Friday, 4 September 2009

Toshiba Twistaround

Update: 25 Sept 09, Toshiba replied and included a link to a working WLAN driver, so the problem is fixed!

And now for an example of something that should be simple, being made incredibly difficult by a company.

After reinstalling Windows on a Toshiba laptop - a Toshiba Tecra S1 - I found that none of the drivers I'd downloaded from Toshiba's site worked for graphics and - more importantly - Ethernet. So I couldn't connect the laptop to the Internet. I therefore just want to ask Toshiba a simple question - what drivers do I need for this model, and where to do I download them from? The images below lead you through my experience. Click on the images to see larger versions.

1. I went to clicked on 'Customer Support' on the left. The logical place to start?

2. It said "Customer Support -Thank you for your interest in Toshiba. Toshiba is divided into many diverse areas of enterprise and each company has its own separate contact information. Please select a search category from the menu on the left side of this page." Which left thirteen options.

3. I clicked on country, and selected the UK. That leads to the screen above - 25 companies, all with their own contacts... But which one is Toshiba support??? I clicked on the website for the top one, 'Computer Systems - Toshiba Information Systems (UK) Ltd', which took me to... Back at the start...

4. This time I clicked on 'Customer Support' on the left, then 'Computer Systems Service & Support'. Then I went through a narrowing down screen again.

5. Which led to this list of nine companies, all of them to do with repairs - which is no good when you just want to ask someone from Toshiba a question...

I then tried other options, by region etc, various drop down boxes - all of them led in circles back to the start, or to long lists of companies that didn't seem relevant. There was no simple 'support' button where you could get an email address or phone number for a UK contact, from any of these pages. Obviously Toshiba don't want to help their customers.

So they get a crap for the hassle caused, and a second crap because there was no-one to report this problem to either, and no way to complain, since their websites just keep going in circles. What a globalised mess that is.

Updates 17 September 09:

I needed to get my laptop working, so tried again, despite all the frustrations above. I must be a glutton for punishment.

After going through the hoops agaain, I found another error in Toshiba's website: their links for technical support weren't working. Enlarge the image below and you'll see why - they have hyperlinks to help and support, but HAVE ADDED A MAILTO: IN FRONT OF THEM! Mailto: is for email addresses, not hyperlinks, and stops links from
working at all. It is rubbish that Toshiba can't do a hyperlink correctly. Anyone without the technical knowledge to spot this, copy the link, fix it, then paste it into their browser would not be able to get to a contact page. Once more, it is made almost impossible to get through to any help.
I thought I was on the home straight - surely it should be straightforward to get the correct driver when Toshiba knows the exact model of your laptop?

Product Type: Notebooks

Family: Tecra

Product series: Tecra S Series
Model: Tecra S1

Short Model Number: PT831E

Well, a brief reply eventually came, linked to list of drivers, but with no indication as to which one to use when alternatives were offered. Should I use the Atheros, Intel, or Realtek wireless network drivers? The user manual didn't answer that; not did the email from Toshiba.
I spent a long time browsing round their loop of websites, and eventually found this. It says:
"If you do not know which Wireless LAN Adapter model is in your Notebook, please refer to the "How to identify the built-in Wireless LAN Adapter model" document from our Wireless LAN How-To Resources page."
Which would be great - but there was no document with that name or purpose at the link it gave - just three pages with every question EXCEPT that useful one. Grrrr.

In the end I tried every XP network driver from the page Toshiba sent; also every XP driver from their other page I had found. None worked - my Toshiba laptop still has no driver for the wireless network card, so is pretty useless. It just shows up in Device Manager as a yellow exclamation mark called 'Network Controller' under 'Other Devices'.

I went back to their email:

"If you require any further assistance, please contact Toshiba on the options below. To reply to this message please click: HERE Please quote your call reference number as we can track your enquiry and refer to any previous communication. Useful information and contact details are available at:"
I clicked 'HERE' but it was a dead link. As was the one for 'Useful information and contact details'. Enlarge the image below, which shows the problem once I realised that even Toshiba's links in their own emails didn't work.

Yes, the problem is that their links had broken redirects added. So instead of

they were linking to


which didn't work.

Once I worked that out, I stripped the junk out of the broken URLs in their email - and got the following screen.


I decided I would just reply to the one help email I had received - but no, that would be too easy. The email begins with:
"Please do not reply to this email as any replies will not be responded to."
Could they be any more unhelpful?

So from needing to know the driver to get wireless network working on my laptop, and having eventually battled through to Toshiba, and told them the exact model of my laptop, all I had got was: broken links, huge numbers of drivers with no help in knowing which was correct, and none of which worked anyway; and no simple way to get back in touch with Toshiba. That is an extremely poor service. So far I have wasted c. 6 hours on all of this, almost a full day's pay lost.

For all those reasons Toshiba gains two craps. My time has been wasted and I have been left frustrated and with a useless Toshiba laptop due to problems with Toshiba Custoemr Services at every single turn. So their new score is:

Toshiba's current score:

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