Update February 14, 2022: Newegg has replied to our request for comment, you can find it at the bottom of the article here. Newegg also now says it will accept returns on “open box” products “no questions asked.”
PC retailer Newegg has found itself embroiled in a broad controversy, which could make you think twice before sending money to the company.
Popular tech outlet Gamers Nexus recently reported an incident with Newegg, which has long been a staple for PC builders. The Gamers Nexus team purchased a motherboard from Newegg, and later decided to return it having realized that it was no longer required. Newegg then claimed that Gamers Nexus had damaged the motherboard, and then declined to offer a refund. After several months wrangling with Newegg, it seems the company had attempted to get the motherboard repaired themselves, while also denying the refund. Considering that Gamers Nexus had never even opened or used the motherboard, naturally this raised suspicions.
After exhausting all customer service options, Gamers Nexus went public on his sizeable YouTube channel. As you might expect, this led to an immediate refund from Newegg, and a return of the motherboard in question. And this is where the fun really begins.
The damage to the motherboard was not consistent with the type of damage that would occur in transit, featuring bent pins. The motherboard also had an RMA sticker on it, which would appear to indicate that Newegg had attempted (and failed) to repair it with the manufacturer prior to selling it on as “open box.” Despite failing to get the motherboard repaired, someone at Newegg approved it for resale regardless. The whole affair seemed to suggest that Newegg has been knowingly shipping broken products as part of that “open box” reselling program, then declining refunds after the customers discovered their products were already broken.
This kind of stunt would be potentially difficult to pull off in the EU, where member states enjoy very strict consumer protection laws. Newegg, it may appear, could have found some kind of loophole in U.S. return and refunds laws, and thus, attempted to exploit it. However, it may also be the result of a rare accident, where an item was cleared for sale erroneously by an overworked technician. The problem with that idea is, many users across reddit and Gamers Nexus’ community claim to have experienced similar issues with Newegg, claiming damage to products as a way of refusing refunds. Since the initial publication, we’ve been contacted by more customers of Newegg reporting similar problems too.
We’re going to reach out to Newegg to offer them a chance to respond to these claims, but on the face of it, it appears pretty damning. If I had to speculate, I doubt this was the result of malevolent policy behavior by Newegg. As you can see from the above, they had to have known they’d eventually get caught. I think it’s far more likely the result of poor systems in place to catch these kinds of errors, stretched staff, and poor priorities being set from the top down. It’s also absolutely not okay that Newegg only offered real support after he went public — what kind of recourse would regular customers have? Either way, Newegg needs to do better. You may want to reconsider where you buy PC cases and so on in the near term.
Update: Since publication, Newegg got in touch with us to offer the below statement:
Customer satisfaction and integrity are at the core of our business.
Based on these priorities and customer communication, we have become aware that a very small number of returns may not have been thoroughly inspected before being routed for returns, liquidations, or e-waste recycling and were accidentally resold as “open box” merchandise. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were negatively impacted.
These were unintentional process errors and isolated incidents. As a result, we have already changed internal procedures to improve how we manage product returns. We are also reaching out to this small number of customers who may have been affected by these errors.
We deeply appreciate the feedback and advice we receive from our customers, including alerts about our errors, and we always pursue better ways to serve them. Every customer is important, and each customer’s satisfaction is our utmost priority. We remain committed to providing the best customer experience and will continue to evaluate and improve our business to deliver on that commitment.
Further, we have put in place new policies to ensure a hassle-free return experience on “open box” merchandise returns on motherboards and CPUs.
Update 2: Newegg offered an addendum and additional information. A Newegg spokesperson added that they’ve created new policies to ensure a “hassle-free” return experience on all “open box” merchandise returns for motherboards and CPUs. I asked exactly what those policies entail, and Newegg confirmed that they intend to accept all returns on “open box” products on a “no questions asked” basis, in what could be considered a huge win for customers with the firm.
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