Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dell home support - inefficiency at the customer's expense

I have only good words when it comes to Dell business support and would not hesitate to recommend Dell business products not only because they are good products but because it is backed by good support. However, the same can't be said for their home products not because their products are bad but because the support for home products seriously can piss you off.

I bought an Inspiron Desktop 20 3000 Series All-in-One a few months back and noticed an issue a few days later. So I contacted Dell and after a series of standard email that request me to perform some updates etc, an appointment for an onsite engineer was set as issue was not resolved.

I then received another call from a Dell representative who wants to set an appointment to have some parts sent down. I was confused because I just had an appointment set earlier but was told that this call was from the logistics team and they are only in charge of sending the parts over. I asked if the parts can be sent on the same day but was told that it was not possible and so someone had to be at home on two separate days.

The onsite engineer came clueless as to what the issue was and his instructions was to simply replace the parts. After the replacement was completed, I noticed that the screen was not the right fit and the engineer agreed with me. Although I was not exactly happy with that, I will not mind if the issue is resolved. It was not. So I got him to revert back to the original display which he kindly did.

I then asked him what is to happen to the unused parts and was told that another appointment will be arranged to collect the parts. He said that engineers are on public transport so they are not able to bring parts along.

So Dell home support needs 3 separate appointments if an onsite service requires parts to be replaced in which you will also need to take similar number of days leave.

I do not mind taking a day's leave for the engineer to be onsite but I absolutely find it ridiculous to waste an additional 2 days of leave just to be home to receive the parts and then wait for the parts to be collected on another day. It is even worse when the timing is from 9 am - 5 pm, which practically means the whole day when the process itself probably takes less than a minute.

For my case, the issue is still not resolved and another appointment is being arranged but this time, no way I will waste another 2 days for such an inefficient process.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Smart TVs - What choices do you have?

What are Smart TVs?

They are basically TVs that has Internet access and can provide online contents like videos through web browsing or applications like YouTube etc.

Every manufacturer has their own offering but more and more are getting on a open platform and the following are the 3 main platform now.

WebOS


This open source platform is currently being used by LG to replace their NetCast propriety platform. LG first used webOS version 1.3 and has now moved on to version 2.0 which is a marked improvement in terms of speed and features.




FireFox OS


Currently being used by Panasonic to replace their Viera Cast / Connect platforms.



Firefox OS can do more than just TV. It is a platform that is suitable for any screened devices




Android


A successor (though not that successful) to Google TV. Currently being used by Philips, Sharp and Sony and is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop but with a customised UI.

Don't be confused with those Android smart boxes that comes with pretty standard Android OS UI.





Note: Toshiba has a range that comes with Android. However, those are based on Google TV, a predecessor to Android TV

Tizen

Another open platform based on Linux currently being used by Samsung on their newer range of smart TVs.






Comparison

This video gives a brief comparison between all the platforms.




Sunday, November 15, 2015

Buying a private passenger car in Singapore


NEW CARS


For new cars, there are two types of dealers - authorised and parallel importers.

Authorised dealers 


ADs have the backing of the car manufacturers therefore in terms of servicing, maintenance, recalls etc, you can have a piece of mind. The catch? They are generally more expensive and they will only bring in models that can sell.

Buying a car from authorised dealers are generally pretty transparent. The advertised prices should include GST, COE, road tax and registration fee but exclude car insurance as that may vary according to drivers. You will have to fork out a 50% deposit and the rest to be serviced by car loans. Don't forget to ask for freebies like window films, petrol vouchers etc.

Parallel importers 


PI can bring in almost any model you fancy and they are generally cheaper. The catch? They may not have the resource in terms of servicing, maintenance and recalls etc therefore if the dealer is no longer around when a recall is made, you have to fix the issue yourself. Choosing the right parallel importers is key because choosing the wrong one may end with endless headaches.

Buying from parallel importers on the other hand may include hidden charges. That is why it is important to list out all the charges on paper as well as what the dealer is expected to provide including freebies etc.

USED CARS


Buying used car on the other hand can be a headache or fun at the same time. Apart from checking for the car condition, you need to be aware of the financial part of it.

There are two types of used car - PARF or COE cars. PARF cars means the cars are less than 10 years old and still has a PARF value while a COE car means it is over 10 years old and no longer has a PARF value.

PARF value is the amount of money you are eligible to when you deregister the car at the end of its COE lifespan which is 10 year. You can choose not to deregister the car but take note of the following:

- if you decide to renew the COE for the car, you will have to forfeit the PARF.
- if you renew the COE for 5 years, you will not be able to renew the COE again at the end of that 5 years.
- if you renew the COE for 10 years, you can renew the COE again at the end of the 10 years at the prevailing PQP, which is the average COE price for the last few months.

For cars registered before March 2008, the PARF value is 55% of the OMV, otherwise it is 50%. OMV can be obtained from the car registration details with LTA which the dealer will provide.

For used car, the depreciation value is the most important factor when it comes to the financial part of the purchase. A depreciation is calculated based by the following formula

Car price - minimum PARF value / 10 - car age = depreciation value

Eg

$50,000 - $10,000 / 10 - 5 = $8,000

Obviously, the lower the depreciation value, the better it is. What it simply represents is the amount that your car loses every year in terms of resale value. So if the depreciation value is $12k/year, then it means the car loses $100/month in terms of resale value.

Depreciation value is greatly affected by demand. So the current high COE and MAS car loan regulation, buyers are turning to used car instead and driving prices up.

Used car requires a 40% deposit of the car price. You may try for a lower deposit by applying for car loan with finance houses instead of banks.

In terms of the condition of the car, there are a few areas you can concentrate on

1. Mileage.

Lower should be better but not necessarily.

2. Number of owners.

Lower should be better because a car with too many previous could mean that the car is problematic hence the change of hands. Still, it does not necessarily mean so.

3. Physical outlook

Like body panel, the interior cabin, seats, panels etc.

4. Paint job

Some cars have been involved in an accident and may be repainted. You can check the engine mounting to see if the colours differ.

5. Alignment.

Straighten the wheels and view from the front and back. If the tyres are not aligned visually, it could means serious problems or the car have been involved in an accident.

6. Engine.

Turn the engine on and hold the steering wheel. A car with damaged engine mounting will vibrate.
Open the bonnet and look for loose wiring etc or worn out belts etc and look out for any funny noises.
Turn on the aircon and check that all fans are working.
Let the engine run for a while and check for oil leaks. Best done after a test drive. Oil leaking from the top of the engine are fixable by changing the gasket. Leaks elsewhere could be a crack in the engine housing which could mean serious problems.

7. Tyres.

Check if they are worn out for which you may ask for replacement. Check also that they are worn out evenly. Uneven wear could mean alignment problem which could mean additional cost for it to be fixed, if it is fixable in the first place.

8. Suspension.

Best to bring your family along for a test drive and load the car with maximum passengers and get their feedback on comfort levels.

9. Aircon.

Ensure it is working and cold enough.

10. Lights

Ensure all are working including the indicators.

11. Stereo

Ensure all the functions like disc playing and all speakers are working.

Should any of these are not working, try to get the dealer to agree to fix it or come to a compromise. Else, look elsewhere.