We have had our share of hassles and problems in getting the computers we build to our kids.
And for the record..."our kids" signifies the kids that receive our computers...not at all genetically linked here.
The problem with the Acer TravelMates however, has shown a disturbing trend that has been developing for over a decade. It used to be called "Customer Service"
Now I simply refer to it as "Customer Annoyance."
Not at all catchy or bright, but it gets to my point.
More and more we are spending inordinate amounts of time on hold, listening to inane tele-music or self-hyping ads for the company that is currently wasting your time by making you listen to it. You come close to meditation and prayer, hoping to hear a voice...a real voice, one that will assist you in solving your problem.
In my case, apparently the Deity I prayed to didn't speak English.
Neither did the "real voice" that I hoped for. Not well anyway.
So I want to recap what it took to solve the problem of the TrustedCore Setup Utility that I recently reported on.
The initial problem was that the computer came default with the Trusted Computing Module active. We have written extensively on Trusted Computing...fact is, in 2006, we wrote 11 articles on it. Simply put, this is big brother with it's boot on the throat of freedom. Now while I can see the value in someone losing their laptop and having this feature in place, I have first-hand, experienced the problems it can solve. Apologies were given as I fell into the "1 percent" that suffers its ill affects...it sux to be that one percent, trust me.
After trying the obligatory "000000" password, "password" and "acer", I was locked out of the password field to the left. I was then taken to an ominous black screen that said "entry denied". Under that was a 6 digit bracketed number. That number as it turns out, is the magic number you must give to the AcerTech. He then plugs it into the magic decifererererr machine that spits out 6 possible numbers that may or may not work.
They didn't...but fortunately for me, before I had to disassemble the machine and do the DIP switch machination, there was one looooooonnnnngggggg shot...one that seldom worked.
Making sure the AC adapter was plugged in, hit the fn + esc key and immediately smush the power button.
Yeah right, like that's going to circumvent this complex security chip.
I'll be damned if it didn't. Unfortunately, it did not work for the second Acer and I ended up with my hands in the guts of said machine. At least I now know what a DIP switch is. But to get to all of that, I had to go through some pretty unreasonable gyrations.
I got serious about resolving this problem on Monday, the 18th of May. My cell phone readout shows a constant connection to Acer Customer Service from 0917 AM until 1128 PM. In that time I was shuffled to three different departments and in the end, each one of their "sessions" ended with the suggestion that I pay the fee to ship the computer to Acer and let them "fix" it for 100 dollars.
The fact that I was a confirm-able charity didn't seem to interest them or sway the suggestion.
Tuesday, the 19th of May I decided on a new tact and began collecting Acer Executive phone numbers and email addresses for my days work. The best I was able to achieve in 2 hours and 57 minutes of phone calls was to talk to some admin assistant "gatekeeper", promising to have the Vice President of Pissed Off Customers call me right back.
Phone's been on since. VPOPOC has yet to ring me up.
On that Wedensday, I decided to start calling area technicians and stores that carried Acer products.
Don't ask...don't even friggin' ask. That was the day I decided that if I wasn't going to be able to get 2 extremely nice laptops operable for my kids, I was going to disassemble them piece by piece and start sending them, return receipt requested", to the various executives of Acer.
It wasn't to happen. Allow me to tell you what else isn't to happen.
And it would have been so much fun.
Michelle Minkin, a friend of this effort and an all-around nice lady; suggested that we auction off the opportunity to destroy these computers. We were almost ready to start soliciting the community for creative ways to make them go BOOM and film it for YouTube consumption.
You are right, it was a juvenile and silly idea. One I personally liked thank you very much. Sure it might have been silly.
So was spending 9 hours of my life seeking the solution for a problem that took all of 1 minute to solve.
I honestly don't know how AcerTech came to find out about our problem but it seems that two of them did at the same time. Both from the same city and extremely close to Austin.
Both were from Acer.
Both offered to help.
I am not sure if they heard about our plight and simply decided to take it upon themselves to fix it or were called from San Jose and told to put the fire out before it spread too far.
In the end, it really does not matter. Given some of the things said during the conversations we had, I would hazard a guess that number two would be most accurate. I am further supposing that there were calls made to different players and within the traceable chain of custody for this laptop to determine if indeed I had legal possession of it. If that's the case, then I can understand to a point. Then again, it shouldn't have taken three days of someone's life to untangle a seemingly small knot.
But again, it really doesn't matter.
What does matter is that there is an entire culture of Customer Annoyance within our society. Companies have gotten too big to care about your piddly-ass little problems and
the structure of Customer Annoyance has become bloated. Having worked in Tech Support myself, I know the Tier one, tier two....structure.
And it sucks.
Especially when you have to threaten to publicly destroy a corporation's property to demonstrate its worthlessness.
All moot now.
We have the laptops fixed and slated to go to good and deserving homes. Equally important, we know that voices joined are voices heard. And that some AcerTech somewhere decided that this had gone on long enough. My personal and sincere thanks to that guy,
Thank you for your voices.
Friday, May 22, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 7:24 PM