Some of you will know that for some time I have been having problems with my computer, among which was its tendency to crash whenever I visited certain blogs. Always the same blogs. There were other problems too, that had begun to mount. So it was that I resolved (after much heart searching - did I really want the hassle?) to acquire a new machine. Eventually, and following long assessment of what the market had to offer, I ordered one direct from the makers. It should have been straight-forward. It wasn't. I knew before I took it from the box that it was going to go back. As I tipped the box slightly to ease the machine out, there came the sound of a definite, and very loud, CLUNK from within said machine. Indeed, whenever I tipped it, it clunked. This is not right, I thought, for I am nothing if not quick on the uptake. Still, I persevered. I thought the manufacturer would probably want me to. I positioned the machine within range of the monitor (I had ordered only the base unit) and went to plug in the afore-mentioned monitor. This proved impossible. Investigation revealed that there were broken pins in the socket holes. These I was able to extract. The plug then went snugly in, and we were in business. Timidly, I pressed the start button. There came the sound of huge butterflies knocking themselves senseless somewhere in the machine. The monitor briefly sprang to life and then stopped. The last two lines read:
The thing switched off. I rang the manufacturer. Correction: I looked for a phone number, but could find none save that of the main switchboard, which I had rung once before in a previous life and had no intention of treading that road again. No, I wanted a phone number closer to my destination, say one for disenchanted potential customers. Nothing of the sort could be found. Not in the literature, such as it was, not from my past dealings with said firm, not in the phone book. I emailed them. I got a NO REPLY reply, telling me that the matter would be resolved in a day or two. It wasn't. In fact it still hadn't been resolved as we approached the seven day deadline - i.e. the purchaser's absolute right to return goods bought on the Internet. Swallowing hard and fortifying myself with the smallest possible tot of single malt, I rang the only phone number I had come across, the main switch board - of course - but first I armed myself also with my list of numbers. Each and every contact I had had with the manufacturer had generated a new reference number of incredible length. I had a page in my notebook dedicated to them. It was full. Laid end to end they would have reached to the moon and back. There were customer numbers, order numbers, (note the plurals) and numbers whose names gave no clue as to what they might signify, but I sort of guessed that one or more of these arcane numbers would be required at some point in my dealings with those endowed with the power to resolve my issue.
I thought I knew what I was in for. The dialling tone gave way to an electronic voice introducing the now familiar menu: "If your call is about... ...press 1" I pressed 1, listened again and pressed 1 again. And again. And again. And again, on and on. Oh, for the relief of pressing 2! I persevered and was rewarded by what I at first took to be a real human voice. It wasn't. It was a real recorded human voice introducing the next menu. This was a repeat of the first menu, not in its instructions, but in its structure. I sat there, dutifully listening and pressing the inevitable 1. And then: "If your business is to do with... please key in your..." I froze. The voice was asking for a number to which I had not been introduced, which was not on my carefully prepared list. It would, the voice informed me, be a number of 19 or 21 digits. (Ah, a short one, good! What am I talking about? How does that help?) Followed by: "If you do not know where this number is to be found... press2!" Oh, the joy of it! To be allowed to press a number other than 1! The joy was short lived: the number was on the rear of the computer on the right hand side. The computer was, of course, back in its box, back in all its packaging. The box was sealed. I hung up. Unpacked the box, and... yes, there was the number, right where the voice had said it would be.
I went back to the phone. I started the whole process again from square 1. I got as far as keying in my new-found number - and the line went dead. Third time lucky. On this occasion I went the whole distance and was rewarded with... yes... a real live bloke who was, it must be said, extremely helpful. I related the whole sad tale. "Well, what would you like us to do?" he asked. I explained that I would like them to collect the non-functioning computer and either give me my money back or, better still, a replacement computer. "Would you not like us to see if we can mend it for you?" he inquired. (His phraseology did not exactly inspire confidence.) "No, I do not feel I can trust this particular machine," I said. "I am not convinced that it is a Bona Fide new machine." He made soothing noises and declared that he quite understood. Alas, he was not authorised to give me a replacement machine, but he could return my cash. To get a replacement, I would have to... only I could see where this was leading. Take the cash and run, I thought. He passed me on to an equally pleasant and helpful lady who sorted me out in no time at all. Well, it was a little time, to tell the truth. It was nearly a week before they could collect the computer, and three working days after that before the money would appear in my bank account. Three working days turned out to be three to five working days which translated as six working days, but at last the money did appear.
I then decided that I would buy the new machine from a reliable source that I could deal with rather more easily - Tesco. They can deal with the suppliers if it goes pear-shaped again, I thought. I will deal with them. I like their returns policy. I almost bought the same model as I had nearly bought from the makers, but no, in the end I bought an Acer - on which I am typing this, on which I have been visiting your blogs, even those on which formerly I was crashing - that is, the computer was crashing, but it felt like me!
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