From technology to politics to video games; these are the random thoughts of a geek with too much time on his hands
...and even more shocking, this time it's a computer hardware company!
Published on August 22, 2006 By Zoomba In Personal Computing
Hardware dies.  It's a fact of life that at some point, your beloved gizmo will give up the ghost and go off to that great big CompUSA in the sky to forever rest comfortably in cushioned boxes with all of its fallen comrades.  Some hardware lasts longer than others, as is evidenced by the Macintosh Powerbook (original) that still runs weather data tools in my dad's lab.  Some hardware however has a short lifespan and can sputter and die sooner than one would expect, and typically just a day or two after the warranty expires.

When the latter happens, we grow frustrated, and even though we may be a day or two past that magical 90 day timeframe, we still try and call tech support.  However, for the past several years, it's been very common to encounter a know-nothing tech support worker in India when calling for help in bringing back to life that card, drive, monitor etc that you shelled out hundreds of dollars for and feel should have lasted perhaps a bit longer than three months.  Now from time to time you'll be (un)lucky and the equipment will die before the warranty expires.  Unfortunately, that does not make the support experience any more bearable as you'll struggle to get your far off friend to understand even the most rudimentary description of your problem.  It only gets worse if you actually KNOW what's wrong and needs to be fixed since you'll still be forced to go through the inane checklist of common problems that tier 1 support is required to go through before transferring you to someone who actually has a clue.  Yes, I have tried rebooting, cycling the power, reseating all the connections, sacrificed the chicken, spun around three times and spit over my shoulder... I work in IT, this is all SOP to me, THE DAMN THING IS BROKEN NOW FIX IT! 

So it was with the dark memories of dealing with support lines from Dell, Gateway, HP, and any cable company I've ever had, that I took to assess my recent situation...

My video card was dying.

In March, I bought an eVGA GeForce 7800GS OC 256MB AGP card from to coincide with the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (I also picked up an extra two gigs of RAM... I wanted to make sure the game ran as good as it could on my system).  It's a phenomenal card and performs as well as I can possibly expect any AGP card to.  It's essentially the top line card I can get for my aging AGP based system.  So, for five months I was in relative gaming bliss as I was able to get some of the best graphics out of all the latest games and all was good with the world.  Then, shortly after moving to Michigan last month, things started to go awry.  I noticed weird "stuck" pixels on my monitor when playing any 3D game.  This was strange because I have an old CRT monitor and those don't get stuck pixels.  But it was very consistent with which pixels were fried so at first I thought it was my monitor, but no tests I ran showed any issues, and I saw the same problems with my spare LCD monitor.  Additionally, I was seeing odd geometry drawing issues where polygons would have one vertex suddenly stretch off into the distance, and strange colored splotches appeared on more complex textured surfaces.  This brought me to the remaining possible culprit, my video card.

I've had video cards die on me in the past, fans went out, the ability for the card to draw enough power went away etc.  However, my cards typically tend to last a year or two before shuffling off their mortal coil.  I ran power tests to make sure all my rails were pushing the right amount, and that came clean.  I even went so far as to toss in my aging ATI 9800XT 256MB card I had sitting in a box to make sure it wasn't a board or power issue.  That card worked like a charm (though MUCH slower in new games since it's so old).  Now, with my options exhausted, it was time to face the music, pay the piper, bite the bullet, confront my demons and.... CALL SUPPORT!

The dread and fear were palpable, it was like a thick fog that clung all around me, ethereal and slimy all at the same time.  Would it just be easier to go out and buy a completely new card, forsaking this one?  Surely the frustration and agony of dealing with phone support wasn't worth $300.  Well, I don't have any cash at the moment, so I had to suck it up and pick up the phone.

So, since I bought the part through a reseller, I had to call the manufacturer, eVGA.

I call... press my way through the automated option system until I reach the "speak to a goddamn human" option and get into the hold queue.

And wait...

About a minute.  Wow, that was fast.  A cheerful voice greets me in a perfectly normal and understandable accent.  This guy is a native English speaker!  Oh dear sweet lord, surely I have somehow died while waiting on hold and passed on to heaven, this being but part of my eternal reward for endlessly enduring the stupidity of users and the rivaling stupidity of outsourced tech support.  I check my pulse, pinch my arm and determine that I am in fact still alive, my time to pass from this realm had not yet come... and that meant that I had actually gotten a real English-speaking support rep on the line after virtually no wait on hold.

For the sake of this article, lets say the rep's name is John (I don't remember what it was, I didn't think to write it down at the time) and he was very polite, cheerful, and responsive.  He asked me if I had registered my video card on the eVGA website.  I had.  He then asked for a description of my issues, which I supplied.  Then came the question I was dreading the most "When did you buy your card and from who?"  to which I said "March" fearing for the standard 90 day warranty to bite me in the arse.  Nope, no problem, he informs me that eVGA cards have lifetime warranties.  If the card dies for any reason short of being the result of stupid human tricks, eVGA will replace the card no problem.  Only catch is, they don't cross-ship, meaning I have to ship my card to them before they'll process it and send me a replacement.  This means I'd have to be without my beloved 3D card for a full week or so... of course it's not like it was giving me much performance at this point anyway with the rainbow colored randomly expanding polygons in most of my games.  So I send in an RMA request, a day later it's approved and I ship my card off to eVGA in California.

And a week later, the replacement card lands on my desk, all packed up in a nice little plastic protective bubble.  It's a newer build of my same card so hopefully the old issues won't come back.  I get the card home, plug it in, and I'm getting performance in games I haven't seen for several months!  Implying that the card had been on a steady decline for quite some time now.  I've had the card in my system now for a day and I'm back up to speed playing all my favorite games, and even loaded the Battlefield 2142 beta which is running without a glitch!

Despite the card dieing so soon after purchase, which I'm given to believe is an anomalous glitch, the support from eVGA was so responsive, and easy to understand (yay English!), coupled with the lifetime replacement policy, eVGA has won my graphics card business for a long time to come.  This is especially good for them considering I am building out a new system come next spring and will be considering going SLI and PCIe.  I will recommend them to anyone who asks for a good reliable card manufacturer.

on Aug 22, 2006
That really is a great story. We see people post stories about how they were screwed by companies, so it's nice to see something actually good happening. I'm glad you are enjoying the new card.

on Aug 22, 2006

"Shuffling off their mortal coils"?  Someone is waxing poetic now that they live in Michigan!

Thanks for the recommendation.  I plan on building a new box this fall.  I love companies that stand behind their products.

on Aug 22, 2006

So much of what I write now is straight and to the point stuff for WinCustomize, I gotta have fun now and then in an article I write for myself 

But yeah, I was very surprised with the support offered, a definite shock given the direction of the industry overall.

on Aug 22, 2006
I loved your article...especially dying while waiting on hold and getting English as you eternal reward...hahahahah.

You should send this to them via email. Really.

I am sure they'd appreciate it.
on Aug 23, 2006
eVGA has a great reputation of doing their best to take care of their customers. And their willingness to give a lifetime warranty speaks for itself. If you go to their website you can find a link to their forum section. It is quite active. Again, their support of a forum, even when there are posters who are furious at the company, shows a desire to work with people in making sure their experience is the best possible. Compare that to some companies (AOL anyone?) who bury their support section as deep as possible so as to avoid any real contact with their cutomers when a problem arises.
on Aug 23, 2006
Loved this post Zoomba! And good to see a great outcome too!   
on Aug 23, 2006
Yes, great post. Like Island Dog said, it's good to hear when people actually have positive encounters with companies, when most often it's just the bad stuff you get to hear about.

Personally I'm right now in a similar situation. The fan on my 9 months old XFX Geforce 6600GT went (after having made some awful grinding noises for a while), but XFX also has a lifetime warranties on their cards so I just had to take it back to the store where I bought it and have them return it. Unfortunately... it'll take several weeks before I get the new card and this is the only PCIe card I own. I was kind of bummed out at first, thinking that I wouldn't be able to use my machine for weeks, but to my astonishment the guys at the store offered to actually lend me a card in the meantime. Admittedly it isn't a great card (a Radeon X550...), but since I doubt they have any obligation to do anything besides return my broken card, I was pleasantly surprised. Service-minded people are few and far-between and believe me, I'll definitely keep buying my stuff from that store.
on Aug 23, 2006
Its an unfortunate situation that occurs, when a user phones for support for a product or whatever and is actually surprised and relieved to find themselves speaking to a native english speaker, dont get me wrong, ethnic diversity is great and all that but there is not very many things that are more annoying than trying to get good support form someone with bad english, it just is a heartbreak most of the time. Im all for people from other countries having jobs in my country but my annoyance lies with the companys themselves who hire reams and reams of people, who, coincidentally or not, have bad english. I think support in general is bad wherever you go and it is SUCH a relieving experience to experience good support like the initiator of this discussion. I should also say that i have had good support from people with not so good english, but it is an arduous task...

Anyway, great thread and great story, but again its unfortunate that we are all too often shocked to speak to someone with "good" or "proper" english as such...


Ronan H
on Aug 27, 2006
Yes same with BFG lifetime my 128 mb 6800 GT OC started putting square discolored pixels on my screen I sent it into them. They sent me back the 256 mb one. Yes too many companies outsource their support anymore.

SLI is 2 PCIe cards bridged together and nvidia has a 512 mb PCIe card with 2 it be 1 gb.