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One man company fixes PDAs

Don't throw away your dead Palm or Clie!
Fri Dec 23 2005, 08:37
IF I TOLD YOU that a single-man company from Mankato, Minnesota beats the hell out of the official repair services provided by the wealthy corporations that make them, would you believe me?. Well, you better do, because that's exactly what I discovered when I ran into Chris Short. He's a man this river town southwest of Minneapolis, who advertises his services on eBay and not only that, he actually delivers what he promises.

It's no surprise then that he enjoys a 100% positives rating on the popular retail site. Here's my story, which will show you why I don't hesitate to recommend his services, which allowed me to get my PDA back in working order while spending one third of what the official Sony service wanted to charge me.

Chris Short: PalmOS PDA repairs guru

To make a long story short...
This story actually started some months ago, when I went through pda-repair hell, trying to get Sony to repair my broken PalmOS PDA, a beautiful Clie NX80V with mp3 playback, swinging LCD screen and 1.3MP digital camera. The device fell from a table to the floor and it just died. Swapping the battery with a new one didn't help, nor did fiddling with the power switch. The little details of the ordeal can be found here.

To make a long story "Chris Short" ;)... I had a beautiful and powerful but dead PDA at a friend's place in the U.S., and it was out of warranty. That left me with two options: tell my U.S. friend to throw the pda away or auction it as non working. Definitely I didn't want to spend any more greenbacks on long distance international phone calls to the Sony's voice recognition IVR hell to obtain a new RMA#.

Apparently the guys who do Clie repairs on behalf of Sony charge a "flat fee" of... $150 greenbacks for out-of-warranty PDAs. No way I was going to spend half of what I originally paid for the device back in mid 2004. So I started looking at PDA repair services. There was a promising one in Canada, and several others U.S. based, but all of them made the process sound complex and required one to submit credit card/billing information in advance.

Enter Chris Short
My search quest led me to find something strange: an eBay seller offering "BROKEN Palm Evaluation and Repair Service -FULL SERVICE", for a low $5 dollars. Sounded too good to be true, but the "100% positives" convinced me. Since the item description said he specialized on "All Zire models, All Tungsten models, Palm III / IIIe / IIIxe / IIIc, V, Vx, IBM Workpad models C500/C505, Palm m500 / m505 / m515 / m100 / m105 / m125 / m130 and all Handspring Visor models" I decided to email him, following his own suggestion: "If your Palm is not listed email me first-". I did just that.

A Human Being responded to my e-mail: "sure, I can have a look at your Sony Clie". I still had my doubts but he quickly explained his techie background, which killed any fear I had left: Mr. Short has a "BS Electronic Engineering Technology/Computer Science degree from the University of Minnesota Mankato", and describes himself as someone "with an early fascination with electronics and computers from the age of 10 at least", adding "I would make weekly bike rides to the local dump for electronic parts, and my first computer was the Commodore VIC-20". That was enough proof for me that I was speaking to a techie at heart. Someone who would take good care of my PDA.

"If you have your unit evaluated and decide not to have it repaired this is your ONLY cost and your unit will be returned via Priority Mail requiring no additional cost! If, upon receiving a firm quote, you decide to have your unit repaired it will be completed within TWO (2) days - unless a longer observation period is required such as a infrequent error or battery charge evaluation", he concluded. I was sold.

A few days later after Chris Short received my PDA, I received an e-mail message, which shows he really is a human being and not a corporate robot throwing canned replies:

"Fernando, I have completed the evaluation of your Sony PDA, there was a cold solder joint on the motherboard. The total for the repair will be $49, if you would like a new battery please add $15 - the one that was provided is no good. Your unit is ready, and can be sent out as early as Tuesday."

Wow. I was so impressed that I told him I was going to write an article about him, so here is how Chris Short tells his own story:

"I started first working with Palms with the m100, bought a non functioning one, needed parts so I bought another and before I knew it I had around 25 units with close to 10 that worked fine. Tried in vain to get my wife to use one and decided to start selling them on eBay in the year 2000. Since then my inventory has exploded with some 600 plus units for repair/sale and a daily order of repairs from customers. I estimate I have repaired more than 6000 units. I have one employee which I have taught from the ground up and now does a lot of the routine repairs allowing myself to do research and design work. Latest design project is a Palm V charger that will use a common 5 VDC adapter instead of the impossible to find dual voltage OEM units. My current most respected Palm unit is the Vx - I vote as the most durable and trouble free while sticking to the true essence of what a PDA should be, close second is the m500 series. Currently I am a Sole Proprietor and am working on getting a business name and web site". Wow!,

My Clie NX80V, working beautifully once again!

Days later, I had my NX80V PDA back at home, shipped by good old US Postal Service. And it's been working great ever since!. Which proves that a human being like Chris Short runs circles around corporations. When was the last time you saw a corporation with a 100% customer satisfaction rate? µ


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