In 2009, I bought my teenage son a MacBook from Best Buy, and I added a two-year extended warranty with "Accidental Damage From Handling" coverage based on the sales associate's recommendation. Lo and behold, my son accidentally ran over his MacBook with his car after leaving it on his trunk. I filed a claim with Best Buy, and an associate advised me to purchase another computer, saying the company would issue a credit if the original MacBook couldn't be fixed. But Best Buy eventually denied the warranty claim on the grounds that this type of incident isn't covered in the accidental-damage plan. I thought that my extended warranty covered all accidents. Can you help?
--Milan Vora, Claremont, California
On Your Side responds: Best Buy's accidental-damage plan covers the costs of repairing your product after "an unexpected and unintentional external event (drops and spills) that arises from your normal daily usage of the product as the manufacturer intended. Secondary damage or using the product in a manner the manufacturer did not intend is not covered." Most people don't consider placing a laptop on a car trunk and driving off "normal daily usage."
A Best Buy resolution specialist verified that the MacBook in question suffered vehicle damage, but noted that the incident does not qualify for coverage under the warranty because the laptop was not being used in the intended manner. As a compromise, Best Buy offered a $500 credit toward Vora's next computer purchase, because an associate had said that a credit would be issued.
Before you buy a warranty plan, confirm what kinds of accidents it covers.
Follow-Up: Cell for Cash
Last year, in "Make Money Selling Your Old Tech," we cited CellForCash.com as a service that buys old smartphones. Several readers have complained that they never got payment for their phones, which the company had verified to be in good working order. Customers have said that contacting Cell for Cash is difficult; the typical reply is an automated email response.
After helping Christine Dunn of Lafayette, Louisiana, get a check for her iPhone, we repeatedly asked the company's resolution team for answers regarding the uncut checks. Thus far the only one we've gotten is vague and unhelpful: "Cell for Cash handles thousands of cell phones and other devices per month and we do occasionally make an error."
Given that reply, we can't know why some customers haven't seen payment for their phones. But we can no longer recommend doing business with the company. The Better Business Bureau has received 430 complaints about Cell for Cash and its subsidiary, RMS Communications Group, in the past three years.
We will continue investigating Cell for Cash's business practices; in the meantime, programs such as Gazelle and NextWorth have proven more stable.
Have you run into a problem involving customer service, a warranty, a rebate, or the like for your tech gear? E-mail us at email@example.com.