I’ve just been treated so badly by Toshiba that they’ve lost me as a customer for life. After what I’ve been through, I’d strongly recommend that anyone considering buying a Toshiba product think very seriously about going with another manufacturer.
I recently purchased a Toshiba M200 Tablet PC with Windows XP Tablet PC 2005 Edition and Microsoft OneNote. Upon booting up the machine for the first time, the M200 greeted me with the message “Windows installation incomplete, please run Setup again”. I tried to get the system to boot into both Safe mode and the Recovery Console so I could try and repair the install, but all attempts failed with the same message; Toshiba had somehow managed to ship a machine with a broken Windows XP install.
“OK”, I thought, “I’ll just run the installer again”. Here’s where I ran into my first problem – there were no install CDs. I rang Toshiba Customer Service, and it turns out that while they don’t ship install CDs with the M200, I could have Windows XP re-installed at the local Toshiba Service Centre. “So how do I re-install Microsoft OneNote?”, I asked. The answer? “I’m sorry sir, we can’t help you with that, we can only re-install Windows XP”. I argued that I’d bought a OneNote license from Toshiba, but after about 10 minutes of going round in circles I realized the customer service rep didn’t want to help and simply didn’t care about my problem, so I resolved to sort out the XP install first then tackle the OneNote problem later.
Next, I rang the local Toshiba Service Centre to book-in the laptop for a re-install. The first thing the staff asked me was how I’d like to pay the $80 re-install fee. I argued that the Tablet was under warranty, and that it had come out of the box with a corrupt install. They told me that they were aware of that, and that’s why they were only charging me the “cheap” re-install fee. If the Tablet wasn’t under warranty I’d have to pay even more.
At this point I just could not believe what I was hearing: Toshiba’s software licensing policy is basically “deceive then extort”. Every time you need to re-install your system, you lose any software you’ve purchased that isn’t Windows XP and have to pay to have XP re-installed. Toshiba fools you into thinking you’ve bought software licenses, when all they’re really selling is the privilege of paying them money every time Windows bites the bullet.
After wasting days sorting out this issue, I fell back to my last resort: install Windows XP Tablet 2005 Edition from my MSDN subscription, and download and install the roughly twenty separate M200 drivers from the Toshiba website. With the M200 up and running, I thought the nightmare was over. In reality it was only beginning.
The first thing I did after the manual install was to setup the screen rotation utility so that the M200 would automatically switch between a landscape and portrait display when I put it in tablet mode. I found that the when using the M200 as a tablet, the display mode would randomly switch between landscape and portrait mode. Investigating further, I found that the screen latch wasn’t locking into place correctly, so everytime I moved the M200 the screen latch would move up or down, triggering a display mode switch.
Given this was a reproducible hardware issue, I again called my local Toshiba Service Centre, and they agreed to fix it under warranty. They promised they’d keep me up to date on the progress of the fix, but I didn’t hear anything from them for two weeks. When I went to pick up the “repaired” laptop, I checked the screen latch and discovered it was just as bad as before. I mentioned this to the technician, and he told me “it’s a common problem and we don’t have a fix for it, so I just modified the registry to adjust the tolerance on the screen rotation utility”. I told him that wasn’t anywhere near good enough and that if they couldn’t repair an obvious hardware fault they should replace the laptop. His response? “As far as I’m concerned the problem’s gone mate, case closed”.
In all my dealings with Toshiba customer service, they’ve either given me the runaround (Toshiba Australia phone support), or flat out told me they weren’t interested in helping me anymore (Toshiba Mobile Care Service Centre). In the end, three weeks after I bought my M200, I have a dodgy screen that Toshiba refuses to fix, a completely unacceptable “workaround” that won’t survive a re-install, no way to install the Windows XP Tablet PC 2005 Edition license I own without paying through the nose, and absolutely no way to install the Microsoft OneNote license I own. I’m thousands of dollars out of pocket and my brand new Tablet PC is basically an unusable chunk of broken plastic. I’m absolutely sickened by they way I’ve been treated by Toshiba, and will never buy another Toshiba product.
If you’re thinking about buying Toshiba, I’d urge you to think again. Once they have your money, you mean nothing to them. Toshiba simply doesn’t care about supporting its customers.
Update, 02 June 2006: Toshiba US contacted me offering to send me replacement recovery disks, but after 1.5 months I still haven’t received anything, nor have they responded to any emails I’ve sent. Toshiba Australia responded with a “commerical in confidence” email, so I’d rather not repeat their reponse, save to say that they won’t be offering me any kind of help or support.