Hey, Micro Center, you DO reimage computers before reselling them, right? RIGHT?

By | March 3, 2019

Dear Micro Center,

Today, I went to your store in Cambridge, Massachusetts to return a Lenovo laptop which I purchased there last week.

You have a 15-day return policy on laptops, and my attempt to return it today was well within the time limit of that policy.

Your returns counter refused to take the laptop back because I had replaced Windows with Linux on it. They said that either I had to figure out how to get Windows back onto the laptop myself, or they were going to charge me $30 to do it for me.

Speaking as someone who has worked in the field of computer security for over 30 years, I say this with conviction: I sure as hell hope that you are reimaging any computers returned to you before selling them to another customer. Nothing short of a BIOS reset and complete reimaging is acceptable when reselling a returned computer, because nothing short of those two things guarantees that there won’t be malware on the computer when you sell it to someone else. (Technically speaking, nowadays even a BIOS reset and OS reimaging may not be enough, because there are clever exploits that can survive a BIOS reset, but you do the best you can…)

As an authorized Lenovo repair facility, you should be equipped to reimage any Lenovo laptop returned to you. Therefore, your refusal to allow me to return the laptop today means one of two things:

  1. You would have reimaged the laptop after I returned it, in which case demanding that I put Windows back onto it myself was a completely pointless, stupid waste of my time; or
  2. It is not your standard procedure to reimage any returned computer before reselling it, in which case WTF, Micro Center?

So, which is it? Were the Micro Center employees who refused to take back the laptop today just being jerks imposing a pointless policy that would accomplish nothing but wasting my time, or does Micro Center make its customers vulnerable to malware and corrupt Windows installations by not reimaging returned computers before reselling them?

Thanks,

Jonathan Kamens

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