Long Distance Laptop Repair

Last week my youngest daughter called to say that her laptop computer was in distress, and was not working, due to the batter being dead, and the charging unit unable to charge it. This continues the family tradition of:

By the end of the 2nd University year, all laptops will crash or become  unusable at a time when an important assignment must  be completed, which results in the purchase of a replacement computer either immediately, or shortly after that time.

I kid you not, that is exactly what has happened to all 3 of my daughters. The first two laptops were HP (I wrote about my oldest daughters problems in Student Computer Safety) and this last one is a Dell, all three have had issues with the charging unit, the system overheating and/or hard disk crashes (i.e. the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death). The problem is that portable computing is now “table stakes” for most University Students (unfortunately), so (for now) a laptop computer is a necessary (expensive) evil.

Old Laptop

A Rehabilitated formerly dead Laptop from the “Big Cajun Man Laptop Graveyard”

I ended up having to buy another Dell Laptop to send my daughter back to school with, and after some judicious “Dad’s I.T.” wizardry, I was able to extract all the important data from the laptop’s hard drive.

I am now left with a “dead” laptop however Costco is now “fixing” the broken computer (thanks to their Concierge warranty which doubles the normal 1 year warranty for most computers), but the methodology to make the “fix” happen is quite puzzling (to me). I had to call someone, who took down all the details of what transpired (and verified I had in fact bought this PC at Costco). Once it was determined that the computer needed fixing (which seemed obvious to me, but I had to convince the person at the other end of the phone that), the young lady said the PC would be serviced and I would receive a Box very soon.

The Box arrived, shipped via Purolator to the house (naturally left at the front door, without ringing the door bell). This magical Box, was padded with styrofoam, but it had tear aways so that the computer fit in it properly. The box also included a whole bunch of documentation for me to fill in, and finally it included a pre-paid packing label (for Purolator) to put on the box.

I filled in all forms, my wife made sure the computer fit in the box, and we included all the requested documentation(that we could find). We taped the Box shut, put the shipping label on it, and took it to the Purolator drop off site, and away it went. It is now whisking off to a repair place in Toronto, that will hopefully fix the computer, and then ship it back to me (presumably by Purolator).

My only question is, how can this be cost effective?!? I suppose it must be, or Costco wouldn’t do it this way (they seem to be a very smart retailing firm), but it leaves me scratching my head (and hoping to see a Purolator truck showing up at the house soon). Other retailers follow this model, so it must be that they have very cheap rates with the courier companies, and a well negotiated support contract with whoever is fixing the computers.

Assuming the machine can be fixed I now have a 3rd lap top to add to the “Big Cajun Laptop Graveyard”.  I  point out that this piece was actually written on one of those formerly derelict computers (picture above).

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TD and Free McAfee

So I kept noticing on the On Line TD Banking home page a mention of protecting your computer with McAfee, and on Saturday I investigated further. The short answer is: yes, it does seem that they are giving away McAfee Anti-Virus if you are a TD client. I haven’t actually installed the “Free” software, but I have registered for it, and it does seem to be a real copy of the software (if anyone has done this, please leave me a comment on your experience).

At first blush this is a bit annoying (for me) if it is a real copy of the software, as I have already updated my software (now I got it very cheap on sale, but I still paid money, for something I could have received for free which always annoys me). No Alanis that is not Ironic, just really annoying.

The second thing that I noticed was that after I registered the software with my existing McAfee account, this “Free” software asked me to update my credit card information (since I let it lapse), and the “Free” subscription would not allow me to continue until I gave a valid credit card number with a valid expiration date. This seems odd to me since I am not paying for this “Free” software, so why do they need a credit card?

Why you may ask indeed, and after I finished the registration process the system noted (in a side column, where I might not have looked) that the “Free” software had Auto-Renewal set to ON, so that I wouldn’t lose my “security experience”. To quote George Costanza, “A HA!!!!!!!“, now I get why they wanted an up to date credit card, so they could auto-renew it some time in the future and charge me $75 for the year (also remember George’s comments about “… sticking it to me!”).

To stop the auto-renewal is a simple matter of finding the auto-renewal page, and turning auto-renewal to OFF, however, I would guess many folks who would not go looking for that (or even notice that auto-renewal was on).

Why does computer security software marketing tricks seem solely based on Used Car Sales and Carnival Games of “Skill” trickery?

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