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Example of poor Gateway design and worse service

Last response: in Opinions and Experiences
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August 9, 2004 8:14:47 PM

My friend has a Gateway Nina Micro ATX case (Guts: P4 2.533, 256MB DDR266, 80GB HD, WinXp Home, AGP slot) and was going to upgrade his integrated Video Card to a Radeon 9700.

Opened up the case to put the card in, and behold, the expansion slot back panels are 2/3 shorter than they should because of a swing 'retention' door. This is just poor design and interfers with the installation of a standard PCI/AGP card.

So I got into Gateway help/support and was looking to see if they had any help/instructions to overcome this (some cases come apart and such), and no luck so I hopped on chat with them.

While on hold, I am looking at the case pretty closely and pretty much conclude either (a) the case back panel where the swing door attatches and to remove it to slide the card in or (b) get a new case and transfer the guts over.

So the tech comes on, and is polite. I let him know the problem and he sends me irrelevant links 3 different times. Finally after explaining myself again (the third time), he caught on I was talking about the slot being too small.

He noted that the case only takes half sized cards and the full sized card would not work and he would transfer me to sales. I was polite to him, but did let him know this was a poor design.

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POINT #1: Gateway's expansion slot case design is POOR and does not allow upgrades to standard parts. This is a poor design, frustrates clients, and ultimately costs them more money because they either cannot upgrade, or have to pay more, or (egad!) are convinced to upgrade to a totally new system. All around a bad idea. Removing the swing door from the design solves this entire problem. One must wonder WHY it was designed this way...
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The sales guy comes on and he reads our chat and then says he can recommend a few half sized (low profile) video cards. I was not interested in buying anyhing because my friend already has a Radeon 9700 he got a good deal on, but I wanted to see what he had to say.

This is where it got harry. I asked him for a link to all his half sized cards so I could preview them and he would not give it to me. Instead he said, "I will take care of all the details". I knew what was coming...

His first recommendation was the Radeon VE w/64MB RAM (aka 7000 I believe) for ALMOST $250!!

This is a $35 card (www.pricewatch.com) that is 3.5 years old (released in about Feb. 2001)!!!


Sidenote: Now, I have been asking a lot of 'stupid' questions lately because I do not like to assume stuff I am not 100% certain of and I have enjoyed hearing informed suggestions from people who are up to date on specific technologies. I have always built my own systems. I helped my dad build our first PC in 1986, and built my first on my own in 1989 when I was 12. We had a 4 computer network we had built in '93 just to play Doom :)  Point: I am not a computer tard, but I am a little behind on some new things (been busy with life) and have asked some stupid Qs on the forum, but I a not totally uninformed either!


Anyhow, I can see this guy is trying to take me for a ride and steal my friends money. The sales agent continues, "This is our best seller"--uh, yeah... But I decide not to comment about the card quite yet and asked him if he had anything else.

The next card he suggests is a PNY Quadro4 XGL w/ 64MB of RAM for over $300. He is so eager to sell me this card he tells me he can ship it today FOR FREE if I buy it right now.

Pricewatch.com time... ewww this is about a $100 card he is trying to sell me for $300+?!!

Btw, this is one of the lower end Quadro4 series cards--not to mention that was 2 entire generations of video cards ago. Lets see: Quadro4/MX, QuadroFX/FX, now nVidia 6800 series.

So, the sales rep is now trying to push off on me a 2 year old Graphic Workstation Card... hmmm. This is not right... what if I was an uninformed consumer??!

So, I ask: "What other cards do you have?"

Gateway Sales Rep: "Those two are it".

EGAD!!! 2 cards?! Gateway goes with a custom design, and then only offers two cards that will work with it?! Old/over priced cards at that! YOWZERS!

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POINT #2: I came to Gateway looking for a solution to the problem of not being able to install a Radeon 9700; their sales staff's solution was to sell me either a Old Graphic Workstation Card for $300 (could get a 6800 for that!) or an even OLDER card at an unbelieble markup. Poor customer service, and they were trying to rip me off!!
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So, lets put this all together.

(a) Gateway sells a system with an AGP slot for future expansion (nice selling point).
(b) This slot does not work with industry standard cards (meaning you pretty much have to get them from them).
(c) Gateway only carries a few very old/outdated cards.
(d) Gateway severely overcharges on these cards.

Now, for the prize: The Radeon VE card is SLOWER than the integrated chip the system already had!!

Gateway's recommendation and best seller was a far inferior chip to what is currently in the system! Not only were they going to sell me something OLD at a rediculous markup, what they were SELLING was WORSE than what my friend already HAS!!! This is their best seller?!!

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POINT #3: The integrated video card is FASTER than the card he was trying to sell me!!!
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This computer was purchased in May of 2003 (15 months old). While it is a prefab, it has some ok parts for a middle of the line computer from last year (PC2100 Ram with support for 2GB of DDR333; P4 2.533Ghz with support for 3.2Ghz, DVD/CDRW, 80GB 7200rpm Drive, AGP 4x expansion slot, 4 PCI slots, etc...).

The poor design is frustrating, but also limits the life expectancy of the computer. This is a poor business decision by Gateway. Sure, they may get SOME people who run out and buy another Gateway... but I know this experience has my friend upset.

My point? Customer service. I recently spent the last 3 years working for a very profitable hosting company. While I was there we worked very hard at being HONEST and letting clients/potential clients know what we could, and could not, do for them. We did not sell them lemons. Why? Because in the end it is bad business (not to mention unethical). For every unhappy customer you need 10 happy customers to offset their bad word of mouth.

When you sell someone propriatary product (without them knowing) and then upsell them junk at outrageous prices, well, people eventually find out they are being taken advantage of. That is why we NEVER did that. You are up front and honest about what your product/service can and cannot do, find their needs and direct them to the right product, and most importantly you provide good, honest, and friendly assistance with the goal of them being a HAPPY repeat customer. The quick dollar now WILL cost you money down the road--you can bet on that.

The sad thing is, if I was no informed I may have thought, "Hey, the Gateway rep knows his stuff, this must be better!"

In reality he was pushing a very expensive, outdated part that was LESS powerfull than the part I was upgrading. Companies should be looking to protect their clients and get them the best deal to make them happy so they are repeat customers. This does not mean you have to have the cheapest part, but a fair price with good service is not too hard.

In reality, the Gateway design on this system breeds the attitude I got today: "Hey, this guy is screwed, I can sell him this piece of junk for a ton of money and we make a good profit on it". The design is bad enough, the fact they were trying to rip my friend off is worse.

This may explain why Gateway had to shut down most of their retail outlets. In my book, after today, Gateway is up there with Radioshack when it comes to computers (I cringe as I remember back to another friend who bought a Tandy! egad!!!)

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Point #4: Gateway (in some of their system designs) and their sales reps are not looking out for their clients, but instead are trying to make a fast buck at the expense of consumers.
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August 15, 2004 7:00:56 PM

I knew what was going to happen right after I read the first sentence. Most Mirco ATX cases have integrated graphics because regular graphic cards are too long to fit in. Granted, some micro atx cases can take full size cards, some also can't.

Companies like Dell, Gateway, Compaq and others don't want people upgrading their computer. They want them to buy a new one when their computer gets slow. All those companies are guilty of having propriety power supplies, motherboards and cases at some point or another.

The only problems I saw with Gateway is their prices. Both products though would be superior to the integrated Intel graphics. I'm not trying to defend Gateway but Gateway does stock current graphic cards now (they had the cheapest price on an x800pro for a while.) Customer support is their only problem.

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oh, its a nice day. TO EAT CHILDREN!!!
August 23, 2004 5:21:04 AM

Thanks for the reply.

Yes, it is all a gimick to make more money off the uninformed consumer. The fact they tried to upsell such a HORRIBLE/OLD product at PREMIUM prices is just dishonest at best.

Any, we cut out a small chunk in the case frame and the Radeon 9700np works great--the only issue was the case.

Again, poor design (design aimed with $$$ signs in the eyes) and a case of being even greedier by lieing to try to push off crappy overstock on unsuspecting customers.

Btw, the Intel Int. Graphics in that system play CoD and BF1942/DC pretty well (I was surprised), but I know the neutured GF MX series does not do so well, as well as the 7000 series Radeons play really bad.

Anyhow, the 9700 is a LOT better for my friend. Now I need to find a 6800GT :) 
August 23, 2004 5:33:03 PM

Yikes, what a horror story!

Where do they get these freakin tech support/sales people? They must be paying them on a commission basis, and hiring peeps w/o morals. Those vid card recommendations are criminal.

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