[Note: This recollection of events is part 2 of a series, so to get the complete story, you'll probably want to read part 1 first.]
What?! The account was locked?!
I couldn’t believe it. My last hope, so it seemed to me, in order to fix my busted computer was to check if there was a sliver of warranty left. I knew my computer had been purchased about a year ago, but I was really hoping that there would be some left. But I couldn’t really do anything about the red-text error message on the Dell website. My mom’s Dell account was locked because someone had entered an incorrect password 6 times. The account would be automatically unlocked in 23 hours.
I couldn’t wait that long! If I had any warranty left at all, it was almost all gone. I didn’t really think there was anything else I could do. (But now that I think about it, I suppose I could’ve called Dell instead, but due to a dislike for Dell phone support resulting from previous experience…)
Two days later…
We were gone all day Sunday, so I was able to go back to working on the computer problem on Monday. I logged into my Dell account. (Please, let there be some warranty left!) Oh, the suspense; oh, the drama… (etcetera…)
I couldn’t believe it. 5 days of warranty left. I was relieved and thrilled. I began looking for ways to contact Dell.
Let’s see… I can do a chat or I can make a phone call. I decided to choose chat, for several reasons:
- No accent problems.
- No more calling me “ma’am” because my voice is rather high at my current age.
- No more holding for half an hour just to talk to someone.
- No more keeping the phone glued to my ear as I work at the back of the computer, etc.
So I started a chat. I was connected with someone named “Pooja,” obviously a foreign name. I remembered the name by thinking, “it’s a cross between Winnie the Pooh and Jar-Jar Binks.” He had me do many things: unplug everything but the power cord, check the voltage settings, etc. Nothing worked. Then he told me to reset the PCI cards.
Bother. Removing and replacing things in the computer was what was giving me trouble before. But I had to try it. The Dell technician gave me the URL to an article on removing PCI cards. I started with the graphics card. I got one end out, but I could not get out the other end. It suddenly dawned on me that I was trying to remove a PCI Express card using instructions for PCI cards. I had to push the little green lever first, then the card would lift out!
Anyway, by the time I was finished, I was greeted with an unpleasant surprise – the Dell technician had ended the chat. At first I was indignant that they would become so impatient as to terminate our connection, but then I saw a template message saying that due to my chat inactivity for the past minute, I had one more minute to respond before I would be cut off. Oh, the frustration of it all. But it turns out that the termination of our chat was one of the luckiest things that could have happened.
I started another chat and ended up with someone named “Prabal.” Another foreign name, obviously. I told him that I had been cut off, so he asked me what steps I had been able to complete. I responded with a list and the exasperated explanation, “I am now trying to reseat the PCI cards without breaking anything…” There were a few things I overlooked when making my list of successfully completed steps, so he asked me to do them over again, and — here’s the weird, but unsurprising, thing — some of his instructions were identical to those given by the “Pooja” person. Sometimes I wonder how much of a technician chat is actually original conversation. But I later found out this guy was awesome.
After those few repeats, Prabal had me remove (not reseat, as Pooja had instructed me to do) the cards and RAM from the system. I realized that this guy knew his stuff. It was common sense, yet brilliant – if we get a different error after removing a group of components, then it has to be one of those components! I was also excited because I was getting better and better and removing the cards and RAM modules. I removed both of the RAM modules in 2 minutes, instead of the 30 or so it took me to remove one of them two days ago. The orange power light prevailed, so it wasn’t one of those items. Then Prabal had me unplug the power and data cords from the disk drives and hard drives. Still the same orange power light.
Then he had me listen for beep codes (the noises the computer makes when it first starts up). I explained to him that I have never been able to hear beep codes even when the computer is working normally. He suggested that the speaker cable was disconnected. I believed him, but I found out later in the week that that was completely untrue (to be explained in part 3).
It had to be the power supply or the motherboard. Prabal had me see if the fans were spinning. Again, he was so smart – if the fans were not spinning, then they weren’t getting power. The fans were spinning. He told me it was the motherboard and got to work on dispatching a technician.
After giving me my dispatch number, case number, etc., he asked me to press a button on the chat website to end the conversation and complete a survey. Of course, I was so elated I wanted to tell the people at Dell how wonderful this technician was (compared to the first one I got), but with my blog in mind, I wanted to copy our conversation.
I was using my mom’s computer to perform the chat. And her computer was unusual in the sense that you cannot paste something into Word if you copy the item when Word is not open. So I started Word. Oh, yeah – Word is really slow on my mom’s computer. Apparently Prabal lost patience, or else he was just following the rules of the workplace. He terminated our session just as I was able to copy our conversation. The bad thing is I wasn’t able to complete the survey since it was terminated on the technician’s end. So that was disappointing that I wasn’t able to express my appreciation for his excellent expertise and troubleshooting skills, but at least a technician was coming to solve (dun-dun-dun-duuuuunnnn…) the Mystery of the Orange Light!
To be continued…