My Gateway Customer Service Story

August 1: I call Gateway and ask for a warranty repair. CSR at Gateway’s center says that he will send out a box for me to return the computer in the mail.

August 2: FedEx calls, unable to deliver my package. Two digits in the middle of my street address have been transposed. I advise of the correct address and the package is dropped off.

August 3: I pack up the computer in the box and ship it back to Gateway’s repair facility in Houston.

August 4: Package is received at Houston. Repair made the same day.

August 5: Package shipped back to me. Again, the same two digits in the middle of my street address are transposed and FedEx is unable to deliver my package. Unlike August 2, no one calls me. The package sits in FedEx’s delivery facility unattended.

August 10: I call Gateway, asking for an update on my computer. The CSR tells me that the computer is still being tested in the lab and that the process will take three to seven business days to complete. (This, the attentive reader will notice, is not true. See entry for August 4.). I ask if the return address on the order can be changed, because my initial delivery address was faulty and I wanted to make sure that the return address was fine. I am told that unfortunately, the order is already in the system and it cannot be changed, but I can call once the shipment is made and make arrangements with FedEx to pick up the address. Length of call: 39 minutes.

August 15: The package is shipped back to Gateway’s facility in Houston. Attentive readers will notice the absence of any entries between August 8 and 15 indicating any attempt on the part of FedEx or Gateway to contact me with any problems.

August 16: I call Gateway, asking for an update. I am told that there was a delivery problem, and the product is available at my FedEx facility for pickup. I get a tracking number and log on to FedEx’s website and find out that the product is on a truck on its way to Houston. I ask what can be done to get the computer back to me (since I need it to teach my classes while I am on my trip to Wisconsin for my wife’s family reunion, not to mention that I am fed up with the slow, slow pace of my backup computer). I am told that there is nothing they can do while the package is en route and I will need to wait for the package to arrive. It is scheduled to arrive August 18. But, I am assured that the CSR will see to it that the issue is “escalated.” Length of call: 42 minutes.

August 18: I check FedEx’s website and note that the computer has been delivered to the shipping facility in Houston. I call again, and the CSR tells me that the package is ready for pickup at my local FedEx facility. I reply that no, it is not, it is in fact at Gateway’s facility two time zones away. The CSR says no, there is the tracking number showing that it’s been at my facility since August 15. I ask the CSR to go to FedEx’s website and actually track the package. There is a lengthy pause and when I am taken off hold, I am assured that the matter will be “escalated.” I ask what that means since the last time didn’t seem to do much good, and I’m told that means that a supervisor will handle the problem from here on out. Reassured, I vow to call back. Total time on phone: 52 minutes.

August 19: I call again, trying to find out what’s going on. I am told that the warehouse is closed on Saturday and I should call back on Monday. I express anxiety about getting the computer back in time and offer to pay extra for overnight shipping. I am told that it simply is not possible, they have only the one rate and it’s the bulk shipping rate, but things usually get resolved in two to three business days. I explain that I don’t have two to three business days any more. In response, the CSR assures me that the matter will be “escalated.” Like my blood pressure. I express my displeasure and my burning desire to tell everyone I know about my experience. I am told that the CSR is disappointed that I am having a bad experience. Yeah, right. I’m a statistic to this mouth-breather. Total time on phone: 52 minutes.

August 21: I call again. Twice in one day. My first call (just after lunch) results in a half-hour hold resulting in the CSR identifying the tracking number for the original shipment and a chirpy advisement that I can pick up my computer at the FedEx facility. Once again, I explain the history of this sorry affair and express my frustration with Gateway’s inability to properly interface with its own vendor. The CSR then says, “Oh, I see this has been escalated.” (No shit.) I explain that Gateway and its vendors have had this computer for three weeks and the guys in the lab only used one day to fix the damn thing so I would really like it back. The CSR says that she is unable to locate the computer but that these things usually ship out in two to three days, and they ought to have it going out tonight. Skeptical, I ask for a tracking number. She tells me to call back later in the evening. Total time on the phone: 48 minutes, I’m ashamed to say. The office manager scolded me because she saw my door closed and didn’t know where I was. (Why didn’t she knock?)

My second call, at 7:40 tonight, results in another 37 minutes, most of which is spent on hold listening to Randy Travis and Bette Midler songs, while a CSR tries to locate my computer and fails. The CSR then spends another 11 minutes finding a “Customer Satisfaction Supervisor,” who tells me that he will send a message to the warehouse, but they usually take 24 hours to get back to him, and delivery is usually done within three to four business days after that. I explain that I don’t have three to four business days, and again offer to pay myself for overnight delivery. I am told, again, that this is simply impossible and I should call back again in about 24 hours. Total time on the phone: 57 minutes.

So far, I’ve spent a total of 260 minutes — more than four precious, irreplaceable hours of my life — dealing with a company that obviously doesn’t know how to keep track of its packages. So now, I’m giving vent to my desire to tell of the quality of my customer serivce experience. And I’m concluding with some advice:

Dude, get a Dell.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. Sitting here, at my desk, I can feel your pain radiating out from my computer. Yes, maybe, there is a supernatural element in this world.

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