Are you an MPC refugee?

What do you do when you discover your computer is one of the many orphaned by MPC?

I continue to get a fair number of letters from people who purchased a Gateway computer before MPC Corp. bought Gateway's professional products division in 2007, filed Chapter 11, and then went completely belly up, leaving all its customers -- even those who purchased extensive warranty support -- without warranty (or any kind of) repair or support.

For example, Pete recently sent me a note asking, "We have been trying to get warranty work on our Gateway tablet computer but keep running into a dead end. Do you know how we can get it repaired?" I got that sinking feeling I get every time I'm asked this question. But as usual, I sent the query over to my contact at Gateway, hoping this one would turn out not be an MPC Corp. Gateway machine but a Gateway/Acer Gateway machine.

[ Review the MPC saga in earlier Gripe Line posts: "Grassroots forum for orphaned MPC customers," "One man picks up where MPC left off," and "When vendors go bust" | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

"I would need the serial number to confirm this," Lisa responded immediately. "But since it's a tablet, I'm 99 percent sure this would be an MPC product." Just to be certain, though, we got the serial number from Pete. (These 10- to 13-digit numbers are printed on the bottom of the laptop as well as in the receipt you got when you purchased it.) And then she and I both entered the number into the search at the Gateway service lookup page.

Ouch! Sure enough, the page that redirects customers to MPC for support popped up. That page now also redirects customers to the links, downloads, and support information Gateway had on its site prior to the sale of the professional division to MPC in 2007 because, well, sending people to MPC for help is both fruitless and cruel.

There is also a link there to MPCTechSupport.com, a forum for ex-customers of the now-defunct MPC. I mentioned this forum here on the Gripe Line back when it was just getting off the ground. It looks fairly active now. In fact, it looks like the driver download service -- MPCDrivers.com -- promised when I covered it last is also up and running. There may be some ad-hock hardware support over at the support forum, too, so check it out.

Those of you who have been following this saga for a while know the drill but anyone who is just realizing that a computer they purchased from Gateway is now an orphan of MPC might want to read about why some computer warranties went to MPC and others went to Gateway/Acer at "Where Gateway and MPC collide."

Sorry Pete -- and everyone else who is owner of an MPC orphan. I know that misery loves company, so I'll just say that even though I have been covering this since MPC announced it was in Chapter 11 back in November, I, too, only discovered today that one of my laptops is an MPC orphan. (It's running fine, fortunately.) What am I doing about it? I'm creating my own "warranty fund" by setting up an automatic monthly deposit to a high-interest online bank, so I can cover any repairs or replacements it might need.

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

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