More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

Summary: I would have hoped that Acer would used the intervening years to make improvements to its product reliability and support, but apparently that's not been the case.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Jason Perlow just completed a properly angry rant against PC-maker Acer, Inc.

In it, Jason describes the problems Susan, a single mom with two kids, had after buying a Gateway-branded Acer monitor and attempting to get it repaired.

There were some complications, like the fact that Susan's monitor was beyond its warranty period. Susan's monitor, like those of many other Acer owners, had spent most of it's life being sent back and forth to Acer for repair, rather than being used as, well, a monitor.

This is not a new problem for Acer.

Exactly two years ago, in April 2009, novelist (and regular product reviewer) Heather Wardell, writing for my Computing Unplugged Magazine, published a strongly negative review of the Acer Aspire One netbook, Why we can't recommend the Acer Aspire One.

In the article, Heather described the problems she had with the Aspire One, summarizing her experience with the statement, "I have never been so unimpressed with a company."

I've also had negative experiences with Acer. At my day job here at ZATZ (the publisher of Computing Unplugged), we've bought a lot of Acer products over the years and have had nothing but problems with them. In fact, I added an editor's note to Heather's article:

We, here at ZATZ, are intimately familiar with Acer's return policy. We own quite a few Acer devices, including monitors and laptops. Every single device we've ever bought from Acer has had to be returned for service no less than twice over its life (actually, it'd be more, but the warranty ran out first). In fact, we're boxing up two more failed 24" monitors that'll go back to Acer this week (the third repair for each monitor).

Each time, we've spent anywhere from $20 to $100 in shipping costs to get the devices to Acer. Once you ship the device, Acer provides no information whatsoever on status, and calls are completely fruitless. Some weeks later, we've always gotten the gear back, but once a monitor case was put on incorrectly and another time, the laptop came back behaving exactly as it had when we sent it. Calls to Acer informed us we could send it back in, again, but we'd again have to pay shipping.

We have found that Acer devices are wonderful while they work, but they almost universally fail. That's not just our experience, but reports we've gotten from many other owners. Heather will tell you her conclusion about the Acer Aspire One in a moment, but unless Acer radically improves its reliability and support, Computing Unplugged has to formally recommend not buying Acer products.

Sadly, neither Acer's service nor quality has improved in the two years since we published our do-not-buy recommendation. At the time, we contacted the company to give them the opportunity to comment on our statements, but both then and to this date, Acer has refused to respond.

Since then, our last remaining Acer products have failed. We got one product back from a warranty repair (our third round) and it came back without working. Unfortunately, it took Acer more than two months to return the product and by the time it got here, the warranty period had ended.

Even though Acer didn't actually successfully complete the repair while it was in warranty -- and apparently didn't even bother to test it before returning it to us -- the company refused to make good and fix the product.

The problem is not confined to monitors.

I bought a laptop about six years ago, and it didn't work right from the day it arrived. Opening or closing the cover would cause the machine to go into spasms, and the only way to make it stop was to force a power-off. Inserting or removing any USB or network component would cause the machine's display to wildly fluctuate.

I sent that machine back to Acer four times, each time incurring about a $40 shipping charge, and never really managed to get anything resembling good use from my purchase.

Shortly after we published Heather's article, we were inundated by letters from readers who told us how much they loved their Acer products, how nuts we were, and how they'd never had any problems.

That's often the "gotcha" with the Acer offerings. They're priced very aggressively and during the time the products work, they work very nicely. Unfortunately, Acer products don't seem to stay working.

Since the initial rush of those supportive Acer fanboy letters, almost all of them have written back to us, telling us of their product reliability and support woes.

The bottom line is this: Susan and Heather are not alone. Acer has a pattern of serious reliability problems made worse through poor support and repair processes.

I would have hoped that Acer would have used the intervening years since our 2009 negative review to make improvements to its product reliability and support, but apparently that's not been the case.

Therefore I stand by Computing Unplugged's formal recommendation of two years ago: I still recommend not buying Acer products.

See also:

What's your experience with Acer products? TalkBack below.

Topic: Hardware

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    Some here, cannot recommend Acer. I'd like to, they make some really attractive kit, but their after sales is horrible.<br><br>What really tore it for me was sending back a system that was DOA Acer decided unilaterally that it was just fine to send a reconditioned machine as a replacement. The fact that the DOA system was new (and cost the "new" price) and the reconditioned one was not new (and had cosmetic damage, dent in the side panel and scratches to the front) didn't seem to figure in their thinking. <br><br>The "good guys" are Apple, and Lenovo. Lenovo's systems are solid, reliable and their after sales is excellent, though I only have experience of their "business" systems. Apple's customer care is second to none. People talk about "Apple tax" but honestly, if I'm buying a system to actually use in business the cheapest is never the best. A Mac Pro or a ThinkStation are excellent choices. Additionally Lenovo's Windows installs are actually very good - very few OEMs do a good job of their Windows installs.
    jeremychappell
    • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

      @jeremychappell
      I'd like to pipe in here. Many years ago I recommended a mac system to my friend and sadly, that one was a lemon. The experience so scarred him that he railed against Apple whenever possible. Not too long after I had a couple of unsatisfying customer service calls with Apple and was very gunshy to call them back for anything, but I still was an avid Apple user, just more self-sufficient. Starting in about 2002 I had begrudgingly called them but found their customer service greatly improved. And subsequent calls were even more satisfying for me as a customer. Apple has proven to be be not only reasonable, but really helpful and their customer service solutions have been outstanding when I needed it. To drive this home further, my friend (mentioned earlier) who had railed against Apple has been drawn in by his iPods, iPhone, and iPad enough to reconsider a Mac in his home, because of the customer service he has gotten for those devices. If they could win him back, they are definitely doing something right.
      matt@...
      • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

        @matt@... I wonder if Steve Jobs return to Apple may have had something to do with the improvement by 2002.
        Bill4
    • Rotgut conveyor belt assembly

      @jeremychappell <br><i>The "good guys" are Apple, and Lenovo. </i><br><br>Don't overlook various 'white box' makers, along with local PC shops found in every town and city. Well, those that have actually managed to hang on with the onslaught of LCD market pressures (the rotgut cheapening of conveyor belt industries worldwide).<br><br>There you will almost always get uniformly better components and service, and if that isn't enough, often a distinct and "customized" voice in the equation from start to finish.
      klumper
  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    I have an Acer Aspire 7741-5731z. About four months into ownership if not a little sooner, the OEM copy of Windows 7 goes ungenuine. All I did was try to uninstall office because it kept crashing before opening, then I had to hold down the power button to get it to restart after freezing. So I call Microsoft about this issue, they blame Acer. Acer blames Microsoft, says they have to fix it. Back and forth, back and forth until I finally said ?enough! I?m putting Ubuntu on it!? because it was my only PC at the time, and I needed it to work. Then two weeks after that TWO of the chiclet-style keys (the T and the left CTRL button) fall off, then corner of the shelling for the monitor on the back is missing on the right side, as well as a corner on the left side from simple wear and tear. I tried to get Acer to honor it?s warranty but it won?t because I put a Linux distro on the machine.
    loug002
    • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

      @loug002 Linux is widely known for voiding warranties. Best bet: Buy a laptop that has Linux pre-installed. Then you can't lose. Fortunately, to my knowledge, Acer no longer sells Ubuntu Netbooks. Apparently, they are not worthy.
      dequire
    • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

      @loug002

      I'd love to know how Ubuntu could cause your keys to fall off and the cases to break... A good question to ask if you could ever get them to respond!
      EvieMarie
  • But the sales say otherwise

    Acer is number three, and we all heard that sales determine quality, not reported problems.
    Will Farrell
  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    You get what you pay for.
    alsobannedfromzdnet
    • Message has been deleted.

      neilpost
      • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

        @neilpost
        Sony's customer support is poor at best, they can never seem to get it right the first time either.
        db49erfan1
      • Sony used to be comparable to Mercedes

        At least, once upon a time. Sadly they are not anymore.

        @neilpost
        [i]Unless you buy a Sony or a Mercedes. [/i]

        @db49erfan1
        <i>[Sony] can never seem to get it right the first time either. </i>
        klumper
  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    Sounds like an outlier in the bad customer service spectrum. But totally believable. <br>I own an Acer Aspire 5251 which I mainly bought because I didn't have a big budget when my previous IBM Thinkpad decided to hang its shoes. This is not a powerful laptop at all, even by today's standards, but it gets me from A to B in the ether world. I can attest that the quality of the shell leaves much to be desired and its AMD processor sometimes can't handle more than a few Chrome or Firefox tabs open at the same time with grace. <br>I tried installing Linux just to see if it would work better with a less intensive OS (I am currently using Windows 7 Home Edition 64-bit) but could not even install it. Apparently Linux has a problem with the processor that comes with this machine. <br>I am at the point where I daydream it breaks so that I can justify buying a more decent machine. I even let my 2-year old use it, bang the keyboard a little bit, in hopes that he can do some damage to it.
    asg749d@...
  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    Samsung's UK support sucks beyond belief too.....

    There is a huge disconnect between their off-shore, English language desperate 'help desk', the sub-contractor doing the fixes, and the courier in the middle - repeated wrong collection days, failed collections, unable to speak to the courier as not their customer, having to re-gurgitate the store from scratch everythime you speak to someone, Samsung fail to action anything logged to their MySamsung web-page.<br><br>Acer are nothing abnormal.
    neilpost
    • Add Viewsonic to that epic fail list...

      @neilpost I agree with that last statement that Acer is not abnormal in the poor service and early failure department. Years ago, I had strikingly similar nightmares with a Viewsonic monitor which died after a few months.

      These companies don't realize they are shooting themselves in the foot by not taking care of their customers in a satisfying manner. One person who has a nightmare experience with their product will not only NEVER buy from that company again, they also tell all of their friends to avoid that company. Their nightmare experience gets told and retold until a massive number of people hear about it. The final cost of NOT taking care of customers ends up being potentially hundreds of lost sales spread over years. If your standard practice is to never take care of these situations, you will eventually become a footnote in history.
      BillDem
      • Doing it wrong v. doing it right.

        @BillDem Agreed emphatically. The one and only Acer laptop I will ever own sits on a shelf close by, unable to recognise its internal hard disk (which I have replaced twice). Rock solid reliable ??until it wasn't.

        On my desk as I type this are two (perfectly working) Apple machines, that have proven over the last couple of years that I can depend on them without question. As a developer, I'm rough on software system configurations, but OS X has truly Just Worked. I've had exactly two machine freezes in the last six machine-years of use, seven days a week. It doesn't get any better.

        Years ago, I worked for Sony and twice had the honour and privilege of hearing Akio Morita speak. Both times he was delivering the same message: delight the customer, and all good things will follow. Annoy or frustrate the customer, or even let him be aware of your product's imperfections, and the business will suffer grievous, almost irreparable harm. It is a lesson that too few companies have learnt. As a shareholder in several tech companies, I'm all for "enhancing shareholder value." What I've never understood is how that is possible without continuously enhancing your products' (and hence, company's) value to the customer.
        Jeff Dickey
      • Sony - then and now

        @Jeff Dickey <br><i>Years ago, I worked for Sony and twice had the honour and privilege of hearing Akio Morita speak. Both times he was delivering the same message: delight the customer, and all good things will follow.</i><br><br>Question for you Jeff: Do you believe Sony still lives up to that exhortation, circa 2011? Inquiring minds would love to know.<br><br>[And kindly note, I'll readily acknowledge Sony was a 'cut above' years ago]
        klumper
  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    Have to agree; if you buy Acer, prepare for the product to die prematurely. I personally have a 22" Acer LCD that failed after less than 9 months of ownership (backlight died). The company I work for has owned several Acer TravelMate tablets, and nearly all of them had issues early into their ownership as well. With the work tablets, once they went out of warranty, we would cannibalize one to keep another working - until eventually we had none that were truely reliable; they've just about all been trashed now.

    I can recall way back in the late 90's / early 2000's hearing about Acer products regularly having issues and being unreliable, so this isn't a recent problem that they're having. Up until the monitor I purchased, I would never buy an Acer product for that reason; however, based on the great reviews, I bought my current Acer monitor. I must say, it is a great monitor... as long as it keeps working - and there is the catch. At times I miss the old ViewSonic CRT that this monitor replaced; in over 10 years, it had never given me a problem.
    NetAdmin1178
  • RE: More epic fails involving Acer (this is NOT a new story)

    I'm not an Acer fan either, but this statement in the article is pretty much worthless and irresponsible of the article writer to say without specific details -
    "Since the initial rush of those supportive Acer fanboy letters, almost all of them have written back to us, telling us of their product reliability and support woes."

    Really? You correlated all those people who wrote with all the people who followed up? Sounds like a generalized and unsupported statement to me.
    gwartnet
  • Happy Acer Customer

    I've had the same "Acer" monitor for over five years, and happily...no problems as of this writing. But as a retired IT Guy I am reminded of a nightmare that I expereinced with an "Acer" laptop ( notebook) computer that constantly shut down due to overheating. Short of planning for the inevitable the only solution was to use it for only a brief time, and then either wait for it to turn off, or manually shut it down. Luckily it wasn't needed to day to day work, and eventually it was recycled.
    irgary@...