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.

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

  • June 29, 2020 at 12:11 pm
    Permalink

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

    Reply
      • June 30, 2020 at 9:19 am
        Permalink

        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

        Reply
      • June 30, 2020 at 11:25 am
        Permalink

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

        Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 5:03 pm
      Permalink

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

      Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 8:16 pm
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 10:28 pm
      Permalink

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

      Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 10:16 am
      Permalink

      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

      Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 1:06 pm
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 12:29 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 5:25 pm
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 2:27 pm
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 12:53 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 2:19 pm
      Permalink

      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!

      Reply
      • June 29, 2020 at 2:37 pm
        Permalink

        Glad this was helpful, Sharon!

        Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 8:23 pm
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 2:14 pm
    Permalink

    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

    Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 2:58 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 11:54 pm
      Permalink

      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

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 3:20 pm
    Permalink

    +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.

    Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 3:38 pm
      Permalink

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

      Reply
      • June 29, 2020 at 11:58 pm
        Permalink

        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…

        Reply
      • June 30, 2020 at 6:43 am
        Permalink

        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!

        Reply
    • July 1, 2020 at 3:53 am
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 3:57 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 1:04 am
      Permalink

      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

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 4:42 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • June 29, 2020 at 8:15 pm
      Permalink

      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.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 7:26 pm
    Permalink

    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!

    Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 7:28 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 8:44 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 8:45 pm
    Permalink

    Is there an easy way for consumers to look up the lifespan of such devices?

    Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 10:28 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
  • June 29, 2020 at 11:31 pm
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 2:31 pm
      Permalink

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

      Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 1:55 am
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 6:26 am
    Permalink

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

    Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 9:51 am
    Permalink

    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

    Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 11:07 am
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 8:14 pm
    Permalink

    “ 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?)

    Reply
  • June 30, 2020 at 10:23 pm
    Permalink

    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.
    Jesus.

    Reply
    • June 30, 2020 at 10:57 pm
      Permalink

      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!

      Reply
      • June 30, 2020 at 11:11 pm
        Permalink

        Hey mucho respect to you sir for replying.

        Reply
      • July 1, 2020 at 12:06 am
        Permalink

        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?

        Reply
  • July 1, 2020 at 9:04 am
    Permalink

    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.

    Reply
  • July 1, 2020 at 11:12 am
    Permalink

    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.
    Jeff

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.