Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary. Now with pictures!
- Posted on
February 18, 2008, 10:50 am
rate this thread
needed a replacement A/C adapter. Friend went to major computer-theme
national retailer (the store was in Virginia, where the retailer's
headquarters is also located) and asked for help from a clerk. Friend
asked for help because a visit to Radio Shack, to a knowledgeable
middle aged salesman, turned up a warning that universal A/C adapters
often do not work. (Radio Shack employee attempted to find a laptop
"tip" that would fit the D/C jack; and even though a tip was found, it
did not charge the unit.)
At this other, larger, computer-intensive retailer, a clerk used an
"open-box" universal charger to show that the charger would work with
the laptop. Clerk demonstrated which tip to use, and the sale was
A month and a half later, the laptop began to have freeze.
Diagnostics all came up normal, but in under two months, the laptop
The computer technician who did the diagnostics asked, first, if the
universal A/C adapter was "set" to the right voltage. Technician said
Hand's down, the problem is the universal adapter, the most common
cause of laptop failure. My friend did not know the answer to his
question, because the retail clerk never explained that the "brick"
part of the adapter has a variety of voltages to set the charger to.
In this case, however, the brick *was* set to the correct voltage:
This weekend, friend was starting to part-out the disassembled laptop
to sell perfectly usable parts. When disassembling the universal
adapter, the discovery was made that the little baggy the actual D/C
tip should have come from--labeled "14--17 Volts" was vacuum-sealed.
Another little baggy, containing other tips, labeled "17--21 Volts"
was the one the clerk at the major retailer instructed friend to use.
The fact that the baggy with the correct voltage tips is vacuum sealed
led friend to ask whether corporation should be liable for the failure
of the laptop ($1200. in 2004). Brunch with a lawyer friend who
refuses to give legal advice elicited a terse nod. Hence, this
The manager of the particular store where the adapter was bought
offered the non-response: "We sell an awful lot of K_______________
brand of A/C adapters. They're used for Hewlett Packards, Toshibas,
Lenovos, all kind of laptops. I can't be held responsible for the
actions of a clerk who no longer works here. Call the manufacturer of
But the manufacturer didn't demonstrate the application of a wrong
voltage tip. So who, if anyone, can be "implicated" in the failure of
a laptop that had not been malfunctioning before the universal adapter
Re: Can Clerks/Cashiers Make a Corporation Liable?
We lack some important specifics, like the rating of the
original AC-DC power brick (voltage and current), and
specifics about the alternatives found at Radio Shack and
In general, if the universal adapter is a regulated type,
capable of roughly the same voltage and enough current, it
will work. These are basic electrical specs that make it
fairly easy to know if one will work providing of course
that the correct plug and polarity is used.
It is a bit confusing why in this day and age that a power
brick meant for a laptop, if not an exact OEM replacement
was not sought online. We are left wondering about this new
universal charger as well as the others since we have no
specs on it nor the specs of the original. You do list some
numbers below which I'll address as much as possible.
Crucial would be to determine the failure mode. An external
brick power supply does not directly power the laptop but
rather supplies an internal power board that is responsible
for regulation. It might be possible an AC surge, or
failure of the replacement supply caused the laptop's
demise, but in this case the replacement power brick would
be examined and found incapable of now working at the
correct specs for the laptop's power - and it's failure mode
found if it no longer lives up to it's specs (assuming it
did function as spec'd when new).
The adapter is not the most common cause of laptop failure.
It is a regulated supply and designed to shut off if it
can't output the correct voltage at the current level the
laptop is using. IF the universal adapter itself had
failed, the laptop should still work with a substitute brick
power supply. If the universal adapter does still work at
the rated load the fault lies elsewhere.
There are quite a few things that can go wrong with a
laptop, so far it is inconclusive and possibly coincidence
the laptop failed when it did. What happened to the
original power brick?
If the laptop won't work, how can there be the presumption
of still 'perfectly usable' parts? I suppose some things
like the hard drive, optical, keyboard should be ok but we
lack a lot of info and the supposed expertise of the
technician claiming the adapter is the hands-down most
common cause, is questionable.
We would have to know more about the design of the universal
adapter power supply to know if this is significant. It
probably is not significant as interchangable tips don't
necessarily have anything to do with the voltage delivered,
rather the switch or dial, etc, on the power supply being
set to the right voltage range is what is important, and
actually the salesperson selling the power adapter is not
responsible for what the person buying it does with it as it
is, as sold, a "universal" adapter left to the buyer to
implement and qualify for any particular use.
If the customer had received inaccurate information about
use of the product - not just lack of info, this might be
something to take up with the manager at the store selling
the universal supply, but as mentioned previously there is
no evidence yet (that you have mentioned) that this supply
damaged the laptop.
Tips in different sizes and shapes are provided to make the
universal power supply, "universal", but how a tip is
labeled in a baggie does not necessarily have anything to do
with the voltage used, it might be more like a generic
recommendation based on what the manufacturer saw as the
common type of tip used by certain devices. In other words,
unless there is something special about this adapter it is
most likely irrelevant how the tips are labeled, and
certainly not any indication of fault by the seller of the
power supply. I can say with certainty based on what has
been written that you have no recourse legally with the
seller of the power supply unless there were a specific
written warranty about fitness specific to the laptop, which
is not likely at all.
We don't have enough information to know if the clerk, or I
referred to clerk as salesperson above, had done anything
wrong. Most likely s/he did not. IF the adapter itself has
had a component failure due to defect in design or parts,
consult it's warranty policy though I doubt it warrants
against failure of the powered equipment. Remember, we have
no indication that the universal power supply has done
anything but work fine. Perhaps you have more info but we
don't, nothing indicated is damning of the clerk or
replacement supply "yet".
It is not clear that it is a "wrong voltage tip", and more
likely a random label has no bearing on the use of the
universal adapter nor the failure of the laptop. If the
voltage is set correctly on the universal supply, any tip
can typically be used. In other words we again need clear
detail of the universal adapter, you might want to link to
this product online, hopefully the manufacturer's webpage,
or at least a make and model or link to a seller who lists
some specs and hopefully has a decent picture of it.
Cause is crucial. Find the failure point on the laptop or
in the universal supply. Check the regulation of the
univeral supply by loading it to the spec on it's label and
measuring voltage with a multimeter.
Now that your friend has disassembled the laptop to part it
out, things become even more difficult. S/he certainly
should not have parted it out and then expected some kind of
compensation from anyone, even if there were a clear cause
and effect making someone liable.
There were three things that needed to happen. Take laptop
and universal supply to a more competent technician for
evaluation. If universal supply is bad, such a technician
should have no trouble providing a suitable power source to
determine if the laptop works with another power supply. If
the laptop is bad, opening the laptop will determine if a
discrete part(s) can be found and swapped, a separate power
board can be replaced, or the entire mainboard would need
replaced. Entire mainboards aren't cheap so if this worst
case scenario were necessary it would have to be weighed
against the perceived remaining value of the laptop - which
is not very much at all.
A used laptop, $1200 in 2004 is worth about $300 today if
that much, usually less assuming normal wear and tear for
four years. "Maybe" upwards of $500 if in very good
condition, except it doesn't have the right OEM specific
power supply which devalues it. Replacing the mainboard
will typically cost more than that $300 including labor,
unless your friend had the ability or a friend with it, to
do the replacement themselves, then a stroke of luck yielded
a low priced replacement mainboard from some kind of surplus
site or ebay, instead of ordering the new part through the
OEM or a laptop (new) parts specific seller.
In conclusion, without more information there was nothing
the salesperson did wrong, nor is the tip used with the
supply likely to be relevant so long as it physically fit
the laptop socket. I could be wrong, more info about the
adapter is needed. A more likely cause of power delivery
failure is that over time the laptop power socket becomes
stressed and pulls off the circuit board, requiring
replacement if socket itself is damaged or just soldered
down and epoxied in place if necessary to restore the
connection. THAT is one of the most common power related
fault in some laptops and if that had been the case any
competent technician should have found the fault.
Some techs are more hands on than others, some would do the
repair solding and using epoxy and others would just claim
the entire power board, mainboard, or power socket itself
(if remotely mounted and using wires for connection) be
entirely replaced at greater cost.
At the 4 year point your friend has gotten about average
life out of this laptop, they don't last forever even if
some are built better than others. IMO, if parting it out
yielded parts with enough value to have decent resale value,
that course should have been taken instead of buying the
replacement universal power supply in the first place.
Re: Can Clerks/Cashiers Make a Corporation Liable?
As for your titled question, yes a salesperson or clerk can
make a corporation liable, that is not the variable but
rather all the specifics are. If a clerk reads a package
that claims it is suitable to do the job then it is the
product manufacturer who is responsible if anyone, and
perhaps your friend for not reading the instructions? If
someone is unfamiliar with the particulars of electronics
and power supplies then all the more reason to buy the exact
OEM replacement or at least do more research and proceed
with extra caution.
I can't say the clerk or corporation bears no responsiblity
for the failure, only that there is no indication of
anything in particular that they did wrong
February 19, 2008, 12:24 am
Re: Can Clerks/Cashiers Make a Corporation Liable?
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote in news:3a02fffb-843e-40d9-a452-
Your post is OT for this NG. This is not the proper group for legal advise.
Post your query in: misc.legal.computing or some other relevant NG.
Your friend needs to learn how to think for him or herself, start reading
equipment manuals and take some personal responsibility.
- » Newest MemTest86, MemTest86+ incompatible with Sandy, Ivy chipsets?
- — Next thread in » Computer Hardware