Palm Pilot Repair

Palm Pilot Repair

This year, for my birthday, my wife gave me my own Pilot 5000. I had been intrigued by the device but was unwilling to risk my money on the chance that it might end up to be just a toy I would use for a few days and then toss aside. Within a day of having received the gift I was hooked. I quickly installed many third party apps and hacks. I found it useful in keeping appointments and contacts, and as a diversion for spare moments spent in airports, subways, and doctor's offices. Also, I can appear to be taking notes in product meetings while actually playing Missile Command.

All that came to a screeching halt last Saturday. I had my Pilot with me while playing a raucous game of Nerts. If you haven't played Nerts, let me tell you that its like solitaire, except that it's played with 4-6 people and it's quite a bit more violent. Well, when the game ended I took my Pilot out of my pocket to write down the recipe for the grilled chicken we had been served. With my stylus in my hand, I looked down and saw three large cracks across the screen. I was extremely disappointed. Could my Pilot be saved, or would I have to shell out $399 for a new PalmIII?

I looked up Palm on the web and got the phone number for repair (888-619-7488). I spoke to a somewhat less than helpful gentleman who didn't quite know what my options were, but simply wanted to get my address and ship me a box. Fortunately for me my call waiting beeped while he had me on hold, so I had a civilized excuse to hang up on him. I called back later on in the day. This time the support technician had all the facts and options ready for me. I had two options. One, pay a flat rate repair of $100 and Palm would ship me a refurbished Pilot as an advanced exchange and I would ship them mine with the same box. Option two would be for Palm to send me an empty box, and I could pack up my Pilot, send it in, and get it back in 5-10 business days, although it could be longer. It seemed like a no brainer. The cost of the repair appeared to be $100 either way. Mr. "I-can-solve-all-your-problems" took my address and credit card info, and gave me a reference number.

One day later Airborne arrived at my house with my replacement Pilot. Unfortunately, I was not home and no one was available to sign for the package. My darling wife found the note from Airborne and called for a second delivery, waiving the request for a signature by filling out a form that Airborne had left. The next evening when I got home, the Pilot was waiting for me.

I opened the box carefully noting the contents. Included was a cardboard and foam sandwich that contained the new Pilot in a small static guard bubble wrap bag, and directions on how to return the old, damaged Pilot. The instruction sheet indicated that the box should also have contained tape with which to seal the box. The tape was missing. No trouble, though, since I happened to have lots of packing tape around the house.

I carefully took out the Pilot. It had a thin piece of plastic on the screen and no batteries. The back was also covered with a sticky film as if it had been sprayed with soda. Nothing a little mild household cleaner couldn't take care of. The film may have come from the original Graffti Alphabet sticker that was no longer on this Pilot. No problem, I just took the door off my Pilot and exchanged it for the door on the new Pilot.

I hot-synched my old Pilot and exchanged the batteries with the new Pilot. I hot-synched and re-installed my apps with only one problem. The new Pilot's date was set to August of 1995. After I synched I noticed this discrepancy, and I quickly changed the date. This had the unfortunate effect of causing the Pilot to beep frantically as it reminded me of every appointment I had since April of this year. I tried to stop this by deleting the appointments, but I could not stop the reminders long enough to get the date book application to open. Oh well, once I clicked on the screen several hundred times, all was well.

The Pilot came with instructions to call for Airborne to pick up the package, and even had an airbill already addressed and paid for by Palm Computing, so shipping the damaged unit back was no problem.

Overall, the service I received was fantastic. Palm Computing has obviously seen this problem before and handles it professionally. I appreciate the flat rate repair approach, and the price seemed fair. I was especially impressed by how easy they make it to ship the product back. The first repair technician was less than helpful, but the second more than made up for the first. Overall, on a scale of 1 -10 with 10 being the highest, I would rate Palm Computing Repair as a 9.

What is next for me? First thing tomorrow I am ordering a hard cover to protect my Pilot. Later this year, hopefully a Palm OS III upgrade.

Copyright 1998. Electronic redistribution is allowed as long as credit it given.

Tim Burlowski

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