Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thanks for nothin'


We all make mistakes. Check today's Observer-Reporter, and I'm sure you can pick out a couple of typos. But there are small mistakes, and then there are the ones that make your blood pressure skyrocket. A couple of weeks back, the missus started having problems with her laptop connecting to our wireless Internet, so she called the computer manufacturer, which shall remain nameless (I sure hope I don't inadvertently provide any clues), and they said they would send her a box in which she could ship the laptop to them for repairs. And I must say that they were very nice about offering to fix it for free, even though the warranty was no longer in effect. It took several days for the box to arrive, a couple more for it to arrive at their repair site, a few more for it to be fixed and shipped back, and a few more before my schedule and that of the FedEx guy meshed and I could sign for the package. The missus was greatly relieved to have it back in her possession. Just one problem: It didn't work. Now, mind you, when we shipped the laptop to the computer company, it was in perfect working order, save for the fact that it could not be used wirelessly. When it came back, it wouldn't even start up. After a long, long telephone call spent mainly trying to understand folks whose English is only moderately related to what you and I consider our native tongue, it still didn't work. They had the missus pulling out the battery and putting it back in, unplugging and replugging the power cord, etc. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bottom line: They're sending us another box. They really couldn't explain why a computer that wouldn't even turn on had been sent back to us. Hadn't it been checked out?, the missus asked. Oh, they assured her, four or five technicians have to sign off on the work before it can leave their office. Really? I can't say that I'm all that surprised. Even when a computer is right in front of them, it's been my experience that computer technicians are not all that effective at fixing computers. I know, you would think that they would be. It seems they're very good at telling you what you already know is wrong with the computer, using fancier words, of course. But as for being able to determine WHY the computer is screwing up? Not so much. It's my belief that if auto mechanics had the same diagnostic skills as computer techs, we'd all be on horseback. You all might have similar horror stories about computer repair. Feel free to share.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite computer horror story comes from the first newspaper I worked out of college. It was at a suburban paper outside Atlanta, and the publisher/owner was about as cheap and mean as they get. That meant we used computers that had to be from the early 1970s or so. They were awful, broken-down contraptions that wouldn't have sold for $5 at a yard sale. God only knows how many hours in productivity were lost due to those things.

Anyway, when they inevitably froze or did crazy things, people would resort to extreme measures to get them going again, including giving the side of the monitor a hard slap, and lifting up the keyboard and slamming it down on the desk. Sometimes the latter actually worked.

--Brad Hundt

November 6, 2008 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

When I first started working for UPI, I had a relic of a computer. It started acting up one day, and I called the computer desk. The guy told me to pull out a computer board and find a row of metal contacts. Then he told me to use a pencil eraser to clean them. I thought he was kidding. He wasn't. It worked.

November 6, 2008 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

When I first started in the "mail room" at our company, the computers they used took 5.25 floppy disks (this was in 2000)... The most frequent question I asked was "Why doesn't anything ever work here?" Now, thanks in part to my infinite wisdom and sagacity, the majority of our applications are web/network based... That, of course, presents a whole new set of problems... our main application is vendored by a company in Saskatchewan... calling tech support there is like calling the Polar Bear Bar in Wasilla. Cutting through the lumberjack analogies and frequent "eh?'s" generally results in a complete and utter miscommunication as to the actual problem at hand... but hey, at least they speak Engrish!

November 6, 2008 at 10:19 PM  
Blogger miss bess said...

Outside of the tech world of customer service, my mom and I sent our dull CutCo knives back to the company after they had been in my cooking-queen grandmother's kitchen for nearly 20 years. The company sharpened them (FOR FREE) and sent them back to us promptly. I know because I cut myself severely while recently chopping vegetables. I need to get used to the quality again, I suppose...

November 8, 2008 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

A friend of mine is the IT director for the Richmond city bus company and all of its subsidiaries. He's responsible for the entire network, computers, printers, faxes...the works. He told me once that the first thing he does when he is called to fix something is...reboot. He said it works about 70% of the time.

November 10, 2008 at 2:53 PM  

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