Friday, 4 February 2011

Would you buy an Acer Laptop?

I have a very good client who was generous enough to buy her teenage son an Acer laptop as a Christmas present last year. (I thought I was lucky to get an Etch-a-Sketch at his age!) On "special" offer in Tesco this cost her £400, but it was for him to use as he moved towards his "O"-levels and worth the investment. (Do we still have "O"-levels?)

All well and good until he did what teenage boys with laptops in bedrooms do - that is, he ran out of the room, not noticing the power lead, tripped over it, pulled the laptop off the bed onto the floor and cracked the screen.

This isn't covered under the Acer warranty, of course. To replace the screen they need the laptop to be sent to them - at their courier charge of £55.15! - before they will quote a price to replace it. (It isn't clear why they can't quote a price up front for such a simple job.)

At the time of this mishap I was going on holiday the very next day, so my client was unable to use me for the repair. Instead of using Acer her husband asked the bloke down the road, who he knows from the pub, to replace the screen. And he just knew he'd be cheap!

He did replace the screen, but without firstly discovering if there were any other issues with the laptop. He should have simply plugged in an external monitor to see if the rest of the laptop was good, and therefore worth the cost of a new screen. Instead he told my client he couldn't determine if there were any other issues before replacing the screen regardless - at £120.

Sadly, I now have the laptop - complete with pointless brand new screen - and it doesn't work because the motherboard had also been damaged in the fall. To replace the motherboard will cost another £120 (+ VAT)!

Was this Acer laptop ever worth spending £264 on? Probably not. Was it worth £400 in the first place? Probably not.

The morals of the story are two-fold:

1. There is no such thing as a cheap computer.

2. There is no such thing as cheap computer support.

Laptops should be robust and reliable and sourced from a known manufacturer using a trusted supplier. Computer repairs should only be undertaken by reputable companies prepared to justify their work - and to offer a full warranty.

The same guy also took 1½ hours to add an email signature for this client. It should have taken him 5 minutes at most!

(P.S. We don't recommend any computers whose name begins with the letter "A" - unless you're an Apple Mac nut.)

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© Michael Donkin 2011