CyberPower Refund still pending…

Back on March 5 – a few days after my CyberPower machine raid array went toes up, I received this RMA approval:

Dear Marc,

Your request for a refund has been processed under RMA# xxxxxxx and the computer may be returned to Cyberpower for a refund. The refund is subject to the terms of our warranty policy you agreed to as part of the original purchase.  Please ensure that the computer and other items are well packed and clearly write the RMA # xxxxxx on the outside of the package. You are responsible for shipping the items to Cyberpower at your own expense and it is recommended you insure the package or accept the risk of loss or damage during shipment.  Please ship the computer to the following address:

Cyberpower Inc.

5175 Commerce Dr.

Baldwin Park, CA 91706




Once we receive the package it usually takes seven to ten business days to inventory the items and process the refund before the credit is posted to the method of payment.  As detailed in our warranty policy the original shipping and handling charges, including rush and fuel surcharge fees, are non-refundable.  All items must be returned and in good condition. The cost of any missing or damaged items will be deducted from your refund.

Please review the Cyberpower warranty located at if you have any questions regarding our return policy.  For status updates send an email to and include your customer and RMA number in the message.

If you had changed a repair RMA to a refund RMA, the UPS Return Shipping Label, that was issued to bring the computer in for repair, will no longer be valid. As stated in the warranty, all shipping charges are non-refundable and we do not cover freight charges to bring back any items for refund.  Should you elect to use the UPS Return Shipping Label, there will be a $50 charge deducted from the total refund amount.

Cyberpower Warranty:


RETURN AND REFUND POLICY: (a) 30-day money back guarantee is on all notebook and desktop computer systems. For the first 30 days from the date of the invoice, CyberPower will refund your purchase price on returned product. Shipping charge, handling charge, & fuel surcharge are not refundable. A 15% restocking fee is applied to all returned product between the 31st day and the 45th day after the invoice date.

No refund or credit is allowed after 45 days from the date of the invoice. (b) For part purchases: All returned items must be purchased from CyberPower and returned in good condition within 30 days from the original invoice date.

No refund or credit is allowed after 30 days from the date of the invoice.

ALL Products to be returned first require obtaining CyberPower’s written permission via an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) number. Product must be securely packed and delivered to CyberPower in an undamaged condition. Shipping charges are non-refundable.

RMA Status

Cyberpower Inc.

(888) 900-5180 Ext. 151

I went ahead and shipped off the computer the next day. I sent it with signature required and I insured it. From the terms above it looks like my better bet would have been to set it up as a repair RMA and then call and change to a return RMA. They would have charged me only $50. As it is I ended up spending $91 to ship it 🙁

Anyway a few days later I received this:

Dear MARC BOURASSA, your package for RMA# xxxxxx has been received. Please do not reply to this email, since replies to this message are routed to an unmonitored box. For status updates please email and include your customer and RMA numbers in the message.

CyberPower Inc.

I waited just under two weeks and sent them this:


I need to get an update on this. It’s been nearly 2 weeks since my return was received by CyberPower.

This was not a simply return because I decided I didn’t want the merchandise, but rather suffered from the catastrophic failure of my raid array which erased everything on my system. Exactly the sort of thing a raid array is supposed to guard against.

The tech working with me wanted me to rebuild the array and start again, but since we did not know what had happened in the first place, there was no way to guarantee that the raid array would not simply fail again. I depend heavily upon my primary machine for work and home finances not to mention all the usual entertainment purposes. I could not spend that kind of money and have a black cloud of impending failure constantly over my head.

I would ask that you refund the entire, shipped cost of the machine in addition to the $91 that it cost me to ship it back to you.

$2480.27 + $91 = $2,571 is my expectation.

I appreciate your attention in this matter,


And a day later they responded:

Dear Marc,

As detailed in our refund policy the original shipping and handling fee is none refundable, customer’s respond to ship the system back for refund, once we receive the package it usually takes seven to ten business days to inventory the items and process the refund before the credit is posted to the method of payment. As detailed in our warranty policy the original shipping and handling charges, including rush and fuel surcharge fees, are non-refundable. All items must be returned and in good condition.

The cost of any missing or damaged items will be deducted from your refund.

RMA Status

Cyberpower Inc.

(888) 900-5180 Ext. 151

Naturally I wanted some more detail:

Hi there,

OK, fair enough. It’s been ten business days as of today.


And so now I’m waiting:

Dear Marc,

For the refund status, as per the information from our accounting department, it is under processing and the amount is waiting for approval, and we will follow up with it.

Thank You

RMA Status

Cyberpower Inc.

(888) 900-5180 Ext. 151

I suppose they could be really busy, but many of us consider $2,500 a lot of money and I’d sure like to see my refund soon.

I’ll reiterate that my friend from whom I got the CyberPower recommendation is still very happy with his machine, so my experience could have been just a fluke. When the raid failed I was already trying to get ahold of them for why my machine had already spontaneously rebooted once and took exactly 5 minutes to shut down (power off after windows shutdown). So I was not very confident with the machine already when my raid array failed.

Computers are fickle, but it would sure have been nice to have done this locally. I might even have been able to get it repaired and shipping would not be such a burden. I still can’t find any local boutique-computer shops that would be able to do this.

I very nearly bought one from my local MicroCenter. But theirs came with only 4 Dimm slots and, since it’s nearly impossible to get 4 Gbyte Dimms, and any that *are* available cost a fortune, the best I could do was an 8 Gbyte system. I really wanted at least a 12 Gbyte system for some of the picture work I want to do. And because it’s cool.

How Do *You* Manage Your Credit Card Use?

When I listen to Clark Howard (a local consumer advocate) I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in my approach to credit in particular and spending in general.

I’ve had a credit card since I was in my late teens. My perception of the word “credit” in the name “credit card” was always that the Credit really only extended as far as the grace period from when I purchased the item until when payment was due on the account.

I have never held a balance on a credit card.

When my wife and I started living together we actually merged our finances at that time and I undertook to manage the household finances.
In the arena of credit we had only two rules, we would discuss big purchases, and that we would make no purchases on a credit card that would not be fully funded by the time the credit card bill was due.

Everybody needs a safety net, these days mine is provided by a home equity line of credit. Something that can be dipped into should an emergency arise or if you have a project to do and it makes more sense to do it now and pay for it in arrears (such as a tremendous sale on something that you were already planning, and saving, to purchase).

Back, before I owned a home, my local bank was able to make available to me a $5,000 line of unsecured revolving credit. This was MASSIVELY better than relying on my credit card for such debt as the interest rate was more in line with a car loan than that of a loan shark which, I’m sorry to say, is the nicest thing I can say about credit card interest rates.

So we live within our means.

I also receive with disgust those awful Cash Advance Checks. I have some sitting in front of me right now. I honestly cannot see anything good about them. You get charged a premium to take out the money and you begin paying an insane rate of interest on them immediately. Certainly you pay more than you could ever hope to earn in all but the riskiest stock ventures. In my house those Cash Advance Checks are immediately consigned to the shredder along with a few choice words directed toward the marketers responsible for them.

I have my credit card set up to pay off in full, automatically, directly from my bank account so that I do not have to risk the check going astray in the mail (this has happened before).

For any other bills that I need to pay, I pay those immediately when I receive the bill. Why gamble that I won’t forget about it and miss the due date? The interest I may earn, even when interest was in full integer digits, was always puny and never worth the risk.

The amount of money that I have saved in not paying late fees and not pissing it away in ridiculous interest charges can easily buy me my nice new computer system several times over.

So how do *you* handle your credit and why? I know that there are cool deals out there where people can get money interest free for a period. So they take it and invest it, paying it back before it is due.

FEDEX and my New Computer

So, I’m sitting here at my desk, working from home today since I’m expecting my computer to finally arrive. Every couple of hours I’m checking the status on the FEDEX site (OK, OK, probably more like every half hour).

Then, at about 4:10 I check and see that there’s been a delivery exception. They claim to have tried to deliver the package to my front door (12 feet away from me) about 15 minutes earlier.

Oh no you do-on’t (picture stereotypical black woman wagging her head side to side).

I’m on the phone and I’m *not* happy. The first CSR at FEDEX just puts me on hold and doesn’t come back. After 10 minutes of that I call again (I have multiple phones so I can hedge my bets) and hang up the original call when I get another CSR.

This time I’m getting names, times and documenting everything. I AM PISSED.

She goes away for a while trying to figure out what’s going on and eventually she tells me that the driver has already shut down his scanner and the manager is out for lunch (late lunch that..).

They tell me the driver is one of their most reliable ones and has been with them for a long time so they don’t think it would be a case of him simply skipping my delivery.

But I persist and, to their credit, they are cooperative. Eventually it comes to where they agree that, when the driver comes in, they will ship the package out to me by another courier so it will be with me tonight.

The driver, when he arrived back at the depot actually went back out to do the delivery.

The problem was that someone had made a black mark on the address label on the package that obscured the last digit of my address and he was trying to deliver to the wrong place.

He was a nice guy and I had my computer by about 5:10 so I was not critical of him or the situation. There was a (fairly) reasonable explanation of the problem.

About an hour later I got a fairly terse call from his dispatcher asking if I received the package. I’m pretty sure the story that got back to FEDEX was that I simply didn’t answer the door. The driver did mention that they’d ride him pretty hard if they found out that he’d made an address error.

So kudos to FEDEX for ultimately getting this sorted out. They were willing to do what was necessary to meet their delivery commitment. So my experience ended up being a “Satisfied” rather than “Extremely Pissed” for this transaction.

I was not willing to be too forgiving since I *know* the computer has just been sitting in Atlanta since early Saturday morning and did NOTHING on Monday. By my reckoning I really should have had it 4 days ago. But.. weekends.. what can you do?

Don’t Laugh – New Computer Coming to Bourassa Central (*3rd* time’s a charm?)

In the saga that will not seem to end…

I did receive my computer from CyberPower PC pretty much on time. There was a week delay when I decided to wait for the memory that I wanted which had been backordered. They kindly gave me a nice rebate for the delay which they really didn’t have to do but I appreciated the effort.

However, I ended up having some problems with the unit which culminated in my getting up one morning, after spending 20+ hours configuring it and actively using it, where the raid array had simply failed.

After troubleshooting, the tech decided the only thing left to do was to reinitialize the raid array and start from scratch. At that point I balked. I had purchased a Raid-0+1 array to prevent EXACTLY that kind of issue. If you’re not familiar with this, in my configuration it meant that my reads and writes were performed to 4 disk drives simultaneously. About half of the information is written to each of a pair (the raid 0) which is supposed to provide a performance boost, then all that is duplicated (the Raid 1) so if one of the disks (maybe two if it’s the right disks) fail I have no worries.

When the actual raid array fails.. well.. you’re completely toast. The thing is that the Cyberpower tech was unable to diagnose exactly what had happened and could not offer any plausible guarantee that it would not happen again. Who knows, maybe there was a defect in the motherboard? Maybe there’s a bad battery someplace?

So I exercised my right to return the system.

All this is not without a cost. I can return the system but shipping costs fall to me. Unfortunately that worked out to $65 for the original shipment out and an additional $92 for the return trip to California. There is a great argument for buying locally 🙁

They received the computer just about two weeks ago (March 11) and I’m still waiting to see the refund. I’ll have to call them if I don’t hear by Wednesday.

Unfortunately I really was not able to find any local shops that would build me the system I wanted. It’s really very hard to find these folks since they do not seem to maintain any kind of web presence. The irony of a computer shop not being findable on the web is not lost on me.

So, I ended up going back to Dell’s Alienware. This time I’m being a bit more modest on the specs. I ordered the machine a couple of weeks ago and am anticipating that it will arrive tomorrow. At least that’s what the FEDEX site says.

So, again, here is what should be humming under my desk sometime this week.

Take a peek and let me know what you think. And yes, I know, everybody else in the world gets their computers cheaper than I can. Hell, somebody has to pay full price for you to get the deals. You’re welcome.

You’ll notice that I only have the single disk drive now. I picked up a 1.5 Terabyte drive for the machine that this one is replacing and will be backing up to that. I also went with less ambitious memory, mostly because it wasn’t really an option at this level. I also am sticking with a single graphics card.

Alienware Aurora Desktop
Overclocked Intel Core i7 920 (3.2GHz, 8MB Cache)
12GB Triple Channel 1333MHz DDR3
Alienware MM Keyboard, US
Single ATI Radeon HD 5870, 1GB GDDR5
1TB – SATA-II, 3Gb/s, 7,200RPM, 32MB Cache HDD
Lunar Shadow, Alienware Aurora Chassis, 875W PSU
Alienware 19-in-1 Media Card Reader
Genuine Windows 7 Professional, 64bit, English
DataSafe Local BackUp 2.0 Basic
PC-Restore, Dim/Insp
Accessory Kit, Aurora, Eng
Dell Resource DVD with Application Backup
Alienware Optical Mouse, MG100
AlienFX Color, Plasma Purple
Single Drive: 24X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
Alienhead Glow
Dell Limited Hardware Warranty 7X24 Technical Support, Initial Year
Dell Limited Hardware Warranty Plus In-Home Service [after Remote Diagnosis], Initial Year
In-home Service after Remote Diagnosis, Initial Year
No Warranty beyond 1 year
1 Year Limited Warranty and Next Business Day,Desktop
Alienhead Chrome Red
Alienware High-Performance Liquid Cooling3

So there you have it. Maybe this time it will stick?

Quicken 2010 Deluxe R7 Warning – R8 upgrade appears to have resolved the issue

To put this to bed, I just applied the R8 update and my balance column is back.

Funny, I note that any reference to this problem on Intuit’s site is now missing. Not exactly the most transparent approach to providing customers with information.

At least they resolved the issue and I can use the product the way I want to again.

I sort by the “Cleared” column. So I always have any outstanding items right in front of me. It lets me know about checks that haven’t been cashed yet and highlights if I may have put something into the wrong register. MOST importantly, the balance showing next to the last cleared item should always match the online balance as the bank / financial institution is reporting it.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server Data Dictionary

If you have a BlackBerry Enterprise server (BES) you have a configuration database that is used to manage pretty much every aspect of the server and all of your BlackBerry devices.

Periodically, I need to access this database directly to retrieve information that is not exposed via the BlackBerry Manager console. But it can take a while to work out which view or table contains the information that I am after. And sometimes the name of a column doesn’t necessarily reflect its contents. So there are plenty of test SQL queries that I need to do to suss out which pieces I need.

After checking online I could see zero references to a data dictionary for this configuration database. Even checking RIM’s own tech site yielded no clues so I called them up and asked for it directly. The tech told me this was the first time anybody had asked that question (presumably of him, not ever). He didn’t know but he checked and soon sent me the following note:

Hello Marc,

Thank you for contacting BlackBerry Customer Support.

Unfortunately the information requested is not publicly available.

Should you require further information on this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you again for contacting us.


BlackBerry Customer Support
Research In Motion Limited
NA Toll Free: 1-877-255-2377
UK Toll Free: 0808 100 7466
Europe: +44 1753 558400
Worldwide: +1-519-888-6181

So there you have it. If anybody knows differently I’d love to hear it, but apparently we are not to have a reference to this central resource and must continue to guess our way through our reporting.