The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Balancing the Scales

Joan Rivers

It wasn't too long ago, I told you the story of my experiences with Acer. Seems that articles I wrote about 3 years ago concerning Trusted Computing and the hardware/software nightmares implemented to enforce it came home to roost.

We couldn't get to the login prompt due to the Trusted Core sentry. These computers were in essence, doorstops.

On two computers donated to us by nFusion anyway. It wasn't nFusion's doing...they did everything but blowtorch the damned modules out of the computers. Fact is, only two of the 13 they donated had it activated.

Not only was the Trusted Computing Module a nightmare to get by, the endless loop of tech I and tech II support agents who insisted that I pay them 100 dollars plus shipping to get it fixed wasn't exactly a cure for insomnia. We went through days of fruitless phone-sitting before we invoked the nuclear option.

That's a shame.

It was only once we threatened to make a YouTube video of these computers being put through a wood chipper in super slow motion, did someone respond. See, having one of your products brutally destroyed in protest of the lack of customer service isn't exactly good news for the stockholders. That would have been compounded when the video went on to explain that these computers would have went to disadvantaged students if they had worked.

It really wouldn't have been good news for us either. These Acer TravelMate 5720's are great, great computers. One of you is going to find out just how great they are when you win one in our Alienware/Acer laptop raffle.

We honestly have not done nearly as good as we needed to in raising operating funds for the rest of the year. If you want a chance at one of these beauties or some of the other great stuff, come see us at the link provided above.

See, I rebuild a lot of laptops for our kids. Without a doubt, in my opinion the two best laptops
made are Acer and Asus. If Dell didn't produce a different adaptor for every friggin' new model or upgrade, I would include them as well but when it costs us 40 bucks to replace an adaptor for a donated computer, well, that sucks. I have boxes of adaptors that fit any Acer or Asus I might run across. Brilliant money-maker for Dell, but I think they suck for doing it.

Once I got past the 100.00 tech support sentries and got someone's attention that could help me, it was a great experience. As great as going in for a repair experience can be anyway. Their local repair facility is in Temple Texas which is less than an hour's drive from my house so I pounced in the Rodeo and made the trip north to get 'er done.

Not only did Acer fix them for free, they allowed me to sit and wait for the repairs to be made...which was cool because I got the chance to share some time with a gorgeous front desk specialist. I am horrible at names but I believe her name is Casey...maybe Kasey?

I don't know...she was so pretty I didn't bother to confirm. Aside from the positive athstetics, she was smart. I got the chance to introduce Linux to her and spend 45 minutes in great company.

So allow me to balance the scales here. Acer went way past the mark in chapping my nether-regions but in the end (sorry) they made it good and that's what really matters. They did it quickly, courteously and with professionalism. That is getting scarce these days.

Just an unsolicited piece of advice...?

Getting rid of the off-shore tech support might help Acer...I dealt with accents so thick that they would thud if they ever hit the floor. I hung up on three of them simply because I could not understand a thing they were saying. What I found amusing is that when they introduced their obvious India or Pakistan-residing selves, it was with names like "Mike", "Steve" and "Rudy".

But you have to do what you have to do to compete...I understand. I just don't personally like it, having been "outsourced" myself. Thanks for fixing something that needed fixing and doing it well.

All-righty then


Anonymous said...

See Helios, this is what separates you from 99 percent of the other tech bloggers in the blogosphere. Sure, it was easy to trash Acer, and I believe you were right in doing so. Your non profit is doing amazing work. However, very few in my experience ever go back and report on the corrected situation like you did. You did it with style, humor and class.

Thanks for offsetting the rest of us who wouldn't have bothered.


kozmcrae said...

Wood chipper eh? I once saw (snort) a video of Vista being installed in a paper shredder. It installed with no issues.

Anonymous said...

Ken, wonderful work.

Acer will be glad to know that we have reinstated them onto our vendor list. And as you so graciously balanced the scales, I will do the same. I will call
San Jose this afternoon.

I was not shy about calling them and telling them to go to hell.

Unknown said...

However..!! while it was great for Acer to step up and do the right thing.. the fact still remains that for anyone else calling with this issue.. they will have to go thru the same thing Helios went thru and at the end of the day probably still have to $100 to fix the problem...

Helios experience with Acer and a coworker's same experience with Acer for the exact same problem..( my coworker paid the $100).. has made me shy away from Acer products.. companies have to realize that in todays world of the WWW... world of mouth is no longer you tell 5 people and they may tell 5 people... and it most likely stops there.. today.. you post your experience on the WWW and thousands if not millions of eyes see it..

so while Helios did the right thing and also posted the positives... the problem still exists and the damage to their name has been done by their greed..

Anonymous said...

Pete has a point but I think Acer could go a long way in making sure this problem doesn't happen again.

first off, I think there is a real problem when you have a customer support base that does not speak the customer base language natively. I've worked tech support extensively and every shop I've worked for have had "red flag" situations for either supervisor intervention or at least a tier escalation. Any time we had complaints from a non-profit, it was a red flag. Acer has been perceived as turning a non-profit by the ankles here and shaking 100 dollars out of their pocket and that isn't good for business. Sure Acer fixed the problem. They should have donated a laptop to the cause.

I'm with Pete here. They did the right thing but only after being embarrassed and forced to do so. I'm not sure I will buy another Acer product until they do what's right with helios.

Helios, that's just my opinion. You showed a lot of class here.

Anonymous said...

When I get an Indian named "Bob", I always say something like "Howdy, Bob, ah'm Krishnamurti. How's things with you an' all the good ol' boys down the Ganges?"

Randall Meyers - Dallas said...

Kenny, I understand and greatly appreciate your sense of fairness. 'Tis a rare thing these days but it isn't enough. You spent three hours a day for three days on the phone with them. On top of that you physically drove to their facility and dropped the laptops off for repair, then drove home.

How much time did that take you all totaled? Did this hassle take you away from things that you should have been doing? Like working and providing a living for yourself? Did the time spent backlog your deliveries of computers to your HeliOS Project kids?

I know the answers to those questions because I work for you off and on.

Acer didn't do anything special. You painted them into a "have-to" corner and they responded to put out any PR fires. They only did what they had to do...and nothing more.

I have forwarded this blog AND my directive to our purchasing agent. I don't believe we need to do business with Acer until they give you one of their top of the line laptops for your troubles.

Knowing you, you won't ask. They remain on our "NBUAC" list until they make good with you.

"No Business Under Any Circumstance"

Randy Meyers

Anonymous said...

"I once saw..."

Oh yeah? I once saw a wood chipper throw up a bsod AND memory core dump after the first boot of Vista.

Unknown said...

Good for you but I was really looking forward to the wood chipper video. (Or M-80 demonstration)

Still I would have preferred the "Don't let this happen to your laptop" demo but its better they go to the deserving kids.

Unknown said...

And Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, etc. wonder why Apple is eating their lunch. When one of my Macs dies, I can make an appointment, show up at the store, and have a courteous employee fix it on the spot.

Customer service isn't trapping the customer in a phone system designed to make the customer furious by the time that they actually reach a person.

Unknown said...

I didn't mention this, actually it was a bit embarrassing but funny at the same time.

Acer did go out of their way to make this right. When they unblocked the login, they did what they thought would be a generous thing by installing a fully licensed copy of Vista Business Edition on each computer.

Now be quiet...I cannot concentrate amidst the hysterical howling. Yes, given who we are, it is funny...but that's not the point. They thought they were doing the right thing by doing so. From a retail standpoint, it WAS a generous gesture and I for one appreciate it.

I am actually going to ship the machine with Vista on it to the winner of the Acer drawing...not as an insult, but as something cathartic to perform. "The Cleansing" of a drive, as it were.

Almost as cathartic as "installing" Vista into a paper shredder.


Anonymous said...

Three guys walk into a bar. While they are standing there, one of the friends accidentally knocks a heavy crystal pretzel bowl off the bar and it smashes one of the other guy's foot. The guy is hopping around and it becomes evident that his foot is broken.

"Damn, I didn't need this. I am broke and I cannot afford a trip to the emergency room."

The clumsy guy shrugs, reaches into the third friend's pocket, extracts 500 dollars and gives it to the injured buddy.

"Here." he says "This should cover it, now get in a cab and get that foot taken care of."

Acer didn't make anything good helios. They gave you Bill Gates' property, not theirs. Putting Vista on those computers didn't amend a thing. They gave away something that did not belong to them. Hell, they didn't even pay your cab fare. You had to drive yourself to the hospital.

Pathetic bunch at Acer I say. That only intensifies our boycott of Acer products.

Unknown said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, if Acer does business with Microsoft like Dell does, they buy Windows Licenses in bulk. While the Eula obviously points out that the software isn't "owned" by Acer, Acer is in possession of the software and possession is 9/10ths of the law, or so the saying goes.

BSA not considered.