As you may know, my family owns a Gateway 504GR. My family purchased this Gateway computer instead of letting me build a computer for them because they thought that by purchasing a name brand, they would have better support. Were they wrong!
My parents bought the Gateway computer about a year and half ago and it worked fine up until this past weekend. What happened this weekend was my mom heard a loud squeaking noise coming from the computer. Upon inspecting the internals of the computer, I narrowed the sound down to the fan. I gave the fan a look-over and determined that somehow the fan got off-balance and ended up chewing up some protective sleeves. I thought to myself, no big deal, I’ll just get a new fan. Too bad it couldn’t be that easy.
Set on purchasing a new fan, I checked out the connector of the fan to make sure I would purchase a good replacement. As you may have guessed, Gateway didn’t use a standard connector. They used a 4-pin motherboard connector. Yes, that’s right, 4-pin motherboard connectors don’t exist. Well, in reality it’s a 3-pin motherboard connector with an extra wire. The extra wire is used for temperature regulation. See, the fans inside of the computer speed up or slow down depending on how hot it gets, so that wire is used for the motherboard to send the command to adjust the fan speed.
I told my dad this news, and he told me to get the exact same fan. Unfortunately that wouldn’t be possible. The fan was a Foxconn fan, and not only does Foxconn not make fans anymore, the fans they had made were available to computer manufactures only. So, I told me dad this, and we decided to try and bug Gateway for a fan.
I was skeptical that Gateway would send us a replacement part, but I thought we’d give it a shot. So we called Gateway and got ahold of a support assistant. We gave them our model number and explained our story. After the support assistant heard our story, he told us he would put in an order for a new case fan and on top of that, it would free. This was great news because the computer was out of warranty. My dad and I both had a sigh of relief thinking that our troubles would be over.
Fast forward to today. A new package has arrived from Gateway. Eager to install the new fan, we quickly open it. Guess what? They didn’t send us a case fan; they sent us a replacement heatsink. A little upset over the issue, we decided to call Gateway again and see if they would correct their mistake.
The new support technician we got was very nice and apologized for the misunderstanding. After the apology, the support technician asked what was the correct part they needed to send. We told them it was a case fan. Then we got a huge let down. Apparently, the fan isn’t manufactured anymore and they don’t keep it in stock. The technician then told us we could send the computer to them, and their support staff would replace the fan; which by the way would take two days there, five days to look at, and two days back. Oh, and the technician warned us that most of their repair technicians like to format the computer, so we should backup everything. No thanks!
This is what I don’t get. First of all, they don’t have the fan in stock, so technically they have nothing to replace it with. Second, what in the world are they planning to do to the computer that would require them to see it for a week. Why can’t they just send the replacement part to me and I install it? I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable shipping a computer off for a week for a stupid fan replacement. Most likely it’s going to come back worse then it was when I sent it.
So, with Gateway technical support out of the question, my dad and I decided to do what I originally suggested – we get another fan and I just modify the connector to fit the motherboard. Simple, quick, and a hell of a lot cheaper than shipping a computer to Gateway.
I just hope this whole experience made my parents realize that maybe you don’t get the best technical support from a computer manufacture. Had I built the computer and the fan died, I could have of just purchased a new fan and thrown it in there. Instead we had to deal with Gateway technical support for a few days, only to find out that in order for them to do something we’d have to send the whole computer to them. Oh yeah, there is that whole proprietary fan connector thing also. Someday they’ll learn.