My refurbished computer from TigerDirect doesn’t work. Can I get my money back?

Illustration by Dustin Elliott

Jane Tabachnick orders a refurbished computer from TigerDirect. It doesn’t work, and she asks for a refund. Why can’t she get her money back?

Q: I bought a refurbished computer from TigerDirect recently. I was not aware at the time that the computer would come to me via Blair Technology, one of the company’s partners.

The first computer arrived and did not turn on. Blair agreed to replace it.

I received a replacement, but it stopped working after a week or two. When I spoke with Blair’s support about getting a replacement computer, a representative there told me if I had any problems they would refund me. I agreed to let them ship me a new computer rather than get a refund.

The next replacement computer did not work.

I requested a refund and called both TigerDirect and Blair multiple times only to have each of them say the other one is responsible. TigerDirect told me I need an authorization number and then Blair Technology told me they didn’t issue RMA numbers. I wrote to the executive offices of both companies and did not hear a word.

I’ve asked my credit card company to get me a refund and they have not been successful. I would appreciate your speaking with the companies and getting me a refund for the $213. I have the dead computer sitting here waiting to be returned for my refund. – Jane Tabachnick, Montclair, New Jersey

A: Refurbished computers are hit-or-miss. You might get a problem-free computer that lasts five years or more. Or you might get a dud. Or two. Or three.

Your case is extraordinary. Usually, if you get a non-working product, the replacement will work. You were exceptionally unlucky.

Here’s the problem – and it’s not your problem. TigerDirect didn’t sell to you directly. It was just the middleman. Your computer came from another company, Blair Technology. Many companies do this, but when they do it’s important to remember that the business that sold you the item (in this case Tiger) is the responsible party. So it doesn’t matter that one company issues an authorization number and another doesn’t. That’s not your concern. It’s their problem.

Although I don’t publish the executive information for TigerDirect, it’s fairly easy to find the names of its managers and their emails online. I would have sent a brief, polite email to one of them, asking them to help you break this logjam. It looks like you tried that but were ignored. I have some additional tips for getting better customer service by using the Elliott Method, my proven strategy for obtaining excellent customer service.

I contacted TigerDirect on your behalf. The company reached out to Blair to address the RMA problem and then refunded your purchase.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at or get help by contacting him at

© 2023 Christopher Elliott