Off the Grid

February 4th, 2008

Aaaargh. my second computer in ten months has started to produce a really horrible noise, and now has to go back to the manufacturer, almost certainly to have its fan changed out, and probably to have the hard-drive purged while they’re doing it, no doubt giving me days of endless fun trying to reinstall all my software, reconfigure all my settings, and put all my files back on, no doubt to find I failed to back up something vital. Ah, how computers have made all of our lives so much easier.

I must give some credit to Sony, here, though. Their customer service has been (so far) very good, and in a world in which customer service seems to have become ubiquitously utterly shite. I contacted one very pleasant man, who competently investigated the problem and arranged for the computer to be picked up, next day. They then phoned me back if you can believe that, twice and I spoke to the same person each time, who gave every impression of the whole business being of some interest to him personally.

This contrasts sharply with the indescribably awful experience I had last year with the incompetent cretins at Dell. Contacting their Indian call centre was something like Kafka meets Fawlty Towers, but without the laughs. I rarely raise my voice on the phone. They had me, on several occasions, literally screaming with rage. In the end, after a litany of cock-ups that make the occupation of Iraq look competent, I had to send the whining piece of shit they sold me (and also the wrongly specified replacement – long story) back and get my money returned. Alas they could not refund the many hours of my life they had stolen. Those are gone for good. My advice? Never, ever buy anything from Dell.

But I digress. The bottom line is that there may well be some interruption in the usually smooth flow of information from me to everyone and anyone else. I may well lose all my e-mails, I may well not be able to pick up any e-mail for a while. If, therefore, you sent me, or send me, e-mails over the last or next couple of weeks, I may not immediately reply. If I haven’t replied after a couple of weeks, it might be worth e-mailing me again.

Apologies. Bloody computers. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Posted in news by Joe Abercrombie on February 4th, 2008.

16 comments so far

  • Zoso says:

    Ah, happy memories of helping a neighbour out with his Dell PC. Well, I say “happy”… Three hours on the phone, I think it was, probably two and a half of which went something like:
    “Hello… hello… hello? Hello? HELLO! HELLO? HELLO! HELLO! HELLO! HELLO! Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me…”

    Well maybe not the last bit.

  • Speaking as someone who sold computers for several years, Dell are the worst excuse for a computer company I have ever dealt with. Under no circumstances at all do I recommend them to anybody. HP and Acer had massive failure rates as well, but at least they sorted problems out as they came up.

  • Ady Hall says:

    Aha – so therein lies the excellent inspiration for Glokta and his wonderful interrogation techniques! You just imagined the poor soul in the chair as any rep from Dell – and let play merry havoc with the finger slicing cleaver!

    Perhaps the Bloody Nine is a response to shoddy tradesmen!

  • Yes. Dell as terrible. I’ve switched to the excellent Sony people, too – had it for 2 years, no problems so far!

    I work part-time at a call centre (I’m a student) – it’s difficult to remain enthusiastic after your first week. Though, I’m taking applications for heating grants, which means I get to “interact” with the worst example of Joe Public.

  • Alice says:

    Also had massive problems with the Dell call centres, who lost the set of speakers they were supposed to deliver with my PC, failed to redeliver on two separate occasions (one of which involved me taking a day off specially) and refused to deliver to my work address. After several weeks of wrestling with their Indian call centre I gave up, and the speakers eventually turned up about 3 months later, in a damp box smelling vaguely of mildew. I feel your pain.

  • isis says:

    They then phoned me back if you can believe that, twice and I spoke to the same person each time, who gave every impression of the whole business being of some interest to him personally.

    I simply do not believe you.

    I think the Next Directory customer services department have taken training from Helen Lederer’s bank teller in the final episode of The Young Ones. Except that instead of saying ‘Good morning, Sir’, they say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that’…

  • 42 says:

    Dell are the spawn of Satan. I feel a sense of guilt at not having been able to warn you of this. When I tell others never to buy Dell, they just laugh… they don’t know… *shakes head sadly*

  • Rachel says:

    Hi Joe,

    Off topic, but just wanted to tell you that I’m three-quarters of the way through The Blade Itself and absolutely can’t put the bloody thing down. Loving it — and very excited to hear that there’s a second and third book to devour shortly.

    Many thanks for an excellent read.

  • Jo says:

    After a particularly frustrating incident involving de caff latte and a ” Normandy ” baguette in the college coffee shop today, my friend Karen and I discussed ( within the context of comparative philology ), the validity of junking language – and therefore the stress of guilting out because I don’t speak Latvian and the poor woman at the counter is just trying to keep her job FFS – altogether in favour of all people uniting in the use of Pictionary as a world communication tool.

    We were also writing silly sentences ( see above ). My favourite was the gem I snuck into my archaeology paper * coughs * ,

    ” Archaeologists certainly work in fields …. (HAHAHAHAHA) … where historical or written evidence is lacking . ”

    Ok, so I am thinking at least some of that is relevant …

  • James says:

    While we’re on the subject of crap computer companies, I heartily recommend avoiding PC World if you can at all avoid it.

    Two machines I’ve bought from them in the past had fatal errors and had to go straight back. The amusing thing was that the ‘technical support team’ at the PC World store tried to convince me (both times) that nothing was wrong and that I ‘just needed to run a system restore’. At least I’m not gullible enough to fall for their tricks, though I can’t say the same for the retired couple in front of me. It made my blood boil seeing some weasel-faced techie spoon-feeding them a bullshit explanation for why their PC was screwed.


  • Seems I’ve struck a nerve with the old rage against computer companies. Sony are still doing well – they picked up the computer bang on time. Now we shall see whether it disappears into the hereafter never to be heard of again or, better yet, they deliver it back, unfixed, claiming there is no problem and with a bill for 200 quid. In the meantime I am reduced to working on the wife’s macbook.

    The shame.

  • sportspix says:

    Hi Joe,

    You should stick with the macs. The books are brill btw

  • Anonymous says:

    £200 bill!!!!

    This is all just education, anyone could build and maintain a PC with ease if they spent half an hour reading the basics and never have to give money to the computer companies apart from buying parts.

    Just buy a big external HD and save everything there as well as locally. If your PC ever breaks then you have all your documents stored on the external one, if the external one breaks its all stored locally.

  • sportspix,
    Dunno about macs. I don’t mind them, but they don’t set my loins aflame like they seem to with some folks. Mostly what you’re used to, I’m sure.

    And the books are brill, you say?

    Well, duh!

    There wasn’t really a bill for £200, that was just me being facetious (no, never). It was under warranty, so it’s all been done free of charge. I take your point about the pcs, but I’d have trouble building a laptop myself, I think. And yeah, I’ve got an external hard drive, and about 38 USB keys with everything backed up on them. Enough that if I ever did lose my data, I’d have no idea where the latest version was.

  • Anonymous says:

    Here’s a hypothetical question, what would you do (and I know it wouldn’t happen) if you had wrote all of Last Argument Of Kings on your Laptop and it broke and you didn’t have a copy anywhere??

  • anonymous,
    I’d be mildly annoyed at fourteen months of my life going down the toilet, but I’d probably just shrug my shoulders and give a wry grin and say something profound like, “ho hum,” or “them’s the breaks I guess.”

    That or blow up the world.

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