Interesting thread you have here. I just left you a message above about your situation from the business side, here's some more information from the Tech. side. I just worked on my first ASUStek *made by ASUS* laptop last week, and it seemed to work pretty well, it's a model K52F. A little over 1 yr. old. This laptop failed on the IE10 (Internet Explorer 10) browser update Microsoft has been pushing out to Customers since Feb. 26th. Testing shows Motherboard, RAM, and hard drive to be ok. I was going to reinstall Win7 on the hard drive and do a complete windows rebuild, but the Customer and I agreed that he could use Chrome as his only problem with the laptop was when he was using his Earthlink webmail and IE9 would crash. That's a workaround really, it's a pretty new computer almost as new as yours.
If I had done a rebuild on that computer, and it still failed to install IE10, he probably had a faulty hard drive. And his system did have Win7 SP1 installed. You didn't mention whether your ASUS had SP1 installed or not. Here's the interesting point; every laptop I've worked on in the last year that WOULD NOT take the Win7 SP1 update usually had a faulty hard drive; new or old laptop. Another symptom of a failed hard drive in Win7 laptops occurs when the Automatic Updates feature from Microsoft stops working. In most cases, this is NOT repairable. I think I may have fixed one laptop out of about 12 I worked on with this problem. Some of them respond to a hard drive reformat and windows reload, but if the problem persists, it's usually a faulty hard drive.
You mentioned you are going to take your ASUS to your local trusted computer expert. Once you get some answers from ASUS, and or Sams Club. You might suggest that he pop another hard drive into that laptop and do a quick Win7 load; make sure he updates to SP1, otherwise you will fail the Auto Updates with the new IE10 push update. This can be done in a couple of days, and if the hard drive is defective you can use that to good effect while negotiating with both ASUS and Sams; something like "..what kind of product do you guys sell or make here?? Hard drives shouldn't go out on a brand new laptop??"
You'll have proof from your computer expert that this is so. Also, you can ask your computer person to print out diagnostics tests showing the hard drive is faulty. Pretty hard for ASUS or Sams to dispute that. Of course you have the Warranty void issue to deal with, so you'll want to be careful there.
Well, off to rebuild my movie laptop! again...
No, it was new sealed in the box. The shop I mentioned told me that it could be RAM, Hard Drive, or the Motherboard but I should wait to see what ASUS says. They can check the RAM but for both sticks would take a day and they would charge me for that. So I brought it home and am waiting.
Thanks for the conversation.