Friendly Incompetence or Evil Conspiracy

As regular readers know, there have been “issues” with my computer, a relatively new Falcon Northwest Talon. Their service representatives were never able to solve a relatively simple problem. Were they actually unable to do so or did they choose not to?

This computer has generally been excellent. But there have been issues with it regularly. I believe the first was precipitated by Microsoft Update and was not at all the fault of the computer. It seems that a USB 3 board was mis-identified as a disk drive of some kind. The driver for the disk was replaced by Update and subsequently trashed the disk several times before I figured it out. The emails to Falcon tech service never came to a resolution; I had to figure it out myself.

Earlier this year, I started having problems with networking. The connection could not be made or the connection was at 10Mbs instead of the 1Gbs that the motherboard adapter provided for the first few months. These failures were sporadic but became worse and worse.

During a long period (several weeks) of acceptable operation, something happened to the BIOS settings affecting overclocking on the system. The symptom was a failure to start. It took awhile but eventually I noticed the erroneous clock settings when the BIOS displayed its boot up messages. In this case, the tech service folks were able to help me get up and running, providing a very complete set of instructions for resetting the relevant BIOS settings.

But the networking problems became worse and worse. Finally, the system regularly failed to connect at all. Windows would sometimes connect. Linux just failed (a new experience for me). A pretty extensive list of evidence pointed straight at the network adapter on the motherboard.

Even though I asked for a replacement card (not the computer or even the motherboard), all I got were new things to try and report back on. Finally, I just gave up, bought a TrendNet 1Gbs PCI network card and put it in. Both Windows and Linux recognized the card, selected the appropriate driver, and have been working correctly ever since.

The interactions with Falcon service have been uniformly friendly and professional, but they couldn’t get the job done. Was it really because they could not identify the problem (in spite of overwhelming evidence in my opinion) or was the continual series of new suggestions just a way to avoid spending money. I can’t believe the time they spent on researching my problem and generating replies could actually have cost them less than the $25 the new network card cost.

I conclude they are not really evil, just incompetent. And I now realize the money I spent on a 3-year warranty was wasted.