For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’re familiar with my complaints about my laptop.  Now that things appear to be working fairly well, I’ll tell my story.

From One ASUS to Another

Back in the middle of March, I came home one night to find my laptop dead.  My 3 year old laptop would start up and then immediately power down.  The ASUS logo would light up, and then the power would drop.  After a bit of testing, it looks like it might have been my motherboard that finally died. But in the 3 years that I had my ASUS G1, it was a great gaming laptop and great machine for demos.  And once that died, I felt a bit sad.  But my husband, hoping to replace his laptop. had done a bit of research on what was out there, and based on our prior experiences, we decided that it’d be good to go with another ASUS for me, this time with a bit beefier of a processor and more memory.

In the middle of March, I ordered my ASUS G51JX – with the Intel Core i7, 6 GB memory, and 1 GB nVidia GTS360M, I would be set.  I’d be able to write all sorts of programs, demo all sorts of technologies, and yes, get back into World of Warcraft yet again.

New Laptop Arrives

The new laptop arrived, and I was quite happy to see it.  I got it just in time for PAX East 2010, so I was able to take it with me for its first trip.  First thing I did was wipe out the initial image and install my license of Windows 7 Ultimate.  Loaded up drivers, installed World of Warcraft (WoW) and Plants vs. Zombies (PvZ), and I was set for my first gaming conference adventure.  PvZ played wonderfully!  But WoW, on the other hand, had video corruption all over.  Soon enough, my video card drivers kept crashing every 15-20 minutes if WoW, Zune, Aero, or anything graphically intensive was running.  My IT and tech support backgrounds were screaming that something was wrong and it needed fixed NOW.

After coming home from PAX East 2010, I decided it was time for some significant testing.  Many fresh Windows 7 installs later, many driver versions later, I decided to call ASUS tech support.  Boy did I do this wrong!

Tech Support for Non-Techies

I wish there was a code word we techies could use that would tell other techs that we’re outside of their script and that we’ve tried their script already before contacting them to get around the initial headaches.  I started with email support, seeing that a graphics problem would probably be better solved with screenshots, which you can’t really see over the phone.  What I hadn’t realized was that ASUS’s email support isn’t here in the US, and with that, there are language barriers, time zone issues, and other points of failure.  I got a lot of “try this BETA video card driver” and “please wait until we release a BIOS update”.  Mind you, each email had a 48 hour turn around time, which seemed more like 96 hours or more sometimes.  I was not content with waiting for a BIOS update, and the BETA drivers were not working.  I finally emailed them back and said that if this tech couldn’t help me, he would need to escalate the ticket to someone who could, as I thought an RMA would be needed.

After trolling the forums and finding BIOS updates and various video card drivers, I was feeling hopeless.  Surely nVidia didn’t put out 2 sequential versions of crappy drivers – the nVidia products I had been familiar with weren’t ever this bad.  Then, they released reference drivers for my video card – oh how I got my hopes up.  And oh how they got let down.

Meanwhile, email support grew quiet and I grew impatient, so I called the ASUS notebook support team.  They were able to somehow get it to a point where I could play WoW for an hour or two before the corruption would happen.  I asked the quintessential question of them – who do I contact when this comes back up?  Where can I send screenshots to show the problem I’m having?  I think this would lead me to the RMA.

Time Goes By So Slowly But Pays Off

So after numerous emails with the email team and a call to the phone support, I finally documented the issue and sent the email to the address that phone support gave me.  And shortly after that, the email team followed up with a request for me to send in my laptop for the ASUS techs to take a look at it.  Thanks to the ASUS RMA team in Indiana, I had my laptop shipped to them, looked at, and back at home within a week’s time.  And thanks to that RMA, a month after I started this process, I now have a happier laptop with a replacement video card.

Why didn’t I give up and just return it for a refund?  My previous ASUS laptop worked wonderfully and helped me believe in the brand.  From ASUS motherboards in our past PCs to my G1 to my husband’s netbook and now to two ASUS laptops – husband’s laptop died later that week and we replaced his Dell with an ASUS G51JX as well – I sense a pattern!  As frustrated as I was with the slow support process, deep down, I believed I had drawn the short straw with hardware in this case.  When it did work, I could see a lot of potential, but whenever the video card crashed, I would wonder if it was just leading me on.  We’ll see what I have to say in a few weeks, but for now, I’m glad I have my laptop back and can get back to blogging, working on presentations, working on TDPE2, and gaming!

So…

  • Tech support for techies when it comes to ASUS SUX – we need a code word for those of us who know the script and are ready for an RMA, since RMA doesn’t seem to be that magic word.
  • Foreign tech support SUX – as if having issues with the machine isn’t hard enough, language barriers complicate things.  I’m not a fan of outsourcing tech support like this because of that added frustration level.  (Though the techs out there are doing their job… this SUX is more aimed at ASUS and companies’ general practices of outsourcing technology-related tech support.)
  • The ASUS RMA team in Indiana does not SUX – great turnaround time and the fix appears to work!