RMAs ExplainedLaptops, desktops, and components like motherboards and graphics cards generally have a 1 or 2 year warranty/ After the first thirty days or so, you can’t simply take it back to the store where you got it — you’ll have to send it to the manufacturer for repair or replacement.
You can’t just send your faulty hardware to the manufacturer unannounced. They won’t accept it and fix it without knowing what’s wrong with it or who you are. They’ll also want you to ensure the hardware is actually faulty before you send it back.
RMA simply stands for “Return Merchandise Authorization.” You’ll need an RMA number before you send your defective product back and have it fixed or replaced. Geeks generally refer to this as “RMA’ing” a piece of hardware.
Get an RMA NumberThe first step of the process is getting an RMA number. You can’t send the product back without an RMA number — well, you could, but it would either be marked “return to sender” or it would be misplaced and you’d never see it again.
First, you’ll have to contact the hardware manufacturer’s RMA department to get an RMA number. There may be information about this in the warranty information that came with your hardware. You’ll also generally be able to visit the manufacturer’s website, locate the support section, and find something about warranty repair/replacements. Performing a web search for the name of the manufacturer and “RMA” will often get you to the right place.
You’ll need to either fill out an RMA form on the manufacturer’s website or call the phone number for the warranty repair/replacement/RMA department. Which is better? Well, it depends. We’ve had both good and bad luck with both methods. The phone can be a faster method, as you can exchange information back and forth faster. If you’re more comfortable typing than talking on the phone, that can also work.
Clearly explain your problem to the support department with a short, simple message. They’ll likely try to fix your problem via the web form or over the phone, so being clear that you’ve tried various solutions can help. If you say “My product doesn’t work,” they’ll likely try to walk you through troubleshooting steps. If you say “My product doesn’t work, and I’ve tried all these things, so I need to RMA it.” and list all the things you’ve tried, you’ll probably get an RMA number more quickly.