Sunday, February 12, 2012

How men in groups are idiots

This past weekend I skied Kicking Horse in Golden BC. Because skiing with my adult children would kill me, assuming that they would actually let me ski with them, I most skied by myself. Due to weather conditions that meant multiple runs from the top to the bottom and taking the 8 person gondola to the top.

First trip of the day around 0930, I tag along with a group of 7 men my age. Early in the morning, the reek of stale booze is nauseating. As I look straight ahead trying not to throw up, I am forced to listen to tales of unrestrained male bonding.

Later in the day, I pile in with 7 20 somethings. The fellow directly in front of me has a green colouration and I hear someone say, "I finally don't feel like I have to throw up". They are on a ski weekend stag. They ask me if I am from Golden because they are looking for a stripper bar. Having watched both Hangover movies, I realize that I am now part of a bachelor party and begin to get worried.

Close your eyes though and you couldn't tell the groups apart. Or maybe I am just jealous.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My private Dell Hell

Have you ever been involved in a relationship that was initially great but has declined with time and now the other's bad behaviour is leading you to want to leave the relationship.

Actually I haven't either but I do read enough novels and watch enough chick-flics to know something about this.

As the title goes this is between me and Dell Computers. (And please Apple users I do not want to hear how I should have bought a Mac)

I bought my first desk top in 1993. 1 megabyte hard drive, 128 kb of RAM, DOS operating sytems. Computers became obsolete within a year then so I bought about one every year. (A major feature of the post-Christmas season was buying a new computer to be able to run the computer games my kids got for Christmas). I always bought from local companies. The computers crashed frequently, the service was horrible. The final straw was when I bought an "in home" warantee for my new computer. When the computer inevitably crashed, I phoned and was told, "Oh the guy who sold you that doesn't work for us anymore and we are not going to honour it." The was about the time Dell started running full page ads on the back page of the newspaper. Therefore we took the plunge called the 1-800 number and 5 days later my wife called me at work to tell me that our new computer had been delivered. New computer day was always a feared day for me, spending hours in uncomfortable positions,having to deal with multiple cables and connections, in between phone calls to customer service; however when I came home my wife had set up the computer and got it running by herself taking advantage of Dell's colour coded cables and easy set up.

Since then I have bought multiple desktops from Dell. They actually last several years. I have also bought 3 laptops (I am typing this on one of them) and I sent my kids off to school with 2 more Dell laptops. Their service has been exemplary, I have had to order new batteries and cables; easily done on their website.

Now a few years ago, I bought a second lap-top, an Inspiron Mini. I paid extra to have it purple. I have taken this little computer all over the world. I loved it as much as one can love an inanimate object. Last fall, the battery stopped taking a charge. No problem I had had it for 2 years and had used it a lot much of the time on the battery. I went onto Dell's website and bought a new battery. A week or so later I had to drive out to the courier depot to pick up the package. When I got home, the battery wasn't even close to fitting into my little computer.

I should at this point introduce a little aside to this whole story. A few years ago Dell opened a call centre in the town where I live. This was open with the usual fanfare and they of course got the usual tax holiday that big corporations get in return for bringing in low paid unskilled jobs to a town. That was where I would have called except that Dell decamped about two years ago; as I was to find out, to India.

Getting back to my story, I called the toll free number, and after some time on hold and after being shunted around a bit, I spoke to someone who assured me that he would personally see that I got the correct battery.

When I did get the battery a week or so later, it too did not fit my computer. Now this computer is a computer that was heavily promoted a few years ago both with full page ads and daily emails to my account. Back to the 1-800 number. The first number I called informed me that I would need to call another number that could only be called during business hours in the Central Time Zone (funny since someone in India was answering the phone). Therefore the next day I called the different number they gave me.

This lead to a hellish 90 minutes on the phone during which I was directed all over the place by a number of polite but unhelpful people with a variety of Indian accents. In between I was tortured by having to listen to Kenny G. I finally actually got to talk to somebody who informed me that he could get me a re-built battery or if I wanted to wait a little longer, a new battery. I told him that I would happily wait for a new battery. That was almost a month ago and I have never heard back from them. Next time I have 90 minutes free I will call them.

I did still have two batteries to send back to get refunds. This required another phone call to explain my problem to polite but unhelpful people with a variety of Indian accents and more Kenny G. Eventually they were able to email me a mailing label (to a Canadian address). I drove out to the courier place where they now know me quite well and sent the batteries back. They weren't finished with me. Periodically during the next week while I was in Ecuador, I would get a phone call from somebody with an Indian accent explaining that they had received my battery or that the refund would soon be processed. Because there were 2 batteries, I got 4 calls.

I now still have my Inspiron Mini which does not work unless I plug it in and frankly I am scared to phone Dell again.

In contrast just before Xmas I ordered a DVD from Amazon and they sent me two by mistake. I was able to go onto their website, "explain" that they had sent it by mistake and they emailed me a pre paid mailing label right away and I was actually able to drop the package in the mailbox.

In time this laptop will start to be unreliable and I will be looking for a new computer. And it probably will not be a Dell. Maybe it will be a Mac.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why I haven't posted lately

No reason in particular.

I got caught in the Christmas spirit and I really didn't feel like spewing the negative sarcastic stuff I usually write. I did have a nice Christmas thank you.

In January I went to Ecuador for two weeks. This was a medical mission followed by a week of vacation. This is the sixth visit for me. I have some good stories from there that I will eventually tell.