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So we bought my mum a laptop for Xmas, a refurbished "recertified" Gateway model that's only about five months old. It's a nice little machine, for a Celeron, but honestly Mum didn't need anything faster than that.

About a day and a half after she opened it, i.e. Boxing Day, the DVD-RW started acting funky. Refusing to read discs of all kinds, except some random ones, refusing to read or even recognise burned DVDs or data discs, opening at random, crashing programs. I fiddled around with it for a few hours, and am pretty sure it's the drive, that it's defective. We dug out the warranty, which has a little under a month left on it, and e-mailed Gateway, with a detailed explanation of what it's doing, what I've tried, and would you please fix this, where do we take it?

Gateway replied, finally, yesterday (I e-mailed them on Sunday), with a five-page list of instructions for fixing the problem, all of which I had, as I explained in the bloody e-mail, already tried, more than once. At the very end of the list was a complex and arcane set of instructions telling us, basically, to crack open the case and re-seat the drive's data cables.

I'm sorry, let me repeat that: Gateway told us to crack open the case.

I should mention, in fairness, that they stated, in print, that "merely" cracking the seal would not void the warranty, but breaking anything inside the machine while we were unqualifiedly poking around inside it, would.

Just. What?

I know certified techs who are nervous about repairing laptops, and they want some layman customer to open the case and bugger about inside?!

This is insane, yes? o.O

I think that when I get back out to my parents', I shall do the first nine things on the list for a sixth time, and when that doesn't work, I shall call and yell at them. >:(


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)

Owning a computer and not knowing how to do basic physical maintenance is sort of like owning a car and not knowing how to change the oil, fix a flat, check the belts, etc.

This is why companies like Gateway and Dell are perfectly justified in charging exorbitant rates for simple procedures like, well, cracking open the case and re-seating drive cables. It's perfectly acceptable, ethically and morally, to fleece the ignorant.

That being said - you come from a family of geeks and computer folk and no one thought to check the drive cables?
Jan. 31st, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)
Honestly, it's not the procedure itself that I find disturbing, but the process of actually getting the laptop case without breaking anything. With a tower, sure, no problem, but laptop. Eek.

I'm also reasonably sure that's *not* what's wrong, either.
Jan. 31st, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC)
And you can't pop the drive out and check it?

...or maybe it's just me that has a closet full of replacement PC parts...
Jan. 31st, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
I had a look at the "simple, step-by-step instructions" they sent Mum, and no; we'd have to pull up the keyboard and the top part of the base.

Which I should note is how I killed the top two rows of keys on my *last* laptop.

It's not that I can't see Gateway's logic ("if we make them try to fix it first, they're sure to break it, and we're off the hook!") - I just think it sucks. It comes down to which one of us has to pay to replace the damned thing if we break it trying to fix it, and I'd rather it were the company holding the warranty...
Jan. 31st, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I'm actually inclined to agree with you about the laptop. I own a car and checking belts, changing oil, etc, is something I'm capable of but don't do. Why? Because my car is UNDER A WARRANTY. And sometimes it's just better to let the professionals handle it. Ditto for a laptop. I used to do laptop tech support and we had some models that getting at pretty much anything required lifting up the keyboard. I actually walked customers through the procedure quite a few times without problems. Generally, if the customer accidentally broke something, the company would be all "yeah, ok, we'll fix that for free". And if the customer said "no WAY am I going to do this" then we'd set it up for a service without a problem (I think you're better off trying for phone support and just saying "no, I'm, not opening this, please service it under warranty" nicely and chances are, they will). Having supported laptops and worked intimately with them I firmly believe that laptops are something best left to the professionals. I think people overestimate what the average Joe ACTUALLY knows about computers. The vast majority wouldn't even know how to get the case off of a desktop computer, much less understand what's inside. I don't think it's fair to expect people to bugger around inside a laptop and say "but if you break it your warranty is void". As a general rule, yes that's fair. But when you're getting someone to open a laptop (some are easier than others, your Mom's sounds like one of the harder ones), and more or less assuming that they're an average Joe (you're not, but that's irrelevant), you're just not playing fair.

Also, I saw optical drive problems in laptop support more often than not. What the hell? I always thought it was because we were using crappy drives.
Feb. 1st, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
That's probably what I'm going to tell them - "If *I'm* not comfortable opening the laptop case, I'm certainly not letting my mother do it", and then they can tell us what to do with it so *they* can fix it. If it were a tower, I wouldn't even mind - but laptops are all tightly-packed and uber-delicate, and I am *not* screwing around with that again.

I have found the same thing with the drives, too. My current laptop runs everything and doesn't even flinch, but Dad's is randomly selective, and Mum's has been... schizophrenic, to say the least. Which is weird, because in general I've always found all the *other* hardware in laptops to be of better quality than PCs... presumably because they're so bloody hard to fix. o.O
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Chandri MacLeod

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