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Archive for June 5th, 2009

I confess. I’m hard on laptops. Call it hazards of the job. I’m an author by day and a blogger by night. On average I spend anywhere from 8 to 12 hours typing and/or researching. On some projects, I’ve been known to spend up to 15 hours with the trustworthy hardware that portends it’s my brain.

One of my biggest fears is losing the brain that is my laptop. Or, worse yet, having it stolen. I’ve been known to put the laptop in the car for trips to the grocery store, just in case somebody breaks into the house while I’m away. Think that’s silly? A writer friend of mine who lives in an upscale neighborhood in Atlanta had someone break into her home and steal hers – while she and her husband were home! They were upstairs and didn’t hear the thief rumbling around her office downstairs. I think the slime-balls who steal laptops ought to be sentenced to re-education camps where they are subjected to endless hours of prattle produced by the people who staff the “Repair and Technical Help” of any of the computer manufacturers. I don’t know what your idea of hell is, but that’s mine.

I can honestly say that I have never once been helped by any of them. And it didn’t matter what brand of computer I bought – Dell, HP, Toshiba. (I can’t afford a Mac, so I can’t speak for them). Here’s my theory: the folks hired for these jobs are really ex-cons. Their only job requirement is an uncanny ability to blame-shift. Whatever has happened, however it happened, it’s somebody else’s fault and the company they represent are just the innocent blokes who are now being falsely accused of poor performance, lousy management, inferior quality, or simply scamming the average consumer. Trust us. Nobody at (insert your own manufacturer here) is trying to rip off Joe Q. Public.

That was the message Melinda at HP rattled off when I called her about the laptop that my son sent in for repairs last week. My husband bought two laptops for Christmas. One for our son and one for our daughter. For the record neither my son nor my daughter are hard on their computers. Stephan’s an actor. Shelby works in a law firm. They do not take their laptops to work with them. They do not shove them under airplane seats or wrangle them through airport security the way I do. At the most they are on their laptops a couple of hours a day. They keep their laptops on a desktop in their respective homes and take care not to mistreat them in any form or fashion. My kids are anal that way. You’d think they were dealing with the Holy Bible or some other sacred scrit.

But it appears that laptops are like some people, the better you treat them the more fragile they become. Three weeks ago, Stephan’s laptop screen went black. Just kaput. He’d booted up and was getting ready to check his emails when all of sudden a flash of darkness entered the room. So Stephan packed it off and sent the computer off to the helpful folks at HP.

“It’s going to cost $417. 90 to replace the cracked LCD screen,” Melinda said. (The laptop only cost $450.)
“But isn’t it under warranty still?” I asked.
“Yes,” the former fugitive said. “But no damage is covered under standard manufacturer warranty.”

She said that in such a way that I thought perhaps I’d called the wrong number.
“Who’s the manufacturer then?” I asked.
“HP,” she said.
“What good is the manufacturer warranty if it doesn’t cover any damage?” I asked.

At this point, Melinda got testy and a flash of her criminal past surfaced.
“The warranty is available for anyone to download and read the details of online,” she responded.

Anyone with a working LCD screen, I was tempted to respond but refrained from doing so. The last thing I want to do is tick off an ex-con with connections to the Internet Mafia. No telling what sort of nasty viruses I am liable to be subjected to if Melinda tracks me down.

“How exactly does one end up with a cracked LCD screen if one isn’t prone to abusing one’s computer?” I asked in a voice void of tone.
“It can actually get cracked by opening or closing it,” Melinda said. “Or by applying too much pressure when adjusting the screen.”
“But the computer is only six months old,” I said. “If my son isn’t throwing his computer around, or abusing it, how can it be his fault that this happened?”
“I didn’t say he was throwing his computer around and I didn’t say it was his fault,” Melinda said. She’s just saying it ain’t HP’s fault: “The damage isn’t caused by the unit manufacturer.”

Bummer about the screen, dude, but hell no, HP ain’t taking responsibility for producing a lousy product. Sucks to be you, man.

Next time get your daddy to buy you a Mac.

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