Replacing a keyboard these days is easy and cheap . . . with USB keyboards.

But if you have a laptop, a USB keyboard can be cumbersome. For laptops, however, there are replacement keyboards for certain models. Nevertheless, you will have to disconnect/reconnect a ribbon cable under the keyboard in a laptop. For some models, this is pretty easy to do, and for others it’s a little more complex.

I myself am intimidated by hardware maneuvers on a laptop other than installing RAM modules and installing an HDD. I cracked a case one time and barely got the thing back together in working order. That experience alone was enough to discourage me from even coming close to a manipulation that was even similar to cracking a case on a laptop. And even though my manual detailed the steps to replace a keyboard, it was marked as a “Service Partners Only” thing, and that caveat in the manual discouraged me even more.

So, when my keyboard became so worn that I could barely see the lettering on the keys, my dilemma was “What do I do now?”

At first I thought about using enamel paint just to draw the letters on freehand. I was close to doing that when I found DataCal. They offer a keyboard stencil (they call them “overlays”, which I guess is the industry term) for $14.95 . . .

So I finally figured that I was going to have to do an Internet order, but I was reluctant to do so for such a small purchase. When I got them, in a 5X7 manila mailing, regular mail, they were the large variety . . . which was NOT what I had ordered. I ordered the “standard” size. So that evening I wrote an email to DataCal customer service about it. I fully expected to be blown off. It’s hard enough to get customer service when you call Dell or HP or any one of those big guys for a big order, so for an order of only $14.95, I thought they would laugh me off.

And then I thought that if they even responded, they would tell me I’d have to send the wrong ones back, at my own expense, before they would give me the right ones.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from DataCal customer service the next morning. The customer service gal very kindly apologized, said that the packing guy must have put the wrong overlays in the envelope, and then said that DataCal would send me the right ones, and that I didn’t have to bother to send the large ones back.

So I got the right ones in the mail a few days later, and my keyboard is now in good repair. They are pretty slick, are the right size and have the font of the rest of the keys, went on pretty easy, even with my shaky hands (tweezers solved that problem), and the only sign of them is that they are much whiter than the keys that didn’t need overlays on them. But with my dirty paws, I expect they’ll soon have the hue of the rest.

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