The case of the missing Air Force notebook PCs

Eugene Rossel vice president of Unitek Technology Inc. a small Ontario Calif. PC reseller and manufacturer believes the Zenith Data Systems/Packard-Bell marriage has fouled up service and repair causing three notebook computers belonging to a mission-critical Air Force unit to end up lost.

Unitek sold 95 ZDS notebook computers to the Air Force's 68th Electronic Combat Group - which flies EC-130 "Compass Call" signal-jamming aircraft - in late 1995. In June of this year Unitek sent four of the systems to a ZDS repair center in Memphis one was returned and the other three were "apparently lost " according to Rossel.

Rossel said he has placed numerous phone calls to ZDS and Packard-Bell to track down the computers experiencing long waits on the telephone and receiving incorrect information. In frustration he faxed Benny Alagem Packard-Bell's president a note saying "We have put in an inordinate number of calls and hours with your company in trying to get these notebooks repaired/returned and now they can't be found in the system."

Rossel added "How can you stay in business with this type of service? The Air Force has threatened to go through procurement channels on your large contracts if they don't get their equipment back."

Pat Gallagher ZDS' sales vice president said Packard-Bell has taken over "dispatching" maintenance and repair calls but said the problems encountered by Rossel are an isolated occurrence. "I've never heard of any problem like this and it comes as a bit of a surprise " Gallagher said.

But he added "this is our problem and we will do everything to make him whole...including shipping him new computers if that's necessary.

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