Monthly Archives: August 2011

People who should not be computer techs: Exhibit A.

This particular customer bought a memory upgrade for her computer. It didn’t work, and she contacted us for a warranty exchange. Fair enough, and no problem, that’s why we have a warranty policy. We set up all paper work and send her a replacement. So far so good.

Except the replacement memory isn’t working either. And it’s not working in exactly the same way the first one was not working: Whenever it is installed, the computer refuses to power on.

I express my sympathies and apologize for the hassle, and we start troubleshooting and reseating parts. The last part is a bit of a challenge, since the lady in question has never installed memory before, she paid a computer tech to come out and do it for her the first time. But she is a fast learner and good at following instructions, and we chit-chat off and on as she attempts to reach in behind the snake pit of wires inside her Pavilion computer to get to the memory slots. She eventually does, and we manage to get the memory correctly seated in the slot, and start up the computer. Or rather, we try to — nothing happens.

As we work on removing the memory, to prepare for the next troubleshooting step, the customer again comments that this is exactly how the first memory behaved as well. I try, as discretely as possible, to hint that perhaps the memory was not correctly installed, since that could cause the comptuer not to POST, but she doesn’t think so. The reason she doesn’t, is that she paid a computer tech to come out to work on that first memory module. The computer started, but didn’t recognize the new memory, so she had innocently suggested that the memory might not be installed right. To prove to her that it was installed correctly, the tech reached into the case and removed the memory and showed her how to install it, to prove that it had been done right the first time. Without turning off the computer first.

I almost managed to hit “mute” before I choked on my coffee. Almost.

When I’m done coughing and I can breathe again, I hear the customer on the other end, confused, “Hello? Are you still there? Hello?”

I assure her that I am still on the line, and apologize for my sudden silence. I then spend the next minute or so desperately groping for words that won’t get me in trouble with the supervisor that sits at the desk next to mine, but eventually I am forced to once again apologize for staying silent. This time I felt compelled to add the explanation that I was a little bit stunned, and searching for words.

I eventually manged to find a polite and kind way of suggesting to the lady on the phone that she should seriously consider hiring a technician from another store next time, and that we needed to power off her computer and take the new memory out right away, before more damage was done. I then moved on to explain, as gently as I could, the consequences of removing or inserting components into a motherbord while it is powered on, and promised that we would send a UPS driver to her house to pick up the replacement memory if she wanted to return everything for a full refund.

She said she would take her computer to another store and have them look at it before she decided, and then the very charming and well-mannered lady went into a fuming angry rant about how the first technician owed her a refund. Now that I am no longer being recorded by work, I can openly say that I fully agree with her.


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