Unscrewed: Finding Replacement Screws for Palm Tungsten T3

Unscrewed: Finding Replacement Screws for Palm Tungsten T3  (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)

A few weeks ago, I was comparing PDA’s with Josh Sasmor (a Seton Hill math professor), when Josh noticed that one of the four tiny screws on the lower body of my Tungsten T3 was missing. I forgot to bring the charger home one weekend, and took the following week off, so my PDA’s batteries died and I didn’t use it for more than a week. When I picked it up again, I noticed that now, three of the four tiny screws were missing.

I hit the Internet, and found that I am not alone. Palm does not sell replacement screws, and in fact will not replace them at all unless you send in your PDA for servicing — which costs $125, plus shipping and the time you have to spend without a PDA — and that you might get somebody else’s used PDA back instead of yours. A few posters in online forums mentioned finding replacements in out of the way places, so I was hopeful (though Finn never replied to my e-mail). One online poster said a railroad hobbyist eyeballed the screw, said “Looks like a #80,” opened up a drawer, and presto — problem solved.

After checking Wal-Mart, Lowe’s (a hardware chain), three eyeglass stores, two jewelry stores and a Radio Shack, I was feeling pretty discouraged. The culture here in Pennsylvania is small-town friendly, so I didn’t get the idea people were blowing me off; but nobody had a drawer full of odd screws, and nobody knew how to get in touch with a supplier who might stock such parts. “The parts I’m supposed to need just arrive from the warehouse,” said one employee.

Today I was in downtown Greensburg, and found screws that fit at Bortz Hardware. They had about twenty in a little drawer; The part number: 0-80X 1/8, flat head Phillips, 64084. I bought seven. When I told employee Peggy Felton about the Tungsten problem, she looked in her drawer and said, “I’ll order more.”

Update, June 25 (photo added): The replacement screw, on the right, sticks out ever so slightly on the downslope edge, but it seems to fit tightly.

If you’re looking for replacement Tungsten T3 screws, you might want to give Bortz Hardware a call at 724 834 3770. (I have no financial stake in the transaction… I’m just hoping I might be of some service to somebody whom Google throws my way.)

According to the chatter on user forums and an online petition, Palm’s position is that the screws were lost due to user error, and thus the replacement is not covered by warranty. Many unhappy consumers note that they have owned countless electronic devices with tiny screws that do not need to be tightened regularly, and feel it is a design flaw.

Oh… the price Bortz Hardware charged for the screws? Eighteen cents each. That sure beats $125.