Monday, January 07, 2008

Technology is My Nightmare

We've all had horrible customer service experiences when something doesn't work right. But this weekend I had the TRIPLE jeopardy of all bad things coming together at once. So, first things, first, I would like everybody I know to PROMISE that you will NEVER buy anything from Dell or Belkin or Western Digital. Thank you for helping make my promises to their customer service department come true.

I know it is boring to listen to somebody else's pain, but I am going to briefly write this so that
1 - you can be fairly warned as to why you should never buy anything from Dell or Belkin or Western Digital, and
2 - this is therapy for me.

First, Belkin. I bought a Belkin wireless router a couple of years ago. It never worked right. About a year ago they sent me a new one. In between it would periodically stop working (it stops assigning the IP Address) but with about an hour on the phone their tech support it would get going again. This time, however, it could not be revived so they said they would send me a new one. Of course shipping the old ones back are at my expense (it's like mailing your trash to California) . So I tried to install the new one, but it immediately froze my computer and then a message appeared saying there is a problem and I need to call Technical Support.

When I called, they appeared to have some problem with their phones because they kept disconnecting me. It is possible that they did this because I was not very nice to them, and I might have cursed a few times. But I don't think they could have coordinated hanging up on me purposefully 10 TIMES IN A ROW. I am not exaggerating. And each consecutive person refused to find out if they were having a phone problem, and SWORE that they would not hang up on me. I even asked one man if there was a number where I could speak to someone in the US and not India and he gave me an extension. While he was on the phone I called that number from my cell phone and guess what, no such extension. He said, "no that's not the number, here is the number," and I called the 2nd one. Again, no such extension. Then he gave me yet another number and it was 3 digits when they clearly have 4 digit extensions. When I told him he was now just making things up to get me off the phone, he hung up on me. That one, was an actual hang up, not a disconnect.

After about an hour while I was on hold, I started to send emails to their website customer service. Just stream of consciousness stuff about how their music is staticky and they need to send actual installation instructions with their products, and maybe they should check out their broken phone system, etc. I counted them after and there were 17 emails. They responded, 24 hours later, to each one, with one of 2 canned emails, neither of them addressing my issue, and telling me to CALL TECHNICAL SUPPORT! For this first customer service experience I can admit that I was the customer from hell and I would have hung up on me too. But boy did it feel good to berate them over and over. Once you start it's hard to stop.

Next, I had ordered a new hard drive from Dell to replace the external Western Digital My Book that stopped working after 2 months . I ordered it in November and three times since then they phoned and emailed me about shipping delays. I always responded that I approved the new shipping date. Then I never got the drive and never heard from them again. After a little investigation I found out that they canceled my order but never contacted me.

This time I was much more polite, having gotten out all my venom on the Belkin people the night before. Plus, I was a little hoarse from yelling. It took over an hour, being disconnected once, and transfered to 6 people at 3 different phone numbers before someone finally told me that it was canceled because it is no longer in stock. I hung up on her before she finished her sentence. No way was I going to try to find something else to "buy" from them. But why the first person couldn't tell me this, or the second, or the third, fourth or fifth, is just horrifying.

And last but not least, Western Digital. This is a sad story. I bought an external drive and put my photos and music on it. I had a lot of the photos backed up, but not recently and not religiously because it was so new I figured I could back up every few months. After two very brief months, the thing just died. I brought it in to my local guy to see if he could recover the data but he couldn't do it. If I wanted to get the data it would cost $400. So I lost all my Hawaii and Max's graduatation photos, among others. It turns out that it is possible to upload music from the iPod back to the computer, and so I didn't have to reload all of that; boy that would have sucked.

I thought that since it stopped working so quickly I could get a refund. But no, they would only send me a "new" one and I would have to return the broken one at my own cost. Again, shipping my trash to California seems weird. The replacement they sent is not new, I don't think, because it wasn't in a box and had no instruction book. It is in a sealed pink bag. So I am now selling it on eBay because why would I ever trust my data to that piece of crap again? As of tonight the bidding is up to $36 and 10 people are watching it so I think I will get $100 for it when the auction ends on Thursday. I LOVE EBAY. And PayPal, I love PayPal too.

Finally, the fun news is that I bought a new internal hard drive and I installed it myself. I am very proud, almost as proud as my new soldering skill. It wasn't so straightforward to install it as I have done this type of thing in the past, because I already have 2 internal hard drives, and there isn't the right size slot left. I still need to put in brackets to hold it in place, but it is formatted and working and now has my music nicely stored on it. I'm a little afraid to put photos on there until it proves its loyalty.

Thanks for listening, and remember to never buy anything from Dell, Belkin or Western Digital. Thank you for your support and commitment to the things I hate.

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