On Your Side: Is That Laptop Still Under Warranty?

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My daughter Carley called Hewlett-Packard for a free replacement part for her HP Pavilion dv6700 laptop, which was still under warranty. The HP representative told her that she had to give a debit or credit card number to ensure processing of the shipment. Despite the rep's assurances that her account would not be charged, HP debited $69.15, which overdrew her account. We called HP the next day and faxed copies of the receipt showing that the laptop was under warranty. HP says that it will refund the charge for the replacement part, but won't do anything about the bank's service charges, now $143. Can you help us?

Sue Waser, Cherry Valley, Illinois

OYS responds: Shortly after we contacted HP about the Wasers' issue, a representative called them to say that the company would be sending Carley Waser a check for the $143 in bank service charges. He also offered an additional rebate to use in a future purchase of an HP computer.

HP's records showed the laptop's date of manufacture rather than the date of purchase, meaning that the company mistakenly thought the warranty had expired. Fortunately for the Wasers, they had saved the original receipt.

We recommend keeping receipts and service contracts for major purchases for as long as you own the item. You might need the papers to make a return or an ex­­change, or to have repairs done or parts replaced (especially if the product is under warranty); you may also need to refer to those records for income tax or property insurance purposes.

One easy way to keep track of receipts for big-ticket items is to tape them inside the user manual for each product.

Mystery Cable

Keith Sipperley of Levering, Michigan, contacted us after discovering that he was unable to connect his new Fujifilm FinePix Z30 digital camera to his TV set. The FinePix user manual shows an optional audio/video (A/V) cable that would allow such a connection.

Sipperley asked representatives in Fujifilm's accessory, parts, and customer service departments about the A/V cable, but no one could help him. After we contacted Fujifilm, a rep checked into the issue and learned that the separately sold cable was out of stock. She was, however, able to find one at her office, and she sent it to Sipperley for free.

If you're counting on a product to perform a particular function, we recommend that you find out before buying whether you'll need a separately sold accessory and if you can easily obtain it.

Wal-Mart Durabrand DVD Player Recall

Wal-Mart, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is recalling about 4.2 million Durabrand DVD players. The units' circuit board can overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard.

Wal-Mart has received 14 reports of DVD players overheating; in 7 of the reported cases, resulting fires caused property damage. As of this writing, no injuries have been reported. Consumers should immediately stop using the re­­called DVD players and return them to the nearest Wal-Mart store for a full refund. For more information, visit the company's Web site at walmartstores.com or call Wal-Mart at 800/925-6278.

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