I look around my office I see a few rack servers, desktops, and a couple of laptops… Mostly Dell, some offbrand, and my Gateway 200ARC notebook. I am 100% certain that the notebook will be the last piece of revenue I ever contribute to Gateway.

I am, apparently, not the only one who feels this way as Gateway has been losing money (and revenue) the past three years. Based on my latest experience with them this is not only likely, but desirable. Gateway product support and customer support was the worst I’ve received of ANY software or hardware vendor, ever (I’ve worked in IT since 1995, so that might tell you something). No company that can perform as poorly as Gateway did with me should thrive in economies of healthy competition. If Gateway makes it, Adam Smith will roll over in his grave and demonstrate the “Doh” made famous by one Homer Simpson.

If readers aren’t interested in descriptions of poor reasoning, business sense, baffling company policies and rude customers service agents than stop now! If you are curious how a well known brand can make a series of mistakes that will cost them a customer (and perhaps many more of warnings heeded from this blog), read on.

It’s quite simple really; the 200ARC was manufactured with a defect that allows the hard drive to become disconnected. This means that after business trip, one needs to whip out a screw driver and reset the drive. No biggie, unless it happens when it’s sitting on your desk running XP. This happened to me last Friday and corrupted my XP operating system.

After four calls to Gateway support (all with relatively helpful CSRs that were doing well executing a series of procedures to troubleshoot) it was clear what had happened. Due to defect, the drive was partially corrupted but no physical damage was done. So my data was safe, which should be a good thing… unless you are talking to Gateway.

Since no physical corruption occurred the solution is to use the recovery disk. Most reading this are tech savvy, so you know what this does: completely wipes out your hard drive. Complete loss of data (which for me, meant rolling back to a full backup 2 weeks prior). That was not, acceptable, as I knew (from a quick linux CD boot) that “My Documents” was in tact and not corrupted.

So, I need a way to get going on the recovery, but to be able to recover the data files that have changed in the past two weeks. I need an identical drive that I can use to reinstall and I’ll recover the files from the other drive over the next couple of day.

Nope… No replacement drive. Their faulty product caused this and I am covered by their highest tier full coverage accidental super duper warranty program (cost an extra $200 USD at purchase). I can’t get Montie (badge CA358) to send me a drive. How about a loaner? Just send me a drive and I’ll send you mine (which you assure me is just fine) in 30 days? Nope, no way… Data Corruption is not Gateways problem, even if it was caused by our product (that was an actual quote).

So here I am with a major pain in the butt situation, and a $50 hard drive can mitigate a huge customer concern and some knucklehead thinks it’s more important to value a corporate guideline than a customer relationship.

That’s what sealed the deal: Gateway is clearly unaware their business is about more than parts, UPCs, and customer support procedures. Dell gets it. The newest Dell commercials, have nothing to do with the amount of RAM in their computers, it’s a guy calling Dell support to make sure Dell will value them as a customer and help them do the things that matter to them (email Aunt Maude and browse

I can’t stress enough to those reading, please heed a warning from a knowledgable purchaser of technology (notebooks, desktops and servers). Gateway doesn’t get it so buy only if you really want the hardware and that’s it!

There is a relatively happy ending, and I love the fact that it is these sweet words: Linux saved the day! 🙂 A simple download, iso burn of Trinity Linux I was able to “scp” all of my files to a server and then proceed through the process of wiping out my hard drive per Gateway procedures.

My parting advice is download this small bootable CD and burn it right now. It’s simple memory only boot, file system, network support is the convergence of exactly what one needs for recovery situations.

Good riddance Gateway and good job Trinity Linux!