I need a solid, reliable computer, because I depend on it for all my earnings. My latest one is a Fujitsu Siemens Esprimo: while Fujitsu Siemens charges premium prices for this business range, it gives what sounds like a brilliant three year warranty with on-site repairs within two working days as standard.
Last spring, my computer started freezing when I was online or using my email program, and the keyboard and mouse stopped responding properly: most of the time they were fine but every now and then the keyboard would miss a character, or the mouse cursor would drift slowly to the left of the screen, so the insertion point sometimes changed at random. It didn’t make it impossible to work but it did mean that I had to spend more time editing, looking for missed and misplaced characters: but then Dragon NaturallySpeaking stopped working, at which point I was stumped. I have bad RSI and can’t work without it.
Fujitsu Siemens replaced the hard drive under warranty, which for a while resolved the problems but through the summer they came back. So, on 20 October I phoned up my supplier.
“It’s a problem with your motherboard,” he said. “It’s covered by the warranty so Fujitsu Siemens must sort it out.”
I phoned. Since then I’ve been doing various things under their instruction only to have them tell me last Monday what my supplier had told me two weeks before: it’s a problem with the motherboard. They promised to send an engineer to replace it the following day.
On Tuesday morning a courier delivered a new motherboard and power supply: but no engineer arrived to install them. When I phoned I was promised they’d phone back within fifteen minutes to let me know when the engineer would arrive: only they didn’t. I phoned again; they promised to call back again; they didn’t. We repeated this cycle for most of Tuesday but no engineer appeared.
On Wednesday I was promised that an engineer would be with me at 1.30PM. He arrived at 2PM: I left him alone with my computer and the components and, miracle of miracles, by 2.15 he had the computer up and running. He told me that there was also an issue with the memory and CPU and that I needed to get those seen to, and off he went, taking the boxes and the old components with him.
I’m a trusting sort of person. I believe that people generally keep their promises, mean well, and are kind to children and animals. Only I used to work for a computer company and have never heard of an engineer changing a motherboard and power supply in under 40 minutes let alone plugging it all back in and booting it up too so once he was gone I opened up the computer and had a look inside. All of the components were covered in dust. It looked like the engineer hadn’t changed a thing. Just to be sure I ran Fujitsu Siemens’s diagnostics program again (it takes over five hours to complete, so it’s no small task) and it confirmed that the problem with the motherboard remained exactly as before. So yesterday I phoned Fujitsu Siemens’s customer services department and spoke to someone called Andy.
Andy was incredulous. He apologised; he spoke to his supervisors who also apologised. They promised to contact the engineers, and said that they’d prioritise my case so that I had a good chance of getting the computer repaired today—Friday—even though I had to visit the hospital and would not be home all morning.
When I returned from the hospital today, I phoned Fujitsu Siemens’s customer service line once more and this time spoke to Allan, who told me they had not yet heard from their engineers and could do nothing until the engineers responded to the email that the supervisor had sent the previous day. I asked if he could give them a bit of a poke but he said he wasn’t allowed to, but I could call the engineers myself if I wanted. So I did.
The engineers had no record of any email, or any remaining problems with my machine. I spoke with a very helpful man (hi, Steven) who suggested I contact customer services again to ask to open a new ticket on this repair as then he’d be able to get an engineer out to me: but that without that open ticket from customer services his hands were tied.
So I phoned customer services again, and this time spoke to Mike. Who told me that of course the engineers wanted them to open another ticket, as that would necessitate customer services making a further payment to the engineers—which Fujitsu Siemens wasn’t prepared to authorise, even though both the customer services department and the engineers are parts of Fujitsu Siemens. I asked Mike if he could re-send the email that was sent yesterday, but he said he wasn’t allowed to. He advised me “not to involve myself” in this situation (funny, I thought I already was involved), and to leave it to them to sort out. He also said that he wasn’t prepared to comment on the situation, which seemed a little odd to me bearing in mind it’s his job to advise customers, which is a little difficult to do without making comments: but there you go. Perhaps he’s not allowed to comment either.
So here I am. Customer services won’t do anything else as it might incur an extra charge to them, and the engineers can’t do anything until they hear from customer services. The engineers are waiting to receive an email which customer services has sent which they haven’t received, but which customer services isn’t allowed to resend, and which customer services has to receive a response to before they’ll authorise the engineers to do anything further. Meanwhile my computer barely works, I can’t get my work done, and I'm approaching a deadline for a book I'm writing: I doubt I'll finish it in time as a direct result of these computer problems.
My computer is now two and a half years old: it needs a new motherboard and power supply; and it has issues with its memory and the CPU runs far too hot, so they probably need changing too. The cost of supplying new components and sending an engineer to change them must be more than a replacement machine of similar specifications would cost.
It seems to me that the easiest and most cost-effective option here would be for Fujitsu Siemens to replace my computer. But Fujitsu Siemens won’t even consider doing that because my warranty contract on my premium-priced business-standard computer stipulates repair, and not replacement.
I’ve tried phoning Fujitsu Siemens’s managing director, Steve Kendall-Smith, but was instead put through to the voicemail service of his personal assistant. I’ve left a message for her, but I wonder if she’ll respond (I will, of course, let you know if she does: she sounded very nice). Meanwhile, the next time any one of you considers buying yourself a new computer I do hope you’ll remember this. I certainly will. And now I’m off to ask Dell what they think of all of this, and if they think they could do better.
On a separate note it's today been confirmed that I have posterior vitreous detachment which means that the jelly inside my eyes is clumping up and peeling away from the membrane which separates it from my retina. They say it's due to old age (I'm 46) and my short-sightedness, and that there's no treatment but that it will probably resolve itself. Meanwhile I have sparkly floating things in my vision and an intermittent milky blurring on my peripheral vision, particularly on my left side: it's like having my own personal fireworks show. And when I walk I can no longer see my feet unless I look down for them. I shall no longer notice if my shoes are dirty and reading is tricky so for now, please forgive me my typos.