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