Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tech Support, Part MCXIV*

(*That's a big number, right? I'm not so good with Roman numerals. It's supposed to be a comically large number.)

My romance with Dell Tech Support is a fairly long-standing one, dating at least from April 2008, but I have to say that the charm is beginning to go out of the relationship. Today, for example, I called them about two laptop issues, to wit:

  1. After a Dell technician replaced my laptop's hard drive and motherboard almost a year ago, Microsoft Office magically disappeared from the computer, leaving me to compose things pathetically in WordPad, the sorriest excuse for a word processing program ever, and also leaving me without the capability of opening any Excel attachments, which, as I am now in retail, is something I have to do with some frequency, since wholesale catalogues and price lists are often in Excel.**
  2. Also after said technician replaced said motherboard, the power button was sort of wigglier and looser than it had been before, but I ignored the issue, as it seemed to not be especially important. Recently, however, the computer has become more and more difficult to turn on, requiring up to half an hour or so of repeated mashings of the loose, wiggly power button.

So these problems had been fairly long-standing, but calling Tech Support is so very exhausting and invariably costs me so very much time and money that I have been stalling for literally months. But I finally worked up the steam to call today, and after waiting in the queue for twenty minutes because I always forget the Quick Service code that I got with the service warranty they conned me into purchasing a year ago, I was on the line with the inevitable polite, patient, and patronizing Indian gentleman who politely, patiently, and patronizingly promised that he would make everything better. Here is how he went about making everything better:

  1. As to Microsoft Office, he said, I did not purchase it with my computer, so I cannot get it from Dell for free, even though it was the fault of the Dell hardware that it got wiped from the computer in the first place. I could, though, PURCHASE Microsoft Office 2007 from Dell at a special, special discount price ONLY AVAILABLE TODAY. Now, back in April 2008, I would have jumped at this offer, but my older, wiser self is not so excited. Because, really? There's just coincidentally a special offer on the product that I need on the very day that I happened to call about it? And that offer will never ever ever ever exist ever again? And also, I know nothing about computer programs, but it seems to me that Microsoft Office 2007 might not be the newest version available? Or if it is now, it won't be in just a couple of months. In fact, in just a couple of months, it will be THREE YEARS OLD, which is like THREE THOUSAND YEARS OLD in computer years. So maybe it's not in my best interest to lay down the hundred fifty bucks or whatever to purchase a THREE THOUSAND YEAR OLD computer program, no? Even if it is on super special sale?
  2. As to the power button issue, the guy had me turn the computer off, which I never do anymore because it is so hard to turn back on, and then he had me screw around with the hinge cover and then the motherboard itself to see if he could figure out what the problem was. Turns out - OF COURSE! - the issue is the motherboard itself, which now needs to be replaced AGAIN, which means a technician will call me in 3-5 business days and schedule an appointment in 3-5 business days from then, and then he will come to my house and upset my dog and baby and replace the motherboard again. But here's the thing. Before I called Tech Support today and was guided to screw around with the hinge cover and motherboard, the computer was EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to turn on. After I called Tech Support and was guided to screw around with the hinge cover and motherboard, my computer now WON'T TURN ON AT ALL. Not even with the power toggle on the motherboard itself. So before I called Tech Support, my computer worked, and after I called Tech Support, my computer was broken. This seems to me like a pretty big problem, like maybe the opposite of what is supposed to happen when you call Tech Support.

So the upshot is that not only did I not manage to get Microsoft Office, but also I managed to end up with a broken laptop. I am not sure how things came to this pass. I am carefully reviewing every step I took in this process, from the purchasing of the computer through each and every Tech Support call I have ever made, and I do not think I have done anything wrong or stupid. And yet somehow, everything has turned out all wrong and stupid. In certain moods, like the one I'm in right now, it's really hard not to see this as an allegory of modern life.

**Not that I do any significant buying for the store per se. It's more that I do significant buying for myself. That is, whenever we are placing a wholesale order, my boss sends me the wholesale catalogue and price lists and asks me if I want to add anything to the order for myself, which I always do, which means that I always owe the store large amounts of money. It might occur to you that this is obviously stupid behavior, as working at the store is meant to MAKE me money, rather than COST me money, but I would like to raise two points that might not have occurred to you in your rush to call me stupid: 1) I am always buying things, so I would be buying things even if I weren't working at the store, and in that case I would be paying retail rather than wholesale, so maybe I am coming out ahead here; and 2) Could you resist these things? Or these things? How about these things? Or these things? Could you resist? Especially if they were at wholesale price? No, you could not resist. And neither can I. So you see, we're really not so different, you and I.

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