Now that it's been a few weeks since my cheque cleared I feel it's safe to share my experience of Laptops Direct with you. I'll do my best not to swear or say anything libellous...believe me, it won't be easy.
I bought a Samsung R700 in April 2008 from Laptops Direct, and it died just before Christmas 2012 - blue screen, "hardware defect" etc. I spent a few weeks trying to resurrect it with numerous complete restores, with some short term success, but it would only last for a few hours (if I was lucky). Because it was five years old I thought I would have no option but to hurl it into the nearest skip. The fact that I couldn't afford a new laptop led me to keep trying to salvage this one and, on the day that I'd decided enough was enough, I stumbled upon the Nvidia Defect forum. I couldn't believe it! Everything I read was exactly the same problem that my laptop was suffering from, so I began the complaints process as shown on this website. Sure enough, Laptops Direct gave all the expected responses and said I would need to provide an independent engineer's report, so I paid the £65 for Paul at Lapcure to prepare it for me.
The extremely detailed report confirmed that my R700 was indeed fitted with the inherently defective Nvidia 8400 GPU. As a result of the testing process used by Paul my laptop was returned to me in working order (with the report stating: "The fact that the laptop is currently working should not be taken as an indication that it has been repaired. Neither should it be assumed that because the laptop is working then the inherent defect has been removed. The laptop will continue to work for short time after our test and then it will fail again."
I forwarded the report to Laptops Direct who (after some chasing) collected my laptop two weeks later. It took them another two weeks (and some more chasing) to tell me that they couldn't find anything wrong with it. I told them (several times, on the phone and via e-messaging) that I had done exactly what they asked, i.e. proved that the laptop was fitted with an inherently defective part and, therefore (Sale of Goods Act etc etc), I was entitled to a refund or like-for-like replacement.
After more than a week of arguing, I emailed them to say "Ok, we're getting nowhere, please return my laptop and we'll settle the matter through the Small Claims Court". That seemed to do the trick! Within a matter of hours, I had the offer of a refund of £116.66. A bit disappointing given that I'd paid £560 for the Laptop from new, but it was broadly in line with the calculation shown on the Nvidia Defect forum for a five year old machine. I replied saying that I would need the £65 engineer's report fee too and (after another week of chasing) they agreed. I did also say that I would accept a like-for-like replacement laptop, but they ignored this completely (all I wanted was a decent working laptop).
So, after an exhausting three months of arguing with them, I finally accepted a refund of £181.66. Of course, it took another week for them to actually issue the refund...and send the cheque to my old address, in spite of me telling them in writing on four occasions that I don't live there any more! (Luckily I managed to retrieve it).
Oh, I nearly forgot, I told them that I would only accept the refund if they returned the hard disk from my laptop to me. They said they couldn't, so I once again said "Ok, please return my laptop and we'll settle the matter through the Small Claims Court". The hard disk arrived the next day.
The whole process was incredibly frustrating - Laptops Direct were not easy to deal with at all (in my opinion). I don't want my story to be removed from this forum just because I've said some harsh words about Laptops Direct. I'm seriously biting my tongue here because I really want to warn everyone about their attitude to customer service...but I won't.
If you are currently in dispute with them DO NOT GIVE UP!!! Seriously, DON'T! It will be frustrating, but you have to persist. (The only things that seems to get a reaction from them are the words "Small Claims Court", so use them well).
Good luck, and thanks again to Paul for all his help.
All the best,