Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tech Support

How many tech support guys are working the overnight shift for Sony computers?

Go on, guess.


Lower than that.


I learned this last night, when I finally got through to one of them.  Here's the rough time frame:

9:30 p.m.  Take new laptop out of box.  Plug it in.  Make it work.

10:30 p.m.  New laptop decides to stop with the working.

11:00 p.m.  I run out of ways I know (or guess) to make the laptop work again.  I call Sony Tech Support.

11:01 p.m.  An automated voice has to ask me "a few preliminary questions" so it can figure out where to route my call.

11:05 p.m.  I start getting peeved at the automated voice.  I think Sony expected this to happen, as automated voice seems to understand me better when my voice is tinged with annoyance.

11:10 p.m.  The automated voice tells me my computer is out of warranty.  (Really?  After, like, an hour?  That's one short warranty period.)  It will only let me talk to a live human being if I give it my credit card number and consent to a $20 charge.

11:11 p.m.  The automated voice gets my credit card number wrong.  I repeat it, frustrated.

11:12 p.m.  The automated voice approves my charge, and tells me I am on hold for the next available Tech Support person.

Time passes.  It is marked by small loud bits of classical music, punctuated by a new automated voice giving me annoying tips that Might Just Solve My Problem.  Tips like, if you're not getting anything on the screen, make sure the brightness is turned on. 

11:45 p.m.  It dawns on me that perhaps I should hang up, get some sleep, and deal with this in the morning -- excepting automated voice has charged me $20 and I really want to talk to someone, dammit.

11:55 p.m.  Felix (actual name) finally picks up.  To Sony's credit, they might only have two guys working, but the guys actually know what they're doing.  (Well, at least the 50% of the shift I had contact with.)  Felix understands every word I say, does not think I'm a moron, walks me through some solutions, and laughs at my jokes.  (This is important.  I get a little punchy after midnight.)

12:30 a.m.  Felix runs out of solutions -- all that's left is the big one:  Restoring the whole system to factory defaults.  Given that I only played with the computer for an hour, it isn't like I was going to lose a whole lot of data here.  But the bit I had not known is exactly how long this process takes.  About an hour.  Felix and I say our tearful farewells while the computer starts recreating its system.  He promises that if it doesn't work, I can call right back and he'll tell me how to ship the damn thing back to Sony for service.

1:20 a.m.  While the system is restoring, I take a quick peek and notice the thing that wasn't working still isn't working.  I also notice the system restore has frozen.  I call Felix again.

1:21 a.m.  Well, no.  I call automated voice again.  Yelling "Give me Felix, dammit" has no effect on it, but I did give it my "event number" -- which put me straight on through ... to the classical music and silly help tips holding area.

1:45 a.m.  Felix returns!  Has me reboot the computer to restart the system restore and then says he'll transfer me to the "higher" tech support who will inform me of the whole Return-for-Service thing.

1:46 a.m.  I'm on freakin' hold again.  I cannot believe this.  I know I should be in bed, asleep, but I forgot to ask Felix for the phone number of the person I'm now on hold for, so if I want to follow this problem through to the end point, I just have to stay awake.

1:55 a.m.  She picks up!  My conversation with the new woman (Barbara) is marked by long periods of silence, during which (I imagine) Barbara is reading my file.  She confirms with me everything Felix had me do, and then goes silent for another few minutes.  (By now my system has finally finished restoring and I can confirm, yet again, that the damn thing is well and truly broken.)  Barbara talks with me about my repair and replacement options -- and since I'm too tired to make an actual decision, I have her just mail me everything and I'll deal with it later.  Much later.

So long, new computer.

Time operational:  One hour.

Time attempting to fix:  Three and one-half hours.

Not exactly a ratio to be proud of.


janothy said...

Sorry to hear aobut your new laptop.  I would have been very irritated by then, and my voice wuold have shown it!   -Jan

grodygeek said...


Dealing with tech support is never fun. Even for IT professionals. I was trying to contact someone to go out to lunch while I was near her building. She was on hold for an hour with tech support. Okay not all the time was on hold. But you know exactly what she went through. I hope you get your laptop back soon and working well. I would have guessed they are good stuff.


tammyg22 said...

So, ummm, did you get your $20 back, since you'd only had the bloody thing for an hour?

vwkwan said...

Did you really pay $20 to talk to them??? I can't believe that! You JUST got the laptop!


nzforme said...

Yes, Felix refunded my $20.  (Yay Felix!)