When my Asus 7900GT graphics board began to malfunction, I contacted Asus through the company's Web site, received an RMA [return merchandise authorization] number, and shipped the board back for repair. UPS records showed that Asus received it four days later, and the Asus Web site said the repair was to be processed within ten days. Two weeks later, I sent e-mail asking about the status of the repair, and a customer service representative promised to expedite the matter. But five additional inquiries have met with no reply. Can you help?
Jim Brasfield, Burns, Tennessee
OYS Responds: By the time we forwarded Brasfield's e-mail to Asus, the company was out of stock on his graphics board model. However, the company sent him a newer model, which he was happy to accept as a replacement.
Asus admits that Brasfield's request for service fell through the cracks, and says that it happened for two reasons: First, Asus was in the process of moving its service centers, so some repairs weren't completed. Second, Brasfield had sent a number of his e-mail messages to customer service at Asus's headquarters in Taiwan (the address had a .tw top-level domain instead of .com). Brasfield told us that he had obtained the address by navigating to a page on the Asus Web site.
It's not uncommon for tech companies to have offices in several countries, but it is unusual for tech support e-mail queries from North America to be handled through an overseas address, and Asus says that Brasfield might have obtained better service by directing his messages to the U.S. tech support operation.
If your e-mail support query appears to be going to an overseas address, you may not be sending it to the right place. When seeking assistance, make sure that you're on the support page for the country where you bought your equipment.
Missing in Action
Stephen Braude of Baltimore ordered a copy of Corel Paint Shop Pro from SoftwareOutlet.com. When it failed to show up several weeks later, he began calling and sending e-mail to the company.
SoftwareOutlet.com didn't respond to any of Braude's inquiries, so he sent a follow-up e-mail canceling the order--but the charge on his credit card was never reversed. That's when he turned to us.
Unfortunately, we had no better luck: We tried calling and e-mailing SoftwareOutlet.com a number of times, but we received no answer.
The company currently has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau due to unanswered complaints. SoftwareOutlet.com is also the subject of similar complaints on several consumer sites such as Complaintsboard.com.
Extended Warranty Date
Joseph F. Ryan of West Medford, Massachusetts, got less than he bargained for when he purchased what he thought was a two-year extension on his new Gateway laptop's warranty: Afterward he realized that the extended warranty added one year, not two (as he had expected), to the standard included one-year warranty.
The warranty's terminology is standard for the industry, as made clear in the fine print on Gateway's Web site. As usual, it pays to read service agreements carefully and to ask any questions before you buy.
Amber Bouman is an editorial assistant for PC World. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.