Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A new way to get help with your computer:


The photo above is of a Sony VAIO VGN-NR285E laptop.  The computer is only 2 years old, but the battery is already completely dead.  I went on line to buy a replacement battery, but Sony no longer sells this battery.  I searched on line and found an independent source for the battery, which was $120 (!).  I ordered it, not realizing it was being shipped from Hong Kong.  It finally arrived after two weeks, accompanied by a tiny DVD that contained instructions that I had to run the included program before installing the battery.  I did this and the computer stopped working.  It would not boot up.  I simply got a VAIO logo. I could not even access the BIOS set-up.

I tried everything I could think of (not much) and finally called SONY.  Because the computer is no longer under warranty, I had to agree to pay them $50 for telephone support.  The service person asked me several question and made me turn on the computer and press various buttons.  She concluded that the computer had suffered a hardware failure.  She instructed me to ship the computer to SONY.  The repair would cost either $299 or $699, depending on whether it was a minor or major repair.

Instead, I decided to try  This is a web-based service.  You agree to pay an expert a pre-determined amount (I agreed to $18), post your question and an expert tackles the problem.  I got hooked up with a guy named David L.  He asked me to perform various tasks to ascertain the problem.  This included instructions such as remove on back on memory and try to boot up the computer.  Later, he told me to remove the hard drive (bottom right in the photo) and try to boot up the computer.  This is not something I would have tried on my own.  But with his guidance, I did.  And suddenly I was able to get the BIOS set-up screen.  He told me to reset it to the default.  Viola!  The computer returned to life!!!!  For $18.  I gave him a $50 bonus.  The guy was a genius.  He honed right into the problem and I never even mentioned the battery problem.

So this is a heads up to anyone needing computer help.  Or even other advice.  Check out  Meanwhile, I plan on trying to get my $50 back from Sony.  And I have to send that battery back to Hong Kong.  No more Sony products in this house.


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