Monday, March 15, 2010

The Sushi, the Stew and the Failed Computer

Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, we went to our daughter’s house in Chichester, as we had the previous Sunday, the weekend when they moved into the house. On both occasions we had a very pleasant day. I had been over on the first Saturday, when they moved in; Fedor had come with me to the “At You Fingertips” shop in the Greywell Centre, Leigh Park, to try to help me retrieve my money for the failed Acer Extensa laptop computer.

On the first of those two Sundays, while Emma and I went to fetch bed from a friend’s house, Fedor had put together a meal of sushi, his favourite and well deserved after all his efforts during the house moving. Unfortunately, somehow, it was knocked off of the table, the plate breaking on the stone floor and the sushi ruined by shards of crockery.

The following day I had returned home, after visiting clients, to find Jo ad made one of her very good stews. With my plate of stew on the worktop in the kitchen, I open a cupboard to get a wineglass, there being some wine left over from the weekend. Somehow, I contrived to knock the glass against the cupboard, or somehow otherwise drop it, for the glass to bounce on the worktop and break on the floor. Clearing up quickly and pouring wine into another glass, I took the meal into another room and sat down to eat. I had only taken one mouthful when I saw two pieces of glass ion the edge of the pallet. Obviously, the glass had started to break when it hit the worktop, before landing on the floor. So, my meal was ruined by shards of glass in it, at least potentially and not worth the risk, though Jo had made plenty, enough for two days, so all was not lost.

It was peculiar to have two such similar incidents twenty-four hours apart, the only connection being that Fedor, being a computer consultant, had offered to come with me to a shop where I had bought a laptop computer, sometime previously, the computer had failed, so had the first repair, and I was having problems getting my money back.

The computer was purchased from At Your Fingertips, in Greywell Precinct, Leigh Park at the end of September 2009. It began to show signs of instability during November and failed completely by the end of the month; it kept going blue screen, “crash dump to disc”.

I agreed to the computer being repaired, though there was additional delay due to the shop owner, Cecilia Harding, being away due to illness. The computer came back from Acer, with, apparently, a new motherboard and a clean bill of health, though, when I started it, in the shop, it went blue screen, “crash dump to disc”. Cecilia Harding suggested I take it home for Christmas and try it, see if it settled down, otherwise bring it back afterwards.

The computer was no better after Christmas, Fedor said from what I told him about it, that it was a memory problem, and wondered whether the computer was an up to date model. After Christmas I accept the offer of a loan computer while we waited for a response from Acer about the supposed repair, matters being delayed due to Acers laggardly, to put it mildly, response and Cecelia Harding going on holiday.

There turned out to be additional complications and Emma suggested the obvious, ask for my money back, which was not refused but starting to get somewhat involved. I came across a Hampshire County Council trading Standards Officer at a Havant Borough 50+ Forum Coffee morning, when I called in at the Beacon Centre, in the Meridian Centre, Havant, early in February. She confirmed that Trading Standards Law was that, if a product failed in the first six months, it was deemed to be a failure at time of manufacture and a refund was due. When I, later, ‘phoned the number she advised me to contact, Consumer Direct on 08454 040506, the adviser who answered the call was of precisely the same view.

I had already begun to wonder about the stability and reliability of the loan computer, particularly being the same make and model, so I bought a Hewlett Packard laptop computer, from Currys in Havant. I had been to a PC World Store in Sussex immediately beforehand but, whichever PC World I went to Currys was closer and owned by the same holding company. Ironically, we had problems with Curry’s relating to both a fridge and a freezer during the previous several weeks but it was always down to their delivery people, those in the shop being very helpful; as was the case with Rick when I went in for the computer. The choice of the Hewlett Packard was decided by the specification and the offer price.

The loan computer was stripped of my files and software, though most of my files were on an external hard disc anyway, and returned to its box to await resolution of the situation with “At Your Fingertips”.

When he next visited us, Fedor pronounced the Hewlett Packard computer to be a good purchase, an up to date model with a good specification. He carried out an online search for the Extensa model of computer with which I had problems but could find out little about it in regard to the U.K. though did so on Eastern European websites, apparently known for memory problems, which fitted with his original diagnosis of the problem with the one I had purchased.

A couple of weeks ago I read an article in the Daily mail, about a couple who had purchased a laptop computer from a Comet Store, only to have it fail and Comet to decline a refund, at least until they essentially “camped” outside the store with a placard. In a way I can understand such reluctance but it is not good business, certainly in the long run.

When we went to “At Your Fingertips” in Leigh Park last Saturday, the shop was closed, though I was certain it did open on Saturdays; presumably that is a new development. The next time I go there the number of visits will definitely enter double figures, all in regard to one computer.

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