This morning, I woke up at 7:30 a.m. to print a paper for today's EDCO class. After having a cold for over a week, I took a breath as I got out of bed. Ahhhhhhh. I can breathe. My nose was no longer congested. My throat wasn't sore. Today was going to be great. I sat down in front of my laptop computer and hit the space bar to wake it up.
I hit it a few more times. The screen flickered. I saw my background and a few open windows.
The screen died. It just died. I held down the power button to shut off the computer. When it was off, I hit the power button to turn it back on, hoping the problem would magically go away. All of the sudden, the screen lit up. The word "VAIO" was glowing in front of me. It was working.
Nope. I lost it. I heard the computer booting up despite the monitor's inability to display anything. I grabbed my phone and called my dad's office's computer guru, Richard, for advice. After try several troubleshooting techniques, none of which did any good, he gave me a phone number for Sony tech support.
Tech support people are the single most difficult people on the planet to deal with. Before you can talk to them, however, you must wander aimlessly throught a maze of "please press 1 now." I dialed the number.
"Hello, and welcome..." The robotic voice prompted me though the maze, but not with my touchtone key pad. Instead, this prompt wanted to hear my voice. "Please state the name of the product."
"Vaio laptop," I said.
"A notebook computer," the voice responded. "Did I get that correct?"
"Yes," I said. I felt like an idiot. What was this voice going to do for me. I wanted to speak to a human being, but there was no voice prompt for that.
"What is the ID number? It is a 15-digit number located on the bottom of the computer next to the barcode," the voice said. I didn't have 15-digit number. I have several smaller numbers, the longest 8 numerals. To make matters worse, there were three barcodes on the bottom of my computer, each with numbers under them. One by one, I read them into the phone and one by one they were rejected.
"I'm having some trouble understanding you," the voice said. Gee thanks. Meanwhile I'm stuck in front of a blank computer screen with a paper due at 2 p.m. this afternoon and a project from my online journalism class due tomorrow saved somewhere behind the dark screen. "Let me connect you with the next available representative."
Or so I thought. I waited for more than 20 minutes before a representative came to my rescue. She listened to my problem, thought for a moment, and said the two sentences I did not want to hear:
"I'm sorry, I can't help you with that," she said. "I can transfer you to someone who can help. Okay?"
Another 10 minutes passed. Eventually, a tech support receptionist picked up. "Hello, my name is Andre," he said. He listened to my problem and said that he too could not help me because his help hotline was only for non-computer electronics. He gave me a number to call and hung up.
I called the number. Now the frustration of not having a working computer decreased, but the stresses resulting from the knowledge that my assignments were seemingly lost intensified. After navigating through another voice-prompt maze of options, I convinced the talking robot to patch me through to a human.
"Yes, I can help you with that," he said. What a relief. Finally, I found someone capable of helping me with my problem. This man would tell me where to send my laptop for repairs. This man would succeed where previous operators failed. This man was going to solve my problem.
"When did you purchase the product?" he said.
"August 2003," I said, knowing that this nightmare was almost over.
"Oh," he said, somewhat taken back by my response. "Then the warranty has expired and I can't help you."
"No!" I yelled out. The build up of anger and stress of the morning had bubbled to the surface. "I have an extended warranty. The computer is covered for three years."
"Okay, well we don't handle the extended warranty procedures, but would you like the number for Sony's Extended Warranty Services?"
"Yes please." I took down the number, cringing with every movement of my pen. This was not happening. I called them up. After several minutes of giving out information about the computer and about myself to Zacharius, he delt me the biggest blow of the morining.
"Uh, we don't have your warranty on record," he said. "Do you have a copy of your receipt?"
I didn't have a copy. My dad had the copy somewhere back home. "No." I was totally deflated.
"How did you purchase the computer?" Zacharius asked.
"Online, from Sony. Why?"
He told me that I could call Sony Style, the supposed online seller, and have them fax my receipt for the purchase of the computer and the extended warranty to Sony's Extended Warranty Service Center.
"Okay," I said. "What's the number?" I took down the number. It was now 9 a.m. I had been on the phone with different tech support agencies for an hour and a half.
I called Sony Style, gave them my information, told them what I need, and had them fax the receipt to the extended warranty hotline. Now I was making some progress. I called back the warranty hotline. I asked for the same representative I had previously talked to. I didn't want to go through the explanation again.
I held. I held for thirty minutes. Finally, Zacharius picked up.
"Hi, this is Josh Feldman. I spoke with you a few minutes ago about the laptop with the broken monitor. I had Sony Style fax you the receipt. Did you receive it?"
"Yes, I have not received it," he said.
"Wait, you have or have not gotten it?" I asked.
"No. Don't have it."
"Okay thank you. Bye."
UGH! I couldn't deal with it anymore. I had to take my car to a dealership at 10 a.m. and now I had to retype a 3-page paper and redo a graphic. I rushed my car to the dealership, spent 30 minutes there trying to understand why they couldn't just copy the key to my car so I could have another.
"It will take an hour," said Miguel, the man at the dealership. You can wait while we do it or we can have a shuttle take you home and pick you up this afternoon to come get your car."
I took the shuttle back to my apartment. I didn't have time to wait at the dealership when I had two major assignments to do over. I hopped on my bike. For the two minutes via bike from my apartment to an on-campus computer lab, I was Lance Armstrong. I was so frustrated with everything that had transpired that morning. I have never pedalled a bike that fast.
I sat down in front of a computer screen, opened my backpack, and pulled out the assignment sheet with the paper topic on it. I churned out three pages. Good enough, I though. I take the class Credit/No Credit anyway. As long as I turn it in, I'll be okay. I printed it out and stuffed it in my backpack.
Now the next assignment: my online journalism assignment. Luckily I remembered the general set up of my now lost assignment. I searched the computer for Adobe Photoshop.
It wasn't there. I couldn't do the assignment! Out of all my classes, why online journalism. The professor is just waiting for an excuse to drop my from the class. I had the perfect assignment. It was a sure A. I could put together something similar before tomorrow's class, but I needed photoshop! I started logging on to other computers in the lab.
None of them had it. What the hell was I supposed to do?
Right now, I'm in that computer lab, slouched down in my chair, totally depressed. I honestly don't know if I'll find a computer with Photoshop in time to redo that assignment. He said we could draw up the assignment by hand, but after what I had done on my computer over the course of the past few days, I don't feel like doing it at all. I want to take the F, bike back to my apartment, crawl into my bed and die. Today has been hell, and it's only 1 p.m.