Tuesday, August 09, 2005

100% Technology Product Failure Rate (or, Today the Little Guy Goes Home)

WARNING: THIS POST IS SO BORING THAT I MAY NOT HAVE THE HEART TO FINISH IT. Guess it depends how much longer Gateway keeps me on hold (45 minutes and counting)

Blogging while on hold with a customer service representative from Gateway. Trying to return the "Little Guy," as Brent and I had named our new SimpleTech (I know, I know, it does sound a little too close to Simpleton) 160GB hard drive (Little Guy) when he arrived on scene.
After saving a total of maybe 40GB to the Little Guy, including a full backup of important documents from our office server, my entire iPod database (cut not copied -- GASP), and a large photo archive, the Little Guy gave me a blank look. A really blank look. As in, your external hard drive is no longer "Little Guy" with 40GB, it is "F Drive" with zero GB.
14 minutes later, I am still on hold with Gateway with no RMA in sight. Original customer service rep attempted to transfer me to Tech Support. I started hooting at him, OH NO YOU DON'T....LITTLE GUY IS ALL PACKED UP IN HIS BOX AND HE IS READY TO COME HOME TO YOU. So he put me on hold to think about if for a little while, or perhaps to update his own blog about annoying customers who always want to return things, and came back 5 minutes later to say he was transferring me to another department. I can't peg the music I'm hearing....maybe U2? Interspersed with suggestions that I use their web site for personalized support instead.
Anyway, this was not intended as a much deserved rant against Gateway customer service. It was more a question for readers everywhere: is there a 100% technology product failure rate in all brands today, or do I just have a personal magnetic field that messes with the inner workings of electronic devices?
In 18 months, I have watched the following, in most cases brand new, devices crash before my very eyes:
* brand new SimpleTech 160GB External Hard Drive ($109)
* brand new Archos AV420 Personal Video Recorder ($399)
* brand new IBM Thinkpad (probably $4999)
* older HP Server that notably crashed the same day as the brand new IBM Thinkpad
* multiple Dell notebooks, in various stages of use, launching the catch-phrase "never another Dell"

My point/question: DOES THIS HAPPEN TO EVERYONE, OR JUST ME? I feel certain it doesn't happen to Walter Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal.

After 57 minutes on hold with four different departments at Gateway, I have received a FedEx return label and RMA number and will end my rant. If you enjoyed this post, better print it out for your memory book because it turned out to be so boring that I may have to delete it.


Brent said...

I feel your pain, Bree - I'm beginning to think that consumer electronics manufacturers consider a product return rate of 75% or less something to brag about. In the last year, I've had to send back a Gateway 5.0MP camera, two Dell hard drives for my laptop, two cable modems, and four (yep, four) Motorola mobile phones. And I've had to reformat my iPod three times so far (and enjoy the incompatibility issues that go along with this). When you try to get chummy with the customer "service" representatives and ask if "something like this has ever happened before," you'd think you had asked them if they had ever seen their beloved product sprout wings and fly out the window. Usually, these calls end in utter absurdity, with me saying impolite things. Is it too much to ask for me to be marginally satisfied with just ONE gadget in ONE try?

--josh-- said...

A tip on how to improve your telephone customer service experience. Begin each phone call by asking, "So-- how is the weather in Punjab?"