This is a three-part chat session with Gateway's Tech Support and Customer Service. It all started one day at work with a dying hard drive that gave up the ghost during a thorough scandisk, and attempting to get it replaced if it was under warranty. I have replaced the actual numbers and last names with #'s to protect the involved parties legal interests. Otherwise, this is exactly as transcribed during the chat sessions. I think it gives a nice example of Gateway's quality of service.

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PART I - Thursday around Noon
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Question: Need new hardrive, are we still under warranty? And how do I get my drive?

A Chat Agent will be with you shortly.

Dole: Hello Brandon, welcome to the Gateway Chat Support Service. I am Dole here to help you with your issue.

Dole: Brandon, your name and the name of the Gateway customer who bought this system do not match. Could you please tell me on whose name this system is registered?

Brandon: Oh, hello there Dole... Well, it will be registered under one of three names most likely (I'm the IT rep)... Michael #####, Randy #####, or Liz #####.

Brandon: It could also be registered under ####### or ########.

Dole: Thank you, Brandon. I got it.

Brandon: Which one was it, out of curiosity?

Dole: What is the exact problem that you are facing with your HDD? It is ########.

Brandon: The hard drive... well, it's shot. It's making a loud "Ka-CHUNK Ka-CRICKA-CHUCK!" over and over, loud enough to be heard through a closed office door. And it won't boot up at all... (except of course from floppy, but then you can't get to C:)

Dole: When did this problem start, Brandon?

Brandon: About 20 minutes ago.

Dole: Brandon, I am sending you a page, please follow the instruction given on it and please check if the sound is coming fron HDD only.

Dole: *Item sent - Gateway Support* http://www.gateway.com/support/chat/desktop/hard_drive/hddnoi.shtml

Dole: Did you receive the page?

Brandon: Dole, no offense, but I've been in the tech support field for 7 years now. And worked on computers non-professionally for 10 years before that. I've done it all from phone support to in person, up close and personal with the guts of the PC... I know a dead hard drive when I hear and see it.

Dole: Okay Brandon.

Brandon: And if it's any consolation, for the records, I've done each of those steps before even logging on to the site... I've got the HD in front of me as we type.

Dole: Could you please tell me if you are getting any error message when you try to boot up the system through the HDD, Brandon?

Brandon: Yep... here's the order of what it does...

1.) Power on.
2.) Ka-CHUNK noises
3.) It eventually stops, and the post test occurs.
4.) At right about this point it starts ticking down. DHCP was what it said first, then a bunch of periods
5.) After a bit it said something to the effect of TFTP... (which I assume meant it was trying to find Trivial File Transfer Protocol open on a null modem link somewhere...)
6.) After a while, it just died... it up and died...stopped... doing anything.

Brandon: I'm guessing you guys have your boards hardwired to try and find a special network imaging server if the Hard drive fails? That would account for the DHCP... I guess the TFTP would be how you set the flash on your boards in mass quantity...

Dole: Okay Brandon.

Brandon: yep?

Dole: Please hold on for a moment, Brandon.

Dole: I apologize for the delay. I am still searching this issue for you. This may take another minute. Please wait.

Brandon: Searching...for...what, pray tell, Dole? Just curious... There's not a lot you can do to fix a drive making noises like this.

Dole: What was the last thing you were doing before this happened?

Brandon: Unless perhaps Gateway has developed a BIOS patch I was previously unaware of that can remove loud metal scraping and clunking...

Right before this happened I was running a thorough scandisk.

Dole: Brandon, can you please let me know your shipping address?

Brandon: Certainly... it is...

Brandon: ### ######## St. ##### - Fort Worth, TX #####

Brandon: And by the way, I hope you didn't take too many of my comments personally. I know you're just following the standard routine... but as a fellow tech, I can honestly say it ain't neccesary, I've got your back. But with a buncha PCs to support, you can see why I get right to the point.

Dole: Brandon, please stand by with me, while I create a Replacement Order for your Hard disk. This would take few more minutes.

Brandon: Aight...

Brandon: (twiddling thumbs)

Dole: Brandon, old part number of your hard disk is 5500409 Quantum 10-GB 5400 RPM Ultra ATA/66 Hard Disk and the replaced part no of hard disk is having 5500916 Quantum 10 Gig Ultra ATA IDE Hard Drive. Will that be fine with you?

Brandon: Yes, thank you much... anything else?

Brandon: When can we expect it, and will we get an RMA#?

Dole: Yes Brandon, please hold on for few minutes.

Brandon: Erggg.. can that info be emailed to me? I've got customers to get back to...

Dole: For your convenience and future reference you will receive a detailed transcript of our chat session and all page links provided today. This should arrive via e-mail moments after our chat has ended.

Brandon: #####@#####.com

Brandon: Must go now... I've got gnomes infesting someone's copy of Corel 2000...

*Brandon - user has disconnected*


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PART II - The Following Wednesday (nearly a week later)
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Question: Still awaiting our RMA on Hard drive

A Chat Agent will be with you shortly.

Jarod: Hello Brandon, welcome to the Gateway Chat Support Service. I am Jarod, here to help you with your issue.

Jarod: Please wait a moment while I search for your customer information.

Brandon: Howdy... Jarod, I talked to someone last thursday about a dying hard drive and was wondering when we could expect the RMA.

Jarod: Sorry your name and the name of the Gateway customer who bought this system do not match. May I know please, what is your relationship to the system owner?

Jarod: I am fine.

Brandon: Yep... Its prolly under #######... I'm an IT rep for them.

Jarod: How about you.

Jarod: Thanks for the information, Brandon.

Brandon: I'm doing okay, myself. Just another wednesday...yay... So do you need those numbers from the end of thursdays transcript?

Jarod: Brandon, could you please tell me what exactly you want to know?

Brandon: Sure... I've got a dying hard drive. Actually more precisely, a dead noisy harddrive. Diagnosed and verifiably D-E-A-D... so the last tech on Thursday promised me an RMA so I could get a new hard drive. However, I -had- to get offline to help a customer and asked him to email me the numbers and such... I have seen neither email nor hard drive, or RMA box.

Brandon: Ah, this might help. I do actually have an RMA number... RMA# ##### Event # #####. Now I'm waiting for the hard drive... or a box to send the old one in with.

Jarod: Brandon, I am sorry that I can not help you with this issue. But I would like to inform you that our Client Relation Department can surely help you with this issue. And I am sending you the page through which you can chat with our Client Relation Department. And do provide the event # to them . I am sure your issue will be resolved.

Brandon: Oh goody...

Jarod: I apologize for the inconvenience caused to you on behalf of my colligue and Gateway.

Jarod: Item sent - Welcome to the Gateway Chat Center http://gatewaycr.gatewayhelp.com/gatewaycr/index.jsp

Jarod: Did you get the page?

Jarod: I am awaiting your response, Brandon.

Brandon: Its okay. You don't make the rules... I'll reserve my displeasure for the brass hats.

Brandon: Aye, I got the page. I assume once I hit the Chat with Customer service button our call will end?

Jarod: Yes, you are right. Before you move may I know, if there anything else I can assist you with today?

Brandon: Not really unless you know a good car mechanic in the DFW area...

Jarod: I am too far. Sorry : ) Brandon, here at Gateway your comments are greatly appreciated. When our chat is finished, please take the time to fill out the survey that appears.


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PART III - The Climax (Was it Good for You?)
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Question: Awaiting status on RMA# ###### Event # ######.

A Gateway Customer Service Assistant will be with you in about a minute.

Stacey: Hello Brandon, welcome to the Gateway Chat Center.

Stacey: Please wait a minute while I verify your client information.

Brandon: Howdy Stacey... and before you ask, I'm IT Rep for ####### (the people on the client ID)... that's why it doesn't match.

Stacey: Thank you for the information. Please wait while I check on the status of the order.

Stacey: Brandon, thank you for waiting. Our records show that the order number ##### for hard drive on the event number ###### has been cancelled. I would rather suggest you to contact your original Sales Representative, as they would be in a better position to help you answer your question more effeciently.

Stacey: Is there anything else I can do to help you?

Brandon: What?!? Why has it been cancelled?... And why the heck didn't anyone bother to tell me?

Stacey: Brandon, your sales representative would be the best person to answer your question and let you know the reason for cancellation.

Stacey: Kindly contact him for further assistance in this issue.

Stacey: Do you need any further help from me?

Brandon: Okay, that is fine, we will contact him. I would still like to know why no one contacted me to let me know it was cancelled.

Stacey: I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. I empathize with your situation and can understand how frustrating it can be.

Stacey: I appreciate your patience and request you to co-operate with us to help you in resolving this issue.

Stacey: How can I be of further assistance to you?

Brandon: And I appreciate your apology. However, I would still like to know how customers like myself (who buy in bulk from Gateway mind you) are supposed to know when something like this gets cancelled. What if I'd decided to wait even longer?

Brandon: And I do fully intend to co-operate, I would just like to know if not informing your customers of cancelled orders is standard operating procedure.

Stacey: I am sorry I have no idea why you order was cancelled.

Brandon: Please read this carefully. I am not asking why the order was cancelled. I will find that out from our rep. I am asking why we were not informed, and if it is standard operating procedure not to tell customers if something is cancelled. Or is it the sales rep's duty to inform us when something is cancelled?

Stacey: Brandon, please wait while I try to find any information on the reason for cancellation.

Stacey: Please confirm receipt of the page I sent across.

Stacey: Item sent - Gateway.com http://gateway.com/about/contactus/international/index.shtml

Brandon: LISTEN. READ WHAT I JUST WROTE. I am asking WHY WE WERE NOT INFORMED OF THE CANCELLATION... -not- why it was cancelled.

Stacey: I am sorry for the wrong information provided.

Brandon: Not half as sorry as I am for wasting an hour online with this... now, do you understand the question I am asking?

Stacey: Brandon, it is a rare case where such things happen. I am sorry I am unable to find any reason for this issue.

Brandon: Oh my god... you still have not read the question I'm asking. I can't believe it... how many ways can I phrase this? I'll try a few...

Brandon: Why were we not called/emailed/informed that our order was cancelled?

Brandon: Is our sales rep supposed to inform us when an order has been cancelled?

Brandon: Does Gateway make a policy not to tell customers when an RMA is cancelled?

Brandon: If you are having difficulty understand exactly what I'm asking, ask the person next to you to explain the question. I've asked you as many ways as I know how. I'm not asking WHY the order was cancelled. I'm asking WHY WE WERE NOT TOLD... I don't know how to make it any more clear.

Stacey: Brandon, I understand your question. This is a very rare case where a RMA order is cancelled.

Brandon: Okay, I understand it is rare. Who was supposed to tell us it was cancelled though?

Stacey: With reference to your query the Sales Representative is supposed to inform you about the cancellation of the order.

Brandon: Thank you... that's all I wanted to know... was that so hard?

Stacey: That wasn't very hard, Brandon.

Stacey: You are most welcome for any further assistance you need.

Stacey: How can I be of further help to you?

Brandon: Now have a nice day. I'm going to go now, and in the future, please read customer's questions more carefully. It saves so much more time. Goodbye... and thank you for the info.

Brandon - user has disconnected


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PART IV - Epilogue - Conclusions
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In point of fact, the Sales Representative had no idea the order was cancelled, why it had been cancelled, and denied any resposibility delegated by Gateway for him to inform customers on the cancellation of RMA#'s.

It is therefore my conclusion that should you have even the simplest issue with a Gateway Computer, you are far better off going and shelling out the $50 to buy a new hard drive yourself rather than go through hours of this Eliza-esque chat support. Trust me... it's not worth it.

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