Tech Support - It's a Good Thing!

By Kenny Williams

Up until this week my experience with online or phone based tech-support has been marked with a list of painful experiences and frustration. One experience with Dell left me so mad that I suggested that the days of good tech-support were gone and that it seemed like calling tech-support could actually worsen your situation. Realizing that many people's options for getting a sick computer fixed are fairly limited, I decided to try and focus my columns on common computer problems and how to fix them.

Well, I now have a far different opinion of the whole process because of a very good experience with a Gateway representative on a problem that had me stumped. I was setting up an older Gateway computer that had been donated to a family in need when I ran into a problem. The system was not accurately recognizing memory size and I could not figure out why. Knowing that this situation was probably due to the age of the motherboard I searched the web for an answer but I was left broken hearted. I realized that I was faced with the daunting task of getting tech-support for a computer that has been out of warranty for almost five years. I considered scraping the whole system for parts just to avoid having to deal with some jerky with an attitude.

I spent some time on the Gateway solutions website and came across their chat based online tech-support utility. I found the setup to be quite simple and user friendly. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself chatting with Terry, my own personal representative to Gateway, in less than five minutes.  Here is a sample of how the chat went.

Chat Log for 10/19/2003 09:21:46 PM In Session with: Terry

09:21:46 PM     Ken Williams has joined the chat session.

09:21:52 PM     Terry says: Thank you for chatting with Gateway. My name is Terry and I will be assisting you today.

09:22:58 PM     Ken Williams says: were you able to understand my issue from the info I typed?

09:23:13 PM     Terry says: With the information you provided in your submission, I see that your computer recognizes on 25% of the total memory installed. Is that correct? My badge number is GWSD008, should you wish to make a note of it.

09:23:38 PM     Ken Williams says: yes

09:23:51 PM     Terry says: Please allow me a moment to verify your System information and review your issue.

09:24:02 PM     Ken Williams says: ok

09:26:11 PM     Terry says: Thank you for your patience Ken.

09:26:26 PM     Ken Williams says: no problem

09:27:00 PM     Terry says: Ken, have you recently added any additional memory on your computer?

09:27:48 PM     Ken Williams says: yes. I have had the same problem when testing working sdram chips from other computers all having the same results of only registering in with 25% of their actual size

09:31:10 PM     Terry says: The original memory shipped with your computer is 32 MB SDRAM DIM. Is this memory recognized correctly if the additional memory modules are removed?

09:32:14 PM     Ken Williams says: The one 32mb chip I have only registers as 8mb

09:33:37 PM     Terry says: Ken, from what I can understand, even the original 32 MB SDRAM DIMM module is registered as 8 MB. Is that correct?

09:33:40 PM     Ken Williams says: Yes, however I cannot be sure that the 32mb chip I have is the original. This computer was donated to a family in need of a computer and I am trying to get it in working order.

09:34:56 PM     Terry says: Ken, let me take control of your computer and check some system settings.

09:35:00 PM     Ken Williams says: ok

09:35:10 PM     Terry says: I am trying to enable screen-sharing now.

09:37:01 PM     Terry says: Ken, could you please let me know the total memory that is currently installed on your computer?

09:37:32 PM     Ken Williams says: 128 mob pc100 sdram

09:39:18 PM     Terry says: I am trying to enable screen sharing. Please accept any alerts that you may get.

09:39:26 PM     Ken Williams says: ok

From here, Terry was able to see the information on my computer and actively work with me to solve my problem. By scanning the system, Terry was able to evaluate my problem accurately and effectively. My experience went so smoothly that my terrible opinion of tech-support has done a 180. I believe that this chat system tied with the ability for tech-support to remotely work on my system guarantees that this situation would go as smoothly for a computer user of any level of experience.

Online support services are very easy to find. Here are a few sites that offer online tech support similar to Gateway's. 

PC Pitstop at,  PC, Triage found at,

PC Pinpoint at, and VirusScan found at

With services like these you get access to top-quality diagnostics, support, repair, and virus protection at the ease of a mouse click. You can finally quit having to rely on the self-proclaimed neighborhood computer expert or your sister the tech wiz.

Feel free to email me with any questions or comments or if you have an unresolved computer problem and simply are not interested in using online tech-support to solve your problems. My email address is Include original text in reply.

The WebServer is a weekly computer column with a circulation of over 120,000 readers in three different publications. Look for your weekly dose of WebServer in The Caribbean Connection in Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami and in The Observer News in SouthShore.

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