Native Tongue

One day not so long ago and not so long after I bought both my two new computers I had a problem, not a small problem either. Indeed no, it wasn’t a tiny problem that I could simply reboot and solve, were that it I would have done so. This was an ugly and profound problem, a problem none of us wants to see and especially with a brand spanking new and very expensive computer.

What the hell!

I had built this lovely from the ground up. Extra everything, it was turbo charged, built for speed.

What the hell!

I had also paid a pretty penny to have all my software loaded, the latest and greatest from Bill Gates, not just the basics but also all those business applications I need for my work. Things most people don’t need and perhaps hadn’t even heard of, pre-loaded and send me the CD’s just in case.

What the hell!

There I was though on a Friday morning, in a panic. I wasn’t sweating bullets yet; all my work was backed up. I hadn’t lost my work. Nevertheless, there I am on hold, waiting for Customer Service to come on the line to tell me what I need to do to recover my brand spanking new computer.

Did I mention I had dual hard drives? Oh, well I had dual hard drives yet still there I was, with;

What the hell!

Finally, Prem came on the line. He was very helpful he told me I had two hard drives and could I please boot my system so he could remotely log on.

Really? I explained I was unable to do so but would be happy to try if he would explain to me how I could do this.

Prem got very frustrated at my stupidity. Clearly the failed hard drive was my fault.

I asked to speak to his supervisor. Prem hung up on me instead.

What the hell?

I called back, when I finally got another customer service person on the line I explained the problem and asked to speak to a supervisor. This person was reluctant to pass me to a supervisor, but after a five-minute conversation did so.

Fasid, was very polite and explained to me he could not find Prem’s notes thus could not find any record of my previous conversation. I would have to start from the beginning, would I mind very much if he took control of my computer to discover the problem?

“No of course not, except my main Hard Drive has failed and I cannot boot up. The hard drive needs to be replaced. The computer is under warranty and I want you to send out the part with a technician to fix it. That is what I pay for.”

Fasid explained to me that he wasn’t authorized to do that, but he would send the request to another group who would call me back when they were in the office in two hours.

So I waited. What the Hell!

David Chen called me back late that afternoon; he was from the ‘Customer Care’ department. He wanted to know why I had lodged a complaint. Really?

  1. I have a business account with your company
  2. I bought two computers from you less than 6 weeks ago for a total of $4,900 including hardware, software and warranty
  3. One of those computers has failed, it is my primary computer for work
  4. I spent the better part of 4 hours on the phone this morning with people who would not resolve the problem, who hung up on me, who were not authorized to fix the problem or who did not speak the language well enough to understand the problem
  5. I have waited more than 6 hours for someone to call me back, meanwhile my computer still does not work

David was very conciliatory. Well I guess he had to be he was in customer care. He confirmed my hard drive had failed and he ordered the part and the service. Initially he tried to tell me this would take at least a week, but I reminded him I had paid the extra warranty. I also reminded him I lived less than 15 miles from one of their plants, I could walk there faster than he was proposing to have the part. He also proposed I could replace the hard drive myself, again I read the warranty to him. Not only would he send the technician to replace the part, they were responsible for making certain my hard drive was operational.

Then we talked about my unhappiness with the customer service experience. I obviously was unhappy with that morning. I was especially unhappy with Prem, who had hung up on me. Prem had another problem though, he could not speak English very well and he spoke very softly. I was continually asking him to repeat himself so I could understand what he was saying. I get it, organizations have outsourced and off-shored their tech support. There is no turning back from this and all the complaints in the world are not going to change this trend, it is here to stay. But can we at least set the standard, please. Can we at least say if you are servicing English speakers you must have conversational English, servicing French speakers you must have conversational French, and so on. Is this too much to ask?

Apparently, this particular computer company has found another source of revenue based on the complaints and feedback on this issue. David suggested I sign up for the added benefit of Native Tongue Customer Service at the low cost of $35 per year.

What the Hell !

Slide to Perdition Part 1

I am reminded today of how much our world changes during economic downturns, how everything about the world changes some for good and some well not so much. This time though, this time I think it has been worse than others times, I have to ask myself, why is that what is different? I believe there have been some very real changes in the social dynamics, as well as, business dynamics of this nation. Sure, we complain about the perceived and very real slights but we don’t seem to be willing to take any real action to change course. Instead, we continue to pour oil on the slide to perdition and plant not only our own asses but those of the next generation so we can give them a push almost as if we want to see just how hard they will land.

Did you read that, scratch your head and say to yourself Val has gone off her meds, wonder what she is rambling on about this time? I just want to talk about some observations, provide you with my personal aggravations some that you also might encounter, things I notice these days that I think weren’t like this before, things I have heard everyone complain about yet we continue to live with. I have to say first, this might be a bit of a rant, yeah I might sound a little like some old women sitting on the front porch shaking my cane and in a wavering voice stating the obvious;

‘It wasn’t like this when I was young!’

Clearly not, when I was young things were indeed different. First, when I was young, there was a complaint department; every single last company in the country had one. The funny thing about the Customer Complaint Department was there were real people in that department, they answered the phone and spoke respectfully to you when you called. They were concerned that you were not happy with their companies product or services and they were committed to finding a way to ensure not only were you happy this time, but that you would be a return customer. These days, not so much, if at all. In fact, if you get a live person on the phone their goal is to convince you it isn’t the product that is the problem it is you, after spending 30 minutes on hold and another 60 minutes asking the person on the other end of the phone to repeat themselves as they speak some language other than your own, you will find out that — You are the problem and even if you aren’t the problem, well it doesn’t really matter cause there is not one damned thing

Just one of many off-shore call centers

you can do about it; no refund and no competitive product or service, tough nuggies.

Oh Val, really aren’t you being a bit harsh you ask. No, I am not. I am not at all. That much vaunted and wonderful free market has created a nightmare. The only thing trickling down is products made of toxic materials and made-to-break for which we pay 1000 times more than the components used to build them. They will break and when we try to return them for service or because our child becomes ill, we find they can’t be returned or the warranty ran out the day prior to them breaking. I dare you, walk through your house and grab ten random items, I will bet eight of them were not made in America, do not even have American parts. I will go one-step further, if you picked up any electronics if you call their Help Desk, you will not get anyone on the phone who speaks English as a first language.

You are likely thinking to yourself right now, that is a bit over the edge Val, a little off sides. Well maybe it is, perhaps that was a bit on the cruel side, I am not feeling charitable to business today. In fact I am feeling downright uncharitable to businesses that don’t stand by their products and services.

Yesterday was two weeks without air conditioning on my second floor, the part of the house with my office and my husband’s music room, frankly where we spend a large part of our time. For 26 years and three houses, I have maintained a home warranty on my house through the same company. On average, the cost of this service has been $38 per month, so the total price I have paid for peace of mind has been $11,856. This year the cost went up and new conditions were added to my contract, new conditions such as the 24-hour wait time for emergencies, another increase in the co-pay. I thought these new conditions weren’t great, especially during a recession but still this is the best Warranty company around, or so I thought. Until yesterday when I found out the part required to fix my air conditioner was on back-order, had been on back-order two weeks ago and after two weeks in 105 degree weather I still wouldn’t have my air conditioner fixed, they hadn’t bothered to call, look for an alternative …. Nothing. I had to call them. When I did, because I hadn’t received confirmation of my appointment, the only excuse was:

‘We don’t call when there is a back-order, that isn’t our problem to notify you.’

So, I am just a little cranky. I have more of these stories. More of these observations of what the ‘free market’, Globalization and Outsourcing has done to us; I think I will tell them this weekend. Frankly, I think we are meaner people over all. Meaner of spirit, meaner in our manners and in our compassion toward each other. I think we are uglier. I think we are turning into a nasty and mean nation of greedy,

Where in Hades is the Fire Extinguisher?

self-serving and self-righteous prigs. Those who have will do anything to keep what is theirs; including lie, cheat, steal and grind those they believe are beneath them into the ground. Those who have been convinced they can join that club will do anything and say anything to slide in beside them.

The rest of us are left out in the cold, or in my case puddled in our own sweat wondering just what in the fires of Hades has happened, and where the extinguisher is.

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