Compaq customers draw short straw on year 2000

Compaq customers have drawn the shortest straw on guarantees for year 2000 compliance, with the company announcing that warranty protection is available only for Compaq desktops, portables, servers and workstations bought after October 7, 1997. Or, to put it in Compaq officialese: 'Failure to pass Y2K test by any product on the list purchased on or after October 7 1997 will be treated by Compaq as a defect covered under its limited product warranty.'

Compaq customers have drawn the shortest straw on guarantees for year 2000 compliance, with the company announcing that warranty protection is available only for Compaq desktops, portables, servers and workstations bought after October 7, 1997.

Or, to put it in Compaq officialese: "Failure to pass Y2K test by any product on the list purchased on or after October 7 1997 will be treated by Compaq as a defect covered under its limited product warranty."

If a machine was bought before October 1997, Compaq puts the onus on the customer to do Y2K compliance testing. Customers can go to Compaq's Y2K Web page for information on testing and to download free ROM BIOS patches.

The company sent a brochure outlining its Y2K policy and technical documentation to resellers and its top 700 accounts four months ago. Compaq also has a Y2K hot line (0-9-307 3969) and a "year 2000 compliance champion", Chris Hooper.

Eric Freeman, business marketing manager at Compaq New Zealand, says there has been a steady number of enquiries, most through major account managers.

Meanwhile, local PC assembler Cyclone Computers guarantees that all its Pentium, Pentium Pro and Pentium II PCs and servers provided since 15 February, 1995 are year 2000-compliant.

Managing director Richard Morgan says this equates with all machines with serial numbers above 14200. "We have received assurances from our motherboard supplier in Taiwan that all motherboards supplied to us since fully support year 2000 dates.

"If a customer has an older machine which does need a [free] BIOS upgrade they can contact us and we will email a BIOS patch, or if they can't upgrade it themselves they can send in their PC."

Morgan says Cyclone was receiving a steady stream of Y2K queries which abated when the company sent a explanatory letter to customers six months ago. So far no one has requested a BIOS upgrade. On its web site Cyclone has posted a table which shows which machines are compliant and what tests Cyclone has performed on each.

Dell hardware products that pass the YMARK2000 test (version 97.08.15) will carry the "NSTL Hardware Tested Year 2000 Compliant" logo. A complete list of these Dell hardware products by model may be found on NSTL's web site or on Dell's web site at www.us.dell.com/year2000. This list will be updated periodically as YMARK2000 testing is completed on additional Dell hardware products.

For any Dell hardware product carrying the NSTL logo, Dell will treat the failure to pass the YMARK2000 test as a covered event under Dell's limited warranty for the product. Dell desktops ranging back to September 1995 and servers dating back to April 1996 are listed as being ready for Y2K. Older machines may be capable of being updated via the Flash BIOS with the System Setup program or by running the Dell Program Patch program (for DOS-based systems) supplied by Dell.

Dell marketing manager Rob Small says the company is relying mainly on its web site at to keep customers informed of the issues, and customers are encouraged to go there in quarterly Dell customer news sheet.

"We are also reacting to customer letters which are coming in thick and fast now."

Digital has a year 2000 product warranty which applies only to products designated by Digital as "year 2000 ready". These products are listed on Digital's Web site at www.digital.com/year2000 and range from Digital PC 5510 back to Celebris XL 4x/5x machines for desktops.

Hewlett-Packard desktop machines going back to 1995 are claimed to be year 2000-compliant.

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