Adventures in Tech Support

So, remember that whole thing where my laptop broke? That was no fun. On the bright side, my new laptop arrived from the States about two weeks ago, after a bit of frantic e-mailing with customs. Then, things got a bit…interesting.

In addition to the laptop, I also received a copy of Microsoft Office University (woo-hoo, student discounts!). Now, in order to install said program, you have to enter a product key, which you get by going to the Microsoft website, entering a PIN, and then submitting the verification of your student status—in my case, an International Student ID card number. The first time I try this, things are hunky-dory…until it tells me that ‘verification failed’ and refuses to let me try re-entering the ID code. The chat function on tech support is no help, and I start feeling paranoid about whether or not I’m messaging a real person or not. Ultimately, I decide that the messaging section of tech support is staffed exclusively by evil androids from outer space.

The role of the evil android from outer space may or may not be played by Mary Pat Gleason, formerly of “The Middleman” fame. (via Flickr)

Today, though, I decided to harden up and try again. Armed now with the American tech support number, I dial and…no dice. Right: you need to dial an exit code before calling out of country. Some quick Googling, and now we have a ring! We go through the automated rigmarole of explaining what your problem is, and I’m reminded of the book Your Call Is (Not That) Important To Us, which discusses the development of customer service lines and the myriad ways in which companies try to get you to stop bothering them. I’m waiting on hold, listening to the series of advertisements they subject you to as the price of waiting to talk to a real person when…my phone ends the call.

I know, Captain Picard. It’s shameful.

Apparently, I’m out of minutes. Joy! So, it’s off to the nearest Niedermeyer to buy some more minutes, load up my phone, and then it’s back on hold. More advertisements. I get to talk to someone whose name I miss entirely, and she asks for mine. I think they think that if they keep using my name, I’ll feel cared for, like this is some sort of personal touch. Of course, it’s just policy (one I had to use when I used to work in fast food), but I can’t fault her for trying to do her job well. No one really likes working in a call center, after all. I explain my problem, and she puts me on hold to do some research.

Now, the advertisements have been replaced with music. But not just any music—no, this is the triumphant score for the end of some sort of inspirational sports movie. The underdog team of ragtag misfits has just scored the winning touchdown at the bottom of ninth, saving their small town from ruin! It makes me wonder whose job it was to develop the hold music, and whether they had other dreams for themselves, perhaps even dreams that involved writing the score for an inspirational sports movie.

There’s no crying in baseball…or IT.

Tech Person is back. Apparently, I needed to have a Hotmail e-mail address, and that’s why verification failed. Seriously? I get that it’s Microsoft’s e-mail system, but are they so desperate to have more people use their cruddy e-mail that they will make it a requirement for installing their software? That’s low, Bill Gates. That is really low.

And don’t think giving millions of dollars to poor African children is going to make up for it, either.

On the bright side, it means that I now have Office installed on the new laptop (whom I’m considering calling Herbert, or possibly Gus). It also means I don’t have to call tech support again! Triumph!

Even Nelson Mandela approves.

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