Technical? -YES!... Support? - ummm...are you sure?

Well, not so much technical support as warranty repair; my notebook, just over a year old, started spontaneously switching off, so I contacted the support/repair contractor…

**Mangetout: **My notebook needs repair
**Support: **Certainly sir, could you give me the serial number?
**M: **<reads sixty-three digit alphanumeric string>
(interlude - the audience is asked merely to imagine the hilarity that accompanied the transfer of serial number data)
**S: **Ah! your warranty has expired, so this would be a paid-for repair
**M: **Ummm… it’s a three-year warranty and I have had the machine less than two years.
**S: **Let me just check for you…
(long wait on hold, listening to ‘Greensleeves’)
**S: **It’s… let me just check something…
(longer wait on hold, listening to ‘Greensleeves’ again)
**S: **Yes, that will be fine; so just pack the machine up and we’ll collect it… If I could just take down the details of the problem.
**M: **(at great length, details the fact that the machine spontaneously and abruptly switches off completely and that it appears to be related to intensive memory use etc etc)

(The PC is collected, a week passes)

**M: **(decides to check that everything is progressing nicely, calls the support hotline) Yes! hello, I’d like to get a progress report on a repair job that is with you.
**S: **Certainly sir, could you give me the serial number?
**M: **Oh God, not again.
(Interlude - this time, the audience need only understand that ‘3’ is sometimes alternatively pronounced ‘V’, ‘P’ or ‘G’)
**S: **Ah, yes…let me just check for you…
(long wait on hold, listening to ‘Greensleeves’)
**S: **It’s… wait a moment…
(longer wait on hold, listening to ‘Greensleeves’ again)
**S: **Right, well, I spoke to the technician, who has been trying to test it, but the problem is, you see, that the machine keeps shutting down for some reason.
**M: **Yes
**S: **So he’s having to find out what is causing that before he can fix it.
**M: **(sensing something is not quite right) You are aware that the shutting down thing is the actual reported fault, aren’t you?
**S: **Wait a moment…
(‘Greensleeves’ again)
**S: **The… hang on…
(More ‘Greensleeves’)
**S: **So it shuts itself down?
**M: **Yes, so I sent it to you to see if you could do something about that
**S: **OK, we’ll take a look, I expect something is wrong with it.
**M: **Really?

(Another week passes)

**M: **(is now seriously missing the notebook, decides to call up again - the usual serial number and greensleeves farce is played out)So, what news?
**S: **There’s definitely something wrong with it; we tried updating the BIOS, but it still seems to shut itself down.
**M: **Yes, so… what now?
**S: **We’ll have to try a few more things, I suppose, umm… (silence)
**M: **O…Kay… so when do you reckon…?
**S: **Difficult to say, it’ll take as long as it takes; we have to find out why it keeps shutting down, you see?
**M: **(hangs up phone and adopts fetal posture)

hah. It’s likely a motherboard or heat issue. On Dell notebooks I’ve seen the crappy heatsink they use on the CPU come loose, which causes all sorts of interesting problems.

My sympathies. Don’t feel bad by asking for a supervisor. These guys are very used to it, and it can only help your situation.

This says it all really.

We were having trouble with the starter on our former station wagon and took it in to our mechanic. That afternoon we got a call from the shop saying that we could pick up our (presumably repaired) car. My wife takes the bus out there, pays the bill, and gets in the car, which doesn’t start. She goes into the office and reports this to Mark, the owner, who calls over the mechanic who had worked on our car. It turned out that all he had done was try and start it a few times, and it worked for him, so he decided that whatever had been wrong had fixed itself and reported the car as “fixed.”

I guess after Mark fired him he started a new career in computer technical suppport.

AHA! So the guy was right! - There’s something wrong with it!

As AC noted chances are 90% + it’s a MB heat related issue. If things have progressed as you have related I suspect you are going to have to step in and talk to a supervisor and get your baby into the hands of a non-clueless tech that can replace the fan, the heatsink or the motherboard.

In service it seems it’s crapshoot as to the tech you get and there exists a sizeable “knows a little - knows a lot” divide in tech competency, and not much in between.

The guy I speak to on the phone isn’t the technician; the lengthy pauses on hold happen while he goes off to talk to the tech - I think actually, all that is really happening is down to poor communication on the part of the phone guy.

My best guess is that it is the MB or processor; it isn’t a simple overheating problem because it still occurs very quickly when I boot into Memtest86 from cold (although it could be a heat damage issue; it isn’t a simple memory issue because it still occurs when I test it with one or the other stick of RAM removed (unless of course they have both failed).

This sounds like something out of a Terry Pratchett book!

Could be a loose heat sink issue, or possibly a video RAM issue. Motherboard and processor replacement time.

As repairs seem beyond their ability <snicker>, shouldn’t they just swap the hard drive out to a new notebook & ship it back to you…? The warranty…doesn’t it allow you to request/demand that?

Hey hey hey! This isn’t a “help me with my computer” rap, it’s clobberin’ time for tech support.

Mangetout, I feel for you. I’ve just spent the weekend going 'round and 'round with DirecWay Satellite Internet back at my ma’s place in Colorado. It’s positively stupefying speaking to a fellow named “maverick” in Delhi who’s clearly reading prompts off of a computer screen.

The Golden Years of Tech Support are over, my friend.
BTW: I’ve had similar problems with notebooks. Is it by any chance a WinBook? If so, in my experience it could be a lousy battery connection. (I know it sounds silly, but it’s true.)

This reminds me of something that happened to me recently.

There were a few little things wrong with my car which I had ignored because they didn’t really bother me. My warranty was almost up a few months ago and since they were covered, I thought I’d take it by the dealership to get them fixed for the deductable while I still could.

Turns out I needed a few things replaced, among which was the control panel (I think I have that right) in the dashboard. I needed it fixed because the gas gauge was not showing me how much gas I had left (it would show almost empty when I had just filled it or full when I’d already driven 200+ miles on that tank).

They told me that it was not covered by the warranty I had purchased with the car, and that it would cost $700+ dollars to fix. This didn’t sound right, so I went home and dug out my paperwork. Turns out it was actually listed as one of the parts they covered!!

I ended up calling the warranty company. One of the questions they asked me was how many miles I had on the car. I told them about 64,000. She went on to inform me that my warranty was expired, since it was a three year, 36K warranty. I had to patiently explain to this ignoramus that I had purchased the car used, and it already had 38,000 miles on it when I purchased the warranty. I had to go up through three levels of their management to get them to honor the warranty.

Anyway, to make this long story a little less long, I think you should definately get a supervisor on the phone. Who knows? Perhaps you can get some sort of discount off your next computer.

Several years ago, I bought an Alpine car stereo for my truck from Circuit City- at the same time, I bought a 12-disc CD changer, and the model of stereo was designed to work in conjunction with the changer. At the time, I had the policy of always buying the CC warranty (I’ve learned my lesson), so when the display on the radio began randomly shutting off, I took it in to have it repaired. I wasn’t looking forward to being without music in my truck for that long, but must needs.

So I took it up to the store, they removed the stereo, and, having taken my description of the problem, shipped it off for repair.

Two weeks later, I get a call telling me it’s in. I return to the store, have the stereo reinstalled, and drive off. I get about 50 feet before I realize it’s doing exactly the same thing again. So I returned to the store.

As near as anyone could tell, nothing had been done to the stereo that would qualify as “repair”. So, out it comes and off it goes, again.

Another two weeks passes. This time, when the stereo is reinstalled, I’m able to use it for about a day before it does it again.

At this point, I’m a bit peeved. Irked, even.

I return it again, and, when I get it back another two weeks later, I’m advised by the technician/installer guy (who’s been sympathetically removing and reinstalling the stereo for me) advises me to just say it did it again, as the policy is that if a covered item can’t be repaired three times, I’m eligible to have a replacement item- and, since my model is no longer being made, I’ll get an upgrade.

It turns out I didn’t even need to do this- because, you guessed it, the display wouldn’t even come on this time!

I return to the store to resolve the damn problem. Enter the Manager Bitch from Hell (MBH). MBH tells me that, no, it’s got to be sent in for repair and returned three times, not just returned. Oooookay… Let’s give it another try. At least, this time, if it’s returned to me, I’ll be getting a new one ('cause I’d decided that, no matter if it was fixed, by god I’d say it’s still doing it- I’d been without music for six weeks, and it looked like another two weeks in addition).

Two weeks later (2 months!), I get it back. Yep, dammit- it did it again. I returned it to the store, and demanded they fulfill the conditions of the warranty.

MBH deigns to give me store credit, since my model’s no longer being made. And it turns out that the model that will work with my CD changer is about $150 more- and, no, MBH won’t give me a deal- she has the balls to tell me that I was getting a good enough deal as it was, since I was getting the higher model for ONLY the difference between the two!

I stormed out, and sent off a nasty email to the corporate office, explaining my situation.

A day later, the manager from a completely different store called to tell me that his store was willing to upgrade my system for free.

Now I never shop at the original store. And I no longer get the warranty.

Ah, a fellow victim of technical support. Perhaps we could form a support…erm…self help group?

For extra fun and frolics, you can try giving them tag numbers using phonetic alphabet. That’s great fun:

“My code is tango, bravo…”
“Nah mate, it’s a set of letters on the side. It wouldn’t 'ave words innit”


After having spent several eons on hold with Olympus sales and tech support, I can say that my favorite on-hold music has got to be Chicago’s “Saturday In The Park”.

Not because it’s a good song, but the lyrics are just so…appropriate.

At one point, we hear "I’ve been waiting such a long time…"

I believe that later, the song also goes "Listen children - all is not lost!"
You’ve got to hand it to Olympus, they put some thought into selecting this stuff.

Me: The computer won’t boot.
Tech: Send it in for repair.
Me: There’s some things on the hard drive I don’t want to lose, will I get it back in one piece?
Tech: We can’t guarantee that.
Me: The problem’s with the processor or motherboard or something. If you can get it to boot, I’ll take my chances.
Tech: I can write on the box ‘do not format disk’ but no-one pays any attention to that.
Me: OK, I’ll just take the disk out. Get it to boot and I’ll put it back after.
Tech: Sorry, we have to have the system exactly as we shipped it to you.
Me: AGH!

I know what I’m doing more than I did then, don’t laugh.


Admittedly I’m one of the super-genius types, but I used to do warranty work for Dell (subcontracting).

In the 600 or so Dell laptops I did in that time, I replaced about 400 motherboards.

It used to be a first-line response if it looked like bad connections with peripherals, or anything mobo/CPU related.

Probably changed in the last 3 years, tho.

-Joe, sooper jenius

What are you complaining about, Mangetout? They have to get it to stop turning itself off before they can fix what’s wrong with it.


I probably should have told them about that.

I disagree.

One of the fundamental rules of wrranty repairs is that they hardly ever fix the fault you ask them to repair.

Your best bet then has to be to send it in, describing a completely made up fault. At least they may fix your real fault by mistake, whilst deliberately not fixing the fault you claim.

Nex time, tell them the spin cycle isn’t working right.