I’m not that person you’ll see standing in line when the latest smartphone or laptop comes out.

To the contrary – when I buy electronics, I buy state-of-the-art and then it becomes almost a dare to see how long I can make it last and keep it running brand-new.

I had my 2013 Samsung laptop, running Windows 8, for five years.

I also used a Samsung Galaxy Note III – all the rage when it came out in 2014 – for five years.

Both devices ran like brand-new, largely because I handled them gently and system-restored them once per year to clear out all the e-gunk that builds up from installing/uninstalling stuff and saving/deleting files.

As far as the laptop, for years it booted up and ran like brand new, the screen was still bright (though one of the brackets holding it on was loose), and the battery still held about 1.5 hours of charge without AC power – just enough to get me out of a jam if needed.

At about the three-year mark, some of the keys started falling off the keyboard.

First the T, then the E, then the C… and before I knew it, the M started looking a little dicey.

This was all heading in one direction, so individual key replacement was out of the question – time to replace the whole keyboard!

Again, I Was NOT Giving Up On A Laptop That Still Ran Like Brand New Otherwise

I did a little research and found a keyboard on eBay for $17.95 that was advertised as compatible with the specific make and model of my laptop.

Then I Binged the Google out of the YouTubes to discover that my laptop was what’s known as a “back-loader” – meaning, in order to do any hardware repair, the bottom of the laptop must be removed and the hard drive disconnected before any work can be done.

Thank you, no.

Since time is money, damnit, I found a computer repair store right down the street with awesome Yelp ratings – about 4.4 out of 5.

I took the laptop in, showed them the machine and the link to the new keyboard, and

They Refused To Replace The Keyboard!


Yep, they declined my business.

Thank goodness for that!

Read my e-mail to John, the repair shop manager, sent several hours after he refused to help me.

You’ll see why he gained my full faith and confidence – and why he ultimately DID get the job of fixing the laptop.

In fact, he was so impressed by my due diligence and willingness to revisit my earlier assumptions, he waived the usual requirement that I pay for the replacement hardware before he ordered it.

Here goes:

Greetings John,

I’m thinking you guys were right to question the keyboard I found on eBay.

My Samsung laptop is Model Code (REDACTED)

After I left your shop I took the following steps:

1) Got a second opinion from a computer repair store about 3 miles from you

2) Did a live chat with Samsung

3) A friend of mine does computer repair and I spoke with him

The stories I get parallel each other.

First, replacing the keyboard by itself may not be the answer. The entire top housing assembly appears to be designed as one piece, “like the MacBook” as the other shop said.  (Thus that Amazon review you saw about ‘only if you break those plastic tabs…’ or somesuch)

Second, the latter two sources gave me the same part number – (REDACTED) – for the top housing.

Google that part number.

You’ll see a bunch of top assemblies (most of them removed from broken laptops like mine) on Amazon and eBay in the $45-$65 range.

The two things to be aware of:

  1. a) Be sure it’s a US version, not a UK version
  2. b) Mine does NOT have JBL speakers

You were suggesting buying a nonfunctional laptop like mine and cannibalizing it for parts.

Would buying one of these top housing assemblies achieve the same purpose and have the same likelihood of success as buying a laptop like mine (in both cases, sight unseen)?

Let me know if this seems like the right track or if there’s something else I’m unaware of.



Long story short, John invited me to come back, ordered the top housing assembly, and had his technicians install it.

Quick and easy!

Good as new!

I was stoked!

Indeed, I gave John’s repair shop glowing reviews on several review sites, including Google, Yelp, and the repair shop’s Facebook page.

At the time, I declared when we got to the point of having to deal with the monitor bracket, John would be my only call.

I ended up getting a new laptop in 2018 just for a change of pace.

If that laptop needs work, John is already hired.

It’s just a matter of when I want, or need, repairs.

John is a customer service hero, and here’s why.

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