I bought a new laptop computer at Fry's just over a month ago. My old one was enough to surf the web and take notes, but impossible to use for any programming work. (Or, let's be honest, games either. But I didn't focus on that. Honest.)
Anyway, I've been fairly happy with my new laptop, an HP Pavilion. But last week one of the buttons on the touchpad stopped working -- to be precise, it was the equivalent of the left mouse button. Now, this was not a huge issue, because you can click on something by tapping the touchpad itself, and also I bought a small wireless mouse that does the job better anyway. But it was annoying, especially since the button felt like it should be working just fine. I thought it might even be a software problem.
So I brought it back to Fry's and asked them take a look at it. They took a few minutes and then said "We'll get you a replacement." That's it. So I quickly wiped all my personal data (they say they wipe the hard drive immediately, but I figure you ought to be careful) and then they just walked up, pulled a replacement fresh out of the box, and slipped it in my carrying case. It took about 30 minutes of paperwork, but not too bad.
Now on the one hand, I appreciate Fry's replacement policy, and think that was extremely handy. On the other hand, this episode doesn't make me very confident in the quality of my purchase. I spent much of today reinstalling all my essential software (Eclipse, MySQL data manager, Firefox, Thunderbird, Google Earth... and yeah, World of Warcraft) and that was a huge pain in the butt. I hope that I don't just need to keep returning to Fry's for replacements every month.
On the other other hand, this incident does make me appreciate the new decentralized way of managing data that I've gotten used to. I didn't have to go home and back up my work, because every document I need is in a briefcase or source control program on my desktop. My contacts are online in Plaxo; my bookmarks are in Del.icio.us; my web feeds are on reader.google.com. All the work was to get the programs running, and mostly you can quickly download the latest versions of everything straight from the web without inserting any discs. That's awfully convenient.