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Friday 11 February 2011

sometimes the technology just gets in the way.

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:

Fan Fault
Board Fault.

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!


Rose said...

Sounds like a dodgy business to me getting things from somewhere other than Tesco tut-tut you should know better than that!! Oh Dave King I am happy you are sorted now. Entertaining post!

Louise said...

Oh my god I have been there so many times with things, including very distressing dealings with a couple of so call communication companies. I feel your pain, and felt a little bit of my on with the reminder! Glad you and the machine are back on track!

Elisabeth said...

Many moons ago, Dave, I bought my husband a camera for one of his birthdays.

It was a special camera and cost me a lot of my then hard earned money, but the camera had a fault my husband edecided afer he had opened the box. It rattled.

We took the camera back to the retailer. After my husband complained about the internal ticking that accompanied every move of the camera, the retailer's
words still ring in my ears:
'It's not a watch it's a camera'.

In time we managed to exchange it, but it was not easy.

Dear Dave, what a journey you have been on. Commiserations.

Anonymous said...

This really stinks. It's the way of the world now.

Someday even the machines will speak a foreign language or blat their words with impenetrable dialects and/or pronunciation of a language we think we used to know. And that only after we've typed in algorithims to get there . . .

Helen said...

Oh boy! My computer is teetering on the brink too. My son (techie) tells me I need a new operating system. He is able to take control of it by remote (lives across the country) and do a little first aid ... but my time is at hand as well.

Linda Sue said...

My husband goes through this regularly. Because you are British and most like very polite as British are, you probably don't rip the sales people or the company a new one- unlike a dissatisfied
American, who will not hesitate..because of this particular gift for ripping, My husband usually, in the end, receives apologies and freebies- poor service may also result in on line blasting which can do a lot of damage to companies.Just keeping them "honest"...Sorry for your trouble- very frustrating!

The Weaver of Grass said...

I live in dread of the day when I shall have to change my computer - I don't think I can stand the strain.
I have an Acer and it has given me three good years so far.

I have a problem that on some blog sites I just can't get rid of them - but I never blame my own computer - maybe I should be doing so.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear David, your technological ordeal is something I profoundly understand. I would have felt in a mess and wouldn't be able to deal with the whole matter as you have, I would have completely crashed myself except...that after dealing with a lot of troubles with internet comnnection and the present Dell machine I am using now and ordered by post in 2004 I promised myself solemnly that I would buy a new computer IN A SHOP and never more by post directly from the producer and I did that last summer, I went to a big place and bought a HP laptop, I have never had problems with it even though I am emotionally connected with this old one which after years of troubles now is working decently and gets stuck a bit only from time to time and then comes back to life, absurd to say but it's like an old friend I am assisting in his old age after he has had a hard life...

Windsmoke. said...

You got the run around big time, if it was me and heard klunk, klunk, or anything else for that matter i would have taken it straight back to where i bought it from and exchanged it for another :-).

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I wonder how well these things will work when they start implanting them in our brains ...

Cait O'Connor said...

Great metaphor there when the computer crashes it does feel as if we crash too. When they work they are wonderful but when they play up it is so frustrating.

Dave King said...

You're right. I am now a reformed character!

120 Socks
I've had the same kinds of experience before, but on much smaller scales. This was almost too big to manage!

Reminds me of a friend's story. She returned a radio, complaining that she could only get two stations on it. The girl said, "Well, it's only a small radio!"

Mr. Philoctetes Digressius aka L. E. McKenna
Ah, I forgot to mention the dialects...

Well, good luck for when the time comes! I can recomend Tesco, though. I bought a laptop from them, as did my son. All three satisfactory - so far, of course.

Linda Sue
Maybe that's the causal difference - I (we) don't go through it regularly. If I (we) did I (we) m ight take a different stand.

The Weaver of Grass
I think the problem with certain sites was possibly caused by a faulty or out-dated plug-in. Had that been the only problem I wouldn't have needed to change the computer.

I don't think that's an absurd thing to say. I can understand that. Strange thing was, the moment my new machine arrived the old one started to improve its behaviour - just like children, aren't they?

Which is exactly what I did do - only I couldn't!

What a thought! We've surely got to be optimistic about that! Mine was an unchecked return, I'm sure... surely we won't be given those when they are brain accessories!


Jim Murdoch said...

Considering all the PCs, laptops, netbooks and palmtops Carrie and I've owned - fourteen I would estimate in about as many years - the only problem I've ever had is with my current one which overheats. Carrie bought me a fan for underneath it which helps but if I'm pushing it it can still die on me. I guess we've been very lucky. All my other problems have been software-related and I've usually found an answer online.