Ask LH: Can I Demand A Refund For A Dodgy ‘Repaired’ Laptop?

Ask LH: Can I Demand A Refund For A Dodgy ‘Repaired’ Laptop?

Dear Lifehacker, I bought a new Asus laptop back in February. It started freezing at the end of March, requiring me to hold the power button to turn it off, after which the wifi module could not be detected. I contacted my retailer who referred me to Asus directly. They couriered my laptop and replaced the HDD saying it was faulty. Two months later, and I’m getting the same freezing problem again!

So onto my question: Am I eligible for a refund given my laptop is only four months old? What are my options given it is still under warranty? Bear in mind that I now consider Asus to be completely rubbish and aren’t interested in a replacement. Thanks, Asus Annoyed

Broken Laptop picture by Shutterstock

Dear AA,

You can absolutely get a refund, or a replacement. It’s common for outlets to try to pass the buck, and certain international companies may even have policies in place (such as Steam, until recently) denying refunds. But according to Australian Consumer Protection Law, refunds should be given for faulty products if the customer wants one — and the non-repair that you describe doesn’t absolve the manufacturer (or retailer) of its responsibility.

Choice has published the following tips for consumers:

If a product is not of acceptable quality the retailer can’t charge you for fixing it.
Retailers can’t just refer you to the manufacturer. They’re obliged to resolve your issue.
If the problem is ‘major’, you can ask for a refund or replacement rather than a repair.
You should be informed if a replacement is second-hand or if they’ve used refurbished parts to repair it.
Repairs must be made within a reasonable time. Mobile phones and fridges, for instance, must be given high priority, or you can demand a replacement.
You don’t have to return a product in its original packaging, and if you’ve lost your receipt you can use the following as proof of purchase: a credit card statement that itemises goods, a confirmation or receipt number for a phone or internet transaction, a warranty card showing the date, price and place of purchase; or the serial or production number if it’s stored on the retailer’s computer.

So what’s a “major” issue?

The ACCC describes it as:

  1. A problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it
  2. It is unsafe
  3. It is significantly different from the sample or description
  4. It doesn’t do what the business said it would and can’t easily be fixed

Freezing and faulty Wifi would definitely fall under those points, and it’s beholden on not just the manufacturer but also the retailer to sort it out.

There are also more details on the ACCC’s website.


Have a question you want to put to Ask Lifehacker? Send it using our [contact text=”contact form”].


  • Simple process breakdown
    1 – Try and resolve with the retailer (place of purchase)
    2 – Make complaint to local Fair Trading in your state
    3 – Make complaint to tribunal (costs about $40 but you can claim that against the business if successful)

    If you get what you’re entitled to at any time stop. Fair Trading will generally let you know if you should go to the tribunal or not. If you do end up at the tribunal then claim for the administration costs of chasing the business. It’s generally the only way to actually recoup the cost of all the time spent chasing them.

  • I’m in the same boat with Sony and my Xperia Z3. My loudspeaker microphone does not work during calls (is barely audible) and the repair centre they referred me to could not replicate the fault.

    This was back in april, but my warranty is until November. Should I pursue it further?

    • Do you value your rights and want a working phone? If you answered YES, then the answer is YES!
      If it is an intermittent issue, you’ll have to be patient and get them to keep it until it replicates itself, but fight for fair!

      (I really dislike people who think it’s “too much work” or “I can’t be bothered”)

    • the z3 was released last year, consumer law would also expect your phone to last 2 years.
      your ‘consumer guarantee’ should expect your phone to be working until November next year (assuming this was purchased through an Australian body as a simple assumption)

    • *Dons my Vodafone branded hat*
      Sounds like it’s time to give them another shot at repairing the issue – it doesn’t matter if YOU think they’ll again say they can’t reproduce the issue, there is some kind of fault readily apparent to you which needs to be fixed.
      If the handset is returned as no fault found again, you’ll at least have more of a paper trail the carrier that supplied the handset to you can use to proceed to the next level of handset servicing (i.e. replacing the handset)
      The key thing about escalating a handset fault to the next level is having evidence of authorised repair attempts, a visible history of attempts to get this resolved via account notes, and documented steps as to what steps have been tried already to resolve the issue (e.g. Hard Resets, Factory Restores, isolation testing, etc)
      As mentioned, the handset is reasonably expected to last 2+ years before giving up, and the carrier won’t want to risk you moving to another carrier thanks to this poor experience if they agree to rescind your contract to allow you to get a new phone with a new contract; so as long as the evidence is there, it is in THEIR interest to work with you on this issue.

  • I bought surface pro 3 about 4 months ago and it was faulty so Microsoft said they would replace it but they did not advice me that I would get a refurbished product. When I received a replacement it said “repaired” on the box so I called to complain. I told them that if I knew I would get a refurbished product I wouldn’t return my original tablet because it was working but it heated up and became noisy. The service department doesn’t care and wouldn’t give me a brand new replacement nor my money back. So In the end I paid $2000 for a refurbished tablet! Buyers beware even if it’s still under warranty you will get a refurbished surface pro 3 if you send it for replacement!

    • The replacement with a refurbished model is common and a known. What is important is that the Trade Practices act clearly states that the replacement needs to be in the same condition (or better) than the one you handed to them. This means that if the refurbished one they gave you has marks or is clearly worn in some way then you would have grounds to ask them to replace it with an alternative. Otherwise you’re stuck with the refurbished one I’m afraid.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!