My new laptop (Toshiba p870) has been doing nicely of late, but I decided I’d like to get the factory-settings re-installation media after all, just because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I knew I’d have to pay for these disks, but it seemed like a worthwhile investment (though it would be an even better idea if Toshiba shipped a couple of 30cent disks with a $2000 laptop).
Little did I reckon with Toshiba.
First, there’s nowhere on their site you can request the re-installation media. I had to visit their site, poke around for half an hour and then give up and send a web-based general enquiry instead. No matter, I suppose: slightly inconvenient, but the message got through, since the next day brought a welcome response: please ring this phone number between 8am and 6pm, have a credit card, your laptop serial number and your Windows product ID handy.
No worries. At 8.01am this morning I rang…and got told that “the lines have now closed. They re-open 7am to 7pm”. Well, I’m guessing that since it’s past 8am and they’re not open for business, the reference to 7am is just a mistake. No problem: hang up, retry later.
Actually, I re-tried 8 times, between 8.01am and 8.08am. Only then did I get through.
No matter: at least I’m finally talking to a human. Ah, I say: I notice your earlier email to me mentioned I’d have to have a Windows product ID. Trouble is, the bottom of my PC shows a laptop model and serial number, but no Windows number. Yes, the Toshiba representative says: things have changed with Windows 8 and Microsoft don’t now have product numbers on the outside of laptops and PCs. (So, I ask myself, why did your email say I’d have to have one if that’s no longer true: time to update your automated email boilerplate with the reality of the Win8 world, instead of the old Win7, perhaps?)
Well, no worries: I have my credit card, my laptop serial number and I’m ready to do business anyway. Not so fast, says the Toshiba guy: we need to see the receipt you received when buying the laptop.
Now, I bought the laptop at the local JB Hifi store. That’s a transaction between me and JB Hifi. I used my credit card, so that’s a transaction between me and Visa. But nowhere, notime did I transact with Toshiba, and I don’t see why they get to see receipts of transactions between me and third parties. Ah, says Toshiba Guy: we have to establish proof of ownership. It’s a Microsoft requirement.
Well, I say, Microsoft wasn’t party to my transaction with JB Hifi either, so they’re no more entitled to my transaction records than you are. Somewhat less, I’d say, given that I wiped Windows off my laptop within a day of buying it!
I change tack: how do I get this receipt to you? Just email a scanned image of it, he says. But what if I don’t have a scanner, I say. Take a photo of it with your camera, he says. I point out that’s assuming quite a few things. Oh well, just fax it over, he concedes. I point out that that’s assuming quite a few things, too! (Does anyone still have a fax machine?!)
I point out that the laptop might have been a gift, and that as a result I might not actually have a receipt at all, despite having legitimate ownership of the laptop. I don’t believe he answered that one.
As one of my recent commentators moronically pointed out, these are all first world problems: but I’m nevertheless mightily and legitimately annoyed that it’s impossible to purchase re-installation media without having your privacy trampled on in this way. Since when did Toshiba (or Microsoft, according to them) get granted police powers to investigate issues of legitimate ownership of laptops? Don’t they just sell you the software to run on them, wherever you got it from??!
Even if one concedes that they have an interest in servicing requests from only legitimate owners, it’s all just pointless security theatre: I could knock up an impressive-looking receipt with a word processor and a bit of imagination, after all.
I’ve written to Toshiba to complain. I’ve also written to the Department of Fair Trading, since it seems odd to me that the question of my legitimate ownership of the laptop can be raised by my simply asking to be able to perform a factory reset, should I want to. I’m paying for the installation media, after all (or trying to!): it’s not being provided by Toshiba out of the goodness of their hearts.
I await a reply from them, and I’ll probably just email a copy of the receipt anyway… but Toshiba sucks on this one and I won’t be buying any more of their kit as a consequence.