Friday, August 29, 2008

Chatting with Tech Support

(This is an article I posted on techblog.k12.ar.us, but wanted to share it here as well...)

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of chatting live with a tech support person from one of the largest PC maker/distributors on the planet, I'm sure. I won't give any names, but it rhymes with a Mexican fast-food chain...

In any case, I had a system that would not boot. In fact, it wouldn't even power on at all. I opened the case, unplugged and replugged everything, noticed the motherboard 'green led' was lit, and tried again. Nothing. I had the forethought to take a working power supply from another Dell (oops, did I say that?) and try it out on the non-working machine. No change. It was time to chat.

Now, if you have ever called or chatted with Dell tech support, you are aware that they have a specific list of things you must do before they actually believe you know what you're doing on the inside of a computer. I braced myself for the onslaught of questions...

I started the chat with this:
"The computer will not power on at all. I opened up the case and disconnected/reconnected all power leads and the system still does not come on. The system board shows a little green light, but that's it. I even connected another Dell Power supply to the unit and got the same results. It appears to me to be a bad system board."

To my surprise, that jumped me forward in the line of questioning! I must have skipped over questions 1-999 and jumped right to number 1000! The support person on the other end had me do a couple of other things, which really would have little bearing on the problem, but I think helped that person decide just which parts to send out.

So, after swapping the power supply from the bad system to a working system (the opposite of what I had done before), we determined that the power supplies were fine (the tech opted to send another anyway, just in case). I also had to disconnect every lead (to CD, floppy, hard drive, etc) and remove the RAM and modem and try the power supply again. No change.

While the chat itself lasted a little longer than 40 minutes, most of that time was spent with me running back and forth between my computer and the broken one. This means that our actual chat time was (dare i say it??) FAST!

I have to say that I was very impressed with the tech I chatted with. He or she (I do not know if "Pawan" is male or female, though I could not help thinking of various Star Wars references as we chatted - I kept those to myself) recognized that I was not a newbie, and treated me like the computer professional I am. The replacement system board and power supply will be here next week.

Kudos to Dell!

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