A story about Compaq and Service

Reading my page, you will see that I'm really happy with the E500. The way it's designed, the way it works with Linux, great!
However, you can always have bad luck with technical devices, and this time I had really bad luck with my E500.

At first, I realized that certain key combinations didn't work, e.g. when holding down "d" you couldn't press an "s". Any Quake player will know what that can mean ;-) Additionally, I got two white spots on the background of my TFT which grew over time. Very bad effect when you play a 3D game with excellent graphics and have two whitely spots overlaying it :-(
So I sent the E500 in for repair for the first time. When it came back after 3 days, I was sure that is was an error and it had never reached the service center. However, it had and it came back with a new TFT and a new mainboard. Wow! Very very quick! So far so good. But after a while, I detected that some other key combinations didn't work, e.g. "e" and "p". After typing "gre blabla" instead of "grep blabla" a hundred times, I was fed up and sent it in again. New keyboard this time.
Then the screen started to have similar effects with whitely spots, just like before. I was out of the 1-year-warranty already, but still had warranty for the replaced TFT screen, so I got a new one again.

Everything worked find until January this year. Then XFree 3.3.6 refused to work correctly. The picture was suddenly splitted and shifted such that I got the left half of the screen 3 times but could not see the right half. I replaced it with XFree 4.2 which worked, but then I got errors with Windows, too. I play Thief, the Dark Project, and the OpenGL graphics suddenly were full of green, blinking pixels. Doesn't really support the cool graphics of Thief ;-)
From my point of view, this was definitely an error with the Ati chip. Well, I was out of warranty for 5 months at this point, but I consider two new displays, a new keyboard and a new mainboard and then a broken graphics chip within 17 months incacceptable for a laptop that I spend over 3000 € for.

So I called the hotline to ask for a goodwill repair, argueing that an E500 was supposed to belong to the professional line and shouldn't have that many problems! The service guy told me to try a Bios update first and I was stupid enough to do this. As result, the laptop stopped working completely, not even a hardware reset of the Bios helped (later it turned out that this was due to a a defective mainboard which also caused the graphics errors. With the new mainboard, the bios update to the latest version worked fine).
When I called the hotline again, they told me to send a detailed fax describing all the trouble I had had with the laptop and asking for a goodwill repair. I did this, and got a mail from a Compaq employee from Ireland, who told me that he had forwarded my fax to the complaint center and would now take care about the decision process and inform me as soon as he got a result. Well, it's nice to get even such a simple mail, because you know what's going on!

It took a few weeks, but finally I was told that Compaq agreed to give me a new laptop. Wow! Really cool! I was very positively surprised! Unfortunately, they said they couldn't order an E500 anymore, but could send me an Evo N160. Well, nice laptop, but not as cool as the E500... So I asked for a repair of my E500 and they agreed. Thus, I got my laptop back and its working fine again.

I write this here not to tell you what a bad laptop the E500 is (we have a few more here at the department and they all run fine. Actually, mine was the only one to make trouble, and, Murphy of course, mine is the only one without CarePaq :-)), but because I'm indeed impressed by the Compaq service. The people from the hotline were always friendly and very qualified! They guy I was in contact with for goodwill repair also made a lot of efforts to find a good solutions for my case. When I compare this with other experiences that we made, I'm really impressed by Compaq. For instance, Sony refused to replace a broken AC cable within warranty(!) because they claimed it must have been our fault since such cables usually never break (Oh yes, sure, we threw it into boiling water and then knocked it down with a steamroller). Also, recent news you could read about Dell, who demand 470 € plus tax in Germany for every repair, even if they replace only one single keycap (for german-speaking readers the link: http://www.heise.de/newsticker/data/cp-25.01.02-000/), show that good service cannot be taken for granted.

So, let me express my gratitude to Compaq, especially to Niamh Keogh, who kept me informed during the decision process, and to the unknown people in Munich who decided to arrange a goodwill repair for my laptop! For me, that's a good reason to go on with Compaq. Not that I would expect a goodwill repair everytime I run out of warranty, if course not! But knowing that the people in the complaint center will at least try to help and not just tell you "Out of warranty? Your problem!" is a very good reason for Compaq... (No, it was not part of the goodwill deal that I had to write this ;-))

Another thing I can tell after all this: The folks here in Germany who repair the laptops definitely know what they do. The laptop always came back in a perfect state. Everything worked, no scratches on the lid or whatever, still all data on the hard disk etc. I phoned a few times with Mr. Gregor who took care of my laptop in 3 of the 4 cases, and I was very surprised when he told me that was happy to see that I had Linux on my laptop :-) I was more used to computer engineers who said "What's Linux?" or "Hey, if you are running Linux, than it's your fault the machine is broken..."
Mr. Gregor told me that the E500 is one of best manufactured and designed models he gets on his desk for repair, and I think those guys get a lot of different brands and models. So one more good argument to buy an E500 :-)
For all the good work he did with my laptop, I send best regards and a very big thank you from here over to Hannover :-)) Btw, he works for the German Telekom, which might surprise some German readers, but the maintenance for the Compaq laptops here in Germany is indeed done by the German Telekom. So whatever bad stories you might hear about the Telekom, they ain't as bad as many people say, an their maintenance division definitely rocks! Mr. Gregor and the German Telekom get three