I’ve been thinking about doing a Tech support post for a while. On occasion I get questions from family and friends on “how to do…” something with a PC so, a posting where I ‘marvel’ about technology not working right seems a natural fit. Then I got to thinking it should be a sequential log to document the many technical problems that I’m having/had with regards to computers, networks, media center, xBox, PSP, Treo to MotoQ, etc. But, to document every problem that I’ve had would be too many and the blog would be unwieldy or turn into a massive tech support fix-it center and I’m about using ‘devices’ not writing about how they don’t work.
Sure, it’s geeks-ville around the ‘ol homestead. Excluding my work laptop (T60) there are two Dell laptops (300m & 8100), HP Media Center desktop, USTech CAT5 cable hub with a Linksys 16-port switch attached to a cable modem along with a wireless router for internet connection thru-out the house. Peripheral devices like a Pinnacle (ShowCenter 200) media adapter, xBox media center connectors and various HP fax, printers and iPods in various rooms…yep, it’s a modern wonder that media content arrives on any TV/stereo. I was on a mission…content “anywhere, anytime on anything”!
Now I’m about simplicity. I made a switch to an Apple (iMac) as my main system at home a few months ago. Call me a convert. Call me an Apple snob. Or call me a fanboy. Welcome me to the club because all I can say is it just works! And it feels great while it does that. It’s the best I’ve felt about using a computer in a long time and I don’t plan to look back. The Microsoft constant need to reset, update/install drivers and uninstall drivers and security patches and more driver updates and printer updates has me going “nutty”. So many things wasting my time rather than helping me be a better photographer or proficient in photo applications.
But, I’m not quitting my PCs just yet. With several at home and forced compliance at work I need to continue as the “updater)”. But, my latest experience in trying to get my Dell 300m laptop repaired is classic. The laptop turned 33 months old in December. The primary use has been a portable download/editing machine for my in-the-field photo excursions so, it didn’t get a lot of heavy use. About 3 months ago I started getting boot errors which then denigrated into failing to boot due to corrupted or missing files. After several unsuccessful tries to fix it with the OS repair-CD I decided a complete re-format was needed. Thankfully my back-up process is working and no content was lost.
So, here’s the deal. I just wanted to box the little 300m up and send it to Dell, have them repair it and/or quote me a price as to the cost for repair. As long as it didn’t exceed $400 I was okay to have someone else just fix it.
I went looking for the purchase receipt and confirmed it was out of extended warranty. I researched on line and called 800.624.9897 – the expired warranty support line. The guy (Vidhyarthi) in Bangalore had me repeat my super duper service/support number (you know the one to expedite processing of your call) and then after a few silent seconds he gleefully pointed out my 300m was 10 months out-of-extended warranty…yeah, I know. That’s why I called the expired warranty 800 number at Dell you retard…I had a feeling this wasn’t going to go smooth….
In broken En-ga-lish he informed me they needed to determine IF the problem was software or hardware and had to xfer me to hardware support. After a few minutes of dead air I realized my called was dropped…guess those lines to India are a little flakey?
After some research I found and called 800.822.8965 Hardware Support. After repeating my super duper service/support number (you know the one to expedite processing of my call) and re-explaining my boot issues to Tejveer (likely in the cube next to the dude who just dropped my call?) said that she would need to xfer me to Software Support to determine if it was indeed a hardware issue. WTF?
Even after complaining, she xfered me to 800.507.3355 (see I’m getting wise and ask for the number FIRST….just in case their most awesomeness phone system drops me again!) and got the software technical support.
Mr. Paramjit Singh (in another India-English accent) also ask for my super duper service/support number (you know…that one to expedite processing my call) and then he proceeded to instruct me on the need to remove covers, unplug the memory board, unplug the network card, remove the cable to the modem card…and then we’ll run diagnostics. Huh?!
Get this…I’m on the phone, long distance to Bangalore trying to understand what they are saying, and why I need to do anything other than write down a shipping address, but what the hey….I’ll play along. After all it’s their Qwest nickel’s for the phone call. Sure enough she waited while I strolled to the garage to grab misc tools to remove covers. I grabbed some more coffee on the way back from the garage knowing it was going to be an extended call….he waited very patiently….I’ll give him that.
After the removal of several parts and running the diagnostics per his instructions it was determined the disk drive had bad sectors and needed to be replaced. He was going to xfer me to parts….click and off I go. Some guy that didn’t speak English picks up the phone call. I couldn’t determine what country he was located and I kept shouting for parts…he xfered me to a sales office where they found a person who told me I would need to call the U.S. based parts department…duh!
I had to go looked up on-line again the parts number. Good thing I have a working Apple iMac to go on-line so much to look up the support numbers!! I called parts at 800.357.3355 (ext. 7269938) and chatted with John. Provided my super duper expedited service number and after several long minutes determined the part number (9Y273) of the 2.5 inch 60GB disk drive and don-cha-know they had several in stock for the low, low price of $249.00 plus shipping. I got John’s extension and said I would check pricing at Frys and call back. In all, I was on the phone with Dell two plus hours. Even at $.05/minute doesn’t this cut into profits?
The 300m sit idol for another week before removing the keyboard and bottom panels to pull the disk drive (#6 in photo). I purchased a replacement Hitachi 120GB disk drive for $119.00 at Fry’s (double the size for half price!) and then began the multi-day task of reloading the OS, ALL those drivers (the network driver being most critical to get it online for more downloads), over one-hundred OS patches/updates, then cam SP2 and I’m still trying to find all the applications. Wow, this self-made repairman gig sure is fun.
No, I won’t be doing any tech support blogs. I even had a guy email me asking for Zune music downloading tips just because I blogged about the device.
Nor will I buy another Dell or contribute to MSDF. Dell is the worst company for customer service and communication is impossible. So, I’m stick’n it to Dell one nickel at a time! I’ll be looking to buy a MacBook Pro.