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Website of electronics manufacturer Acer.

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      15.03.2009 09:23
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      Advantages

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      Average quality manufacturer website with acceptable support facilities

      You may have read in my recent review of my Acer TravelMate laptop that although having a very decent specification, it has proved, over the two and a half years that I have been using it, to be somewhat less than reliable. It has been back to Acer for repairs under warranty twice in the last six months. Fortunately, my foresight in buying a 3 year extended warranty from Acer (Acer Advantage) has proved to be a godsend.

      Acer are a global corporation and as such have a main .com website and several nationally based websites, of which the British one is a standard .co.uk. The one can be reached from the other as is usual in these cases. The UK website's Home Page is very much the standard, emphasising their range of products, which include more than just computers. At the time of writing, the feature is on their new range of Tempo smartphones, which do look very sexy.

      The links to each product section present lists of the currently available models and selecting any one enables you to access pretty comprehensive information about them. However, the visual representation is less impressive, being limited in most cases to just a single picture. Most other manufacturers seem to be able to provide multiple angle views and some even enable 360 degree virtual rotation.

      Also on the Home Page is the link to Service & Support, where you can go to the section that details how you contact them to report a fault, by phone or by eMail. Email support is provided through an on-line form that you complete with details of your machine and what is wrong with it. Before doing so you are invited to check to see if there is already a solution, by consulting their databases of FAQs, Articles and User Guides.

      Also available from here is a link to the Acer Europe website dedicated to file and document downloads, for updating driver software and so on. You can solicit a support request from here as well.

      From the Service & Support section there is also a dedicated link for Acer Advantage customers. Here you login with the Acer Advantage registration number and password that was set up when you bought the extended warranty. This doesn't however, give you any preferential treatment. It's just to check up on the details that Acer have on record regarding your warranty.

      So, what are Acer like to deal with when you have a problem?

      In both cases of the problems I experienced I initially contacted Acer using the eMail form on the Acer website. This is confirmed back to you with an eMail from Acer and eventually another eMail from their Technical Support suggesting possible reasons for the problem or asking for further information. The reply wasn't immediate in most cases but usually came within 24 hours. In both cases I eventually had to pick up the phone to Acer to discuss the problem at further length.

      Acer are reasonably responsive on their telephone support line. Calls are to an 0870 number but there is no indication on the website of the rate at which these calls are charged! If you are already outside of the warranty period the calls must be to an 0906 number, which is charged at 50p per minute!

      I usually found that even when I was contacted I had to go over the facts of the case again, even though it was already recorded on their system. Usually this was because the technician had misunderstood the problem. However, in both cases they soon agreed that the problems could only be resolved by returning the machine to Acer for repair.

      Once this is agreed, Acer send you an eMail which contains the details of how the machine can be returned to them for repair free-of-charge under warranty. Part of the information required to be provided is any passwords that you have set so as to enable access to the machine's system. This, of course, means that they have access to all of the data on the machine as well. Now, I'm not suggesting that Acer are anything but scrupulously honest about their customer's data but you might want to take this into consideration.

      The responsibility for ensuring the machine is securely packaged is yours and they tell you what you have to write on the outside of the box to ensure correct delivery. This involves contacting their designated courier, DHL, to arrange collection and to be advised of the reference number for the package. All this is quite straight-forward. The only inconvenience is in having to be available when DHL call to collect.

      In both cases the repairs were carried out quite quickly and the laptop was back with me within five days. This is pretty good service and certainly compares well with the service I have had from other manufacturers. In both cases the reported fault was fixed and no further contact had to be made.

      Overall I have been satisfied with Acer's support although it was annoying that the problems reported could not entirely be resolved by eMail. Clearly having to pick up the phone is a more expensive solution. One thing that I am eternally grateful for is my foresight to take out the Acer Advantage extended 3 year warranty. The Acer TravelMate has proved to be a less than reliable machine, certainly much less reliable than Acer's support.

      We must be grateful for small mercies!

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