Small problem with laptop from eBay

I bought a second hand laptop from eBay a few days ago. It is a Lenovo X200, and after trying it for a few days I can say it is in quite good nick, apart from one thing that wasn’t mentioned in the description: the keyboard.

The keyboard does work, but the space bar is a bit wonky. If you don’t push it very carefully it often won’t register. It feels like the mechanical bits below it are not quite right. It’s a problem for me because I bought this laptop to take notes, so simply plugging in an external keyboard is not really the best solution.

There are of course many spare keyboards for this model on eBay, but I’m reluctant to spend money to fix a problem that I wasn’t aware of. Also, the cost of the keyboard on top of the cost of the laptop itself, as well as postage for both, will get too high for what I wanted to buy - a cheap, light, reasonably functional machine for me to take notes. So, do I have any right to discuss this with the seller? What is practical for me to ask that is also acceptable on eBay?

And of course if this can be fixed simply and cheaply do let me know!

I’ve had keyboards improve by turning them upside down and blasting with canned compressed air.

While for regular keyboards, popping of the key and cleaning under it is frequently doable, for laptops, the mechanism for holding a key on is often quite tricky.

Go with the air blast upside down strategy first.

If you think you are capable of removing and re-installing a keyboard anyway, taking it out, and giving it a good cleaning top and bottom might help.

Giving the keyboard a blast with compressed air helped a little bit; now I noticed a pattern, it looks like my key presses for the space bar have to be right in the centre of the space bar, or they won’t be detected.

It could be bad design, and in that case there’s nothing much I can do. Or it could be some odd fault, but who knows? Is this common in this line of laptops?

“Fixing” a notebook keyboard is usually a tricky exercise, replacement is almost always the best option. If the spacebar is not registering properly it’s likely one of the contact points under the spacebar is detached or out of alignment. Some notebook keyboards will allow for careful removal of the spacebar and re-installing it (if you can find and fix the problem) many will not and pulling off the spacebar will break the support contacts underneath.

Per this video it looks like replacing your keyboard is very easy. Seriously… it’s the easiest notebook keyboard replacement I’ve ever seen.

It’s unlikely that Leonovo designed this keyboard to only work if you hit the magic spot. It’s an undisclosed mechanical problem. I’d take it up with the seller and get your money back.

While this is generally true, I have a “beater” Lenovo that I use on construction sites and the keys get gunk under them all the time. I have had very good luck with pulling off individual keys, cleaning the gunk out from under them and then snapping the keys back on. YMMV

I have had very bad luck whenever I attempted to do this with anything but a Lenovo.

If you attempt this the space bar has a hinge mechanism at the bottom of the key so pull it back from the top.

Yup… Thinkpads are very modular, and Lenovo, continuing the honored IBM tradition, has PDFs of the servicing manuals for all of their laptops.

However, I couldn’t find even a second hand keyboard for less than twenty pounds. I’m really not that keen to add that to the cost of the laptop itself - I paid 72 pounds, and apart from the space key everything else is in good order. But it’s either that or sending it back and asking for a refund. And even if I did, how does eBay judge who is in the right? I cannot honestly claim that all the laptops of that model don’t behave like that.

Does eBay allow partial refunds? If the seller agreed, which I reckon is a long shot, I’d be okay with a partial refund to cover the cost of a replacement keyboard.

You can certainly ask for a partial refund. Buyers with issues do it all the time.

Here’s a new replacement keyboard for $ 19.00 - Ships free to US and also ships worldwide.

Really? Some year ago I had a problem with some books that really stunk of old cigarette smoke, and when I asked for a partial refund I got reported to eBay. I hope rules changed since then.

It’s a US keyboard, and I am in UK - not ideal but better than nothing. There’s a cheaper shipping option, but I wonder how safe and slow it is.

Partial refunds are ok. They’re described here. If the item was described as fully functional, you’re essentially dealing with an “item not as described” situation. As the buyer, you can request a full or partial refund… the latter seeming simpler for both of you. Just tell the seller the problem, ask if he’d be willing to try fixing it or else refund you the cost of a replacement keyboard + shipping. Any seller worth their salt would be happy to do that to maintain their feedback.

You probably want a UK keyboard, then. We use slightly different key layouts, it’s a pain to type the pound sign or the euro sign, and there are no markings for accented letters for talking to other tribes on your continent.

One other thing you can try is to press down FIRMLY on the spacebar across its whole width. Sometimes the small connectors holding the keys on get disconnected and things don’t work right. Pressing them all the way down until they contact the board, and then a little harder, you might hear something “pop” into place and your problem may be solved.

If I sold you a laptop that still powered up and just had a wonky spacebar for 72 pounds ($120 US) – a pittance for a wokring computer, really – I would not feel like I owed you a refund for a wonky spacebar. Certainly not enough to buy a replacement keyboard for it…

You can get a new laptop these days for about $200. If you’re selling a used computer and not telling people about a problem like that, you’re ripping them off. It’s not like it’s the scroll lock or some other rarely-used key… it’s the freaking space bar. It’s like selling someone a used car without telling them the trunk doesn’t close. Not a big deal if they’re ok with it, but they shouldn’t have to find out secretly.

crazyjoe and Reply show two different takes on the situation that I can see the point of, very definitely. 72 pounds is not a lot of money, the computer appears to be OK (apart from the keyboard) and it’s light and easy to carry, with a reasonable CPU.

On the other side, Reply does have a point; as cheap as this computer is, the cheapest laptop possible is going to be not much more than double the price, and it’s going to be new too - a warranty, no wear and tear, and so on. That’s why I didn’t want to spend loads of money on a second hand computer. I might have been interested in a fixer-upper, but for a much lower price.

Having said that - crazyjoe, if a computer being functional is enough to charge 70-odd quid, I have another very nice, but very old, Thinkpad T20 surplus to requirements; are you interested in it? :slight_smile:

If I bring home anothe computer, I think my wife will have me sold into slavery. Have you looked at and used “the cheapest laptops available”? They are generally of much lower build quality than a thinkpad, and warranty might be 90 days. I’d take an old thinkpad, I think, over that.

You can get a chromebook for $199. I am not seeing any other actual laptop computer you can get for that price, new.