Sometimes, there are no word for how strangely surprising a situation is. I will do my best to describe this one anyway. It has been quite a while since the events below took place, and I have now mulled over them long enough that I think I want to share them.
It didn’t happen to me. I heard the story from the co-worker that experienced it, and I am now passing this one to you. It begins thus:
Where I work we do not earn commission. My individual bonus is determined partly by how well the company as a whole does, but the vast majority of it is based on whether I, as an employee of the company, in my role as Customer Service Representative, do a good job. If you, the customer, feel that I have answered your questions, solved your problem, and contributed to a pleasant experience when you called our customer service, and if I have done it swiftly enough that the wait time in the phone queue is kept to a minimum, without making the call seem rushed in any way, then I will receive a bonus. If I fail in any of the above, then I won’t. Therefore, though we are encouraged to promote sales whenever we can, that is not actually the point of what we do, which in turn is what lead to the strangely surprising situation that I am now finally about to tell you.
A certain gentleman, let’s call him Mr X, contacts our customer service and wants us to help him determine exactly what kind of memory he needs for his computer. He spoke to one of my co-workers, S, who has been with the company long enough to know our products very well and who therefore is able to be very helpful. He gives Mr X all the information he needs, Mr X thanks him and ends the call to go shop around and see where he can get the best possible deal on his new memory. He finds that deal in a surprising place: A local computer store.
The story is a bit unclear at this point, as we have only Mr X’s word on what was happening. Mr X claims that he relayed all the information S gave him to the sales person, including the memory serial number, and that he therefore made his purchase on S’s indirect recommendation. That is important, since that means that S, and by extension the company S and I work for, are responsible for why Mr X bought the memory module he did. At least Mr X believes so.
When Mr X came home he proceeded to open his laptop to install the new memory, and that was when he discovered that a regular DIMM that he had purchased, designed for a desktop computer, is far too long for the slot in a laptop. As a matter of fact, it is about twice the length of the memory slot in the laptop. So here Mr X is, with his laptop that he wants to upgrade, and with a memory module that is far too long for the slot in the laptop. But that is a small problem for a mechanically inclined man who owns a dremel, right?
Yes, he did.
He really did.
He cut the DIMM in half, and trimmed it until it would fit in the laptop’s memory slot.
I need to mention something important here. A memory module has two main parts to it: the black components, a.k.a the chips, and the multi-layer printed circuit board (PCB). Vastly over-simplified, a PCB is made from lots of thin layers of a non-conductive material, and then there’s a conductive layer, usually copper. The circuits are etched into the board, by removing the copper from where there is no need for electricity to go. A multi-layer PCB consists of several very thin separately etched PCBs bonded together. So there are several layers of electronic circuits in the little green “plastic” board the chips are attached to. If you cut through a multi-layer PCB, the cutting will rearrange the circuitry and make the electricity go in directions it was not supposed to, at times when it was not supposed to.
And that is why, when the dremel modified memory module was installed, it short-circuited so badly that it caught fire.
Mr X was quite unhappy with this turn of events, salvaged the parts of the memory module from the mess of charred and melted plastic that used to be an expensive laptop, and then he returned to the computer store to demand a refund, since the memory destroyed his laptop. The store manager informed Mr X that warranty claims are handled by the product manufacturer, and referred him to us.
Mr X contacts our customer service department, the returns division, and finds himself speaking with H. Now, H has been at this job for a couple of years as well, and has enough credibility and credit with management that he gets away with a lot. H informed Mr X that when the part is purchased from one of our resellers we do not guarantee that it will be compatible, and furthermore, if a part is modified in any way it is no longer under warranty. Mr X responded that the part was not modified, it was destroyed by fire, and therefore still under warranty.
No one in the entire customer service department can ever remember seeing H speechless before. However, he recovered swiftly, repeated that the module was no longer under warranty, and the call ended soon thereafter.
Mr X called back, requested a manger, and repeated his demands. The manager repeated H’s answer, that the memory has been modified with the help of a dremel and therefore no longer has a warranty. Mr X replies that since nothing in the product documentation states that the memory should not be modified with a dremel, we are obligated to honour the warranty. The manager explains that there is a flaw in Mr X’s logic, and that no reimbursement whatsoever will be given for the melted laptop.
Mr X has now filed a case with the Better Business Bureau, stating all of the above, demanding restitution.
I am at a loss for words.