tale of 2 destroyed desktops

In addition to my nu trac life north of Atlanta, we also have a house in Atlanta.  The gas company decided to install new gas lines in the subdivision where our house is located.  They called in the “locators” who with different colored sprays identified the electricity, water, telephone, sewage and gas lines.  Then with a sophisticated omni-directional drilling machine they bored small diameter tunnels underground from one excavated point to another.  When the drill bit reached its destination they attached the new flexy gas line to it and hauled the drill bit and the new gas line back to the starting point.

The excitement began mid day July 2 – it was a Wednesday and 2 days before July 4, which was on the Friday.  A loud bang was heard in the kitchen accompanied with a burning plastic smell and the house lost power.  The local power company restored power within 3 hours.  However 2 desktops, a Bose CD player, the telephone and other items no longer worked.  Thursday 8am I walked over to the subcontractors who are installing the new gas lines and asked the supervisor for their claims department contact information.  The supervisor denied responsibility because, although his crew hit the power line (he couldn’t deny that) , the power line location had allegedly not been accurately marked.  We are not responsible the supervisor said, the blame lies either with the power company  for not mapping the power line or the locator for not accurately marking it.  He added that this would take weeks to resolve.  Nothing like a challenge to fire me up.  I called the power company and the gas company and left numerous voice mails – it being the day before July 4, many folks were not at work.

2 Dell computers destroyed by power surge
2 Dell computers destroyed by power surge

I figured that the desktops might just need a new power supply and, on my way to the farm, I stopped at Fry’s, which is a very impressive electronics store, and bought a new power supply for $12 (a bargain, actually $21 less $9 rebate).  The desktops which had shown no life at all after the power surge now sorta switched on with the new power supply and there was a cursor on the screen but nothing else.  So I decided to buy a new low end desktop and began reinstalling software from CD’s I had kept.  I won’t go into the details except for one challenge I encountered.  The information on the 2 destroyed desktops had not been backed up recently so I wanted to transfer from the old desktop hard drives to the new desktop.  When I bought the new desktop I had asked if it had a bay for a 2nd hard drive and was advised that it did and, when I opened up the new desktop it did have a bay for a 2nd hard drive.  But – there were no connectors to attach to the 2nd hard drive.  In other words I could not simply attach my hard drive to the new computer and transfer the files.  A hard drive needs two connectors – one to provide power for it to spin and the other to save or retrieve information.  I was thinking of powering the hard drive with the new power supply I had purchased and temporarily using the connector to the CD/DVD drive for the hard drive.  But I was concerned this could do damage.  And then I was given the solution – it’s great to have family or friends who know something about technology.

The Sabrent connected to the hard drive.  In the left is the power cord and on the right the USB connection.  All for $15!
The Sabrent connected to the hard drive. On the left is the power cord and on the right the USB connection. All for $15!

There is a very nifty device manufactured by Sabrent which costs just $15 and it both provides the power for the hard drive and also, via a USB hookup transfers information back and forth between the hard drive and the computer.  The device arrived within a few days and, with a lot of googling help, I was able to identify and transfer all the files on the 2 hard drives and the browser book marks and the desktop icons.  And life was back to normal.

And what happened with the claim?  The following Monday, when folks were back at work, I had lengthy calls with the claims departments of the power and gas companies.  They were just 2 of the 4 parties involved since there was also the locating service and the sub-contractors who were installing the new gas lines for the gas company.  But I wanted to keep things simple and so I said to the two utility companies that since their head offices were in our county, if the matter was not quickly resolved, rather than pursuing claims against them individually and the locating company and the sub-contractors, I was simply going to name the 2 big companies as joint defendants and proceed against them in small claims court, and by the time we were finished, their legal costs would probably exceed my damages, which I estimated at $1,600.  Two days later (Wednesday) the power company called and said if my damages were still around $1,600 they would settle up.  On the Thursday, I emailed a very detailed claims analysis with photos and Amazon cut outs and lengthy notes.  On the Friday they said they would pay, and on the following Monday, less than 2 weeks after the incident I received my check for approximately $1,600.

Moral – by DIY I was able to keep the downtime and my costs to a minimum, and keeping my costs low made settlement attractive (a computer technician would have increased the costs significantly).  Also by suggesting small claims court (another DIY resource, I suppose) I was able to motivate the parties to move quickly.





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