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Opinion: Amazon needs to stop listing Chromebooks with misleading information

I’ve been stewing about something Chromebook-related for a while and today I hit my boiling point.

When I look at Chromebook listings on Amazon’s site, I’m astounded by how many older Chromebooks are shown with misleading titles such as the “Newest” or “2020” model when in fact, the device is an older Chromebook.

Some are even from Amazon’s own stock as they’re renewed or refurbished models. That point is clearly stated, but even so: These are often not new or this year’s models. And even worse for all Chromebook listings, but especially for the less current devices, there’s no mention of when Google will cease providing software updates for them.

Need some examples that might sway potential buyers who think they’re getting a current model Chromebook when in fact, they’re not? These are screen shots from Amazon today; I won’t link to the products because I don’t want to see anyone actually purchase an old Chromebook that’s advertised as “new” or from 2020.

Here’s the MediaTek-powered 2020 Acer Chromebook R13, which launched in 2016 and stops getting software updates in June of 2024:

The “date first available” in the listing is May 1, 2020. For folks not in the know, it’s reasonable to assume this Chromebook debuted last month. In reality, it’s almost four years old and the listed date is when Amazon made this particular renewed item available.

How about another example, like this renewed 2020 Lenovo Chromebook N22? Amazon’s date first available is May 9, 2020, so it must be a recent model, right?

Nope, this device launched in early 2016. You can tell by the old Intel Celeron N3050 processor, a now-discontinued chipset that debuted in the first quarter of 2015! Well, you can tell if you know what you’re looking at it, that is. And the N22 stops getting automatic software updates in June 2022, so you’re looking at no more than two years of security updates.

The same chipset and software update expiration date apply to the HP Chromebook 11 that Amazon has listed as a 2020 model. And this one isn’t even a refurbished or renewed unit! This is just left-over inventory from 2016!

There are many other examples, but you get the point. And these are typically among the first devices shown when you generically search Amazon for a Chromebook. I’m sure many of these devices are sold because of that and the perception of a good deal.

Let’s be honest: In 2020, none of these are a good deal.

These will all have relatively poor performance as compared to comparable or lower-priced actual 2020 Chromebook models.

Put another way: Do. Not. Buy. These.

Instead, look at the newer devices that in the same price bracket of up to $350.

You would be much happier and have a device that will get Chrome OS software updates for a good six to eight years from now with any of this small sampling of devices:

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook 14 front
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook 14

Frankly, it feels like Amazon is taking advantage of new Chromebook buyers naiveté when it comes to these ads.

The Chromebook market as compared to that of Windows as macOS laptops is still relatively small as the bulk of people really don’t have a good understanding of what Chrome OS is just yet. So when they see a low-cost Chromebook, especially when it’s listed at “newest” or “2020”, they’ll likely never know that the device is based on hardware that’s several years old.

It’s simply wrong.

And I hope Amazon puts a stop to it because while it may be good for it as an online retailer, a terrible end-user Chromebook experience does nothing to help advance the Chrome OS market and fleeces customers who think they’re getting something that they’re not.

author avatar
Kevin C. Tofel

54 thoughts on “Opinion: Amazon needs to stop listing Chromebooks with misleading information

  1. Would be helpful if the AUE date is posted on every Chromebook and Chromebox. If expiration dates are on my groceries, why not here?

      1. Oh wow i just purchased one of these wow wish i had seem this article its hard enough trying to find a cloud based printer

      2. The EXPIRATION UPDATE must be a filter attribute!!!! …. simple and direct to the bone

    1. Because you would have to pass a law requiring it for any US corporation to do something like this.

    2. This is a real problem. Almost all of the promoted listings that show up when you’re looking at a Chromebook are these scammy listings that say things like “2020” or “newest version” bit are for three-year old models. There are a ton of these misleading listings.

      Another problem I noticed is that the Asus Chromestick is still listed as a “new” product. That’s a nifty little device, but it’s so old that that it will lose updates in a little over four months. I doubt Asus has shipped these for years. I guess they could be from an old stock of new units, but my guess is that they’re actually used. In any case nobody should buy them for any purpose involving connection to the internet since they’ll stop getting security updates in November.

    3. This may be a seller issue just. Copy and paste some original marketing materials. Also the same issue on some pc ‘s

    4. it’s a great pity when you have to approach the largest online retailer with suspicion. They we’re bought to book by the major Consumer Protection organisation in the UK for their blatant misdirection to get people to sign up to Amazon Prime. They still denied doing this even after the Avalanche of complaints. If the major ambition of the leadership of a company is to go live on Mars then perhaps we should not be too surprised. it cost money to do that and all all assistance is appreciated

    5. I completely agree. The AUE date should be posted and yes a number of companies are really taking advantage of this info not legally being required. Even SEARS was selling “refurbished” Chromebooks that had outlived their AUE date. Buyer beware whenever purchasing Chromebooks!! The AUE date starts at the manufacture date not purchase date so even if this is a new purchase from retailer you could get much less time of updates than expected if that model happened to be sitting on the shelf for some time.

  2. I don’t know how practical it would be to expect Web stores like Amazon or eBay to fact-check and police this sort of exploitative behavior. The real culprit is the AUE (Automatic Update Expiration) date. So on the other hand, it would be very reasonable to expect these Web stores to require vendors to disclose every Chromebook’s AUE date as prominently as the price. A more responsible Google would have made that happen from the very start. This prominent “AUE” disclosure should have an asterisk tied to a less conspicuous footnote that clearly defines its meaning in terms that a novice would understand.

    1. Amazon is the biggest importer of substandard and rubbish Chinese electronic goods into the West. Many times the listing is wrong like adding Thunderbolt 3 or Power Delivery 3.0 to an item without them . Many of the Chinese goods are fire hazards but all Amazon allows is to return within one month of purchase if bought through Prime Delivery. I have often bought stuff from Amazon which turned out to be fake or different from the listing. Many of the perfumes at Christmas time are Chinese fakes which naive people don’t even realise as given as gifts. When they were selling Xiaomi Poccophone 2 years ago in UK , it turned out to be different, cheaper model which was actually sent to customers from Amazon Italy.

    2. Not sure how it is in the rest of the world, but here in the Netherlands the retailer (the store/shop) is responsible for what it is selling.
      So if I buy something from amazon.nl they are responsible for what they are selling.
      It is not the sub seller or how it is called, since you enter the Amazon store and pay Amazon.
      So technically Amazon is the retailer and thus responsible for what it is selling.

      If Amazon would list items as newest models, they are in big trouble. Well at least for Dutch buyers.

      N.B. this cannot be waived in their terms and conditions, as European law states the seller is responsible.

  3. Kevin,

    I agree with your premise here. Someone needs to be responsible for factual information in the listings. Perhaps that is Amazon. In the first two examples, these list Amazon Renewed as the seller. I assume that it is in fact a division of Amazon, but who knows? The last example, and probably perhaps more representative of Amazon’s overall situation, has HP as the seller. This is clearly an issue of who is writing the headlines (analogy here to journalism). Someone (Amazon most likely) should be responsible for checking the accuracy of the claims in the description and/or have a policy be able to field complaints and enforce those policies with this regard.

    1. Thank you so much for posting this. I am one of the niece buyers out there that was just about to purchase a Chromebook, and I had no idea about this deceptive practice. And the fact that I have little money to live on and would have been unable to replace such an inferior product would have been a terrible dissapointment to me. You have saved me from being cheated!

    2. From my experience, Amazon Renewed can be sold bu someone else. I guess Amazon sets a standard for renewal and then allows it to be sold as “Amazon Renewed.” But I doubt Amazon really monitors quality at all.

      The thing I bought was functional, but was badly dented and made weird noises of impending failure. It was also a grey market product sold in Canada, but not the US. That said, I’m pretty sure the damage was done in shipping and would have been happy to keep it even after I learned it wasn’t a US model if it hadn’t been damaged. There was no product sold here with the same combination of features.

  4. They do this with alot of products, I usually buy last year products to save money and to try out stuff without having too spend much money…..it’s honestly really hard to find sites that state that they have a old model of a laptop…..I was looking for high end laptop from 2017 or 18 trying to save 500 600 or so… I came across ONE guy on eBay being honest/reasonable about what he was peddling in those 2 weeks

  5. This is a problem that wouldn’t exist if buyers would exercise reasonable caution and know what they are buying before they purchase something, and seller before they offer items for sale. so we are talking about protecting ignorant people and businesses.

    Amazon, Ebay and most 3rd party marketplaces are very good about full refunds for products that are not as listed – because the seller pays for the mistake.

    It’s not just Amazon that has this issue with Chromebooks.. That sellers can do this comes from a practice by some manufacturers of releasing production runs of a model with identical platform chipsets under different part numbers. Each part number gets a different SKU and ASIN.

    Example : the Acer R11 was a slightly modified 738 model. (Platform support ends 12/3/2021). When I bought mine in 2017, it was available under 4 different part numbers. Mine was CB5-132T-CL1K. In the past 3 years the same machine was available in 2 colors in multiple country versions, with varying amounts of memory and straege. Every variation has a different par number. All are named R11.
    Exampe: I bought two Asus Chromebook 3s one in 2017, one in 2020. Same processor, memory and storage, different part numbers. If I had believed it was supported through +2025 and paid the MSRP, I would have been upset to learn the truth. Knowing the EOS date, I was willing to pay under $1/week use for the newer one,

    With a product that doesn’t have a fixed “expiration date” this wouldn’t be a problem. But my experience is that NONE of the larger retailers marketing staffs have enough product knowledge to be aware that Chromebooks “expire” , and I’m guessing that many of the smaller retailers that sell Chromebooks are no better informed.

    Amazon has a unique issue. It does not not require that support periods (warranties) for most product be explicitly stated or directly linked within each listing. This isn’t a problem unique to Chromebook listings.

    My proposed solution would be for Google to require every new Chromebook to have a sticker on its carton and palmrest that says “System Update through : mm/dd/yyyy” AND require that ALL online listings of “by Google” products CONTAIN full warranty details. This would provide a way for purchasers to recognize that there is a problem before opening the product.

    1. The issue and responsibility to correct that issue isn’t the buyer and doesn’t lie with the buyer. The issue is greedy people comprising greedy groups of people comprising greedy mega-corporations that fleece us and brainwash some of us into being their defenders and their mouthpieces who spread the virulent idea that it’s our fault for being abused

  6. +1 Kevin!

    I’ve even seen Chromebooks listed on Amazon that show the option to buy MS Office or antivirus software. It’s just plain wrong.

    There needs to be some penalty for vendors using deceptive sales tactics. They need to be held accountable and I would suggest that customers who have been victim to this type of behaviour are entitled to either a full refund or some other financial compensation.

    Amazon’s credibilty is damaged by advertisements that are essentially straight up lies.

    1. I see that ALL the time. Even on Best Buy’s site. It’s rather annoying, as well as misleading.

      1. Like milk, all chromebooks must be required to have expiration dates printed prominently on the boxes and units as well as in any advertisement with real and costly penalties if in violation. Only if we had a real consumer protection agency in Washington that would do this…

      2. I totally agree, we’ve had Chromebooks for well over a decade before Virgin America loaned them out on infights.
        Deception even by Best Buy selling Norton and things that don’t work on Any Chromebooks. I got stuck from Amazon by Amazon LLC for a newer refurbished and it actually was (flex pad) but from a school purchase due to Locked Out by ADMINISTRSTOR. So 385 loss believing it would be Fixed and then useful.
        N O T I have a museum piece by Amazon.. of course during Covid no Amazon driver would take it back no location was open for returns including Kohls. And if course from March to June 90 Days went buy with NO Help and TOO LATE should if returned it story after csr.
        We loved the condition and newness but not overideable. Been happy to just of rebooted swiped but not this newer one missing a backspace key anywhere on keyboard and impossible to swipe clean to fac specs.
        So we have a museum piece with their name unable to Soeak to Seller.
        Werd getting burned here alike eBay for j u no collectors sell I ng NO/ as us and getting away with flash ads!

    2. I spent an awfully long time trying to buy a Chromebox recently, only one listing on eBay stated it was nearing end of update period. Eventually found an Asus ChromeBox 3 Celeron, new old stock, on AliExpress and took a chance spending £160.00.

      This has a end date of July 2025, so 5 years use, felt it was worth the price, but 3 months to find a product is ridiculous.

      The end date should be on the packaging.

  7. I absolutely agree! This just happened to me as if last week. From a small shopper , Amazon lost ROI from this loyal one. There’s always another around the corner Besos. Signed, 25 yrs in Wall Street trading.

    1. It’s sold by a scammer company who named themselves amazon renewed. They relist used products under new, but sell with misleading title such as renewed to get away from Amazon full refund policy.
      I got scammed and wasn’t able to get my return shipping and 20% restocking fee back from a obviously used item. Amazon wasn’t able to do anything either because they had refunded prior

  8. TBH it’s actually Google that should take responsibility for this and continue the support for the hardware. I have a Samsung Chromebook series 5 that was “outdated” when I got my hands on it (traded an HP laptop to a family member for it because she wanted a working DVD drive, something else wrong with chromebooks). The Chromebook works fine as far as it goes, but longer term support would be nice to have.

    1. Exactly. I just resurrected a 12-year old PC, and I was able to install Windows 10 and update to the latest version right away. For all of Microsoft’s past ills, they are relatively much better with regard to planned obsolescence.

  9. Overpaid seeing as I had to spend $129 for Cannon to get me to add my printer n then 299.00 for cyberwear! Would have bought a brand new one!

  10. Stuff like this is why I stay away from Amazon (not to mention how they treat employees).At one point, I realized Amazon listings are listed at higher prices than other online sellers. Doesn’t matter the product. It irritates me everytime I search for something and Amazon is the first search result and the price is ridiculous! The last (used) Lenovo Thinkpad I got on eBay for $110. It was almost a 10 year laptop but Amazon wanted almost $1,000 for a used one of the exact same model! I couldn’t believe it.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon gets away with this kind of crap because some consumers so caught up with Prime membership status and “fast” shipping they don’t think to shop else where. They gotta make the prime membership worth the price.

  11. There are tons of problems with Amazon listings with regards to their descriptions. For example, I shopped all over the place for a gaming laptop for my wife. I settled on one from amazon priced at $699, an MSI model. Computer is great but had no backlighting even though the description said it did. Long story short Amazon gave me a partial refund ( a little over half my money back) if I wanted to keep the laptop. Which I did. I’ve checked the listing and it hasn’t changed despite my issue. You’d think they would update it.

  12. Amazon is not the place to buy anything from “stores” owned by other companies and fulfilled by Amazon. It goes with anything at Amazon, you don’t get what you paid for… And living in Canada, hah good luck in getting anything. Most of the stuff is not online in Canada because they are American sellers who are not interested in going across borders. Lenovo, HP, Dell, Samsung, you name it, not available in Canada. Even at their own websites you can only purchase 2 year old Chrome-books.
    The only place to buy a recent laptop is Google Canada but the uptick is not interesting at all.

  13. Thanks for alerting me of this issue. I was looking for a 2 in 1 chrome book to replace the one I have that no longer receives software updates. Saw a refurbished HP chrome book on Amazon that was advertised as a 2020 model. Glad I didn’t fall for it. Can you suggest a good 2 in 1 that is a current model and a good buy.

    1. Acer Spin series., If you want to get a machine at a low cost , look at Acerrecertified.com

  14. Amazon and other sellers on the marketplace are often devious or just outright liars. When buying any piece of technology check the specs from manuf website and check reviews. Even without understanding Google’s Chromebook end-of-life for updates (AUP), you don’t want to be buying items that were introduced 3 years ago, unless the discount is VERY substantial. And if refurb, there’s often a good reason so many refurbs are available – they are prone to failures.

  15. It’s not Amazon, per se, but their sellers. You can flag listings as bad but whether it does any good…

  16. Just bought a Chromebook from Amazon and luckily I did a lot of research and knew what I wanted. I got a new asus c434 but I saw Chromebooks as old as 4 years trying to slide by to some unsuspecting butter. None of the models I looked at had the end of update life listed and I had to look each one up on Googles website. I think Amazon holds the responsibility because they are the retailer that each of these individual companies are selling their hardware through

  17. I too have complained to Amazon about this practice and written a few reviews for “renewed” Chromebooks I found egregiously past AUE date to hopefully warn prospective buyers. That said I found Best Buy and other host retailers doing the same thing. Short of the FTC taking action or legislation victims have little recourse. On a related note they charge far too much for well used Chromebooks. Best value is to buy Chromebooks new.

    Thanks for getting this issue out in the open.

  18. “ And these are typically among the first devices shown when you generically search Amazon for a Chromebook.”

    You identified your primary issue. Generally speaking, the Amazon search rather sucks as a product search functionality. They often show entries that are only roughly related to the search term one searches for. The sort order by default “Amazon presents” is a joke. The available options for sort orders are a joke. The facets to limit products by category when you search a product category are often not very satisfying.

    So, the only sensible thing to do is use an external site to guide you to your device, e.g. as a European I tend to use this one, which has a UK branded (English speaking) one too.

    At least, in Europe BTW, there doesn’t seem to be many Chromebooks that were introduced in 2020.
    (But then, perhaps some “2020 models” started being listed actually in 2019?)

  19. Yes. Not worried about Amazon killing its own employees and then covering it up, or still paying the incorrect corporate tax rates and demanding Government subsidies on top. No, just make sure those chromebook listings are accurate.

    1. Stephen, your point about some of Amazon’s internal policies and recent actions are well taken. But this site is about Chromebooks, not social justice nor corporate tax schemes of specific companies, so those aren’t items that fit the coverage here. That doesn’t mean I’m personally not worried about some of what Amazon does in those regards; indeed, I live near the Amazon warehouse in Pennsylvania which had the largest employee outbreak of COVID-19 among all of Amazon’s US warehouse facilities. By not discussing it, please don’t assume I’m not concerned. It’s simply not what this site covers. Cheers!

      1. So then, is it not logically sound to conclude as a group that the issue, although AN issue, isn’t deceptive advertising and how Amazon needs to be held liable to fix it, but AMAZON itself? Amazon in its entirety.

        Isn’t the point youre making on-par with a rape victim disregarding the rape itself and posting online about the size of the rapist and how he/she was left completely unsatisfied by the whole event, essentially “rating the rapist”?

        Aren’t we all just rating our rapist?

  20. In fact it should be mandatory for all sellers of Chromebooks to list the auto update expiration date along with the price or 8n the description using the same font and in bold.
    Auto update date and low end hardware are two features where chromebooks lose to windows laptops.
    In windows laptop one can typically update RAM and disk.

  21. Thank you for the article.
    i fell into this myself, bought a chromebook as discussed.
    i had it about a month when i saw a message that the last update would coming soon for this model.
    Blew me away , i thought i had a pretty new unit. oh well live and learn.
    i will know better the next time. i am grateful your article and information will help someone not make the mistake i did.

  22. So, my first thought is something like this is just begging for a class-action lawsuit. Yeah it’s the lawyers who’ll actually have a big payday but it seems like a fun thought experiment.

    On a more practical matter, nowhere in the article or any of the comments (except PS Dodd’s comment) does it actually tell someone how to determine from the specs if something is genuinely new or just misleadingly being advertised as new. If the AUE isn’t listed and part numbers can be obscure as to real product differences, what is your average consumer to do?

  23. Yep.. just purchased an chromebook. Looked like the newer model was the older and past the Auto Update date. Not good.

  24. Great articles and comments. I have been looking for something like this, especially since the Acer chromebook I have went dark on me. I went to youtube videos to see what was going on. PC Monkey will take apart the back of a computer to show the audience how to remove a battery and how to clear the static buildup that will black out a chromebook. The suggestion is to not slide the chrome book across the bed. I don’t have a workbench to open my dark chromebook up. It is amazing how many tiny little fixes will start a chromebook to working again. I didn’t see a fix for mine, which has no light at all. On a charger the battery place feels warm, but still no charge to light it up again. No pressing the power button for 20 seconds fixes it. The charger must work. One person told me to ignore whether there was a light or not. Still didn’t work.
    So I have been looking at chromebooks thru amazon. I figured that chromebooks/computers would be a lot more expensive everywhere else. Looks like I am wrong. But still, on amazon there are so many reviews to read. Even that is confusing because many times there will be just as many negative reviews as positive. This is when I think that somebody is getting paid to write what they did, money being the object.
    A couple of times I nearly bought a chromebook, but even with the few negative reviews, something didn’t feel right. I wondered why the update and original computer build date was not listed next to the computer listing itself. This told me some kind of deceit was going on. The comments people make are priceless.
    Anybody know how to tell a good chromebook? Just yesterday I thought buying new would be the better choice. I read some of the seller’s reviews and they are not perfect. Some of the buyers of these refurbished chromebooks tell horrible stories about how the seller would not take back the broken chromebook, even though the 3 months was not up. Amazon itself said there was supposed to be no problem returning a computer within that 3 month time period.
    I get the same behavior when buying food from amazon Fresh. Cartons of sour cream will say cultured on the webpage, but when received there is no cultured word on the container. I recently bought beef. It was barely cool to the touch when I received it, so I looked up what it is supposed to be. “Thawed” is one of the negative aspects it could be, so I challenged amazon to back up its’ “thawed” word. Thawed to me means this beef should have been frozen when received. The person on the chat line promised me frozen beef as a subsequent delivery. The beef I received later was a little bit colder, but certainly not frozen.

  25. You posted this in 2020 and this practice of selling Chromebooks with expired AUE dates is still going strong in 2022. I’ve been looking for a low-cost Chromebook for my sister as a Christmas present. She has been on the fence as to whether to purchase one or stick with her Windows laptops. I figure she could get a good feel for how the whole Chromebook experience works this way. I will NOT give her a Chromebook that no longer receives updates from Google. It amazes me how many “Renewed” Chromebooks are being sold in this state. For those shopping around for older Chromebooks, this page gives you the AUE date for most Chromebooks out there: https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366?#

  26. This is still happening in June 2023. I found an “ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 2-In-1 Laptop- 12.5” Full HD 4-Way NanoEdge Touchscreen, Intel Core M5, 4GB RAM, 64GB Flash Storage, All-Metal Body, Backlit Keyboard, Chrome OS- C302CA-DH54 Silver” for the “Lowest price in 30 days” at 6% off the LIST PRICE of $549.99 (they’re selling it for $516.99). This is shipped AND sold by Amazon. They even have the gall to offer to let you buy a 4-year protection plan for $113.99. The AUE for this device is June 2023.

    I will add that it can be difficult to figure out the AUE for a Chromebook. As someone else mentioned in this forum, ASUS often has a product that is refreshed in different years, or is differently configured, and each is listed with its own AUE. See, for example, the CX1 series: these expire in June of 2024, 2026 and 2030. They all have different variants, but many sellers do not provide the exact product name.

    Two things that Amazon does get right when they are listed as the seller is (1) they provide the full model number (e.g. C302CA-DH54, for the C302 device mentioned earlier) and (2) if you follow the “more product details” link, you’re taken to the spot on the page where you can find the “Date first available”, in this case August, 15, 2017. Now back then, IIRC, 6 years was the maximum time that Google would guarantee support, so that pretty much confirms that support will expire in 2023. But other sellers, even on the Amazon site, don’t supply any information, and it can be hard to figure out exactly what you’re getting, including what the AUE is.

    The issue here is that there’s a disconnect between the device warranty (including extended warranty, if you buy it), and the software updates from Google. The software does not appear to be covered in any way, really. Google makes a best effort to ensure that it more-or-less works, but there will always be bugs. That said I did buy a different ASUS Chromebook last year for my partner. It had what seemed to be speaker problems: one speaker was much weaker than the other in volume, and I don’t remember, but may have had other issues. After several calls to the ASUS customer service number that was shipped with the product, they gave me what I think was a firmware patch. I don’t remember exactly how it was applied. I vaguely recall that I had to do some tweaking of settings using some magic chrome:// URL, but my recollection is very hazy. But whatever it was, it completely fixed the problem. So that’s another potential issue: always be sure you can talk to the manufacturer.

    And yes, I agree with those who have said that this is an issue with Google’s device support policy. They are working on one aspect of it, which is the fact that you can’t easily get Chrome updates. Chrome is, after all, basically device independent. Being able to get Chrome fixes in a timely manner would be great, even if Google can’t support your particular device configuration indefinitely. The good news is that I ran across something today which mentioned that Google is working on separating the support for the base kernel from the support for the Chrome browser. If they succeed in doing that, then I think I could resurrect the old chromebook I’m typing on right now that just lost future updates (assuming they make this type of support retroactive, which is a big assumption…).

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