Sit back and grab a coffee, this is a fun story.
Ok, so my girlfriend finally decides to buy a new laptop… we search around for a good price on a decent laptop and eventually settle on an HP from Computer Mania. We go to the Canal Walk branch, buy the laptop and take it home… That’s when the shit starts.
First of all the laptop blue screens while we’re going through the initial installation process… I figure that it might just be a once off thing and we carry on… Then we notice that every now and again the screen blanks out for a few seconds and then comes back on. Driver issues? Maybe… Failing hardware?.. maybe.
Next we notice that the laptop doesn’t actually sit on all four of its feet. The front right hand foot is slightly off the table which causes the whole laptop to wobble while you type… not a lot, but just enough to be annoying.
We press forward hoping that the various issues will go away but they don’t… Installing printer drivers (Vista drivers from the Canon website) for a brand new printer fails and then crashes the laptop.
Eventually the laptop is blue screening on about 3 out of every 5 boots; offering the option of attempting a system restore as a way of trying to get back to a version of Vista that isn’t as broken as what we’re currently dealing with… but the system restore also crashes half way through.
Finally I get the laptop to attempt a scheduled chkdsk. This is an important part of the story. The scheduled disk check, a process that tries to run itself before Vista even starts up, crashes… This should really never happen unless you’re dealing with some serious hardware issues.
I decide that it’s time to take the laptop back to Computer Mania and have them look at it… I assume the obvious; that there is some serious hardware issue with the laptop and they’ll probably have to swap out a hard drive or maybe even the whole thing.
Taking the laptop back was relatively painless; We tell them all the things that are going wrong… I go into detail so as to help the technician with his job… They give us our blue slip and we go on our way… no hard feelings… If anyone is to blame at this point it is either HP or Microsoft. But then…
We wait a week. (Their invoices say they have a average turnaround time of 72 hours). Then a week later I get a call. They want to know what the password is. That’s odd I think. It’s taken a week and *now* they want to know what the password is? Have they even looked at it yet? Obviously not.
I give them the password and they say thanks and I go on about my day fully expecting it to be another couple of days before I get a call to say that they’ve swapped out the laptop due to faulty hardware… But no…
The next day I get a call to say that the laptop is ready… I’m amazed. Maybe it was just a really screwy installation of Vista that was causing all the problems and now that they’ve reinstalled everything is working fine. Except they hadn’t reinstalled. Apparently a “system restore” did the job. Odd, I tried that… but ok. OH, and they removed some malware. REALLY? REALLY NOW? You removed some malware from the laptop? As a systems engineer who’s had to deal with real security issues for a very long time I struggle to believe that the laptop had malware on it. I know Vista aint exactly BSD, but it’s not *that* bad. The only time we ever ran Internet Explorer to download Firefox. I called Bullshit on the malware claim and told the technician to find out what Malware was on the laptop and call me back
‘Tracing Cookies‘ (sic)… You have got to be f-ing kidding me. First of all buddy, the term is “tracking cookies” and secondly, that’s not malware. It’s just cookies… regular old fashioned… cookies. Calling cookies malware is like calling a pillow a weapon. But this just so happens to be the way that shit computer companies try to scare their customers into believing they’ve added some “value” or “fixed” their computer.
Ok, so I’m pissed about the malware thing, but I’ll deal. The laptop just better be fixed. I ask the technician to please reboot the computer a few times during the day and make sure that the random blue screens are fixed so that I don’t drive all the way out to canal walk for no reason. He says he will. You can see where this is going can’t you?
So tonight we drive to canal walk, eagerly awaiting the return of the now-in-perfect-working-order laptop. I greet the guy Jean (sp) that we checked the laptop in with and he goes and fetches it from the back. I tell him I’d like to boot it up a few times just to make sure… no problem he says.
10 seconds into the first boot and it blue screens.
Now see, I know computers are frustrating… I know they can be unpredictable and difficult to diagnose etc. But really, was everyone involved in the ‘repair’ of this laptop either ignorant or just plain lying? I showed the blue screen to Jean. He acted suprised but I don’t really think he was. He repeatedly tried to deflect the fault on to someone else… his managers, the technicians, “head office”. I kept on telling him. YOU ARE COMPUTER MANIA, you can not disassociate yourself from computer mania.
I told him I want a replacement laptop. We’ll just start from scratch… he can’t do it. I asked to speak to the manager… OH, he *is* the manager. This is almost humourous. Eventually after moaning enough he calls his “regional manager” at home. I appreciate this. I suspect it may be possible for the regional manager (I mean that sounds like it’s an important person right?) to authorize Jean to just hand over a new laptop to make a bad situation go away.
Nope. Regional Manager says that the best they can do is repair it in the morning and have it ready by tomorrow afternoon. Well guess what. That’s not good enough. We dont want that laptop back. We want a new one. One that sits flat on a desk, one who’s screen doesn’t blank out randomly and most of all, one that WORKS!
But hey, what can I do?… I ask to get the phone numbers of all the various manager people and the name of the oke who obviously lied to me when he said he would reboot the laptop a few times just to make sure. I make some mention of bad after sales service and Jean retorts with something along the lines of “no we don’t”… I’m amazed. He still feels that ‘he’ and ‘the store’ are not ‘Computer Mania’ and so therefore he can say that ‘they’ have great customer service. I start trying to explain this to him and then I think (and verbalise to Jean) “What’s to stop me going over there and telling that customer who’s looking to buy a laptop that Computer Mania has bad after sales service?”… ‘Nothing’ Jean replies obviously not realising how much of a dick I can actually be.
So I do. The customer says thanks while the shellshocked salesmen trying to sell him a laptop grins sheepishly in the background. Ahh, that did feel good, thanks for the go-ahead Jean.
So, what I want is a new laptop. I dont wan’t that one back, it obviously has issues… but then again, so does computer mania… so what can you do?
ath. I’ll keep you posted.