October 10th, 2008

Work Post

The story of my laptop...

So, the story of my laptop.

I bought this laptop - an HP Pavilion dv1588ea Notebook - from PC World in Slough in June of 2006. It was after I’d moved out of Second Crescent in Slough, but before we moved into our current house. At the time it was purchased, I took out the PC Performance package, which for my laptop cost £9.99 a month. It made perfect sense to do this, as I know how expensive it could be to rectify any issues with laptops.

So, in the time I’ve had this laptop, I’ve paid £279.72 towards this service which I have not used thusfar.

Anyway, my laptop has developed a very annoying fault. It start started off as a minor irritation, and it’s now got to the point where the laptop is all bar unusable. The fault is in the hinge of the laptop, specifically the ribbon cable that delivers signal to the screen and power to the backlight. Whilst I’m using the laptop, the screen would sometimes flicker, go out completely, or go purple. I did some research on the net ages ago, and a fair number of owners of this particular laptop had experienced the same problem. Apparently the hinge has a design fault, which results in the ribbon cable becoming worn away through repeated opening and closing of the laptop lid. Well, in 2 years I’ve opened and closed this laptop a fair few thousand times, I’m sure!

The fault as it stands now has got to the point where the screen will go blank without even moving the lid. The laptop could be sitting on a table without anyone near it, and the backlight will go out. As I’m typing this, the screen keeps flickering and going out, giving me the urge to launch the laptop - end-on - down the street, watching it spin and bounce on the tarmac to its eventual oblivion. On the other hand, I don’t think I could do without it, so I’ll hold off on that idea for now.

Anyway, as I have this support contract with PC Performance, I gave them a call yesterday to report the fault. Within 10 minutes of being on the phone to them (and whilst still on the phone, I might add), I received a text message from them stating that a courier had been booked to pick up my laptop on Monday morning. Wow, what service!!

Now, I asked the guy on the end of the phone whether it would be possible to remove the hard drive from the laptop before sending it. (I now realise that I’ve probably been put on all sorts of alert lists as a result of that request!!) He said no, as they need to see the machine in the state that it was purchased. I said that’s fine, but I’m not running the installation of Windows that was put on the machine when I bought it. He then advised that I should back up the entire drive before I sent it across (which is excellent advice anyway) as they may need to wipe the hard drive.


Apparently, as part of their very stringent quality control, they have a comprehensive diagnostics program that they need to run on the laptop before they can complete their job. That’s fine, I can accept that. But because their diagnostics run on Windows and Mac only, they would have to reinstall Windows on my laptop to run these diagnostics. I was absolutely gobsmacked and said that I thought it was discrimination against my free choice to use the Operating System that I wanted on my laptop. He said that he understood where I was coming from but there was absolutely no way to guarantee that they would even warn me before they wiped the drive.

Needless to say, I cancelled the support request immediately.

Anyway, I still have this faulty laptop, an overwhelming need to get it repaired, and a support contract run by a company whose only fault is that they aren’t open-minded enough to see beyond Microsoft Windows.

So, what’s my only real option? Upgrade my laptop! :o)

So I’ve just purchased a 250GB (upgrade from 100GB) hard drive for my laptop. I’ll use my external HDD caddy to take a mirror image (kinda) of my old hard drive onto the new hard drive, make sure that the new drive works the same as the old one did, put the old drive back in the laptop and then send it off for repair again. When I get the machine back, regardless of whether they’ve wiped it or not, I’ll stick the 250GB drive in. I’ll then use the 100GB on in my NAS box as shared network storage for me and Caroline.

Unrelated to this, I’ll also get another GB of memory. I certainly can’t afford to replace my laptop, but I can certainly afford to make it a bit more up to date.

I’m quite narked about the attitude of the PC Performance team (in general), but I suppose it’s to be expected. Still, the guy I spoke to was great about it.

The biggest downside of the repair process, is that I’ll be without my laptop for 2-3 weeks... so I’ll be building our old living room desktop so that I can still do podcasts and net surfing and the like, and then borrow Caroline’s laptop so that I can remote connect to it in the evenings. :o)