Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Imex Revisited

Upon my return home I found my laptop battery was dead. So I called Asif at Imex. He had a replacement battery of the same size. So I went there yesterday evening to pick it up.

Imex has done well since my last post. They have a second "office" on the same floor - really like a showroom - about 6'x15', air-conditioned. There is a grid of slots on one wall holding about 50 laptops - some for repair, others for sale. The older office is now a Karkhana where Asif's techies busily fix computers.

I joined the 3 or 4 customers seated around the table. Asif+workers were time-sharing between them. Asif also answered questions for techies who walked in from his Karkhana with questions or problems.

We tried out the new battery but it too was not holding a charge. Then we realized that something was broken in the power port, because the "Charging" light turned off a minute after being powered up. A new battery was not the solution - something had come loose at the back and needed to be repaired.

Various people walked in as I waited for the diagnosis. One techie was looking for a "Dell"-labelled frame - the black thing that goes around the LCD on your laptop. Asif pulled out various frames until he found the matching one. For another person a fat cable came out of a jam-packed Hush Puppies shoebox. Several customers went away contented, their work completed.

At 8 a guy brought two dinner plates full of chhola-muri. Wordlessly, Asif, his co-workers and the customers started chomping on fistfuls of snack without stopping what they were doing. In the middle of the feast power went out. The IPS instantly came on sans AC. The munching continued.

Two religious-types wearing alkhallas, flowing beards and earnest expressions, marched in looking to buy a used laptop. Asif asked their budget. "20 to 25 thousand Taka." He offered a Dell with Pentium 3 for 26000, and a Toshiba Dynabook for 20. One of them called the boss (the Imam?) and explained the laptop configuration and price. "What about service?" he then asked Asif. "There will be service", Asif said with a mischievous smile, "service is always there." The R-T's started looking puzzled. "Free service always?" Asif sustained his cat-ate-the-canary smile. My patience ran out. "Parts!" I said to the R-Ts, "Parts!" In Bangladesh, service, meaning labor, is usually free or cheap, but parts are the killer.

A guy sitting next to Asif chimed in: "Whoever bought a laptop from here never ever came back unhappy. Get the Dell - parts are all available." (I have noticed this in many shops - a second person sitting next to the Mahajan, looking wise, and dispensing objective-sounding advice to customers.) The R-T's talked amongst themselves and decided to go off and mull it over.

Asif said he can fix the loose connection, but it will take two days. I came home with my laptop. I need to schedule two laptop-free days so it can be repaired. (Incidentally we did get a new laptop during the recent US visit but my better half needed it more than me so she has it :-))

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