Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tales of repair woe...and hope

Yesterday I was returning from a conference in Bitola, Macedonia through Skopje, its capital.  My national colleagues and I had spent four days out of the range of my cell phone which only works in Kosovo.  The cell phone system is the subject of another post, but I had been wondering if any progress had been made on the repair of my Tablet PC.  We were stopping in Skopje for lunch anyway, and the repair center is almost right across the street from one of the McDonalds there.  While we waited for our food ( in Macedonia you order at the counter and then sit and wait until they bring your food) I walked across the street.  When I entered the service center I was a greeted by a very helpful man.  The actual technician who had been working on my tablet was out, so I was asked to sit in a conference room while the call was made.


Good news!  While I was in Bitola my tablet had been repaired!  I was told that the battery had been defective and been replaced.  A flash of doubt passed through my mind, but was quickly eclipsed by my happiness at the relatively speedy repair.  The man suggested that I test it to make sure, but I passed, anxious to get to my Big Mac “Big and Tasty” and my colleagues.  When I got back to my waiting burger, however, I flipped my tablet open and pressed the power button.  Nothing.  Not a light, not a chirp … nothing.  I flipped it over and detached the battery, hoping that it wasn’t seated properly or something.  Sure enough, the battery was brand new, manufactured in January of 2006 in fact!  I reseated the battery and tried again.  Nothing.  Then I went to look for an outlet.  The countries in the Balkans tend to not put outlets anywhere convenient, but at last I found one and plugged it in.  Again, nothing.


I had been vaguely suspicious about the “battery problem” because I’m pretty sure every laptop I’ve owned, every Thinkpad at least, would run fine on AC without the battery installed.  At any rate, I dejectedly headed back across the street to the service center and revisited my new friend.  Again we called the tech in the field and gave him the bad news.  He said that unit had been powered on and charging fine the day before.  He said he had hoped the battery was the culprit, but had ordered a new motherboard the same day he ordered the battery, it just hadn’t arrived yet.


As with many of my experiences in the Balkans, I have mixed feelings.  I’m very grateful there is an authorized IBM service center in Macedonia.  I’m very grateful that they can do warranty work and that this repair won’t cost me a dime…or a euro.  At the same time, the guys very nearly sent me back to another country with a unit that had been properly repaired.  I didn’t think it was rocket science to diagnose that more than the battery was faulty.  Anyway, hopefully the new mobo will be here next week.  Then I can try to figure out when I can spare the better part of a day to travel down to Macedonia and back.  Skopje is a two-hour drive away during the best of times, and there is rarely a “best time” to go there.


As we say here in Kosovo, “shka me ba”  in other words, “what can you do.”


1 comment:

Beth said...

How frustrating for you - I feel like we should be praying over your equipment from this end, also that, as a bonus, you'll get some kind of unexpected blessings through that extra trip you have to make back to Skopje.