Back in March I wrote a glowing review of my Sylvania g Netbook Meso, calling it "a Linux netbook done right." For more than seven months I was entirely happy with the netbook. Running Linux it proved capable of being a small and very portable desktop replacement with just enough horsepower to do all the things I do on my systems for both home and business use. While that model was on the market I often recommended it highly.
Last month, right before the Rosh Hashana holiday, everything changed. On that Friday, with no warning, the little netbook failed to boot up. I couldn't even get to the BIOS. For the third time a Sylvania netbook I owned had suffered a premature hardware failure. The netbook had a one year warranty and it was only seven months old so I expected to send it in for repair at no charge.
On Monday morning right after the holiday I called Digital Gadgets, the company that markets Sylvania netbooks, and never could get past voice mail. I left messages in their tech support and general mailboxes. I did the same on Tusday, both morning and afternoon, and again Wednesday morning, without response. By Wednesday afternoon I was truly frustrated and tried the Digital Gadgets support form on their website. I also wrote to Amazon.com, the dealer that sold the netbook in the first place, asking for their assitance in obtaining warranty service.
I finally got a response from tech support at Digital Gadgets asking questions about the failure by e-mail. On the third e-mail they agreed to provide a repair under warranty. Before that happened I also heard from Amazon.com. Under the circumstances they offered me a full refund.
Here is my final e-mail to Digital Gadgets support:
Thank you for offering to repair my Sylvania g Netbook Meso under warranty and sending me a UPS shipping label yesterday. I will not be availing myself of your offer.Part of my reason for writing this is to give Amazon.com some well deserved kudos for their excellent customer service. I would have gladly purchased the replacement from them but, sadly, they no longer offer current netbook models preloaded with Linux and I refuse to purchase a Windows machine. As a result they have lost my business. The best customer service in the world can't sell products they don't carry.
As you already know I had left messages on the Sylvania tech support line for nearly three days before you contacted me. On the third day I also wrote to Amazon.com, the dealer who sold me the laptop, asking for their assistance in obtaining warranty service. Shortly after you contacted me they offered me a full refund of my purchase price. I decided to accept that offer and the credit was processed today.
What you are not aware of is that the Sylvania g Netbook Meso was actually my third Sylvania netbook which failed prematurely. I purchased a Sylvania g Netbook (original model) in December of last year which failed after just 10 days of use. It would lock up intermittently with increasing frequency for no apparant reason. I exchanged it for an identical model. The new one had non-functional wireless straight out of the box. I then returned it and purchased the more expensive Meso model thinking it would serve me better. As you know it worked well for seven months but then suffered yet another premature hardware failure.
I've taken a "three strikes, you're out" attitude towards Sylvania and Digital Gadgets as a result of Amazon.com's kind offer. They went above and beyond what they needed to do in terms of customer service. While your response was also entirely appropriate and professional the lack of response to my phone messages on your tech support line was not.
Thanks again, but I've already decided to buy a netbook from one of the larger, more well known computer manufacturers.
Did I have any problem finding a Linux netbook? Nope, none at all. An article detailing the currently available choices, at least here in the United States, will follow shortly.
My other purpose in writing about my experience was to update my March review and warn people away from Sylvania netbooks. It turns out there was no need; Sylvania netbooks seem to have disappeared from the market. Considering my experiences I'm not at all surprised that their foray into the netbook market wasn't exactly successful. It's a pity because for seven months I really did like their product.
Oh, and apologies to Don McLean, whose line "the day the music died" from "American Pie" inspired the title of this article.