Picking up on my earlier customer relations exercise, let me tell you my tale of (netbook) woe.
So on Thursday, after much searching, I found the netbook that was right for me. An ASUS Eee, 1 GB of RAM, 160 of ROM, 12" screen and a full-size keypad. At $399. it was not the cheapest, but it had the added benefit of running XP which meant that I could run old software that is incompatible with my current system. I instantly took to it and tried to buy it.
At first, I rejected the BestBuy associate's repeated efforts to sell me the installation package (at $100). When he returned with a discounted $60 pitch, I finally acquiesced. No, I don't really see the value in the offer, particularly given that I have a brand new Norton that I could run, but it was easier for them to put on an anti-virus than me.
It being 8:30 on a Thursday night, I was told I could pick it up in 24 hours (or basically wait until Saturday at this point).
So Saturday afternoon comes and kirilaw
's parents being in town, we went shopping. As part of the trip I picked up my computer, and took it home to charge the battery overnight for the first time. Honestly that is all I did.
Sunday, I got up and turned on the system. At first I thought it was strange that the screen was completely black. Then I heard the telltale XP sound and, seeing a black screen, knew there was a problem. Turned it off and turned it back on didn't helped. Kirilaw and I went through a variety of keystrokes in case the monitor had been dimmed, but to no avail. I now had an unusable laptop. So I called BestBuy twice before noon and got nowhere. I finally got through in the afternoon and was told to try a couple of tricks. No luck. So then I was told to bring it back in.
Before I go on, I want to highlight the reasons that I wrote the (previously-posted) scathing email to BestBuy and why I am so mad about this computer at this point. Basically it comes down to customer service and my time. This company was paid $60 to make sure that the computer worked. If it had come home without this charge and didn't work, I'd try and get an exchange and wouldn't fault BestBuy. But it was their big idea to push this package upon me, one that I accepted admittedly with some reluctance. If they couldn't be bothered to even check to make sure the computer left the store properly, how can I have any confidence that there aren't any other little or large troubles in this computer's future? And meanwhile what should have been a one or two stop trip into BestBuy is going to require at least one and possible two further trips, blowing a hole in at least one Sunday and one weekday evening.
I am not pleased by this. And so, as the anger changed to despondency, I basically decided on the 15 minute car ride to BestBuy that I would simply return the computer for a refund. I was no longer interested in being humoured. If they weren't going to do the necessary due-diligence between Thursday evening and Saturday morning, I wasn't going to waste my time with them.
So I walked into BestBuy and went straight to customer service. Surprisingly, my voice was very calm as I explained the situation (the monitor doesn't work, I just bought this, and I want a full refund). The key here is full. The customer service person looked at the receipt and explained she'd need to call a tech manager to discuss the receipt with me.
Okay, here's the thing. BestBuy can mark down the cost of its protection and installation policies. But it can't seem to label the fact it is doing this. So the receipt shows a computer costing $359, and an installation service package costing $99. So while it works out that I only paid $60 for this service, the hard fact on the receipt is that it cost $99. This is important.
This is important because, when Mark came forward to make inquiries, he explained there was no problem on exchanging the computer. But the service plan was non-refundable (runs afoul of open software policies, yada yada yada). I basically glared over my glasses at him and asked him how it was possible that I could be sent home with a computer that doesn't function properly when I had handed over money for the explicit purpose of making sure it worked in the first place. Basically, because I'd been suckered into taking their damn service, I was now going to be out $99 (!) for nothing.
Interesting, the screen wasn't burned out at all, it was simply lost because the backlight was not working. If you tilted the screen you could actually see something, but you had to tilt a lot and squint really hard. At this point, they tried to reset the backlight and tried some keystrokes to no effect. Mark is clearly confused by this and I think he said something like "I don't know how they (his technicans) could have uploaded the service software and not realized there was a problem." At this point I helpfully suggested that they probably plugged the netbook into an external monitor to do the work.
His response? "My guys aren't that stupid."
So somehow sending a customer home with a non-functioning laptop is somehow smarter bypassing the built-in monitor in favour of an external choice and being too lazy to check the internal one?
In any case I'm basically stuck at this point. However you spin it, 20% of my expenditure is going to be lost unless I back down from my original position. What choice do I have? So Mark takes the computer to the back and I wait patiently for 15 minutes. The other on-duty customer service person comes over and asks if the receipt is mine. She's gotten instruction it seems. There are no more replacements in the store and I'm to be given a refund on both the computer and the plan.
Makes me wonder a bit what would have happened if I had tried simply to get it fixed? Anyway, it wasted about two hours of my afternoon, and the three day adventure means I am still without netbook. But I guess I get to call this a victory anyway. Because I am not out here. And I'll go buy another netbook from somewhere else, next time sans "service" installation.