the local warranty.
- ITW does not apply in the country of purchase.
- ITW is only applicable where there are ITW service locations.
- To comply with Microsoft’s licensing regulations, the ITW does not cover software-related issues. You are responsible for providing recovery and software backup discs if required.
Qualified Claimant: A “bona fide traveler”
- Someone who is temporarily outside the territorial scope of the local warranty covering the respective product, without the intention of establishing a permanent residence.
- Someone who possesses the original product sales invoice.
Acer’s ITW Service Centers reserve the right to require proof to verify the traveler status of a claimant.
Standard Service Mode: “Carry-In”
- You will shoulder shipping or transportation costs to bring the product to the service location.
- Acer will shoulder shipping or transportation costs to return the product to you.
Term: One year from the date of purchase
- You may be required to present a formal sales receipt showing the purchase date.
Knowing that I’m not covered by Acer’s ITW since I bought it in Singapore and I live here in the Philippines is a blow to the head. Well, it is clearly stated in the agreement and I can’t protest to that. It is my sole responsibility to read the warranty coverage when I bought the laptop in the first place. But I was just too excited and too trusting to the salesperson when he answered my question regarding the International Traveler’s Warranty. I should have performed due diligence in confirming it. But hey, who reads the booklet when they purchase a new gadget? Well, there’s nothing I can do about it instead I just gave the laptop to Acer Philippines for repair since they said my laptop is covered for free check-up. But additional charges will be applied for problems they will fix on my laptop.
I waited for endless days that turned to weeks for my laptop to be fixed. I constantly called them for any updates but the answer is always “We are still isolating the problem and we are still encountering the same blue screen problem.” but I remained patient for I know that they are doing their best to fix it. But a month later they informed me that the problem is the power button and the mother board. They also gave me a quotation worth Php 36,000+ for a replacement of the said mother board. I asked myself, what the f***?! 36k? It is almost the same as buying a new laptop. Power button and mother board? I’m not an expert but why would it be the problem especially the power button? I was able to use that laptop before by disabling the video card and now they will inform me that there’s a problem with the power? Doubtful of what they said, I went to their office to just take my laptop and use it without a video card than to shed another 36k for mother board replacement.
It seems my patience is being tested by this laptop issue. I went to their office to claim my laptop back free of any charge as agreed upon before I surrendered it to them. But I was very doubtful and suggested to the personnel to test my laptop first. As I press the power button nothing happens, the laptop is not working anymore. I tried my best to control my temper and just ask the personnel why it is not working anymore. He answered, “Sir, yun po ang problema minsan may power, minsan nawawala.”. I can’t accept that kind of foolish answer, it made me increase my voice a little bit to show my frustration but not to the extent that I will cause any discomfort to other customers who are also returning their Acer products for repairs. I explained to him that I brought my laptop in their office because of blue screen problem. I also clarified that I was able to use it by disabling the video card. And I did not encountered any power failure and so on when I was using it. I assume that the personnel felt that I’m very frustrated so he told me to wait for a while because a technician will come down from their office upstairs. So I waited while thinking of what will be the new explanation of the technician.
Then the technician came with another news, she said that while they were troubleshooting the problem on my laptop, the mother board just broke out. I don’t know what they did to it but it is clear that it’s their fault why the laptop would not power on anymore. The technician told me that they will replace the mother board free of charge since it happened while the laptop was in their possession. That was a big relief for me because at first I thought they will say that it’s not their fault and there’s nothing they can do about it. So instead of getting mad my temper slowly calmed down and I was thankful that my laptop will be fixed for free but I need to wait for another two months since parts will be shipped from Malaysia according to them.
I’m just frustrated that they lied to me in the first place. Why would they give me a quotation for a new mother board if they are aware that it broke out in their possession? What if I accepted it without checking the laptop and find out later that it is not working anymore? Will they accept it again if I told them that they did it? It is bad practice for the technicians to hide their fault. Maybe it is not their intention to ruin my laptop, but they should take responsibility on what they did to earn their customer’s trust. They should not wait for their customers to complain before telling the truth. What if I don’t have any idea about my laptop’s problem and accepted their so called “findings” that my laptop’s power button and mother board are the cause of the problem? 36,000+ pesos for a replacement mother board is very expensive. Asking your customer for that amount knowing that you’re the one who broke it is shameful! I hope it will not happen to other customers.
On the brighter side I still thank them for accepting their fault on the later part and volunteering to replace the broken mother board free of charge. Even though I need to wait for a couple of months I’m hopeful that it might fix the blue screen problem of my laptop.
So are you still planning on buying gadgets abroad? If you are willing to take the risk then proceed. Maybe I will still buy gadgets abroad but I will make sure that it is covered by International Warranty not just by an International Traveler’s Warranty. I will also be wise to choose products with trusted quality and good customer service. How about you? You can share your thoughts and experiences regarding this matter also.