Broken Tablet, Unresponsive Company, Nice Lady
November 1, 2012 5:10 PM   Subscribe

My husband's mother bought the most terrible little tablet, and the two replacements sent by the distributor have also been defective. I'd like to help her, but I am not certain what to do. The company seems immune to complaint.

The tablet was on sale at an online toy store. It is a 7" Sylvania distributed by a New Jersey company. Reviews for the tablet are uniformly horrible. The company itself receives intensely angry reviews from people who have dealt with them, most having to do with this same product. Better Business Bureau scores don't usually mean much, but this company has a grade of F with 83 complaints. Their only listed address is a warehouse used by other distributors as well. Sylvania exists only as a name, and the toy store assigns all responsibility to the distributor.

The battery of the first tablet burst, the second had no audio, and this one will not charge. The response to both damaged tablets was a set of instructions for return. Though she hasn't yet written to them this time, she supposes the same thing will probably happen again, and so do I.

The distributors have an Amazon store with a 4.8 rating. The owner didn't buy through Amazon, so would asking about it there be wrong to do? Is there anything I can do to help, or is this simply a loss?
posted by Francolin to Shopping (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Assuming it was bought with a credit card I'd see what they can do. There's usually protections built in for consumers in cases like this, some of which are part of the Fair Credit Billing Act. It'd be the next place I'd try.
posted by mikesch at 5:20 PM on November 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

the toy store assigns all responsibility to the distributor

The hell? Is this a shop with any sort of reputation at all, or is it total fly-by-night?

I have had some luck with detailed, "hard" but not "angry" letters, sent to the person in charge of [everything], with an explanation of what I expect to be done (full refund, not in form of store credit, etc) and an overview of the impact the bad merchandise and shoddy customer service had on me (wasted X hours, bad feelings over Y, etc). Send it via registered mail. I would not let the store off the hook. I would also add the name of the store to this post.
posted by kmennie at 5:27 PM on November 1, 2012

Building from kmennie's comment, the book Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed! How to Write Letters of Complaint That Get Results has what seem like good advice for writing an effective letter.
posted by Lexica at 5:58 PM on November 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'd continue returning the tablets to the manufacturer as long as they continue to send replacements at their expense. At the very least, she'll be exactly a small measure of revenge by making them pay.

I'd also write a letter to the executives of the toy store that sold the tablet (Toys R Us?), especially if they continue to sell it and profit from it. Tell them that you are very disappointed that a store with such a fine reputation would continue to stock such low quality items and fail to stand behind them. Describe what happened when you contact the distributor and how many you've been through; I'd also emphasize that the battery burst on the first one, and that it's shocking that they'd continue to market such a dangerous item to children. You might be able to squeeze a gift card or something out of them.

If the battery on the first one burst, maybe you should report the product to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, too.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:02 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some (all?) American Express cards allow returns for NINETY DAYS regardless of store policy, so if you happened to buy it on Amex contact them immediately. I bought a router that was a problem and Amex issued me a full refund 89 days after my purchase date. I was amazed.
posted by jcworth at 9:36 PM on November 1, 2012

Best answer: Seconding mikesch.

Whether or not the credit card angle gets results, your mom should still file a complaint with her home state's consumer protection agency, particularly if she's over 65. I like MegoSteve's suggestion of the CPSC as well.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:25 AM on November 2, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for all of your help. I'll encourage my husband's mother, who is ready to give up on the whole thing, to send this one back and I'll write to the retailer. I will also follow MegoSteve's suggestion of reporting the expanding battery to the CPSC. Two instances of the tablet overheating dangerously are already posted there.
posted by Francolin at 7:52 AM on November 2, 2012

How about contacting the online toy store for a a refund and buying something that works instead? She's simply not going to get something decent from this company.

For as little as $160, she can have something that's functional, works well and has a legitimate warranty from a legitimate company (Kindle Fire). Step up to $200 and the 7" tablets (Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD, Nexus 7) are really nice.
posted by cnc at 10:16 AM on November 2, 2012

« Older Hip, Hip, Hoo-arrrgggghhh   |   What do I need to know as a first-time auction... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.