Watchdog: June 2008

Nathan Edwards

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

I built a new PC using a Galaxy Tech GeForce 8800 GT videocard that I bought from Tiger Direct. Two weeks later, I started getting artifacts and my system would freeze up while playing Crysis or Call of Duty 4. I got a replacement from Tiger, but three months later, that card also went kaput and created the same red and green diagonal lines and lockups that afflicted the original card.

As it had been so long, I went directly to Galaxy Tech for warranty support. Four emails and two voicemail messages later I have received only one response giving me a case number. They  didn’t supply any information on how to return the card, and the website doesn’t tell you how to do this either.

Help! I just want to get one of the following: a warranty replacement for the videocard or, better yet, my money back. I am having a hard time trusting Galaxy Tech and the 8800 GT line of cards at this point.

—Jim Rodgers

A reader says Galaxy Tech’s videocard support is far, far away….

The Dog pinged Hong Kong–based Galaxy Tech and heard from a spokesperson named Jam who said: “We appreciate your concern and your allowing us to explain what happened. Galaxy Tech did, in fact, reply to Jim and tried to solve his problem, but we did not receive feedback from him until receiving your email (as you can see from the attachment). An RMA for the card is not a problem, but we’re not sure that is the solution. We were in the process of trying to troubleshoot [the problem] when Jim elected to contact Maximum PC .

“If there is a problem with his system, no matter how many cards we replace, the problem will not go away. We’re sure that you understand this point well. We also understand his concern, but we need his cooperation as well. We would like to solve this and deliver the best service to him!”

The Dog put both Jim and Jam in touch. Jim believed that his PC was not the culprit and asked that Galaxy Tech let him exchange the board for another. Although he was not happy that Galaxy Tech would only ship a replacement card after he sent his board back, Jim did get a new 8800 GT.

Duped by Automatic Update

When Windows XP’s automatic update said I had to download SP3, I said what the heck. If Windows says I should do it, it must be right. Now after many reboots, booting in safe mode, and finally a system restore, I have my computer back to its stock performance. Please warn your readers about the dangers of SP3.

—Noel Puthenveetil

The Dog has no trouble heaping dog paddies on Microsoft’s feet when it’s well deserved, but the Dog isn’t sure it’s Microsoft’s fault this time. You didn’t say which SP3 you were prompted to download, but the Dog assumes it was SP3 for Windows XP not SP3 for Office 2003 or SP3 for Windows 2000, which was released in 2002.

Microsoft hasn’t even released SP3 for Windows XP yet. At press time, SP3 was still in a release candidate phase. RC versions of SP3 have been available since late last year but the only way to get SP3 to show up as a download on Windows Update is to change a registry key. So unless you unwittingly fired up regedit and changed the entry, it’s unlikely that Windows Update would have pushed SP3 out to you. A more plausible answer is that some kind of malware got onto your machine and is doing dastardly things, so you may want to examine your system for suspicious invaders.

Mad at Mad Dog

I bought an external Mad Dog Multimedia hard drive enclosure last summer. It ran for 10 minutes and stopped working. I touched the power brick and it was very hot. I replaced the brick with one from an older Mad Dog enclosure I have and it worked fine.

So began my six-week journey to get Mad Dog to replace the brick. The responses ranged from “it’s being looked into” to no response at all. In September, I was finally given an RMA and shipped the brick back. A few weeks later I contacted the company and was told that the RMA was given by mistake and that the company was still trying to come to a conclusion as to whether the brick was under warranty. I have not heard from Mad Dog since. I’ve tried contacting the company for an update but have heard nothing.

So far I have an external case with no power supply, a receipt for $6.15 for the postage to send the part back, and whatever the phone calls have cost. This has been going on for seven months now. Want a good laugh? Check out the support page on the Mad Dog website. It brags about the great service.

—Edwin Kanady

The Dog also tried several times to reach Mad Dog Multimedia to hear its side of the story. Even emails sent directly to Adam Colton, the chief financial officer of the company, went unanswered. That’s no surprise, though. The Better Business Bureau gives the company a thumbs down and has logged 74 complaints about it in the last three years. Consumers posting on vented about unfilled rebates, while a story on the Washington Post’s website told of a reader who had two bunk graphics cards from the company and was working on a third.

What exactly is going on with Mad Dog? It’s not clear. The main number the company lists for rebate information has been disconnected and the number for tech support gets you voicemail. Given the company’s inability to reply to consumers’ email, let alone the Dog’s requests for information, does anyone really want to risk buying Mad Dog hardware? The Dog certainly wouldn’t and recommends that readers steer clear of the company’s products. Woof.

All Stick, No Carrot

After my kids destroyed my iPod Shuffle’s dock (only Apple could turn a simple USB cable into a proprietary hunk of junk that costs $30 to replace), I went on the hunt for a cheaper and simpler idea. I thought I found it with Carrot Idea’s Flexible Dock, but after more than a month of waiting, and having paid $10 for the cable, I have heard nothing—and worse, I’ve received nothing. The money lost isn’t much, but it’s the principle. Please let other folks know not to order from this store. I guess I’ll just have to buy a second iPod Shuffle and use the dock for both.

—Stephen Palmer

It must be the month for companies not to respond to the Dog because Carrot Idea representatives haven’t answered the Dog’s emails requesting information on the company’s status.

Although the website shows a mailing address in San Jose, CA, the Dog could not locate a phone number for it nor could the Dog locate any papers of incorporation with the California Secretary of State. The actual physical address is likely just a mail drop, though, as a Postal Connection is located at the same address as Carrot Idea. The good news is that the Dog found few gripes about Carrot Idea at the usual agencies that track complaints.

The company actually describes itself as “a leading manufacturer of computer accessories founded in Seoul, South Korea,” so it’s quite possible distance is to blame for the lag in sending your hardware out. It’s not total flim-flam, as others have reported receiving the Flexible Dock. There is another option, however. Incipio makes a similar cable that costs even less than the Carrot Idea Flexible Dock. It’s available at for $6—far cheaper than a new Shuffle. And, of course, the Dog recommends that readers steer clear of Carrot Idea for now. Woof .

EMAIL THE WATCHDOG If you feel you’ve gotten a raw deal and need assistance setting a vendor straight, email the Dog at . Please include a detailed explanation of your problem as well as any correspondence you have sent concerning the issue.

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