Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So maybe Dell isn't all that bad...

I'm starting my online class in a couple of weeks. I write a lot. I'm also working on a web site banner project. These means I use my laptop keyboard ALL the time. As do most people, I know.

About a year or so ago my laptop was the victim of a monkey attack. That monkey being Mateo. Seeing his mom attached to her laptop 24/7 obviously makes for a curious baby, particularly with those things she keeps tapping her fingers on, so he decided to check it out one day and managed to take my 9, B and N key covers. My space bar suffered some damage as well, but I got that back on, although it never worked as well as it did before the monkey incident.

I've been having to press down in the spaces where the keys should be when I type. Doing so has caused me to screw up many passwords, correct tons of misspellings and be rather annoyed in general. Since I rely on my laptop for everything imaginable, I didn't want to call Dell to see if I could get it fixed. I figured I'd have to send it somewhere far, far away, wait for someone to fix it and then send it back to me. Technically I could still type, so I decided I would live with it.

Then last weekend something happened, which I'm still not sure of (monkey attack) and my space bar popped off again. Now matter how carefully I tried, I couldn't get the sucker to stay back on. And, as you may know, a space bar is needed when you type. For just about everything. And since the sensor for the space bar is smack dab in the middle of the length of the space bar space, it's rather difficult to hit an eraser sized rubber thing that's about to fall off (it's glued to the surface with sugary spit, I think), which would leave me with only a small amount of surface to press, which I would have to do so firmly, which is nearly impossible.

Yeah, so it wasn't going to work.

I decided I had to suck it up and call Dell. Before doing that, I checked my warranty again, and I was pleased again to see I bought the best extended warranty they offered, which covers acts of stupidity (accidents, really), so after going in circles for 15 more minutes, I found the phone number to call for warranty and technical support, called, and was patched through to a very nice man in India.

What was tickling me even more is that I'm reading a book about the world being flat in the sense of how technology is making it possible for everyone in almost every country to be on the same level playing field, and one of the first things the author discussed was outsourcing support calls to India. I'm not going to get into the politics or my opinion of this, as I've seen other things about it and how it is affecting people's lives in India AND the US, but the first thing I thought when my helpful helper got on the phone was: I really should be nice to him.

If you read any of my other posts about my AC Adapter and how the guy I was communicating with was annoying the heck out of me because of his writing skills, then maybe you can see how I might get annoyed with someone whom I'm actually speaking with. From what I've seen on pod casts and TV news shows, and from reading, support people in India are sitting in a huge warehouse-sized building, at a desk, taking calls. In the book, the author said the building he visited services many different companies, and people are grouped by company with little banners to show which business they are working for. He talked to several people about how it is to help people from across the ocean, in most cases, and how they were treated, etc..

When I was patched into what's his name (never really caught it or understood it), I thought, wow, he's probably sitting in a huge building himself, working for Dell, and having to help me, and I can choose to be nice and make this easier on everyone, or be a jerk and make it hard, or just to the minimum to get what I want.

So I decided to be nice. And I was really hoping he'd tell me Dell would replace my keyboard within a week and all would be well with the world again.

He asked me some questions, looked up my account, told me if I had a hard time understanding him at anytime to let him know, and was the nicest, most polite customer service rep I've talked to in a long time. We even shared a few chuckles about a "small child" being the cause of my keyboard's demise.

And then here's the kicker. He told me that Dell would be happy to replace my keyboard and since this is something the user can do him/herself, they were shipping me a new keyboard and I'd have it in 2-3 business days.

What? I thought. I looked at my keyboard. I thought about how handy I am (I really am handy). But then I looked at my keyboard again and decided there was no way I'd be able to figure this one out, not unless there were instructions.

Ah, but what's his name was one step ahead of me.

He then told me that he was going to walk me through uninstalling my keyboard and then reinstalling it, so when I got my new keyboard, I could perform the replacement myself.

Yeah, right, I thought. Over the phone? MY laptop? Well, I said I'd be nice, and if they really think the average joe can do this, then I'll give it a shot.

He asked if I had a Philips head screw driver, so I ran around trying to find one the correct size while he waited for me (he showed no impatience...amazing!), then I got to work. And yes, yes I can take out my keyboard and then put it back. It's quite easy, actually.

Then after some more double checking of addresses and giving me numbers to reference our call, he wanted to know if I would talk to his manager. I said sure. His manager got on and asked me if I felt capable of replacing my keyboard, and I said yes, yes I do feel capable. What's his name walked me through it carefully, was patient, and I feel that I can do this on my own.

He ended the call with pleasantries and that was that.

So maybe Dell isn't that bad. Maybe the AC Adapter thing is just a thing I have to deal with and so be it. And maybe, the next time I drop my laptop (and yes, I did this a few weeks back), and kill it, I will get my nice what's his name on the phone and we can have a chuckle about how I'm a big dummy and dropped my laptop and killed it. Or maybe I'll blame that on my monkey as well.

I've got until 2010 to do more acts of stupidity. Let's get started!

No comments: