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It’s been awhile since I’ve had to really rant about the lack of service, not due to lack of experiences, but due to the fact that I haven’t had time to talk about them all.

However, recently my experiences with Gateway Computers has elevated the need to publicly rant about their service (or lack there of).

It all started back on March 15th when I decided to purchase a new laptop. Being a long time Dell customer I looked there first. Unfortunately, the problem was they couldn’t deliver a new laptop to me until April 28th at the earliest. Since this laptop was to be a birthday present for me (March 20th is my birthday) I wanted to get it sooner then April 28th.

So I shopped around, even went into the nearest Gateway store down the street, and settled on the Gateway 600x P4 mobile 2.2 gig 60 gig HD, 512 megs of ram, laptop.

Recieved the 600x within about 10 days (on a Friday), and immediately after taking it out of the box, the trackpad was defective. Took it to the nearby store, and they ordered a replacement trackpad and offered to order a whole new system. They gave me an external mouse to use in the interim. The replacement trackpad would be in by that wednesday.

Over the weekend I set up the laptop, and it was Blue Screening and locking up on me like I had never seen before. I engaged their online tech support on 3 occasions, resulting in repairing XP, reloading XP and one complete idiot who wanted me to delete my internet cache. Well, that Monday, I took the laptop back into the store, spoke with the store manager, who ordered the replacement laptop as he had originally offered.

10 days later the replacement laptop arrived. Opened it up and found that the replacement did not match my original order, as it had 2 256 meg sim cards instead of 1 512. I called Gateway service again, they instructed me to swap the memory and send the old one back with the 2 256 sims.

Within days, the replacement 600x was locking up, freezing, and Blue Screening again. I worked with tech support again to try to get to the bottom of the problem. After reloading XP 3 more times, making it a grand total of 6 times, a conclusion was reached that I had defective ram. They ordered a replacement memory module to send to me.

The memory arrived a couple of days later, and instead of recieving the 512 I orginally ordered, I recieved a 256 meg sim. Called back and the issue was taken care of and a new 512 sim was shipped and I was to send back the 256.

New 512 meg sim comes in, I swap it, and within minutes I’m still locking up and crashing. Clearly there is something wrong with this platform and the 600x.

Call back tech support at Gateway and ask what are my options. I opt for the option to return this 600x and purchase a 450XL as I am assured that the 450XL does not have these problems. The tech support person and his manager approved the return and I was told I would recieve a packup kit and return labels. I then was transfered to a Sales Rep and ordered the 450XL.

I’m tracking my 450XL order via their online order status. As of Friday, it shows that its out on a UPS truck for delivery. 10:30am, the UPS tracking information shows that it had been delivered. Called my wife, she says she never signed for anything, and it was never delivered. Call UPS, they say it was delivered to a completely different address then my own and was signed for by someone I have no idea who. Come to find out that they delivered it to the Gateway Country store!

I called the store to confirm they had the 450XL in my name. They found it and I told them I’d be in to pick it up. When I got the 450XL from the store, the address on it was mine, not the store’s, clearly showing UPS screwed up royally.

450XL arrives last Friday, and before even opening it up, I call back to Gateway to insure that the return labels are on their way. I am assured that they were scheduled to arrive at my doorstep on Tuesday. Set up the 450XL and so far, 0 lockups, no crashes, loving it.

Tuesday is here and gone, and Wednesday night I call back to Gateway to find out where the return labels and packup kit are. Find out that the return kit was cancelled. I’m put on hold and passed around for 40 minutes until finally talking to someone who is completely un-empowered to solve this problem. He assures me he will take care of the problem and get the return labels out.

The story should have had a happy ending, and at this moment it is not completely done. However, in my fustration, the support rep explained to me that I shouldn’t even be allowed to return the 600x since it was beyond the 15 days allowed for returns. This just set me off. Which 15 days would that be? The 15 days from which I got the first, which was defective? or the 15 days after I got the replacement, which was incomplete? or the 15 days after recieving the replacement memory? or the 15 days after they finally sent me the correct memory? Oh and did I mention, no where did it ever say that the return policy was 15 days, nor can you find any mention of a return policy or procedure on their website or invoices. Nor did any of the service reps and manager’s I dealt with mention the 15 day return window.

So the good news is I have a solid laptop the 450XL, and a piece of junk that one way or another will find its way back to Gateway (the 600x) and I will get my refund.

My advice to anyone buying a computer… When you have problems, write down everything. Write down the person you spoke to, get numbers to contact them back, say its in case you get disconnected… Keep a journal of your problems with your computer. Write down when it crashed, what programs were running, what you were doing when it crashed and what error messages, if any did it display.

As for if I can reccommend Gateway to anyone buying a computer… The judgement is still pending. As of now, the service is decent, but they have consistently dropped the ball, yet I seem to keep giving them chances to fix it. Assuming they do ultimately resolve my issues, then they will have redeemed themselves and my opinion will be positive. However, if it comes to issuing a chargeback and litigation, well, you can only begin to guess my opinion of Gateway if it comes to that.

What are your thoughts?