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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | Repairs, Returns and Refunds | Performing a Repair or Return ]

Returning Systems or Components for Refund or Exchange

If you have recently purchased a component and it fails, is not compatible, or there is another reason why you are returning it for refund or exchange under the company's return policy, then you should follow these steps to return it. (This is for a mail-order purchase, obviously; if you bought from a local store then just take the item back to the store and perform the exchange or return in person):

  1. Contact the Company's Customer Service Department: Explain to the customer service rep the situation and ask for a return of merchandise authorization (RMA) number. This is a critical step! Most companies will not accept material for return without an RMA number, for several reasons. The RMA number performs two important functions: it uniquely identifies what the package is when the company receives it, and it proves that you called the company and they gave the OK to return the product.
  2. Clarify the Terms of the Return: What happens after you contact customer support depends largely on what it is you are asking for, what the company's policies are, and how reasonable they are in applying those policies. Make sure that you tell the representative if you are looking for an exchange or a refund, and find out what is allowed under the circumstances. Find out if any restocking charge is going to apply, and who is going to pay for shipping, there and also back again. (You should not have to pay for a restocking charge on a defective product exchange).
  3. Repackage the Product: The component (or PC) should be repackaged into the original packaging that it came in (which is why I always recommend that people keep all the boxes from their computer equipment for at least 30 days after receipt of the hardware). If you don't have the original packaging, make sure that you wrap the item properly. Components should be enclosed in one of those metallic static-free bags. All hardware should be wrapped and padded to prevent damage in transit.
  4. Address the Package: Put the company's address on the package, according to their instructions, and put the RMA number in clear, large text on the outside of the box as "RMA #<number>". This is very important. Also put the RMA number on the paperwork that you fill out for the carrier.
  5. Send the Package Back to the Company: Using a carrier such as UPS or Federal Express, send the package back to the company. Note one very important thing: insurance. Normally, if you are shipping a package, you are responsible for ensuring that it gets from point A to point B in one piece. Most carriers have a standard value that they automatically insure for when you send a package, but it's typically very low. Ask, and if necessary decide if you want to risk sending the item without insurance, or pay for it for the piece of mind. (Remember that insurance is against not just loss, but damage as well.)
  6. Keep In Contact With the Company: A good idea is to keep in contact with the company as the return is processed. Calling a day or two after the package is supposed to have been received by the company to double-check that it was received is a good idea. Then you should also find out how long it will take before you receive back your return product or refund.
  7. Verify the Exchanged Item: If you sent back an item for exchange, then you should test the item that you get back to verify that it is working, and that your problem has been resolved. If you were expecting a refund back, then you should be looking for a credit on your credit card (assuming you paid by credit card). It may not show up until your next statement. Make sure to watch out for it and verify it, especially to ensure that no restocking fees have been added if they should not have been.

Next: Using Your Warranty


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