I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and recognize the "amazing" job that the folks at Gateway are doing when it comes to technical support and customer service.
First I'd like to give everyone reading this a little background on the situation. I am the proud owner of a Gateway FX 7811 Laptop. Ever since I saw this machine reviewed in MaximumPC I knew this would be the machine for me. I waited for the price to come down and happily purchased one at my local Best Buy.
After 9 happy months of using this laptop I suffered a tragic blow. I found I was suffering from a over-heated video card. You could tell by the usual signs, I had random horizontal lines streak across my screen whenever I'd watch any video or play any games. I knew it wasn't a driver issue as the lines would also present themselves in the BIOS and POST screens after an immediate reboot.
Being an IT Consultant by trade, I knew the diagnosis and started to explore my options. I figured the best course of action would be to contact the manufacturer and get my laptop repaired. Here is where the real story begins.
Knowing that there is sometimes a language barrier to break through when phoning in for support, I opted to use Gateway's Chat support to setup a repair for my laptop. After allowing the support agent to register my laptop with Gatway I begin to explain my situation very clearly. The support representative insisted that I MUST see if the lines present themselves in safe mode. I tried to explain to the representative that this step was unnecessary as I confirmed the lines were present in the BIOS and POST, but they insisted. As I was unwilling to perform this unnecessary troubleshooting step while logged in with Chat support (I know I should have probably opened chat on a computer that wasn't experiencing the issue), the issue wouldn't go any further and this support call was ended. This process took about 1.5 hours, and got me nowhere.
I decided the next day to bite the bullet and phone in for support. After going through all the motions that I had to go through the day before with chat support (Including the Safe Mode reboot), the phone representative finally decided that the computer needed to be sent to the Gateway Repair Facility. I gladly followed the instructions in the e-mail I was sent and shipped my laptop next day to the Repair facility. I was happy to see that three days later may laptop was on its way back to me!
After fighting with FedEx to get them to deliver my laptop at a time I was actually home, I was ecstatic to see my laptop back in my house. My happiness was very quickly turned to anger when, after a complete inspection of my laptop, I found that the rear left corner of my computer's once pristine case was torn off. Now, I'm not talking about a small piece of plastic. This was about a 1.5x3 inch piece completely missing from my laptop. This was not damage caused by shipping as the piece was nowhere to be found in the box that the computer was shipped back to me in.
I very promptly called Gateway Support and they wanted me to send them my computer again. This time they paid the shipping. As I was packing up my computer for the second time, I began to worry about the state my computer would be in when it returned to me. This time, the laptop was in Gateway's possession for almost two weeks before it was shipped back to me.
Upon receipt of my machine, I began to inspect and test my machines functionality. To my relief, all looked to be working as it should.
It wasn't until I needed to plug in my headphones to the laptop that I found yet another problem with my computer. The headphone jack was no longer operational. There also appears to be a red light emitting from the jack.
I contacted Gateway Support via Chat again and spent close to 45 minutes fighting with the representative on the warranty status of my computer. After much confusion, on their part, we seem to have come to the realization that when the first representative I spoke to registered my computer, they placed in the incorrect Serial Number. So, now when I look up my computer on their tech support website, my warranty status is unavailable. Also, when I am asked to provide my SN, I cannot enter the correct number because the number they have on file isn't in the correct Alpha-Numeric combination.
After that conversation, I was also directed to contact Level 2 support via the phone. This department, however, was not open to take care of my issue. I already have a very bad feeling where this will lead. I know deep down that they will direct me to ship my computer back to them. When all is said and done, I will have been without my computer for almost a month. This type of service is completely unacceptable.
Rather than continuing my quest with Gateway Support I have now purchased a Creative X-Fi Notebook soundcard to replace the Gateway part that is broken, yet "under warranty." I am very disappointed with the level of support I have received. I cannot fathom the type of Quality Control that the repair facility has that would allow such gross oversight.
In summary, I have sent my laptop to Gateway Support twice now and have received it back twice in a broken state. I am now afraid to send it to them a third time for fear of the state which it might be returned.
I hope my experience will help those considering a Gateway product make an informed decision.
One Very Unhappy Gateway Customer