student 20 Productions

Random Thoughts of a Game Developer

Years of Brand Loyalty Down the Drain

So, I haven’t been here for a while. Not that anyone would notice, of course. Before I get into it, I want to put this out: My computer was returned to me, hard drive intact. All lost data has been recovered and that’s all for the good. The 16 Bit Heroes and Elements documents are backed up, and work will continue on them in the near future, assuming I can ever get a working computer back from the manufacturer (a subject I will get to soon enough).

I’ve bought my lappies from a single company (that shall remain nameless, unless someone who knows me wants to include their name in a comment…) for years now, but I think that’s going to end. This is the second computer in a row to give me serious grief within the warranty period, but that’s not the problem. I mean, the company’s paying to fix it and the turn around time is pretty good, so WTF, right? No, the problems here runs deeper.

Upon receiving my lappy back from this nameless company, I read their little sheet on what had been done to it and discovered that they had taken apart my beloved netbook (which was a gift from the BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER), replaced the mainboard, and replaced the touchpad assembly. All to the good, I suppose, but it basically meant that the only thing that wasn’t new was the monitor and the casing. Upon putting the battery back in, however, I discovered that the computer would no longer detect it. There were no battery problems whatsoever before the repairs; in fact, the battery was working perfectly before. It would run my powerhouse netbook (which has a dual-core proc, rather than the usual Atom processor found in most netbooks) for six hours of moderate use, including writing and listening to music, along with the occasional foray into light-duty gaming (playing things like Half-Life 2 on the battery was impossible anyway).

So – yay! – new problem. I called the customer service line and reported the problem, and immediately ran into three issues: two old ones and a new one. The new issue was that their initial idea was to replace the battery. The same battery that was working at factory spec before my beloved netbook died. Now, I’m no expert, but… seriously? There was nothing wrong with the battery before the breakdown. So, whatever fried the mainboard fried the battery, too? Outside of a power surge, what could have done that? (We’re excluding a power surge as a cause here because a.) It’s not covered by the warranty, so the previous repairs wouldn’t have been covered, and b.) When the problem started, My lappy had been plugged into a surge suppressor that was also protecting my desktop, making a power surge pretty unlikely as a cause). Moreover, inside of 24 hours of having the computer back, it started showing troubling symptoms similar to the utter meltdown that got it sent in the first place; upon telling the customer service rep this, the rep still wanted to try just replacing the battery first. Moron.

The first (chronologically) of the older issues was that the last time I had bought a computer from this company, I ran into an issue with the old lappy that required me sending the thing in three times. Couple that with the new issue I just described, and the only conclusion I can draw is that their repair department is utterly incompetent.

The newer of the old issues actually came up the first time I sent the netbook in, but it took a while to hit me. There’s no way to say this without sounding bad, so I’m just going to throw it out there: the company’s call center has moved from somewhere in Texas to somewhere in the Sub Continent. Now, I’m not one who gets up in arms about companies farming out their tier-1 Tech Support to other countries. But if you’re going to send those jobs overseas, I have three requests for any given company, none of which this company complied with:

  1. Don’t have your overseas folks lie about their names. I’m not sure how common the name “Bob” is in Mumbai, but I’m thinking that the names Nikhil, Anjali, and Talan are much more common. Even if I did, on my first call, get the one guy actually named “Bob” at the call center, I’m probably not going to get another guy named “Bob” when I call a second, and then a third time. Don’t assume I’ll be more comfortable with a more “Anglo” name, or that I’m stupid enough to think that, just because the four people I talked to were all named “Bob”, I’m actually talking to people in-country. It’s insulting.
  2. Please select your operators based on how light their accents are. I don’t care if the call center is in India, New Zealand, or Louisiana: strong accents are very difficult for me to understand when having a phone conversation. If that makes me an “Ugly American”, so be it, but please note that I would be as annoyed by a strong Minnesota or Maine accent. I don’t expect everyone I talk to at a technical support center to sound like they’re from Iowa or Colorado, but it’s hard to understand someone who sounds like a bad Jeff Foxworthy routine over the phone. At least, it is for me. Your mileage may vary.
  3. This is a big one: do not move your call center from the U.S. to anywhere else IN THE MIDDLE OF AN EFFING RECESSION. Like our unemployment statistics aren’t bad enough. That’s just bad public relations. I don’t know exactly when the move happened, but based on when I made the last call to their customer support line and now, odds are it was during the recession.

So there it is. I won’t be buying computers from these folks anymore… although I think that to avoid all three of these issues, I’ll be stuck with Apple computers… Meh. Things could be worse, I suppose. Now if only Google would start making Laptops…

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9 thoughts on “Years of Brand Loyalty Down the Drain

  1. For the love of… THERE’S NOTHING WORSE THAN USING AN APPLE COMPUTER! NOTHING! THEY’LL STEAL YOUR SOUL! THEY’LL STEAL YOUR SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUULLLLLL!

    I, of course, might be bias. As I hate Apple.

    I think, though, you’re making a mistake here. Not with dumping Acer, mind; I wouldn’t buy another Acer on a bet. You really should be mentioning the company’s name in the post. With people you take the high road. With company’s you make sure that everyone a.) knows who they are, b.) knows what your beef with them is (using clear, rational language that doesn’t involve soul displacement) and, if you can, c.) offer other potentially better choices.

    All of this was written on an Hewlett Packer computer on the computer type God intended His Creations to use: the PC.

    • Did… Did you follow all the links in my post before advertising for HP? I have so few readers… I’d hate to betray them…

      • What Jeff Foxworthy has to do with computer reliability, I dunno, but…

        (Actually I don’t remember seeing links in your post before this time through. My HP, though, is a tower and not a lap top. Though whether that matters or not in the long run…

        (Sorry to see Gateway marked so low.)

  2. Matthew Bishop on said:

    Hmmm. That really sux. I agree… boy this troubles me, though I’m not exactly sure why, but I agree whole-heartedly with Cullen. Ewww, that is so weird to say. Anyway Cullen has it all completely right. Except maybe about the HP thing, buy you know I don’t know crap about computers so there ya go. You need to watch that new tv show Outsourced, it’s hilarious. They deal with the same type of issues you just brought up about the call center, but from both sides of the issue. I love that show.

  3. Nicole on said:

    I love you. Lots. But I will not buy you an Apple.

  4. Also, when you flat out mention Acer in your previous post, it sort of seems… futile not mentioning them here.

    Just me.

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review « student 20 Productions

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