5 On Your Side

Woman takes 'lemon laptop' problems to 5 on Your Side

Posted August 11, 2008 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2008 5:09 a.m. EDT

— It takes a lot of books, brains and bucks to get through law school. A working computer is also a big help.

After dealing with intermittent issues with her Toshiba laptop for nearly three years, Catherine Hamilton called 5 on Your Side’s Monica Laliberte for help.

Her computer had lots of problems – including with basic word processing.

“That’s ridiculous. I mean, if a computer’s supposed to do anything, it’s supposed to type,” Hamilton said.

She got the computer just before she started law school. Within a few months, the problems started.

“I completely lost the document, because you are just typing and you don't hit backspace, you don't hit anything. You just hit whatever the magic button is that's going to be broken that day, and for some reason it will erase the entire paper,” Hamilton said.

Various keys randomly stopped working. She repeatedly sent the laptop to Toshiba and Service Net, the extended-warranty provider. When more than a dozen "fixes" didn't work, Hamilton asked for a replacement.

“It's hard to describe the problem," she said.

Hamilton said she understands why they couldn't fix her computer, which she believes was a "lemon," but she still wanted something done about the problem.

She reached her breaking point when her computer crashed right before the bar exam.

“I went to cut it on, and the hard drive was saying it was defective. And I had no memory,” she said. “And I lost all my outlines from law school a month before the bar exam.”

To vent, Hamilton drew pictures of herself and posted them online.

“You’re creating artwork about your crashed computer?” Laliberte asked.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s just … It’s so overwhelming it’s hilarious,” Hamilton said.

When 5 on Your Side called, Service Net officials said they handled only three of the repairs and that a replacement required four. When 5 on Your Side pointed to a fourth call, the company contacted Hamilton and offered a refund of approximately $1,200.

Hamilton said she will use the money to buy a new laptop. She'll need one as she plans to travel to Egypt for six months as part of a volunteer program. She'll be providing free legal advice to refugees.