Nov 19, 2007 I was rolling on the floor with
Anthem's latest video creation. If only warranties could be this
permissive. Yes, a computer was harmed in the making of the video. And harmed
is an understatement—you'll see what I mean.
Feb 27, 2007 Every word, graphic,
FootFlyer picture, email and magazine article came through this usually-trusty HP Pavilion
notebook computer. The book was written on it. Meet Powered Paragliding was edited on.
The Risk & Reward script, including William Shatner's lines (as if that
wears it out faster) were written on it along with countless other projects.
It was trusty until recently. Last year the screen started acting up. At first
it was just a vertical line in the left third. Then two lines. Then a
shaded bar. I could wiggle the screen to make it go away but eventually,
even that quit helping. I was loathe to get it repaired and be computerless for a week. Dear God, no.
Yesterday it happened. Not long after adding some website material
(2/25/2007), the despised bar, usually just a shaded area, went black. Uh
oh, my desktop picture of that gorgeous Moab flight was raked with a
big black line.
It was time.
Two years ago I didn't think much of extended warranties. They seem
like a bad deal—overpriced insurance for already limited-life goods.
Consumer Reports feels the same way. But I also hate buying new computers,
even more capable ones. The process of reinstalling my life is a short
trip to hell. Grating fingernails on chalkboards is Bach in comparison. So
when the salesman enthused over how this extended warranty would keep it
humming for 4 years, replacing the screen, battery or other failed
components, I agreed.
The warranty has already helped, to be sure. It replaced a power
supply, an ailing battery and fixed the backlight with minimal fuss. The
power supply has a story, but I'll leave that humorous aside for another
Now is my greatest time of need. Remember the salesman's words about
protection in case the expensive screen if failed? How it could otherwise
cost many hundreds of dollars to replace if I didn't have the warranty?
Well here I am—my failing screen has prompted a dive into the repair
process. I called the Advantage Protection number which I've taped to my
Victor wasn't very talkative. I could hear him pecking away as I
spilled my woes. After some questions and tests that I knew wouldn't work,
he uttered the dreaded words: "it sounds like physical damage, we
don't cover physical damage." I came unglued. I'll admit to violating
my own rules and raised my voice. But some of his reasons were amazing,
even to my now-collected self (see sidebar).
Victor also raised the tension level with his response, not that I can
blame him, but he handled it quite poorly. He told me "that happens
because of damage" which implied that I had whacked the computer and
caused the problem. His demeanor didn't help at all, either, treating my
like I was the evil heir trying to get some undeserved inheritance. Victor
might be better off in the warehouse or something a little less consumer
I violated my own rule about threatening. Really, you get a lot farther
if you skip the threats and proceed in the most diplomatic fashion
possible. In my exasperation I mentioned taking it to court which only
made it worse. Fortunately, I remembered the rule and proceeded to ask for
a supervisor. After more silence and more pecking, he put me on hold.
Then, in relatively short order, a supervisor, Aaron came on. He
offered that they will have someone take a look at it. OK, well at least
there's a chance they'll do the right thing. Stay tuned.
Doing the Right Thing
Mar 8, 2007
My faith was restored. Briefly. I'm certainly glad I bought the
warranty but there is still a disturbance in the
A few days ago I rejoiced at an email from the repair
center telling me that my computer would be repaired and that I
could track its
progress online. Nice touch. Today, March 8, it arrived.
"You have no idea how happy I am to see you!" I exclaimed to the Fedex
chap. He scurried away, probably wondering what on earth the big
Part of the reason I bought this model was its
huge screen resolution, 1680 x 1050. That's farm more than
the 1280 x 800 found on almost every notebook computer seen in stores. It's why you
see FootFlyer.com screen savers in such a large dimensions besides the
standard size—they have to fit my screen.
You may have guessed it—my
computer came back with a brand new, beautiful crisp shiny screen of the wrong size. Yup, it's 1280 x 800, not the 1680 x 1050 that lets me
view pictures and graphics and word documents on the same screen. For me,
that's a big deal. Oh boy. Any the deadlines of my life loom.
credit, I called CityAdvantage and they apologized while taking care of it
promptly. Unfortunately, I do have to send the machine back but at least I
know they're fixing it and not trying to get away with something. Stuff
happens and I try to be understanding.
Mar 30, 2007
My computer arrived today. I opened the box and immediately lit up the
screen to see if they got it right. They did! My big, beautiful 1680 pixels
came back with nary a line at all. I'm back in business.
Or so I thought.
After plugging in the power supply my battery symbol
went out then came back on almost immediately. Plus it made a faint, high
pitched squealing noise which went away almost immediately. This did not
bode well. At least it should be easily remedied. I called the City
Advantage people again to describe what happened. It left here working just
fine and came back not working. Seemed cut and dried. I also told them I
could just barely see the shielding wire through the tension reducer
although I couldn't imagine that to matter.
Amazingly, he explained
"That's physical damage and we don't fix anything with physical damage."
You've got to be kidding me. It went out working, came back broken and now
they weren't going to cover it because of physical damage that they
apparently did! Only this time I didn't have the energy to battle it and
figured a new one isn't that expensive so I gave up.
Then the weirdest
turn of events came when I went to turn on my wireless connection. The
button was missing. I looked in disbelief. How could the button disappear?
Didn't I just use the internet through that wireless? It's got to be here,
somewhere. Nope, gone.
In the place where my button use to be is a flat
piece of plastic. I suspect that it was related to the screen repair. They
disassembled the thing and, when they put it back together, put a coverplate
over where the wireless button is supposed to be without realizing it. I
looked at another identical computer and the plate containing the button is
exactly where my blank plate is. (see the picture).
It turns out the wireless does work. I'm doing this
update through it. But I can't turn it on or off anymore through the
external button and have no idea whether it's on unless I open a window
or see the connection icon. So the question is do I send it back again and
risk something more important being broken or just endure. I can probably
live with this one but it sure is frustrating.
I'm happy that they finally
did the right thing with the screen but it has been a frustrating process
and now these things. The power supply and wireless. I'll probably call them
again and seek resolution without sending it back but that seems highly
doubtful. We'll see.
New Saga: "You're Screwed"
Oct 2, 2007
The computer has acquired a new sickness. At first, it would take a
couple tries to get it accepting a charge. Then it became even more
difficult. Then it would start dropping the external power when I called up
some power thirsty app. It didn't matter what power supply I used and I have
three to choose from: mine (a replacement that I paid for), Tim's from his
identical computer and an HP auto adapter.
Tim went through this exact
same problem with his HP about a year ago and warned me of the prognosis for deterioration.
Finally, it got so bad, that I put leaned over the throne and called tech
support. But guess what? Not only did they answer within minutes of my call
but, after a few minutes of consulting with someone higher up, they approved
I also asked if I could get my missing button replaced and one other
problem addressed: it doesn't always turn on when I push the power button.
Admittedly, that's a small problem and may just be grit in the works.
Back the computer goes. They said a box is on the way and, after two
backups, I'll be computerless for a few days.
24, 2007 "You're screwed". Circuit City told me I'm on my own. Do
yourself a favor and think twice before buying an extended warranty through
these folks. Unscupulous is an understatement.
I got a message today. They
said there was evidence of liquid spill. Even though I don't remember a
liquid spill, and the problem is a common one for this model, and it's
degradation has been a slow, predictable descent I'm hosed. They wouldn't
even say that I could pay to get the machine fixed, only that it's being
sent back to me still unfixed.
Ok, so I'm screwed. I'll give them the
benefit of the doubt that there must have been evidence even if obviously
didn't cause the problem but...
Oct 24, 2007 What about the button they
forgot to replace?
Remember the wireless button that wasn't put back after the last
repair? They told me I should have reported it back then when the
computer came back. I nearly fell over when the fellow said they can't be
sure it didn't happen as a result of the liquid spill. And that was the
Nope, they won't touch the machine. Makes me wonder how the
liquid spill got there? After all, they neglected to replace the wireless
button and have the gall to forego repairing that, clearly their error.
Amazing. The Advantage Protection program certainly knows how to weasel out
their rightful obligation.
I'm in the market for a new computer. You can rest assured it won't be
either an HP nor will it come from Circuit City.
Oct 28, 2007
The computer is back, still broken.
I've given up and ordered a new
computer, a Dell, so we'll see how that works out. I'm trying the "we cover
everything unless you destroy it intentionally" warranty. I'll give anyone a
From the sounds of it, Circuit City has found the holy grail
of warranty weaseldom: "evidence of a liquid spill." They've now wiped their
hands of this computer and set me adrift with my last year of extended
warranty rendered useless. Handy, if you're Circuit City.
As before, the
computer works fine after I've plugged in the power a dozen times. So, until
the new Dell is fully transitioned, I'll be plugging away.
vertical gray line is not supposed to be there. I could almost live with it
except for it now occasionally blacking out.
that victor said why it should not be covered under warranty:
1. Normal wear is not covered. For example, I've almost worn through the
spacebar. I'll buy that for a button. But is this how a screen is supposed
2. It's from damage that could include closing the screen too much. Excuse
Does the warranty require that I not close the screen?
3. Victor told me "you said that you can make it work by twisting it,
that means it's from damage." So if a wire comes loose on my car and
I can make the car start by pressing on the steering wheel in a certain
way, that's because of a crash?
I've obviously opened and closed this
screen a lot but that's why I bought a warranty!
4. Victor told me "you said yourself it still works, it has just worn
normally and that is not covered." So am I to assume that having a
one-inch wide strip of useless display is considered acceptable working
condition? I'm pretty sure that any normal, reasonable, person would
5. He added that "The warranty fixes broken things like the
backlight, not wear." Ah, so I must have "worn in" that line. So if the
on button quits working is that because I've turned it on too many times
and worn it out?
If that's the case then what, pray tell, is a warranty for?
Now the Power Supply
The power supply, which worked fine when I sent it in, didn't work when it came back. When I
told them about it they refused to send me a new one because I mentioned that I
could see the shielding wire. Nope, the fellow enthused, that's "Physical Damage"--we
don't cover that.
1. This photo shows what the computer looked like before it went back for repair #2. (photo
of Tim Kaiser's identical computer).
2. This is how it came back from the repair facility. The built-in wireless
switch was nowhere to be found. The strange thing is that I don't even think
this model was ever made without a wireless switch! The wireless
actually works fine but there's now no switch. Go figure.