I’m an American working for the U.S. government and assigned overseas in Italy. Around Thanksgiving, I bought an Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 tablet from Overstock.com and had it sent to my FPO mailing address. When the tablet’s screen died a while later, I opened two Asus support tickets: one on the Italian site and one on the U.S. site (since I purchased the tablet from an American vendor). Asus in Italy merely asked, “Did you buy the tablet in Italy?” I wrote back and explained the situation, but never got a reply. An Asus rep in the United States told me that they could fix the tablet, but would return it only to a family member or friend in the United States, since the company does not ship to AFO or FPO addresses. This would add eight to ten weeks to the total turnaround time for the repair. Can you help?
--Rick Shores, Rome, Italy
On Your Side responds: We contacted Asus, and a company rep helped Shores fill out a return merchandise authorization request on the Italian website. The request was granted, Asus sent the tablet out to the Czech Republic for service, and just two weeks later the repaired tablet made it back to Shores via UPS.
Consumer electronics companies that operate internationally have different policies for warranty repairs on devices bought in one country and used in another. If you plan on traveling long term with electronics bought in the United States, or if you are purchasing from a U.S. vendor that will ship overseas, look into the manufacturer’s international warranty policies so that you’ll know what to expect.
Hard-drive makers have been gobbling one another up in the past few years, making it difficult to know where to turn for warranty service.
- In December 2005, Seagate agreed to acquire Maxtor. Though Seagate services Maxtor drives, you can’t return a Maxtor drive through the online system; you have to contact Seagate’s technical support.
- In October 2009, Toshiba began supporting Fujitsu drives, following approval of its bid to buy Fujitsu’s hard-drive unit.
- Having acquired Samsung’s hard-drives business in December 2011, Seagate now provides support for Samsung drives.
- In March 2012, Western Digital completed its purchase of Hitachi’s storage division. It operates the Hitachi business as a separate subsidiary.
Many recently sold drives have five-year warranties that companies should still honor despite all the mergers and acquisitions. If you’re wondering about support for a drive maker not listed here, try a search for “[your brand of drive] warranty.”
Have you run into a problem involving customer service, a warranty, a rebate, or the like for your tech gear? Email us at email@example.com.