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Wednesday, November 26, 2014
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Published: Friday, 12/19/2003

Save paper; check the pulse

About 1 in every 10 new computers is DOA - dead on arrival in the consumer s home or office, according to some estimates. Others die soon after arrival, from manufacturing defects that appear in those critical first hours and days of operation.

Nobody knows the exact percentage of computers that slip through factory quality-control systems. Assume that it s even 1 in 15 or 1 in 20, and that s a good reason for taking two precautions if you re unwrapping a new computer this holiday season.

First, follow grandma s holiday ritual. Save the paper.

That means all the paper except the gift wrap and bow: The sales receipts, credit card paperwork, shipping boxes, waybill, internal packaging material, instructions, and everything else.

You may need the box and all the trimmings to return a faulty computer to the factory or local store for repair or replacement.

Keep it, no matter how inconvenient it may be to store the big cartons. And keep it for the life of the computer s warranty, which usually is 1-3 years, unless the warranty provides for onsite service.

Customer service has deteriorated along with technical support at some of the big on-line computer merchandisers. Readers are constantly sharing tales of woe about customer support personnel who use every trick in the book to avoid replacing a defective computer.

Pitching the shipping box puts you at a disadvantage, which, at best, may mean a delay in getting a fix or replacement.

Second, don t mollycoddle that new computer or treat it like a museum piece. Use it as much as possible.

If a new computer was assembled with bad parts, the defects probably will announce themselves during the first hours or days of operation.

That defective hard disk drive will work for just so many spin up and spin down cycles. The random access memory (RAM) chips will die after just so many computer start and shutdown cycles. That microscopic crack in the motherboard needs so many hours of operation to grow and break the electrical circuit.

If a computer survives that period, it probably will run without any major problems for years.

Accumulate those hours of operation, and those startup and shutdown cycles, early in your ownership of the computer. You ll have a much stronger argument for a replacement if the computer dies after a few days of operation, than a few months.

The same goes for new printers, scanners, and other devices that connect to the computer. Set them up as soon as possible and make sure they work.

If you do get a lemon, check the manufacturer s repair/replacement policies carefully. Some may try to replace your brand new computer or printer with a “refurbished” unit, a reconditioned machine that may have seen months of hard use.

Ask about the replacement, and fight if your brand new computer will be replaced with a used computer worth only a fraction of the price of a brand new unit.



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