Thursday, January 26, 2006

Unreliable Laptop Leads to Dreaded "Customer Service" Phone Call

I was just working on my latest blog entry, entitled “The Column That Apparently Will Never Be Finished in This Lifetime”, when my laptop computer decided that being a part of this process was just too much for it, so it turned itself off.

No, it didn’t give me the “blue screen of death”. No, it didn’t say it “performed an illegal operation and must shut down”. I just heard a “click” and suddenly my computer was off, and my work was gone with it (work that, undoubtedly, if it was saved, would have won me many accolades, fame, fortune, and hot women).

Unfortunately, this is not the first time my laptop has mysteriously shut off. This is actually the fourth or fifth time. I knew after the first involuntary shut-off that there was probably a problem and that I should call someone to get it fixed. I thought it would be wise, however, if I waited until it shut down near the end of myself composing a very long unsaved column before I made that decision. You don’t want to jump to conclusions in these situations.

Anyway, I decided there can be no more taking chances. What if I were in the middle of something very important like paying a bill electronically, filing my taxes or, God help me, downloading a needed file from It was definitely time to Take Action. It was time to Get Something Done. Yes, that’s right…it was time to call (ominous music here) Customer Service.

(Before I get to the Customer Service part of the story, you, the loyal reader, should know that my laptop just shut down AGAIN. That’s right, after having it shut off on me and ruining one column, your loyal idiot blogger, showing no apparent pattern recognition, said to himself “Hey, I have an idea! Let’s start another column on this extremely reliable laptop!” Luckily, I had set the autosave to “Every .0001 nanoseconds” so no work was lost. I am now composing this column on my old computer, a computer that I believe once retrieved e-mail for Dwight Eisenhower. But at least it @$%&ing stays on.)

Anyway, I called my computer manufacturer’s Customer Disservice, and I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a real human voice after only 67 touch-tone prompts. I explained to the highly–trained lady who answered that my computer has a propensity for shutting completely off, and lately the screen has been flickering and probably needed work also. The first words out of her mouth after I described the problem were: “Do you give us permission to reformat your hard-drive?”

What? We hadn’t even discussed whether my laptop was going to be shipped anywhere or not! And how the heck does erasing all my files solve what is obviously a hardware issue? Is this their solution to every problem? I was afraid that if I said “yes” instantly computer nerds dressed in black would crash through my windows, wrest my computer from my hands, tie me to a chair, and reformat my hard drive right in front of me:

Me: Who are you?!?! What on earth are you doing?!?!

Computer Nerd #1: Settle down, we’re here to help. Your hard drive is almost reformatted now.

Me: You IDIOT! You deleted all my files! How the heck will that help? It’s a power problem! And the screen is another hardware problem!

Computer Nerd #1: (Turns to the other nerd) Shut him up.

Computer Nerd #2: (Knocks me out with his company-issued baton.)

Computer Nerd #1: Damn customers are never happy…they complain when you tell them nothing is wrong and they complain when you reformat their hard drives. Let’s go.

Obviously, she was asking if they had permission to reformat my hard-drive if it became necessary after it is shipped to them, after it was discussed how it would be shipped during this phone call. She just forgot to ask a few questions first. I actually found myself feeling bad for her, because during the conversation it became apparent that she was very inexperienced and was most likely, as we spoke, reading from her Customer Service Manual (Page 1: Tell them nothing is wrong. Page 2: Reformat their hard drive. Page 3: Congratulations, you’re now fully trained!).

So, in the end, I guess I am going to be without my laptop for a while. Not to worry, loyal readers. I won’t let the fact that my backup computer is about as technologically advanced as an abacus prevent me from posting my ingenious insights and observations. I’ll just have another convenient reason why they are late. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to now try real hard to resist playing “laptop discus” and go to bed.

1 comment:

  1. Knowing how much you hate being in that 'office' where the dinosaur is located, think about how much you are going to get accomplished with that laptop gone. However, I could see you putting your tower next to the couch, sticking your gynormous monitor on the coffee table, keyboard on your lap and mouse pad on the cushion next to you. A year from now, your laptop will still be in the cardboard box Gateway sent it back to you in, sitting in your foyer, on TOP of last year's phone book. (C'mon, you know I'm right).
    BTW, I like the changes to the site. Now it only looks like half a million other blogs instead of twenty million other blogs. Oh and if I sound a weensy bit witchy, I think my monthly 'friend' is coming to visit. Need more info? :)


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