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
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
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
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:
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
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