Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Frustrating Situations

I went to visit my Grandmother last week and stumbled upon a very frustrating situation. Prepare to read a short story as I set this up properly. A couple years ago she went through me to find her a laptop, meeting her requirements, for a good price. I searched high and low and decided on a Dell 17R 7110. It's not a powerhouse, but for browsing the internet and checking email, it is a great desktop replacement. The only issue she's had with it is the wireless connectivity. It seems to drop WIFI connection every 6-8 months and for whatever reason, will not reconnect. It's actually to the point where I have to do a system restore to get the internet back.

Now I know you know I write this blog, and have talked a lot about phones, and getting deals on things, but it's important for you to know I have over 20 years experience with computer hardware and software support. I can assemble and disassemble any computer and understand it's workings. I have the experience and the certification to do so. I am no means an expert at everything, but I'm proficient enough to never need to take my own computer to a shop, which leads me to the frustrating situation...

It turns out my Grandma has had this connectivity issue a few more times than I had known, and decided to take the computer into a shop a couple times. The first time the technician charged her $80 to clean some things up and eventually do a system restore to resolve the problem. I've walked my Grandmother through the system restore process a few times so this technician didn't really fix anything, but he did get it working for her, and for a reasonable (?) price. When I went to visit her the laptop had been having the same issue and was in the shop with a different technician. She dropped it off on Monday morning and it was now Friday afternoon. Grandma explained she had called the tech a few times over the week and he was very short with her, telling her he hadn't gotten to it yet. She said she called him earlier today and he said he still hadn't gotten to it yet. That's almost 5 days in the shop with it just sitting there, collecting dust! Some people need computers for businesses and important communication and he was just holding on to it for her. I decided to give them a call as I could make further attempts to fix it myself since I was physically there, and not on the phone. I called the tech and he said he had just started working on it, and had found some infected files in a spyware scan. I explained my experience with the issue and he proceeded to talk about how he had plans to replace protocols and the network stack (good ideas but still not likely the solution as I had done it before), but it would likely take a few hours and he wouldn't have time to finish it today. It's Friday, and he won't finish it today!!! That means the earliest it could be done was Monday. I asked him what the "damage" would be if I picked up the laptop right now. He said he had invested an hour into it and it would be $50. I won't argue with the rate as some shops charge $70-100 an hour, but I was annoyed with the fact he had done nothing over the week and wanted $50 for a quick scan. I spoke with my Grandmother and she agreed it would be fruitless to leave it with them as they had plans to do several hours of work, that likely wouldn't fix it, and she would probably end up with a $150-200 bill.

We rolled down to the shop and spoke with the technician directly. He was a social reject who was clearly computer smart, but hardly ever left his mothers basement. I very kindly advised him we would be collecting the computer and we were concerned about the bill, as a full hours rate was high for a quick scan, over a 5 day period. He just sat there, said nothing, and eventually handed us the laptop and a bill for $49.99. He immediately said we'd have to talk to his manager about the cost. We approached the manager, a slightly older fellow, who clearly had less computer knowledge, but more customer service skill. I explained the above to him and he was quick to ask "what do think would be fair to pay?" as I replied "I just don't think the full amount is fair" when he quickly repeated "what do you think would be fair to pay?" I thought about the fact it took them a week to do a 5 minute scan, and that the problem was not addressed at all, and decided paying even $1 would be too much. I told him it should be free and he scoffed at my suggestion, telling me he wouldn't lower the price at all, but he would ensure it was fixed without increasing the price beyond the original $50. The offer wasn't bad, but it took them a week to do nothing, so how long would it take to get the problem solved. My grandmother wanted it fixed 3 days ago, not a week or two from now. We reluctantly paid the $50 bill and vowed to never return.

I won't get too nerdy with you, but I ended up having to wipe the whole computer clean, and install everything from scratch. It definitely fixed the problem, but I'm not confident the problem isn't hardware related and/or something to do with the internet service in the home. Needless to say, these computer shops are like automobile repair shops, they pray on people who need their help and charge whatever they want for services people may or may not even need. These sort of situations are frustrating for everyone.


1 comment :

  1. Great post Ian. I am glad that she has finally gotten her lap top fixed. I hate people/companies that simply take your money and don't address the issue.