Q: I bought a Gateway computer on April 4, 2005. In December my hard drive crashed, and Gateway sent me a new one. Within a few months, it crashed again; this time Gateway sent a hard drive provided by eMachines.
In May 2006, the hard drive started making a loud, clicking sound. When I called Gateway, I was told that the problem could be the motherboard.
The computer was sent to Gateway for repairs in May, June, twice in July and once again in August. It quit working in mid September and, when I called this time, I was told it was out of warranty and I was out of luck. I enumerated the list of repairs that had been made, but that didn't seem to matter.
I wrote a letter to Gateway and received a response from Jennifer Aidukaitis, who said she had tried to call me, though I received no messages. I called her and left messages Nov. 13, 14, 15, 16 and Dec. 12. None were returned.
I was working from home, so the loss of my computer was very costly to me. But the worst of it was that Gateway dropped me as if I didn't exist. I think it should stand behind its product.
A: Chelsea Novosel, executive response specialist at Gateway, contacted you by letter Feb. 6 and later by e-mail, you said. You had little luck getting back in touch with her. Novosel's letter asked you to contact her by Feb. 20. "If I do not hear from you by this date," she said, "we will consider this issue resolved." You said phone calls weren't returned and e-mails went unanswered, so meeting that deadline became challenging.
In a follow-up e-mail, you said you had finally reached Novosel. Gateway had agreed to replace your tower with a rebuilt or new one of equal or greater value, along with a one-year warranty.
You told us the tower arrived Feb. 20 and that your computer is up and running. Here's hoping your PC troubles are over.
Bracing job unfinished
Q: I contracted with Thermogard Hurricane Protection in March 2005 to install braces on my garage door. Installation was delayed several times because the product was back-ordered, I was told.
During installation, a drill bit broke and the anchor used for the screw had to be dug out. Screws for the second brace never worked correctly, and today I have two holes in my garage door and only one working brace.
I have called repeatedly to have my job finished and have consistently been put off.
Is there anything you can do to help?
A: Regretfully, no. Action contacted Thermogard by regular mail, with no response. A second inquiry sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, was refused. You may wish to file a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board by calling (727) 536-4720. Thermogard does not appear to hold an active license.
Ensuring 911 access
PC World magazine recently answered a question about 911 access to those who use an Internet provider telephone service. How can you be sure that calling 911 will work in an emergency? In light of the rising popularity of these services, the question is particularly timely.
Senior associate editor Liane Cassavoy advises against actually dialing 911 to confirm service because this could prevent an actual emergency call from getting through. Instead, register your physical address with your Internet phone service. Then call the non-emergency number for your local police department and ask if there is a way to make sure your phone connects to a 911 dispatcher and that the dispatcher has the correct address for your phone number.
Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request. Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check. We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.