Thursday, 30 October 2008

E-Buyer Beware continued

Well, may be today is the day the computer arrives, one which will stay with me for a couple of years at least. The last one went back eleven days ago. Despite agreeing with E-buyer's technical help that it should be replaced, it went to the repair shop (again). We started phoning this Monday. 'Well, we need three working days after receipt of the machine.' 'You've had them.' 'Yes we have, but our repair technicians don't work on Mondays.'

I have to get up early to use the internet on David's machine. On Tuesday I went and had a lie down after lunch, but soon woke up to the sound of David bellowing like a maddened bull. 'Get your supervisor! Don't give me that standard guff! GET YOUR SUPERVISOR!' The girl in customer services was a stolid defender of her company. She was obviously beginning to repeat the standard guff like a zombie. In a voice that lifted our roof into the air, David began to shout at her to look at the records. LOOK AT THE RECORDS! Our records must be as long a ladder by now. But she did look at them, at last, and subsided. We were right. We had been promised an exchange. She'd see to it right away.

On Thursday we had an email from E-buyer to say that the HP Compact was out of stock. I wish I could scream, or swear, or feel the need to break things. But I just stand there looking, at most, slightly glassy-eyed. That's philosophical practice for you! Well, it keeps me sane.

Guess what, we phoned E-buyer and spoke to several departments. The upshot is that a Fujitsu-Siemens is on its way, and I'm rather glad it's not an HP Compact. I have developed a morbid distrust of them which is neither philosophic nor rational - well, it might be rational.

I wasn't going to let E-buyer go without trying a haggle. What I wanted was for them to say, 'Oh look, you've had such a shocking experience with us - I mean, not having a computer for two months when you run a small business must be terrible - that we're not going to charge you the extra £14 for the Fujitsu.' In that, I failed. Companies with rock bottom prices are institutionally incapable of haggling. May be companies with rock bottom prices should be avoided. But the last girl we spoke to readily agreed to send it 'next day delivery' for no extra charge, so I won on that one. 'Thank you, so kind,' David breathed into the phone.

Friday, 17 October 2008

E-buyer Beware

This is a note posted to the ether in case anyone looks there to see what happened to me. Since early September I've been absent from cyberspace and out of touch with most of my friends. My old Evesham computer suddenly died on me. It happens. It shouldn't happen when the next thing on your pile of things to do is to load up Acronis back-up software. So I had to crawl in shame to the wizards of Cowley and ask them to retrieve data from my hard-drive. Then began a series of daily calls from a Pole called Michael. 'Bad news, I'm afraid.' Each day the news was worse than the day before but, if I'd like to leave it until Saturday, Deep Wizard, Chris, would have a look at it. It seemed like a long time to wait, but I waited. On Monday Chris phoned. 'I have good news.' He had cloned the hard drive and set in a separate case. I went to collect my life's work from him with relief and gratitude.

Meanwhile we had ordered two new computers from E-buyer. Given that David's old computer was an Evesham of the same vintage as mine, that seemed reasonable. Two new HP Compacts duly arrived, Vista downgraded to XP, which is what we wanted. I set mine up and revelled in its silent operation (the Evesham exacerabted my tinnatus to a maddening degree). So, being a reformed character, I plugged in a pendrive at the end of a day's work, and the machine didn't recognise it, said it needed a driver. I don't remember the order of events clearly now. Just to note that in that period my phone broke and so did the printer. My friend the astrologer, Darby Costello, had been predicting financial chaos in the second half of 2008 as Pluto moves into Capricorn. As the banks began to topple, I phoned her to see if Pluto was behind my sudden difficulty with anything with a plug. She thought no, that Mercury was square to my Sun. Mercury moves fast - all that should be over by now - but six weeks later, as share prices plunge, I'm not yet set up with a fully functioning computer.

When my HP went back to E-buyer, I took David's and set that up. Couldn't get broadband. A nice man in India helped me solve the problem - the device was being shown as unknown in Device Manager - but unfortunately I didn't take a note of the solution. That was a pity, as almost everything with a USB began to qualify for a yellow question mark in Device Manager. At the end, cut off from the internet, no flash drives working, and no CD-writer installed in the machine, it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to back up. I'd had two weeks of functionality. It was a divine interval obviously created by the spirits attending the Wrekin Trust, for in that two weeks we got 'Awakening Consciousness - selected lectures of Sir George Trevelyan' off to press. When the computer died on me, I had two vital files on it. Only two. It cost me £75 to get Deep Wizard to retrieve them. Then back went the machine to E-buyer. Meanwhile the replacement for the first had arrived. Can you guess the rest? Well, I'm working on it now, but it's going back on Monday as my external hard-drive will not work through its USB ports.

Our contact with E-buyer has been, on rough estimate, at least 10 hours of telephone calls, waiting in queues at 10p a minute for technical support. Do the maths (I can't - I'd be sick). Yesterday David waited in a queue for 40 minutes and, when it was down to one ahead of him, the line went dead. When he redialled, there were 6 ahead. Forty minutes later, he got through only to be told to phone another department which, by that time, had gone home. He phoned this morning: they won't collect now until Monday. I have to wait until it is received back before they send out another. I'm used to that. Used to waiting. Used to spending hours and days loading up a machine with programmes and data only for it go phut.

In the past six weeks I've mostly been living life without a desktop, getting by with my little old laptop (not connected to internet). As using that is physically painful, I don't use it much. The result? I have so much more time! It's been a revelation, the way a computer eats time. Whether it's sending emails, building databases, actually doing some work, browsing in Wikipedia and elsewhere, playing games, it EATS my time. I go to it first thing to see what emails I've had overnight from America (usually it's a bunch of spam); I go to it last thing to see what's come in during the evening (yep, usually more spam); I fiddle; I play; I pay bills and order vegetables.

I've enjoyed my prolonged break. Will I have the power to resist the new machine (provided of course that it functions)? I doubt it, but I can hope.

So, if you've wondered whatever happened to me in the autumn, that's it. We would like to escape PCs forever but it's difficult. We certainly won't be going back to E-buyer.