Man's warranty expires before repairs finish: Is he covered?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you have just days left on a warranty and the machine suddenly breaks down, are you still covered?

For a San Francisco man it was a race against time.

He had just days left on a service "protection plan" for his laptop when he noticed the function keys weren't working. He would try to play a DVD, but -nothing happened.

"This is the play button and it's not working,'' he said pressing the function key. The screen was blank. The fast-forward and reverse buttons didn't work either.

Thankfully he had purchased a two year protection plan from the retailer, Office Depot. It provides two years of free service for hardware problems. However, the warranty would expire in just three weeks. Office Depot agreed it was still covered, sent him a box, and Kourkoulos shipped it in for repair. However, the technicians didn't repair the keys.

"They sent it back with a note that said it was fixed it was a battery issue, they fixed it,'' Kourkoulos said. "But there was nothing wrong with the battery and they didn't address the issue whatsoever."

The keys still didn't work.

Kourkoulos sent the laptop back for another repair. This time the technicians said they could find nothing wrong with the laptop, and keys were working perfectly. Kourkoulos tried for himself, and showed us how those function keys still weren't working.
"I sent it back again and this time I also sent a DVD and I said, 'please, play that DVD, see what happens.' "

Next, the technicians announced it was a software problem, and his warranty covered only hardware. Kourkoulos said those function keys didn't work at all - so it wasn't software.

During all the back and forth, Kourkoulos' service contract expired. The company stopped trying to fix the laptop.

"I know for a fact that I initiated the claim before the warranty expired, and they are still responsible for it'' Kourkoulos said.

He asked 7 On Your Side for help, and we contacted Office Depot, which agreed the claim for repairs was still valid. And since the technicians could not fix the problem, it agreed to refund the entire purchase price of the laptop -- $424. An Office Depot spokesperson said:

"There was some back-and-forth as to whether this defect was covered, and the expiration date was approaching.... Due to the difficulty in fixing the issue and in the interest of providing the customer with a resolution, the decision was made to issue a check equal to the original purchase price."

"I was extremely happy,'' Kourkoulos said. "I was surprised because I didn't expect them to refund the whole computer. I just wanted the keys fixed."

Written and Produced by Renee Koury
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