View Full Version : PC Company.... HELP!?!?!!?

Craig Bellhouse
04-08-2002, 10:20 PM
Last week I was with a friend and they wanted to show me a webpage they had found, so we turned on his computer, and the screen displayed "Check Signal Cable", so I reached behind the computer to reconnect it. It was screwed on tightly.

As I had my hand behind the computer, I could smell that delightful smell of burning circuitry so I hit the mains switch off. I got a screwdriver and removed to cover. The computer is a PC Company computer, and is just over a year old.

Upon removing the cover, I proceeded to reduce the case and computer to a pile of parts, in order to discover what had burned. As I went to remive the IDE cables, I noted that the AGP card had slid partly out of the socket as the plastic clip on the rear of the soket was not holding the card in properly.

I removed the card and checked very carefully for damage, but I couldn't see any. The two of us then went over all the other parts of the motherboard, ram, HDD and other drives with a magnifying glass to check for damage. Neither of us could see anything of note.

I spread the computer out over the desk, and reconnected everything, with the intention of turning it on to see where the smoke came from. Neither of us could see anything, but the screen would only say "Check Signal Cable", and the computer issued several long beeps, and that was it.

Just as a test, I plugged the monitor into an old computer, that was NOT plugged in or anything, and the message disappeared, and the monitor went into standby. I turned the new computer off, and reconnected the screen. The message "Check Signal Cable" came back, and wouldn't go away.

This lead me to believe that the AGP card was buggered. Unfortunately, the old computer's graphics card was ISA, and no ISA slot available on the new PC to test if everything else was fine.

We took the PC back to the PC company, and told the service man that we turned it on, smelt smoke, turned it off and bought it in, we did not tell them that we had taken a good look ourselves, but nor did we tell them we hadn't looked. They said they would take a look. Friday night, they rang back, and said the fault was in a DSE RAM stick that was purchased last december, and it had blown up, and taked the mobo socket with it.

In our detailed look over the mobo when searching for the fault, the RAM stick in question was FINE, as was the socket. Also, to my mind, the process on a PC startup is:

initialise the display,
Check the mobo Bios
Check the RAM

It was not even doing this first step, so surely if RAM had been at fault, it would have got to the RAM test stage, and declared faulty RAM.

I was not with my friend when the PC Comapny called him, but they gave him the RAM explanation, and said they would charge him $38 for removing the RAM.

I intend to go in with him on Monday to talk to them about this. I want to see the RAM in question, and also documented test results that led them to believe this as the cause of the fault. Am I justified in asking for this?

What sort of proof can I ask them to present that backs up their claims?
Is there anything else I can do? I know in future I am going to get any computer independently tested by another shop before going anywhere for warranty claims, I know that much, but unfortuately it is too late for that in this case...

The PC in question had its warranty extended out to 3 years, this was confirmed by the PC Comapny when we took it in.

Is there any likelyhood of my friend getting a replacement video card, or do we have to agree with the findings of the PC Company, as we don't have any evidence to back up what I have posted in here about what we did before taking the PC in.

Any assistance with this would be greatly appreciated.


04-08-2002, 10:31 PM
This will open a can of worms on this forum LOL

As an aside, I know 3 people who have had their monitors replaced under warranty by PC Company in past 6 months

Terry Porritt
04-08-2002, 10:35 PM
It seems to me that if the warranty is for 3 years, and it's only a year old, then they should hand the computer back in working order, or am I overlooking something?

As long as it's working when you get it back are you all that concerned about the details, except for interests sake?

What about all the hotmelt glue? Removing that would be a give away wouldnt it? :)

Craig Bellhouse
04-08-2002, 10:41 PM
Cheers Terry,

I would have expected the same, however, they are blaming the fault on a component that is NOT covered by their warranty, a stick of DSE RAM, and not the AGP card as I believe.


04-08-2002, 10:45 PM
I think that if you have opened up the case they will not be wanting to honour the warranty.

Craig Bellhouse
04-08-2002, 10:54 PM
To my understanding, the warranty applies to the parts in question, which should be covered under consumer law, not the whole case.

04-08-2002, 10:54 PM
If the dse ram was fitted by you, probably negates the warranty.
But! if its a ruse (and they have replaced the graphics card) then the PC will be working when you get it back, and you are $38 worse off. Probably not a bad result. Ask for confirmation of the balance of the warranty, or a refund if they refuse (they cant have it both ways)

You may recognise a new graphics card of course... Remember there is always a threat of the "Small Claims Court", Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act. Useful only if someone is found to be telling porkies, make sure you admit checking it out under the hood if asked.

Craig Bellhouse
04-08-2002, 11:01 PM

04-08-2002, 11:46 PM
About 15mnths ago I brought a Packard Bell computer (with 3 yr warranty)

I wanted to add more RAM and rang Packard Bell to ask where I should take it to have extra RAM fitted - not wanting to negate warranty.

They told me that I could go to the likes of DSE, buy extra RAM and fit it myself. If the computer crapped out the RAM would not be the cause, and the entire warranty would still be valid.

I think where you will fail Chris is, because you completely stripped the computer (accross the desk) without asking the PC Companys permission. I think its pay up and grin it.

Thats my opinion anyway

Elwin Way
05-08-2002, 12:17 AM
Read the fine print in the warranty. A lot of warranties state that you are allowed to open the computer for purposes of adding RAM or another hardrive, but NOT to do repairs.

Chances are, you have voided the warranty, and your argument won't hold up in a claims court (where it matters).

Having said that, you are entitled to access the faulty RAM, as it should be covered by a DSE warranty. You will need it to claim that won't you :D

If they don't cough up, take it higher - get in contact with management or something.

05-08-2002, 01:21 AM
Well put Elwin...... I had forgotten about the DSE warranty myself !

05-08-2002, 07:44 AM
if you can get your computer all up and running for $38 then i would just pay and then teke it up with DSE.

if the $38 is not going to get you a fully working system then i would push a bit but DONT tell then you had the bits all over the table.

05-08-2002, 09:08 AM
I'm with Elwin. You can't void a PC warranty if the user opens the machine up. They are meant to be tinkered with. If you dangle fluffy dice over the processor or something you don't deserve a warranty but upgrading Ram should be fine. Shame you didn't test it without the additional Ram in it.
I have to say I don't remember Ram ever causing faults elsewhere (I think you mentioned that the Ram fault caused a problem in the processor socket?). I've seen Ram melt onto the motherboard (usually not very good) but that is pretty obvious.
Disassembling the entire PC is not something I would do (not because I always have pieces left over but because there is such a huge capacity for something else to go wrong). Did kind of sound like the video card to me, shame you couldn't test that on another machine.
$38 is probably a small price to pay, if it is now all going under both warranties.

Billy T
05-08-2002, 10:37 AM
I'm with Elwin and Robo on this one. PC suppliers cannot add conditions that override your basic rights under consumer law. Nither the supplier nor the consumer may contract out of their basic rights so you may work on and add to your computer if you wish.

To void the warranty (even partially) they would have to show that on the balance of probabilities your actions caused the warranteed part to fail, or that you brought on the fault condition if it is software related.

"No warranty if you open the case" is a try on that works for most consumers who don't know their rights.

If you didn't get the ram back, go and ask for it as it belongs to you not them and if it genuinely is faulty you need it to go back to DSE. If they can't give it to you, they will have to either supply another (working) stick or refund you the value of the lost ram. It does not matter that it was a dud, your loss is the value that you cannot recover from DSE through their actions.

I do a bit of consumer law advocacy from time to time and the Consumer Guarantees Act is quite clear as to your rights. IMHO the Consumers Institute occasionally goes over the top a bit with its views on extended warranty period beyond the agreed 1 to 3 years and chasing replacements after 5 years is a bit much, but don't let go of their throat until you decide to flag it as unproductive, otherwise they'll keep on doing it. Of course if you are satisfied that it was the DSE ram then pay the fee and be happy.


Billy 8-{)

Craig Bellhouse
05-08-2002, 11:27 AM
Thanks for your help everyone.

If I read your reply properly Billy, I understand that I am allowed to open the computer and upgrade it. Am I also allowed to to some form of fault checking if it does go wrong?

I am asking this because they claimed in their phone call to my friend that the RAM had blown up and taken out the RAM socket. We saw no damage at all to the RAM before we took it in.

What sort of things can I expect from them in terms of warranty replacement? Should I expect the computer to be fully working, with all the parts it had when we took it in, when they return it??


05-08-2002, 06:04 PM
I know nothing about PC warrenties, but this is a great thread (story).

Please let us know the outcome. ;)

Craig Bellhouse
05-08-2002, 06:17 PM
Thanks for all your help in this matter. We have now come to a successful resolution with the PC Company over this matter.

The fault did in fact lie in the RAM, one of the chips on the stick was burned, but the damage had been hidden under a sticker, and neither of us noticed that the sticker was puckered.

The RAM has been replaced (by DSE, not in conjunction with the PC Company), and the computer is now working properly (minus 128Mb of RAM, as the DIMM socket was buggered).


Terry Porritt
05-08-2002, 06:36 PM
That's good Craig, have to chalk one up to the PC Company. It's lucky that the damaged DIMM socket didnt cause any more problems.

05-08-2002, 06:50 PM
Now here is a thought....

Do you have "fusion" cover in your household contents? (many do)
If so, does it apply to what has occurred?
If so, a new motherboard would be in order......

Craig Bellhouse
05-08-2002, 07:29 PM
I wouldnt be too ready to praise the PC Company, they charged us $40 for the removal of the ram stick. The PC Company were pretty sure we would get nothing from DSE, but we gave it a try.

We took the burned ram stick to DSE with the fault report from PC Company, and they said it was pretty shitty to lose RAM like that and said, well, even though you have no reciept for the RAM, it is clearly DSE RAM, here is a replacement stick for you.


05-08-2002, 07:40 PM
Good on DSE...... they will have you as a return customer. I have a feeling that the 128MB ram I brought off them is on 5yrs warranty

05-08-2002, 11:04 PM
For info the Cook St, Auckland PC Company Service Desk has area behind you when you are standing at the Service Desk where you can try out a mouse, keyboard or computer unit before you cart it home if you are not happy. I took in a key board and computer unit, informed no problem, tried it there with my computer and immediately produced the problem. A long story but eventually PC Company sorted things out.