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Diamond/SonicBlue Support Scam

By wfaulk in Op-Ed
Tue Jun 05, 2001 at 04:16:19 PM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)

I've encountered bad support before, but I've never had to pay to replace a defective product under warranty.

About two years ago, I purchased a Diamond Viper V770 (NVidia TNT2) video card. A few days ago, it went bad. The card had a five year warranty, which I was happy to find. However, Diamond (now SonicBlue) no longer makes video cards and I was forced to call ``legacy'' support. Their stated policy is that they charge $19.95 per call unless the problem is found to be a hardware failure. I was certain that my problem was a hardware failure, so I called them and described the symptoms. The support engineer requested that I try to install new drivers. This, of course, didn't work and I called back. I was then informed that if the product was found to be defective that I would be refunded only for the call that found the card to be defective. So they could feasibly drag the support process out for 10 calls, then find that it was defective and charge me only $179.55.

I ended up complaining enough about their horrendous policy that they agreed to replace the video card without charging me, but I assume that they end up making lots of money off of people who are less forceful than I am.


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Diamond/SonicBlue Support Scam | 38 comments (37 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
probably not a big money maker (2.71 / 7) (#1)
by delmoi on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 06:01:29 PM EST

The vast majority of people probably don't have problems with their cards. Another vast majority of people really wouldn't give a fuck if a two year old video card died. The intersection of people in neither majority is probably pretty small. So I doubt that they are making much money off this support line...

Also, this really sounds like a diary entry
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Small Complaint (2.00 / 3) (#16)
by funwithmazers on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 11:50:32 AM EST

I have one small complaint, but otherwise I agree with you. A majority (anywhere but the US) is over half. If you combine two groups that are each over one half of the whole, you end up with 100% plus some extra.

[ Parent ]
Majorities (none / 0) (#22)
by wfaulk on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 04:29:15 PM EST

He's talking about two completely independent groups.

If you have a group of objects, some of which are black and spherical, some black and cubical, some white and spherical, and some white and cubical, then it's easily possible that there is a majority of white ones and a majority of spherical ones. In fact, since each dependent group is a group of two, there is bound to be a majority in each of them (excepting ties).

You can't compare white vs. spherical, since it's (statistically, not this set) equally likely that a white thing will be cubical as spherical. In other words, the shape of an object is not dependent on it's color. In the same vein, you can't compare people who have problems with people who wouldn't care if they had a problem, as they're independent issues.

[ Parent ]

Erm, not quite (none / 0) (#27)
by delmoi on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 04:30:04 PM EST

Some people will fall into both groups. Other people will fall into neither group. I'm pretty sure that most people will nither have a video card break, or would care if it did (after two years)
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Pedants corner continued :) (none / 0) (#32)
by pallex on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 06:33:21 PM EST

Actually, even in America, the 'majority' is surely the largest single group, so if group A is 30% of the group, and the other 70% is split into 17 or so other groups, then group A IS the vast majority, etc..

[ Parent ]
Re: Pedants (none / 0) (#33)
by wfaulk on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 08:31:16 PM EST

Actually, the largest single group can be a majority, that is, a group that holds over 50% of the ``vote''. However, it can also be a plurality, which is a group that has more ``votes'' than any other group, but still has less than 50% of the total ``votes''. In the case of only two choices, this is not possible, but is fairly common in the case of three or more choices.

Also, in the US Legislature (and possibly elsewhere) there is what is referred to as a supermajority, which is where the greatest group has at least two-thirds of the total vote. This is required for big-deal stuff, like Constitutional amendments. It is not restricted to two-thirds, which is what's used in the US Legislature, but can be any fraction of the total that is over one half.

[ Parent ]

First rule of calling technical support.. (4.09 / 11) (#2)
by gblues on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 06:11:09 PM EST

If you know it's a hardware failure, absolutely refuse to do further troubleshooting. I don't mean be uncooperative, I mean explicitly state, "I refuse to do any further troubleshooting. I've already determined it's a problem with the hardware and I would like a replacement under warranty." If they give you any flack at that point, ask for a supervisor.

In other words, insist on what's known as "First Call Resolution." ESPECIALLY on fee-based numbers.

Lastly, if they take your credit card number they can give you a refund. Again, refuse to take "no" for an answer because techs are trained to push back to prevent frivolous escalations.

If you called a 900 number, contest the charge on your phone bill.

... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky

HEY, I'm the guy on the other end of that call! (4.00 / 11) (#4)
by Signal 11 on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:00:31 PM EST

"I refuse to do any further troubleshooting. I've already determined it's a problem with the hardware and I would like a replacement under warranty." If they give you any flack at that point, ask for a supervisor.

That will accomplish nothing. In fact, it's very obvious you have never worked tech support. I'll tell you exactly how we handle calls like that. It's policy, in fact. When I get a caller like you who refuses to answer basic troubleshooting questions, and then demands to speak with a supervisor, I'll gladly hand you over to one, and the supervisor will tell you that you will not be receiving support from us because you have not worked with the technician to resolve the issue. You can either hang up at that point, or you can talk to me again and maybe this time you'll be more cooperative. But I'm not gonna replace a part just because you say it is defective.

I deal with about fourty calls a day. I work for a large (and who shall remain nameless) OEM doing OS and hardware support for commercial/large business. In about 80% of the calls I take, the first words out of the user's mouth is "I have a defective $X and want it replaced." You wanna know how many of them haven't bothered to try reloading the OS, or reinstalling the drivers? About half. Because I work commercial, I'm glad that the other 20% really do have defective hardware. And I already know how a call will end when those people call in, because the first words out of their mouth isn't "I want a replacement" but "here's what I've tried so far".

...here's what I've tried so far...

Those are the magic words to get my cooperation and an expedient RMA dispatched. If you get whiny or act like I'm beneath you and don't work with me, you're not getting that part.. of if you do, you better believe it'll be going Last Class Mail... like... ground, and with a special note to the shipping and receiving crew on an order of doughnuts thanking them for their diligent work and asking about that strange parts shortage. And don't believe for a fucking second I don't do it - doughnuts are God's gift to teching.

Just remember that you get more flies with sugar than vinegar... and it applies to techs too, although mtn. dew and pizza work better if you ask me.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Remind me not to call you. (4.42 / 7) (#5)
by Speare on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:25:52 PM EST

"It's obvious you haven't worked technical support."
I don't think the EULA stipulates the product can only be used by train technical support staff. The customers bought it to use it, those funds pay your salary.

"I get forty calls a day."
Glad you're kept busy. Anything else is irrelevant.

"If you act whiney, you're not getting that part."
The job is Customer Service, or Technical Support, not Personality Power-Trip. If you refuse me what I'm due, I'll escalate it past you. I don't care what you think of my attitude is; my attitude is, "it's not working and I paid money for it."

"Just remember you more flies with sugar..."
Ditto for you. I'll let you know what I've done, you let me know if there's anything else to try. If I've done all of your troubleshooting steps, it's time for you to give me money or an RMA, without lip. If you're insolent or condescending, I have no time for you. I want to speak to someone who supports the technology, or services the customer.

[ e d @ e x p l o r a t i . c o m ]
[ Parent ]
Shows the impossibility of a good day (5.00 / 2) (#7)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 08:21:45 PM EST

Both of your views come from people hardened from bad customers/tech support. In the fairest of all worlds, good customers should speak with good techs 25% of the time. (Because half the customers would be good, and so would the techs.) But the world is not fair, and decent people are paired with bad ones far too many times.

Probability & the magic 8-ball are against you both.

[ Parent ]
Practicality (none / 0) (#14)
by Tatarigami on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 06:07:35 AM EST

Regardless of the principles involved, a tech probably has more quantifiable matters on his mind when you call him. He has X minutes to solve your problem if he wants to get his raise/bonus this year, so he's pretty determined to do things his way -- or not at all.

[ Parent ]
The other side (4.66 / 6) (#6)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 07:31:44 PM EST

My coworker made this call, but I was sitting right there when he did it. He had found a HD with many, many bad sectors. Called Gateway to get a replacement. Gateway tech had two things to say:

1) Reinstall the OS; bad sectors are caused by bad software.
2) We don't replace hard drives unless 50% of it is bad sectors.

After arguing for a while (this coworker was quite competent) he hung up. Called back immediately, got another tech. Coworker said "I have a hard drive with X bad sectors". Tech: "OK, another one is on it's way."

(I, personally, had a similar experience with a multiple MS tech support people, but the story is too long and involved to report here. Basic gist: first-level tech's response to my report of a QBASIC test case for general networking bug: "QBASIC doesn't come with Windows 95".)

Idiots are everywhere; on both sides of tech support phone calls. Just because the company side has the clout to make and enforce the policy doesn't make that policy sane or fair. A caller who seems to have a modicum of technical knowledge should be assumed to know what he's talking about. Assuming otherwise insults the caller and wastes the company's money.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
not exactly the same (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by Seumas on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 10:38:47 PM EST

There's a large difference between someone refusing to work with a tech because the tech is asking them to do some trouble shooting and refusing to work with a tech because they're offering absolutely uninformed and idiotic reasoning.

I called tech support once in my sixteen years of working with computers and, fortunately, received reasonable support. I had to spend almost three hours on the line (not the techs fault, certainly) waiting for someone to answer the call, as soon as someone was on the line, they cited my problem (with a CDR) as being due to the burning software version shipped with the OEM version of the CDR (they shipped a version of software too old to work with the CDR). This also wasn't the tech guy's fault.

Now, if I had a more complex problem and the guy told me to shut down the box, pull out the cables, reinstall the drivers, pop the cables back in and restart the box, I'd have been willing to do so. If he told me to reinstall the operating system and wipe my ass with perfumed toilet paper, I'd obviously ask for a backline tech.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Amen. (3.00 / 1) (#10)
by Seumas on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 10:21:49 PM EST

The "tech support" I have to do is much more involved and detailed since it's involving huge contracts with corporations and government organizations and it involves expensive server software (occasionally requiring an onsite visit from someone and very often requiring a quick hotfix patch), but the rule stays the same -- never trust the customer.

It isn't necessarily that customers "lie", but that often admins, systems engineers and coders are completely unwilling to try the basic steps to resolve an issue or to debug it so we can write a patch for it and they just want "the fix" which, presumably, I'm to pull out of my ass with absolutely no information.

A customer who doesn't work with me within reason will quickly get the boot and, since they have expensive contracts, come to the conclusion that if they want to get their money's worth for that contract better work with me to resolve their problem. Most, usually being quite experienced, contact me with a list of things they've tried, from step by step explanation to reproduce a defect to generating their own stack traces on their system instead of dumping the core in my hand and making me spend extra time on it. A lot of them are known among my peers for being so respectful of the process that they do almost everything imaginable themselves and when an issue comes in, you can be assured that it is a true problem right away.

The point being that while people in the tech-support and engineering fields are intuitive, we're not mind readers. When I used to do tech support (especially when I supported a popular web browser with end-users), I would have been able to retire in a year if I had a buck for every customer who swore it was our problem and they had done everything. Even if I drew out step by step lists of what I wanted them to do -- very simple steps -- the problem would continue. Only to later find out that they had never performed any of the requested steps. After twisting their arm and refusing to support them at all, they would usually finally do what I had been wasting my time telling them to do all along and the problem would, of course, be fixed.

Then there were the people who said "I already know what the problem is -- how do I fix it". After closer inspection, they only thought they knew what the problem is and after a few minues of simple tests and data gathering, I was usually able to tell them what the problem really was (absolutely unrelated to what they claimed it was) and gave them a solution on the spot. There are also necessary intenral processes that are required if tech support persons are to convince the engineers to develop a code fix for a problem -- or even receive advanced support from their backling teams with your call. If they do not perform these minimal steps and gather the absolute basic data, they will be asked to do so when they escalate the issue to an engineer. Eventually, the tech support person will lose credibility with engineering and the slow response resulting from it will hamper the technicians future calls with other customers -- possibly you.

The moral of the story being tech support people (and engineers, programmers, QA persons) are not paid to take your word for things. They're paid to find the solution. If this means that you have to go through something that you believe you've already done three times, rest assured that you're being asked to do it for a reason.

Often at these call centers for consumer product support, you'll be dealing with someone who is just a frontline rep. These persons likely have no coding experience, little technical knowledge and only a minimum to intermediate knowledge of the product they're supporting. They've probably received no education on the product other than whatever documentation is already available to the end-user and the occasional conversation with their peers in the support center. Their only recourse is to re-hash the documentation, search the publically available database, search their internal call histories and follow through with some routine scripted steps. After you've gone through these initial steps (with the tech, not just on your own and then telling the tech that you're done trouble-shooting), the tech usually has the authority to escalate the call, where it can begin to receive actual knowledgable support and begin the process toward an actual resolution (usually with the backline at the actual company that makes the product; not the call center that is contracted to provide support).

So either way, it's important to work with the tech. Even in the worst call centers, the technicians don't want to waste your time and they certainly don't want to waste their own.

Thankfully, I haven't had to be in that line of business for a few years. There aren't a lot of jobs which require as much patience, are as frustrating and give you as little training as working in a generic tech support call center. You're the first person everyone complains to from every issue from sales to marketing to the way the program is writtin to the actual problems themselves. You'll be blamed for the way the product was packaged to the way the sales clerk at the retail store treated them during the transaction. About 95% of the time, you won't even be thanked for spending hours of your time, frustrated, trying to get a customer a solution so they can go about enjoying their weekend with their new gadget or program.

So when your tech support person makes you go through the routine steps, have a little understanding. At the minimum, have a list of the steps you did do to present to the person and be willing to try additional steps that they might require to diagnose your problem. Be willing to let the tech person make the call as to when the call needs to be escalated (unless the person is a bafoon, not working with you, not returning your calls, ignoring you or dragging the call on for ages). As long as the basics have been covered, most technicians will feel more comfortable seeking out advanced lines of support for you and you'll both be happy. And trust me, if your tech is happy -- chances are you will be too. Knowing the degree of training these guys get these days, the last thing I would do is call them for support. But, if I absolutely had to, I would not want to piss one of them off and find my call in oblivion and having the tech give anything but 100% effort to my problem.

I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Who gets the benefit of the doubt? (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by marlowe on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 01:25:00 PM EST

If a card suddenly stops working, and there's been no change in software, I think that's proof beyond a reasonable doubt that we have a hardware problem.

If the tech support, having been told all this, insists that the customer do bothersome and risky reconfigurations just because the tech support guy says so, is this reasonable?

Nobody should have to put up with this kind of nonsense. When something is proven, it's proven. Just admit it and move on.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Users Lie (none / 0) (#37)
by Mitheral on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:36:12 PM EST

If a card suddenly stops working, and there's been no change in software, I think that's proof beyond a reasonable doubt that we have a hardware problem.

The problem is that users are often either forgetful and think they haven't changed anything; or they know they have changed something and lie because they think it doesn't matter. I'm sure that anyone who does tech support has, on numerous occasions, spent hours debugging a mysterious problem. When you finally find out that the problem is being caused by some random piece of BIS - bug infested <cough>Gator<cough> software; the user insists they didn't install ANYTHING. And besides the BIS has been installed for ages and the problem just started.

The result is that you can not trust the user to not have skipped any steps. And that goes double if the user insists the hardware is broken with out acually telling you why they think it is broken. For example I've had a guy insist that a "faulty" sound card he just purchased had destroyed his hard drive and he wanted both replaced imediately; plus cash for his lost data. Took me 35 minutes to get him to check his IDE cable and there was sudden silence followed by a click when he saw it was unplugged.

I guess the point of this ramble is that it is easier to assume on first contact that the client has no clue. This allows the tech to ramp up quickly when a clueful person is on the other end of the line. The other option is assume the client is clueful and then end up spending hours diagnosing a power outage. Over all you can handle more calls with less stress.

[ Parent ]

More flies with sugar? (none / 0) (#18)
by marlowe on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 01:28:46 PM EST

Who the hell wants flies? The point is to get the bad card replaced under warrantee. The customer is entitled to that. If tech support refuses to admit it's a hardware problem after the customer has already proven just that, then the tech support guy is an asshole. You don't get anywhere in this world by trying to work with assholes. Assholes are a problem, not a solution.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
What's the point of reinstalling the driver? (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by marlowe on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 01:48:10 PM EST

The driver and the hardware were working just fine, the user didn't change any software drivers or configuration, and then they stopped working. I can understand a piece of hardware failing like that. But how on earth can this happen to a driver? I've programmed software. It doesn't up and die after years of reliable service and being left alone, unless there's a hard disk error. And that's not going to be helped by reinstalling anything onto the same media.

Oh, wait. Are we talking about Windows? In that case, reinstalling the same damn crap is just throwing good effort after bad. You should advise the customer to use a *real* operating system.

And by the way, reinstalling Windows isn't going to be an option in the near future. I hear tell Microsoft is no longer providing reinstall disks.

Any way I look at it, this reinstalling business just looks asinine.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Bad entropy (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by weirdling on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 12:11:03 PM EST

Entropy is the software term for 'slow failure'. M$ OS products since DOS have suffered from entropy, with the all-time champ being Win95. Essentially, the OS builds up extraneous entries in its registry, accidentally deletes or alters parts of the drive, fails to write the file system periodically on a hang/reboot cycle, and hangs rather often for the oddest, non-deterministic reasons. It has several memory leaks, making it impossible to run continuously. Reboots and reinstalls are the only way to deal with it.
So, yes, reinstalling the driver is a valid and necessary step. Of course, it won't make much difference if you have a Mac or Linux, but with Windows...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
whose responsibility? (none / 0) (#20)
by kubalaa on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 03:28:54 PM EST

The real question here is whose responsibility is it for the product failing. The world of computers is complicated because there are so many interacting levels made by different people, and what constitutes a bug is not always clear. I believe that reinstalling the operating system is a ridiculous step to take to get hardware to work, and if its necessary the company should be paying for my time and any risks encurred in doing so. On the other hand, you could point out that Windows is known to require periodic reinstallment, and it's not the hardware company's problem. If I didn't want to risk reinstallation I should have gone with a different OS.

I'm a programmer; if I change the API of a module I'm in charge of and that breaks the whole system, is that my fault, or the fault of the other programmers for not keeping up with the changes? But then think of a slightly different situation; I buy some external tool and develop an application around it. If the application breaks, can I just blame it on the external tool? No, because I'm contracted to provide a working application, and that means working around bugs in external products or getting new external products.

The point is that if hardware companies claim to support Windows, then they support it bugs and all and it's their fault if it takes a reinstall to fix their hardware. And they have no right to ask me to do so; if they want to back up my system, reinstall the OS and restore all my settings for me, and pay for any damages they incur, then that's up to them. I think they'll find it cheaper to send me a new unit.

One last question; do you think mechanical engineers are allowed to complain that the laws of physics are too complicated and you should reboot the universe if you have trouble with their product?

[ Parent ]

Being a MechE (none / 0) (#28)
by Elkor on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 08:47:53 AM EST

I like your correlary example.

"Sorry boss, I have to run to the galactic center during lunch to cold start the cosmos so we can get the porject to work."

"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Cooperating with tech support (none / 0) (#24)
by wfaulk on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 05:04:03 PM EST

While I realize that you're arguing philosophy here, I'd like to point out that I did follow the tech support guy's suggestion, because I hadn't actually done it yet, even though I was certain that it wouldn't solve the problem. And that's what got me into this brouhaha in the first place. If I had insisted on the first call that I have the card replaced, I never would have gotten into trouble.

I've actually worked tech support twice in the past. Once for hardware and once for a dedicated-line ISP. I came to the conclusion that the best way to get your problem solved (even if you don't have one) is to complain so much that you bother everyone at the tech support center and they just give you a new one to shut you up. Even at the ISP, we reprovisioned customers to different POPs for this reason, even though it had no bearing on their problem.

I, however, am unwilling to do that, unless it becomes apparent that the tech support company is unwilling to help or is out to screw me, intentionally or not.

[ Parent ]

Yes, I have. (none / 0) (#25)
by gblues on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 02:01:09 AM EST

In fact, it's very obvious you have never worked tech support.
I've done quite a bit of technical support, and I was offering advice to the submitter of the story who appears to be technically inclined to the point where they were reasonably sure the hardware was defective. My advice was to prevent future run-arounds, as someone who has worked the front lines and knows how to avoid the run-arounds.

Yeah, most lusers don't think of re-installing the driver, or checking the printer cable, or even rebooting. That's not the point.

... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
[ Parent ]

right/wrong (3.00 / 2) (#11)
by Seumas on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 10:29:35 PM EST

While the first part of your statement is wrong, the last half is absolutely right. I've never heard of paying per call. Paying per issue is very routine, but at the end of the first call, you should be given a tracking number for your case so that you can call in as needed until the problem is resolved, the problem is declared unresolvable and your call is credited back, or you work with someone up the line to provide an alternate solution (exchange, product refund, etc).
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of my experience with Acer (3.80 / 5) (#3)
by SIGFPE on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 06:52:58 PM EST

I had a faulty touchpad on an Acer laptop. I phoned their technical support. They couldn't fix it by phone and so referred me to a hardware repair company. The repair company said "We'll charge you for the repair" unless there's a hardware fault. They turn on the laptop and it worked (these guys apparently had never heard of an intermittent fault). No fault so they charged me $70. I complained to Acer and they said "Sorry, we never refer laptop repairs to external companies so we couldn't have referred you to that company. We can do nothing about the $70".

The only good thing about the whole event is that my web page complaining about it was the number 1 hit on many websites for "Acer Technical Support". Frankly I think bad publicity is the only way you can hit these companies back.

Implied Warranties (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by quam on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 08:43:29 PM EST

According to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) adopted by the States in the U.S., unless expressly excluded in a contract for the purchase of the good, there is an implied warranty of merchantability. A merchant who regularly sells a product (i.e.: a hardware company selling hardware and not a florist selling software) must, at a minimum, guaranty the product will run and "conform[s] to the promises or affirmations of fact made on the container or label...."

On many occassions software, or operating systems, natively crash ('not running') and, unless the implied warrantly is excluded, I am puzzled why there are not widespread lawsuits against the makers of such products. Moreover, recent articles tell how expensive applications such as supply chain management software and CRM suites simply do not work. This can be problematic because while the makers of such software generally also offer consulting services, the UCC also provides for an implied warranty when a good is tailored for a particular purpose and the buyer relies on the seller's judgment to select or furnish a good ("the goods shall be fit for such purpose [the particular purpose for 'which the goods are required']").

If software or hardware does not live up to expectations and does not run then it seems buyers should be entitled to a cure.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
Software warrenties (4.66 / 3) (#9)
by Funk Soul Hacker on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 10:11:42 PM EST

actualy, almost all license agreements (including the GPL) Exclude warrenties. seems people don't really expect the software they write to run...

--- Right about now, Da Funk Soul Hacker
[ Parent ]
License agreement not contract for sale of goods (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by cthugha on Fri Jun 01, 2001 at 11:34:00 PM EST

You may run into the difficulty with software that the agreement you enter into is not one for the sale of goods, but one granting you the rights to use the software normally denied to you under copyright/IP laws, and that therefore the UCC could not apply to such an agreement. The UCC would certainly apply to the physical media you got your copy of the software on, but I doubt it would touch the license agreement.

However, I am not aware of any case law on the subject, nor am I familiar with the exact wording or interpretation of the UCC, so it would be interesting to run a test case and have the matter resolved.

As far as the use of software in expensive/mission-critical situations goes, I'm surprised that the consumers of this kind of software (generally large organizations with much more bargaining power than the average consumer) don't negotiate clauses into their contracts with software providers which require payment from the software provider for any loss incurred as a result of system failure.

[ Parent ]
Matrox were good to me! (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by oolon on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 11:33:56 AM EST

A year and a half ago, my Matrox Millenium II PCI, card stopped working (Probably 3 years old), I phoned matrox, then gave me an RMI number no queries, I returned it to them, and they replaced the card. A replacement arrived in 2 weeks. Moral vote with your money.


Re: Matrox were good to me! (none / 0) (#21)
by wfaulk on Sat Jun 02, 2001 at 04:19:25 PM EST

Moral vote with your money.
I agree. Such was the point of my post. A friend of mine had the exact same problem with his Elsa video card, and not only did they immediately (after some basic troubleshooting) agree to replace his video card, they sent him a prepaid box to send it back in.

Guess who my next video card purchase will be from.

[ Parent ]

First Mistake - Buying from Diamond (4.80 / 5) (#26)
by jbridges on Sun Jun 03, 2001 at 08:04:40 AM EST

"We're Diamond, we take generic products, and change them just enough so that only our drivers will work with them".

I remember all the nasty words from S3, Tseng and other chipset vendors when talking about Diamond, they always recommended generic cards based on their example design using their OEM BIOS and Drivers (at least they said this to me behind closed doors).

Now you see the results, go looking for up todate drivers for any older Diamond card. Better pray it was a card Diamond didn't fiddle with too much....

Re: First Mistake - Buying from Diamond (none / 0) (#31)
by wfaulk on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 02:35:36 PM EST

I think that that practice had calmed down a lot by a few years ago. Used to be I'd refuse to buy a Diamond card for exactly that reason (Linux w/ XFree86 generally refused to work with them). In fact, the tech on this call told me to try the reference NVidia drivers. Of course, they locked my computer up hard (which might be related to my hardware problem), but he suggested it nonetheless.

Also, when I bought the card, I had a jones for a new video card, so I was forced to go to my loca reseller, where I could have purchased that or a noname card. At the time, the warranty sounded like a good idea.

Also also, you'll note that, (1), S3 and Diamond merged to form SonicBlue, and, (2), SonicBlue no longer makes video cards. Otherwise, I'd suggest not buying from them again.

[ Parent ]

It was Gateway (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by weirdling on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 12:23:20 PM EST

Back when I was a tech at a large independant computer shop, a doctor dropped a Gateway notebook by and said, "Price isn't a problem; I need a new charger." Well, I called Gateway to order the charger. Gateway ran me through a bunch of things, switching phone lines until I was finally connected with the parts department. I asked for the charger. I was asked for the serial number on the notebook. I looked; there was none. Gateway had forgotten to add it. They refused to sell me the part. I mentioned I didn't care how much it cost; I needed the part. Still no dice.
Hung up and called again, hoping to find someone more lenient/less careful. Got a bit farther this time, but was informed that under no circumstances could Gateway ship the part overnight. It would take *two weeks* for them to *ship* the part, which would go UPS ground. I mentioned to the tech on the phone that cost isn't a problem, and if he could hoof it over, get the part, and mail it to me, I'd appreciate it. No dice. Oh, well, try to order the part: "What's the serial number on the notebook?" "It doesn't have one." "Do you have the original invoice?" "You've got to be kidding. This thing's two years old..." "We can't ship without the serial number."
Needless to say, called the customer back, apologised profusely, and refunded his diagnostic fee. The customer later bought a Toshiba from us. Funny thing is that people periodically ask me if they should buy Gateways and I always tell them no.
I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Friends don't let Friends buy Gateway (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by vectro on Mon Jun 04, 2001 at 11:59:33 PM EST

I have a gateway story too.

About two years ago I got a gateway laptop. Of course, upon opening the box I promptly deleted the Windows 98 installation and put linux on it.

Then later I had some questions about the hardware - I wanted to know about their battery learning program, and the laptop had developed a habit of turning itself off if you rotated it about 45 degrees to the left.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling them about my Linux installation. They put this in their database, and now anytime I call them they refuse to provide any kind of support, citing that by installing Linux I've voided my warranty.

I, too, have discouraged several people from buying Gateways.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Fuji is the BEST (none / 0) (#35)
by cr0sh on Wed Jun 06, 2001 at 03:54:57 PM EST

Let me tell you my story - happened recently...

Last year I bought a Fujix P401 video projector from a guy in a booth at a swapmeet. He had a large booth, took credit card, and had been in business for a while. Most of the stuff he sold was used or reconditioned, very little was new.

Needless to say, my projector wasn't new. I was hesitant to buy it from him, but it was a good deal, and I figured I could put it on my card, and if there was problems, take it back the next day...

I got it home, plugged it in - and it worked - mostly. I got a picture, but there was "snow" on one side of the projection - half the screen, split vertically, like half of the LCD had a problem. I played with it a little - even went so far as to take the unit apart, disconnect and reconnect the LCD to see if that helped - no dice. In the meantime, I attempted to find a source for the 6V lamps it used - eventually did. (side note - why didn't I take it back? Well, I figured I was getting a picture, and I would never ever get a deal like that again, and I could probably get it repaired someplace, so I figured it was worth it to keep it)

I started looking through the documentation that came with the unit (I actually got the box and packing materials with it, which was amazing), and found, much to my surprise, not just a new waranty card, but the retailer side of the waranty card as well (which the retailer is supposed to keep at time of sale). I looked, it had a year waranty. I figured, hey - I bought this fair and square - and I don't know if the guy is a authorized Fuji dealer (probably not - but hey, I'm a "stupid consumer" [play dumb] - what do I know?), so I am going to send it in, and see what happens...

I looked on the net, found a contact number for Fuji, called them, and they said, yeah, sure - send in the card. So I did. Then I called about the repair a few weeks later. They said to send in a copy of the warantee, a copy of the original receipt, reason for repair, etc - and they would call me back. Actually, one person on the line that I talked to wised up and realized that Fuji had discontinued that product several years ago, but strangely, didn't pursue the issue...

I shipped it to them - expecting them to come back with "Hey - we haven't produced this device in YEARS - how did you get one NEW?" or "This guy you bought it from isn't an authorized dealer!". When I shipped it, I cleaned the outside real well, to make it look absolutely new, and shipped it in another box, and not the original one, because it was battered a little. I never heard a word from them, except for them telling me (after I had phoned them) that they had received it, and work was being done on it.

A few weeks later my unit came back, with a service note stating they had cleaned it, and replaced the LCD and gave me a new lamp - all covered under the waranty. All I paid was for shipping and insurance (around $15.00).

So now, I have a video projector, fixed under waranty, that Fuji hasn't made in probably 5 years, if not longer. How's that for service?

Perfect Service (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by ckm on Thu Jun 07, 2001 at 03:05:56 AM EST

I noticed that so people have been posting stories about service they have been getting from companies. I too have endured years of bad service, but recently had the pleasure of recieving outstanding service from two different companies.


On December 27, 2000, the video card in my laptop died. This is my primary machine, and, as I am both a computer geek and work in the computer industry, my entire life is on it. This machine is nearly new, I bought it in November 2000. It's an Omnibook 6000 (PIII 750/192mb/14.1" LCD) from HP.

I immediately called HP tech support (9pm on a Wensday), got a service rep. on the line in less than 1 min. and explained my problem. They had me try to fire up HP's diagnostic tools, which was no use. I was told that FedEx would come by my house tomorrow to pickup the machine. No packaging was neccessary, as FedEx would bring a box.

Sure enough, at 11:30 am the next day, FedEx showed up. I gave them my machine, after having swapped out the aftermarket hard drive and extra RAM I had put in. I expect to wait a week at least to get the machine back. After all, it was Thursday, December 28th, 2000 and Monday was New Years Day.

Imagine my surprise when my laptop showed up at 8:30am, Tuesday January 2, 2001. Given the fact that they had only one working day to fix the machine, it must have been turned around in just a few hours and sent back. A note stated that the motherboard had been replaced. HP gets my thumbs up and my repeat business.


My next experience is from an even more unlikely source. I bought a new multifunction inkjet printer from costco and a brand new print server from the same manufacturer on eBay (yeah, I know). After hooking both of these up, I found that I could barely print, so I called tech support. I was passed from one tech to the network support tech. dept, where I had to leave a message after being on hold for 15 min. I did not expect anyone to call back.

Much to my surprise, a few hours later, my phone rang. Brad, from Xerox (yes), was on the line. He spent about 2 hours on the phone with me trying every combination of fixes, even setting up a replica of my enviroment in his office. No dice. I need heavy duty support, so the next day, Luke called, but I wasn't around. He called me back the following day (without any prompting), and we walked through an additional set of tests.

At this point, it seemed that my print server was defective, so they sent me a new one. The day it arrived, Luke called to walk me through the install. I did not have time at that point, but he called back the next day and the problem was finally fixed. All told, 3 service reps. spent +/- 10 hours of their time diagnosing a problem, and followed up on each incident even if I didn't. While Xerox's product design leaves much to be desired, at least their customer service is competant.

Those are my tales. It's the best customer service I've had in years. Yeah, their shit was broken, and it should'nt be, but stuff breaks, even when it's manufactured by the best. What really counts, in the end, is wether they stand behind their products.


microsoft hardware tech is good too (none / 0) (#38)
by apathetic on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 02:25:05 PM EST

i had an intellimouse explorer die on me, i tried everything i could think of to try getting it working and nothing helped, i had recieved it as a present so i had no reciept, and the box and documentation got thrown out. i called up tech support and asked about warrenty replacement hoping it might fall under warrenty, the tech asked me to try the same things i had tried on my own, i stated this, she believed me and said it sounded like it was actually broken, took my serial number down and said i'd recieve a new one in about a month, a week later it came in the mail. didn't ask me to send the broken one back or anything. a few weeks later i got a call from the tech asking me if i recieved my mouse and if it worked.

say what you want about microsoft, their hardware tech support rules

[ Parent ]
Diamond/SonicBlue Support Scam | 38 comments (37 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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