By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Q I lost the USB receiver for my cordless mouse, leaving me with a mouse-shaped paperweight. Is it possible to replace just that receiver?

AThat depends on what company made the mouse.

At Logitech, for example, you can get a new receiver free if the mouse is still under warranty, spokeswoman Sarah Youngbauer said. Customers should call customer support (646-454-3200) to request a replacement, she said. People with out-of-warranty Logitech mice can buy a new receiver for $10 from the company's sales line (800-231-7717).

About the same situation prevails at Microsoft. Publicist Brittany Turner wrote in an e-mail that the company can "almost always replace" a lost USB receiver by providing the customer with a new mouse and receiver set. She said users should call Microsoft's product-support line (800-360-7561) to ask for a replacement.

The reader who asked this question said, however, that the representatives he reached didn't offer anything for free, instead quoting him prices of $20 and $14.95 in two calls. Turner said those reps might not have been trained in this new policy and suggested the reader try again.

A third mouse manufacturer, Kensington, doesn't offer free replacements. Spokesman Dominic DiSanti e-mailed to say each of its USB receivers works only with the mouse it shipped with. "Losing the receiver is the same as losing the mouse," he said. The company used this design to keep the prices of its peripherals low, he said, adding that its research showed "a very low" number of lost receivers.

One way to avoid this entire issue is to buy a computer with Bluetooth wireless built-in. With one of those machines, you don't need a proprietary, easily misplaced USB add-on to add a wireless mouse; you can use any Bluetooth mouse.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 Turn to Thursday's Business section or visithttp://washingtonpost.comanytime for his Fast Forward column.

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