So a couple of weeks ago, it randomly turns itself off and refuses to turn back on. It starts up, but sometimes won't even boot the OS before restarting, though sometimes it runs for a few hours with nothing perceptibly wrong. My mother is devastated, and my father can't find anything wrong with it.
They take the box back to the store on Monday (which is a fairly long drive away, since my parents live in the country and there isn't much in their town), and leave it with the techs to be fixed. My mother receives a phone call the next day - "We turned it on and it ran and we played games all day so it must be fine, just dust or heat or something; come and pick it up." It has been unseasonably warm lately, and so my mother doesn't think anything of it, and when she gets it home on Wednesday, puts the box up on the desk so that it gets more air circulated around it, and turns it on. It goes fine... until the pencil tin on the desk falls over.
Since then, my mother hasn't been able to use the computer. When my mother rang the store again, the tech said that it must be a peripheral device since nothing's wrong with the box, but all the peripherals work fine with another computer my father kept in case his laptop packed up. They switched the hard-drive to one with a different OS installed, but that had no effect. There is nothing visibly loose inside the box, and even when it loads, it never runs for more than fifteen minutes (usually only after it's been off overnight - it gets worse when it's been on for a while).
So my mother has her computer back, with the problem still occurring, and the techs didn't even check inside the box to see if there was anything wrong - despite being told that the problem isn't consistent. They just turned it on, left it for a few hours, and decided it must be fine because it didn't restart. Yet they were told that the computer sometimes runs that long without trouble, but then won't turn on at all the next day!
She can't take it back again for a few days, because she won't be able to get to the store until my father is available to drive her again (they've already made two trips - once to take it in and once to pick it up), and meanwhile she's without a reliably working computer - which means she can't do any banking, keep in touch with her friends, or read the news online.
I sometimes wonder whether people realise how much of a lifeline computers and the Internet are for some people, especially in country areas where there aren't as many banks, post offices, stores, etc.