Customer Service is Comatose. Where Were You When You Finally Decided You'd Had Enough?
You know...I think I will.
Below is a letter of complaint that I have penned to Toshiba regarding my Qosmio G15 laptop. Think I have a valid gripe? Then please link to this page. Pass it on! Strike a blow for the little guy! (or the little woman - whichever the case might be). Even if nothing gets done, it'll sure feel good to vent (note: based on a suggestion from "YP5 Toronto", over at notebookforums.com, I've changed my original post to make it less wordy and more readable. Hope this is a bit better. Thanks, YP5!).
I would like to register a complaint regarding case. No 1-398-932960. Below is a re-cap of the events that have occurred since the purchase of my machine.
Event #2 – The Honeymoon is Over
Given the above synopsis of my continuing issue, I would appreciate it if you would please contact me immediately so that we might come to an agreement regarding which of the above remedies should be employed. My contact information follows this communication. If I cannot receive satisfaction, I will escalate the issue to the Better Business Bureau.
- I finally got hold of someone at Customer Relations who gave me the e-mail address to which I can send my complaint. In case anyone with similar problems wants to know, it is:
Caution: I haven't yet sent the letter, so I have no idea whether this address is really just pseudocode for /dev/null (for all you Unix geeks out there. English Translation for non-Unix geeks: /dev/null = Black Hole). We'll see...
- There's another individual out there who has been having problems withToshiba customer support, and who has been blogging his experiences. Check out his posts at: Paucity of Support.
- spybyscript: Thanks for the link!
- I received a couple of additional e-mail address from a poster over on Notebook Forums. They are:
The poster indicated that these addresses might be old, but I will try them out just the same. Thanks, Banana19!
- I also received a response from an administrator over at the Laptop Magazine Forum. To quote the poster: "We recently did a review on tech support from all the major notebook manufacturers and Toshiba was the worst."
- Here's a very interesting article that was posted on Digg the other day. Given all of the above, it certainly makes for interesting reading.
- I have sent the e-mail to Toshiba (actually, to all of the e-mail addresses listed above). I will post more as progress is made (or even if it is not).
- I received a call from a Toshiba rep (Heather Hillwaert) last night. Unfortunately, she called when I was in the middle of a meeting, so I couldn't get to the phone. Fortunately, she left a message that indicated that she would call back today. I am waiting with baited breath to see if anything productive comes of the call, and will post the results here.
- It is interesting to note that I have not received anything other than an automated response from the "firstname.lastname@example.org" e-mail address that I was given when I contacted Customer Relations. I am glad, therefore, that I was tipped off to Ms. Hillwaert's e-mail address from a poster over at notebookforums.com, and also from the article on Digg.
- Looks like we may have liftoff! I spoke with Heather Hillwaert yesterday and again reviewed my situation (something I was beginning to tire of, as I've had to repeat the same thing over and over to a long parade of techs and reps). Initially, Ms. Hillwaert's response was annoyingly reminiscent of what I had encountered from everyone else I had spoken with up until then: "The repair has to be done at Toshiba", "A motherboard upgrade is necessary", yada yada yada. As she continued to talk, I realized that she simply didn't understand that I couldn't send the system back to Toshiba. I also realized that the reason why she didn't understand had a little something to do with the fact that she was doing most of the talking - so much so that there was virtually no way that I could wedge a word in edgewise. Finally, I became frustrated and brought her up short. I told her that she needed to be quiet for a few moments and let me fully explain my situation. Perhaps then, I continued, she might be able to fully understand where I was coming from (aside: I am convinced that Toshiba rep training includes verbal stonewalling as a technique to try when encountering a "difficult" customer. I ran across non-stop talkers on too many occasions for this to be mere coincidence). At any rate, once Ms. Hillwaert finally gave me a chance to participate in the conversation, she seemed to understand where I was coming from. Either that, or she was just sick of talking to me and wanted to find the most expedient way to get me off the phone. Either way, it matters not to me. The only thing that's important right now is that I have an on-site repair scheduled!!!! Yup. Ms. Hillwaert agreed to speak to the Powers That Be and arrange for a new system fan to be installed for me on-site and under warranty. I keep pinching myself, because this is all I ever wanted in the way of a resolution to the problem - and yet it seemed to be more difficult to attain than a cool drink of water in the desert. The repair technician is scheduled to come out to the house tomorrow, and hopefully, everything will go smoothly. I'll follow up with (hopefully) one last report tomorrow.
- Well, it may have taken awhile, but I'm finally typing this entry on a laptop with two brand spanking new system fans. Yes!!!!! Today, the technician came out and I sat and watched while he spread the laptop and all its inherent parts all over the kitchen table (on this model, one has to do such things to access the system fans). Fortunately for me, the tech was the same person who had replaced my motherboard, and I have a tremendous amount of confidence in his ability. This guy is smart - very smart - and he knows exactly what he is doing. Within 1-1/2 hours, the tech had the fans installed, and humpty-dumpty was all back together again (with no screws left over!!). After buttoning things up, the tech fired up the laptop and had me check things out before he left - just to make sure that everything was in tact. All I can say is: so far...so good. So! It looks like my saga will actually have a happy ending. I suppose that one of the morals of my story is: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Sometimes you just have to keep bugging people to finally get the bowels moving, and once in awhile the trick is figuring out just who to bug. In that regard, I have to thank the poster on notebookforums.com who pointed me to Ms. Hillwaert's e-mail address.
Over and out...
Well, I've finally decided that it's time to retire the Qosmio after slightly over two years of use (er...subtract about 2 months from that two years of "use" comment). Have I made this decision because I'm ready to chuck an XP has-been for a bright new Vista model? No. Have I made this decision because my laptop is no longer powerful enough to meet my needs? Definitely not. So, why then have I suddenly decided to throw up my hands and graduate to Beyond Qosmio? Well, it's simply because I've come to the painful conclusion that (as much as I love the machine when it's actually working), the Qosmio's downtime is beginning to exceed its uptime. Uh, that's a nice way of saying that it's a steaming pile of crap that is now exhibiting too many failures to reliably repair. Repair at this point would have to consist of stripping it naked and re-dressing it one article of clothing at a time. So what happened?! you say. Well, about two months ago, one of the two hard drives started on a slow spiral towards death. It didn't fail immediately. Just got more and more annoyingly slow - coughing and sputtering during boot-up and any other meaningful operation. So, I had the drive replaced. Less than two days after I had the Qosmio back in my hot little hands, I started hearing a high pitched squeal coming from the speakers: While playing music, the combination of screech and music sounded much like the static one would get by turning up the volume on a pair of cheap speakers. Magnified by about 10 times. I was pretty sure this was a driver problem, and was in the process of tracking it down when suddenly a single vertical green pixel-wide line appeared on the screen. Oh crap. I was sure it was the motherboard barfing again. But then I hooked the machine up to my TV and the line wasn't there. So my guess is that the LCD is about to go belly-up. This lasted for about two days. Then tonight when I turned the machine on again, I found the single green line had been happily joined by a riot of additional thick vertical lines...the old familiar motherboard problem. That would be the REPLACEMENT motherboard that began my entire foray into the wonders of Qosmio-land. So, let's recap. In its short two-year life span, my G15 has had the following problems:
- A burned-out motherboard
- A broken system fan
- A burned-out power cord
- Another burned-out power cord (did I mention that a second one blew out?)
- A failed hard drive
- A failing LCD screen
- A second burned-out motherboard
Amazing that one can fork over a $3,000 wad of cash to the local computer store - confident that they have purchased a quality machine worthy of said wad - only to discover that what they have really purchased is a very expensive turd. So, I'm done. I close out this chapter of my blog and lay it to gentle rest. But I will end with one admonition. Take my advice: Never NEver NEVer NEVEr NEVER by a Toshiba computer product!!!!!!!!!! Unless, of course - like me - you wish to be jerked around like a rag doll by various and sundry technical "support" personnel and eventually find yourself forced to resort to the only cathartic remedy out there: Writing a Blog.
Over and out...
Update (8/2/07): Well, just when you think I'm gone, I'm back. I couldn't resist adding this positive update - since the last one ended with such despair. So here's the update:
I am typing this blog entry on a brand new laptop!! Yup. I really can't be without some sort of notebook computer in my life, so I decided to do some research and find something that would suit my needs. Number 1 criterion: It had to not be a Toshiba.
Fortunately, right around the time that my Qosmio died, I ran into a friend who does computer consulting on the side. Since I hadn't ventured into the Land of Laptop for a couple of years and didn't know what was out there, my friend agreed to provide me with some advice. He recommended several different reliable brands, and I checked them all out. After running around the web for quite a little while, I finally decided on one of his suggested companies: Falcon Northwest (which I had never heard of, before) out of Oregon. There were many things that appealed to me about this particular company - foremost of which were:
- They build your machine by hand when you order, and test it thoroughly before shipping it out. This might mean that your system will take a little longer to get to you (mine took 3 weeks), but at least you can be assured that the box has been put through its paces before it ever reaches your door.
- They do not outsource their technical support. This means that when you call them for assistance with a problem, you can be assured that you're not speaking to someone half way around the world (well, unless you're half way around the world from Oregon, that is). If English is your native tongue, it's theirs, too, and you won't have to worry about the problems that arise from the ol' language barrier.
- They custom paint their machines. Yeah, custom paint. I have to admit that this is what clinched it for me. They literally have artists on staff who will pretty much do whatever you want when it comes to decorating your new box. Want a special logo on it? No problem. If you provide them with a logo, they'll provide you with a freakishly amazing reproduction on your machine. For a price, of course ;)
- They target their machines towards gamers, so they pack them with solid hardware. The laptops that I looked at basically came in two versions: Normal and Freaking Ridiculous. How ridiculous? Well, need a laptop with 2 video cards and 3 hard drives? Then the FR (my terminology) may be just what you're looking for.
I opted for Falcon's TLX model ("Normal", if you're keeping up with the above categories), since I didn't have over $6K to drop on a new FR box. It came about a week ago - clothed in this amazing auto paint that changes color depending on the angle that you view it from. One of my co-workers saw it and ruefully shook his head. He had just bought his daughter a very nice laptop for college, but it was plain black, and she was a little disappointed. "She will never know that this even exists", he said - smiling wryly. So far, I'm very pleased (although...you know...I've only had it a week): The laptop seems solid, and I haven't found a thing wrong with it. I still have many tweaks that I want to add to get it set up the way I like it, but so far so good. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Falcon's personal touches. How many times have you ordered a laptop from Company Huge and received a T-shirt and a cool coffee mug (and the vacuum-packed coffee to put in it) with your order? Falcon hasn't gotten too big for its britches yet, and I am just fine with that.
So! I guess all's well that ends well. The tech who originally worked on my old Qosmio has offered to buy it off of me, so at least it's not a total loss. And every time I think about my spit-shined new TLX, I get a satisfied little internal grin. And that's pretty much worth everything.
Oh, and I'll post some pictures of it when I get a chance.
Over and out (again)...
Update (6/4/07): Okay. Here are a couple shots of the new laptop. I have to apologize in advance for the quality. There's only so much you can do in a pinch with a camera phone.
Falcon TLX notebook. Is it blue?
Or maybe both?
Actually, there really is no true name to describe the color; it's different depending on the angle at which you view it. So far, I've seen: purple, aqua, emerald green, gold, brownish, and lavender. Falcon calls the color "Chromalusion" - and I guess that's as good a name as any other.