The Unfortunate Tale of a Compaq Owner

  • Posted: 10 July 2001 11:58 AM

    If you’re like me, from time to time you start being open minded about computers and begin thinking you should just stay calm over the Mac vs Windows debate.  Then you have an experience like mine that knocks some sense back into you.

    Helping a friend with a PC in the last few days has served as a reminder of how wonderful our Macs truly are.

    So, I am at my friend’s house playing Nintendo (yes, the original Nintendo), and he says we should download Nintendo emulator so he can play the same games on his computer.  I help him find one and we get a few Nintendo games for it.  Next day, he calls and tells me his computer won’t start up.  Compaq tech support tells him instantly that it is caused by the emulator because all emulators are illegal and they will destroy your computer.  In fact, the so-called expert says that his friend downloaded a Playstation emulator, which made his hard drive catch on fire.  Barely able to believe what I’m hearing, I go over to his house to see if I can help.  Strangely, his computer works perfectly fine when I go start it up.  He removes the emulator thinking the problem is solved.

    The next day, he says he has the same problem again, and that Compaq told him he needs to reformat his hard disk and reinstall Windows 98.  Again, I come over to help.  Surprise, surprise… the computer works just fine.  What is going on here!?  So my friend wants to reformat anyway.  I don’t think it’s a good idea since I don’t have experience dong that on a PC, but I stay around to help him anyway because I know I will inevitably be called back when he runs into trouble.  (Since I know all about Macs I must also know everything about Windows PCs, of course.)

    He burns his approximately 10 GB MP3 collection to CDs (I think the sole purpose of his computer is for instant messaging programs and for using Napster, iMesh, and Gnutella.)

    Now the QuickRestore CDs just won’t work.  It turns out you need another floppy disk separate from the restore CDs.  The whole process makes restoring a Mac look unbelievably simple.  It was easier to restore my Performa 630 than it is this new Compaq.  This floppy disk he needs is, of course, nowhere to be found, so tech support asks us to download a boot disk from a third party web site, which upon further inspection seems to be hosted on some guy’s DSL connection on his home computer. (!?)  Anyway, so that works and we get started with the restore.  (Oh, did I mention that they said we had to open up the computer and unplug any third party hardware—Ethernet card and Zip drive?  What a pain.)

    So now his computer is restored to its original state—sort of.  The floppy drive no longer works, and neither does the Ethernet card.  But Compaq won’t talk to him anymore because they can’t find his 2 year extended warranty.  He has to fax them his copy so that he doesn’t get charged $30 an hour for any further support.  On top of this, there is a generic PCI card found by the plug-n-play software, but the only PCI card the computer has is the Ethernet card.  Weird.

    The built-in Windows 98 drivers, for some reason, won’t work with the Ethernet card, even though they specifically are made for the card he as.  Since the floppy drive won’t work, I have to go home and download the drivers from the maker’s web site [Edit: I had to download them and burn them to a CD, since luckily his CD drive still works. It’s a miracle!].  Finally, that works.

    What else could go wrog, you ask… plenty.  In the days following, my friend wants to burn a CD and discovers that the CD burning software was not restored.  Compaq tech support is less than helpful in trying to do a selective restore of the software, telling us to install it from nonexistent directories on the CD. Eventually they give up and tell us to see their web site for pricing on a new copy of the software.

    A day or two later, my friend found that his browser was stuck with the home page set as a warez site (I guess it’s one that another friend of his had gone to), and this site pops up a seemingly infinite number of new windows every time you open IE if you don’t hit the stop button soon enough.  We try to change the default page but Windows 98 says that he does not have permission to open the Internet Options, and he should consult the administrator of the computer.  We finally are able to log in as Administrator.  For some reason the account has no password by default.  Now that’s a secure way to set up an OS.  Once we delete his user and add it again, everything is fine with the preferences.

    To this day the floppy drive still does not work and I don’t know what he’s doing about the CD-RW software.

    I can’t understand why PC users put up with this kind of thing!  If Apple did stuff like this they would lose so many customers it just wouldn’t be funny at all.  How do PC makers get away with this?  I don’t know, but I do know that regardless of whether the G4 can get to 1 GHz, or whether Mac OS X gets any faster, there are bigger things to think about when considering a new computer. (Mainly, will it work with a minimum level of frustration?)  Consequently, I’ll continue supporting the computer company who sells machines that just work.

    David Nelson
    Mac Observer Forum Mod


    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-06-21 13:31 ]</font>

  • Posted: 21 June 2001 11:04 AM #1

    Can I get an Amen?


    —Ricky Spero
    Anchor, The Apple Weekly Report
    The Mac Observer

  • Posted: 21 June 2001 11:16 AM #2

    I think the word is, investment.

    PC users buy this computer, and they think gee how smart am I for buying a computer that will be compatible with all this software, and gee everyone else uses it so I’m gonna do it.

    Then they get the thing home and start it up.  Suddenly their printer won’t print, the CD-ROM drive doesn’t work, and etc etc.  But hey I’ve already paid so much for this computer, and I bought all this software, and Macs are dying, so I think I’m gonna keep using it even though its such a pain in the ass.

    That is the mentality of a PC user.  The PC is a tool, like a car, and sometimes you are going to have to fix it, just like a car.  And its going to be a pain in the ass, but thats the price I pay to have all these software choices (half of which are total crap, but hey, lots of choices).

    I should transfer this post to the “Why I love my Mac” forum.  Macs are easier to use, easier to fix, and just funner.  Bar none.


    Signatures are for geeks…. I’m a geek.

  • Posted: 21 June 2001 01:32 PM #3

    Then they get the thing home and start it up.  Suddenly their printer won’t print, the CD-ROM drive doesn’t work, and etc etc.

    Ha, ha… that reminds me of another part of the story which I forgot to include. The Compaq printer that came with his computer pulls paper through crooked and doesn’t print out properly.  They’re sending him a new printer to replace it.  It’s nice that they are doing this but it would be even nicer if the printer worked the way it should.

    I should transfer this post to the “Why I love my Mac” forum.  Macs are easier to use, easier to fix, and just funner.  Bar none.

    Perhaps it would fit well under a “Why I love my Mac” forum but I posted it here because it was also a rant about the difficulties that one often encounters when dealing with PCs.


  • Posted: 21 June 2001 01:40 PM #4

    One other thing, the monitor flickers from time to time and it has a very audible hissing sound when the computer is off.  I think this is the sound of a dying monitor.

    I know it sounds ridiculous that all this happened to one person on one computer, but I’m not making it up.

    David Nelson
    Mac Observer Forum Mod


    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Nelson on 2001-06-21 16:40 ]</font>

  • Posted: 01 July 2001 05:02 PM #5

    David I believe you.

    As I’ve stated somewhere before, the company I work for uses Mac’s.  With two exceptions - the accounting office has to have a pc to send in payroll to somewhere and the shop needs a pc to communicate with the large buses they work on.  So they bought a new Dell.  We have had lots of problems with it.  The boss spent 8 hours on the phone with tech support one night and no the floppy disk still doesn’t work.

    I can’t say we haven’t had problems with a few of the Macs but they (for the most part) were easily fixed.  We had one iMac that eventually went back to Apple, because even they couldn’t believe it kept destroying itself.  You can understand one problem child every now and then but PC’s do present a whole new meaning to “problem child.


    ``You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can only be free if I am free.’’ - Clarence Darrow


  • Posted: 09 July 2001 06:22 AM #6

    I know exactly what you guys are talking about.

    At work, they ditched all Macs (except in a few labs where they are “necessary”)in favor of PCs. Now, this is a Fortune 500 company and has deep pockets. Every year we buy new PCs to replace the aging systems and to account for growth. Every year someone makes a decision to buy from some manufactorer, and every year we get a new crop of problems. Hard drive crashes, CDs won’t work, monitor burn out, and the list goes on and on. These are from the big boys too, Dell, Compaq, and so on. And don’t talk to me about viruses.

    This year my area is buying parts to put together our own PCs. The thought behind this is that we would have a better idea how to keep the things running if we bult them ourselves. This is no joke. Of course, if I even mention Macs I get eyeballs rolling and deep sighs.

    Here’s the kicker: I have a 7200 on my desk that pretty much has been constantly on for 2 years. I scarfed parts to add a larger hard drive and a SCSI Zip. It doesn’t do much now, but every so often I get a request to convert a file or view a document that a PC can’t or won’t. 2 years! During that time, the PC I had on my desk crashed constantly, or slowed to a crawl for no apparant reason. I recently got a new one with Win2k. It’s better than the NT thing I had, but it too is starting to show signs of peculiar behavior. I’d use the 7200 exclusively if I could get some software for it.

    True, I’ve had Mac problems. My new Cube came to me noisey and with a flickering monitor, but the problems have been resolved reasonablly fast. Any other problem that might have cropped up on any of my Macs are fixed quickly. Even my daughter can service her iMac.

    It makes not sense to me why anyone would even ask why I own Macs. They work.


    "If only you could have seen what I’ve seen with your eyes." Roy, Blade Runner

    Vern Seward

  • Posted: 10 July 2001 08:11 AM #7

    A noisy cube! Just what in the heck was making noise in there? (had to be the hard drive, right?)

    “These are people of the land, the common clay of the new West. You know…morons.” - Gene Wilder as The Waco Kid, Blazing Saddles

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Photodan on 2001-07-10 11:12 ]</font>


    "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" - Charles Darwin

    What’s the difference between a Mac and a PC? Macs are designed, PCs are assembled.

  • Posted: 10 July 2001 10:52 AM #8

    Well, I guess it was the drive. They sent me one and it was as noisey as the original, so I sent the whole Cube in. I’m away from home so I don’t know if it’s still noisey.

    I was pretty bummed out.


    "If only you could have seen what I’ve seen with your eyes." Roy, Blade Runner

    Vern Seward

  • Posted: 10 July 2001 11:58 AM #9

    Ok…for one Compaq has been famous for bad tech support over the years. I used to have WAV files of some of the advice they have given and it was quite funny. I’ve worked on Compaqs alot (because they are bad computer) and the restore CD’s never work right, if at all. They took Packard Bell’s place once they went under.

    My experience is when you buy a major name brand computer you are going to have problems, whether its with the system or the people you deal with to get answers in the company. If you have to buy a PC go to a local business that builds custom PC’s. And please, by all means dont buy the cheapest computer you can find. 9 times out of 10 your going to have problems with it. There is cheap hardware and then there is quality hardware. The quality stuff does cost a bit more but you will have ALOT less problems. This is what I think Apple’s approach is…they use only quality hardware and therefor have less problems. If they used cheap hardware…Apple would have been out of business a long time ago.


    Growing old is mandatory;
    Growing up is optional.