Sunday, November 14, 2004

Tech support tragedies

For those of you who don't know all about last week's computer troubles I had, here's a quick update:

Last Thursday (11/4/04) my laptop died. Basically the monitor won't light up. It'd flicker and die, so the computer was basically worthless.

Over the weekend I spent countless hours on the phone with tech support idiots (with one bright spot coming on Friday when the only competent rep, Glendal, provided some much needed relief).

Tuesday afternoon (11/8/04) I packaged up my busted laptop and sent it away to Sony's repair center to get fixed. I was told by numerous tech support people that I would have my product back in 7-10 days. "Business days?" I asked. "No." Just 7-10 days. Great!

Thursday, November 11, I got an email from Sony's repair center saying they had received my computer. Great. Now I can get it back and pretend this whole mess never happened. Except not.

One day later, I received an email from this same repair center with an estimate for fixing my computer:

Flat Rate Estimate:
Parts & Labor Cost: $ 699.00
Shipping & Handling: $ 27.73
Tax: $ 0.00
Total Amount Due: $726.73

The email gave me three options:

--------- Instructions on how to reply ---------
{Please reply to this email within 5 days, select A, B or C below
(pleasedelete the non-selected options)}.
A. Repair unit as estimated. AMEX/MC/VISA/DISCOVER
Exp date: _____________
Name on Card: ______________________
Security Code # ____________________ (This is the last 3 Digits on the back
of your Credit Card)

B. Do not repair. Please return it to me.

C. Do not repair. I authorize the release of unit for disposal.

Basically, I could either pay for it, have nothing done to it, or let them trash it. Now, I know for a fact that I have a three-year extended warranty and if these people don't believe me, just ask Glendal! She saw it! I'm not gonna pay +$700 for repairs I should get for free.I called them up that afternoon. With each number I dialed, I cringed with disgust. 1-800-476-6972. After finally getting through to a representative, he said that he saw that I had a warranty and told me I wouldn't have to pay the $726.73. Good! The rep I talked to, Quincy, told me that he'd let the repair center know that it was covered. That's all I wanted to hear.

But apparently that wasn't good enough for the repair center.

I decided to check up on how the repair was going this afternoon. I got onto Sony's Website, and entered my word order number.

The estimate of $ 726.73 for the Sony product you have inquired about is waiting approval for the repair. Please call1-800-222-7669.

What the hell? I straightened this out Friday. Quincy knows. I called up this new 1-800 number. It took me back to the same damn Sony tech support line I've called more than a dozen times since Nov. 4.

I got a rep on the phone and asked - in a much more polite choice of words - what the FUCK was going on! He connected me directly to the repair center so I could talk to them. Finally, I was getting to the source of the problem.

After a five minute conversation with this guy, he had an answer for me.

"Oh, okay. I see what's going on here," he said. That made one of us. "Yes, you need to contact Aon, A-O-N, the company that handles Sony's extended warranties, and get them to call us to pay for the repair. Tell them the unit is already with us at the repair center but to call in and pay for it. Once we hear from them, we will begin repairing your unit."Fantastic! They haven't started repairing it. Good luck 7-10 days!

I called up Aon. They needed to pick up the $726.73 tab at the repair center.

"Hi, this is Seth. Can I please have your phone number?" I gave it to him."It's not coming up in our system. Let's try it a different way. What's your name and zip code please?" I gave him my dad's name along with my home zip code. After all, I assumed those would be registered in their system before my name and my new California zip code.

"No, I'm not seeing it. What exactly is the problem you're having?" UGH! I told him the problem. Told him all about the computer and how they needed to pay for it. I told him about how one week ago, someone from his office faxed a copy of my warranty to Sony for me. Clearly they had it then, so why not now?

"Okay what's an address that would be listed with the warranty?" I gave him my parents' home address, the one that should be in their system.
I gave him my dad's office address, thinking maybe that would be it.

"Okay, I'm sorry, but can I just speak with a supervisor!"

"One moment please." Thanks Seth. Ten minutes later, Audra, the supervisor, was on the line with us.

"Hi there Mr. Feldman, my name is Audra. I'm the supervisor. What seems to be the problem today?"

I re-explained the entire problem for her so she could "document it" in her records (scribble drawings of X-men on drool-covered paper while I once again told my technological sob story).

"Okay," Audra began. "Do you have a copy of the order?"


"Is your name spelled correctly on it?" she asked.


"Okay," she said. So much for that quick fix. "What is the serial number for the unit?" I gave it to her. "No, it's not comin up."

"Try this one," I said, giving her a new serial number possibility.


"Okay, what about this one?"


"Okay," I said, frustrated. "Well I know for a fact that it is the first one I gave you." I repeated the serial number to her.

"That doesn't sound like a serial number."

"It's because I purchased it online directly from Sony, or at least that's how it was explained to me," I told her.

"Okay," Audra said. "Here's what I'm gonna do: I'm just gonna go ahead and create a new contract in the system for you. See, one in about every 100 contracts slips through the cracks and gets lost from our system, and it looks like that's you." She said it like I should be proud of myself. What was I supposed to say to that? 'Oh, hooray, I'm that lucky 1% that got screwed over! This is the best day of my life. What a dream-come-true!' How about I say 'FUCK YOU!' instead? I've gone through too much shit over the past week trying to get my computer fixed to be patient anymore!

"Okay. So what do we have to do for a new contract?" I asked.

She began asking me all kinds of questions for a new account with them. Name. Address. Phone number. Product. Cost of Product. Purchase date. etc, etc...

"Okay, Mr. Feldman I have your new contract in our system. What I'll do is get in touch with Sony to verify that you did in fact purchase a three-year warranty with your computer, and once we hear from them we can let the repair center know to fix your unit."

"Uh, so how long will it take for you to let the repair center know to start fixing it?" I asked, knowing the answer wouldn't make me happy.

"Two business days," she said. "You say they have a copy of the warranty, correct?"

"Yes, I had one of your reps, Shelly, fax it to them last week because they didn't have a copy of it at that time, but yall did," I told her.

"Okay well we'll go ahead and get in touch with Sony. If you want, please feel free to check back with us in a day or two to see that we found your warranty."

"Okay. So then once you have that, yall will pay the seven-hundred-whatever-dollars to get it fixed, right?"


"Okay great."

"And here is your tracking number to find out about the progress we are making getting your unit's repair paid for."

Oh yippee, I have a tracking number now. That's so much better than an actual computer!
"Thank you, Audra. I appreciate your help."

And that was it. Now I get to call back in one to two business days to see the progress they've been making. Great.

Until then, I have no computer to use nor faith in tech support.

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