Friday, June 30, 2006

And Now ...

When I started this blog I decided to keep the name of the company out of the mess. The company is Toshiba. I bought a Tecra M4 Tablet PC, which had the best hardware you can get for a tablet at the time. I loved it, I even went out of my way to let others know that and to answer questions on forums like the The Tablet PC Buzz.

Then I had my encounter with their technical and customer support. I know what it is like to work in technical support, I have done that in the past before I got into software development, but there is no excuse for what they have done... Apparently to many besides myself, according to their BBB report. You can see a link to their report on the sidebar.

The letter received from the better business bureau said that Toshiba ignored all requests. I guess my request falls into the 400 unanswered requests... and basically all I asked for was to either 1) have my notebook completely repaired or 2) have it replaced with a new unit.

According to UPS Toshiba paid $480 in shipment for the first 3 repair jobs, not to mention whatever it cost for the refurbished parts they undoubtedly used and the time paid for the tech to "fix" the notebook. From my point looking in it seems as if it would have been just cheaper to replace the notebook than to go through all of this. The 4th repair, of which my notebook is sitting at their HQ in Irvine instead of the UPS repair depot, was sent through FedEx next day and insured for the full amount. Their tab again, no idea what that one cost them.

The funny thing is I never thought to research Toshiba, thinking at the time they had to be better than the likes of Dell, Gateway, or HP... or at least equal to them. I have had experience with Dell and HP and they simply are better, at least when dealing with support. I mean even if Dell has a huge report on the BBB, at least it seems like they answer, good or bad.

Actions Taken

During your attempts to get the machine fixed you decide to start making contacts. You find out from other sites such as Eric Mack Online and Tablet PC Buzz Toshiba Forum that you are not the only person having similar problems. You contact them, talk to them about the issues.

You also decide to contact the state attorney general, the better business bureau, and a couple of other watchdog organizations to get the ball rolling. Your notebook obviously is not getting fixed and it has now been almost 2 months in the making. Things do not look peachy at all.

You get a letter from the BBB about the time your notebook makes it in to the HQ of the company in question. BBB has stated they could do nothing because the company refused to respond.

The BBB does teach you something though: the company has an "F" rating and pretty interesting complaints that match your case almost to a tee.

History of Support

Say you have a notebook.

From day one it seems hot, but it is a thin notebook and everything runs fine. You write that off.

11 months later the notebook barely functions because it has become so damaged from heat that it has trouble staying on for any period of time.

You send the notebook in for repair. They state the fans were not working. They replace the fans, the motherboard, the LCD.

The notebook you receive works just under a week and starts overheating all over again. Not only that but the graphics card or LCD stops functioning correctly - you now have a pixel soup of pink and green from the moment you turn the notebook on. You send it in for repair.

The notebook comes back. The pixel soup is still there. They state they replaced the LCD. You send it back in the next day. Sometime during the repair cosmetic parts have been broken; the case has new scratches, the latch cover is snapped in two.

The notebook comes back from the 3rd repair. Pixel soup is gone! However, the rear USB port is now non-functional and three days later the hard drive overheats so bad you have to leave the computer unplugged, without battery, for 30 minutes before it will turn back on. How do I know this time it was the hard drive? Prior to the crash a warning popped up stating the hard drive is 75 degrees celcius, and then the computer froze into a pixel soup.

During the process of getting setup for the 4th repair you get put on hold for almost 10 hours, combined, hung up on several times, told that custom relations is too busy to accept the call and you must call back later, told that the problems you are having are the result of your own actions, speak with a tier 3 technician who has a 3 second delay and says you are arguing when you are trying to tell him what is going on, then cuts you off and states that you should stop bugging him and he will just put in his notes that the notebook needs repair.

So somewhere in all the holds you get told a new address to send the notebook and that actual technicians at headquarters will look at the machine this time and repair it. They give you a FedEx account number, so you know at least it won't go to the UPS repair depot this time, tell you who to address it and inform you that you provide your own box.

What would you do?