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« October 2005 | Main | December 2005 »

November 29, 2005
poor customer service from toshiba

Last year, I bought a new Toshiba laptop. It arrived in December and I sat on my living room floor and turned it on by the glow of Christmas lights, and it was beautiful.

A few weeks later, though, I started having problems with the power connection. The power cord always seemed loose, and I'd have to twist it to get it to "reconnect" to some magical spot inside that would let it run on AC power. By February it became a ridiculous effort to try to find the magical spot, so I sent it away to a Toshiba repair shop in Brooklyn, where I waited for over a month for it to be fixed.

Soon after I had it back, it broke again, in the same way as before. I again let the problem ride itself out until I couldn't bear it anymore, which admittedly was not the best course of action, but I wanted to use my computer! This time I decided I wasn't going to lose it for a month, so I sent it to be fixed by the Toshiba Depot, an extension of Toshiba's tech support department. The next week it came back, worked for a few days, and then wouldn't turn on. Then it turned on and had the same power problem, but the calendar had reset to December 1999. I sent it back to the Depot. They replaced the system board (for the third time) and sent it back to me, saying that they didn't know what had caused the "it won't turn on" problem. But the wireless card no longer worked, and still doesn't. And now, again, after three repairs, it's having the same power problem as always.

Page two of my One-Year Limited Warranty says that Toshiba will "restore the Product to working order in accordance with factory specifications in effect at the time the Product was manufactured or replace the defective Product with a product that is at least equivalent to the original Product.... Replacement parts are warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for thirty (30) days or for the remainder of the Limited Warranty Period of the Product in which they are installed, whichever is longer."

I quoted this, after telling my story, to the woman in the Customer Relations department. The Customer Relations department is different from the Customer Services, Sales, and Tech Support departments, all of which I also was referred to today. She told me that Toshiba doesn't have a replacement policy and that this wording only applies for fifteen days after purchase (even though I can't find the number fifteen anywhere in the warranty wording). She said that the only thing they can do is repair it again. I told her it was a waste of everyone's money, that my computer is a lemon and it's just going to keep getting fixed and fixed and fixed. I told her that I wasn't going to recommend Toshiba products to anyone (Don't buy from Toshiba!) or purchase Toshiba products in the future. I quoted the warranty again. She ignored me and confirmed my address. I sarcastically said, "That's right!" then went to hang up angrily, then brought the phone back to my ear to hear her say, "Is there anything else I can help you with today?" I said, "I'm sorry?" because I'd only half-heard it, and I also thought it was somewhat laughable that she was offering me additional assistance -- though of course she had to say it -- and she repeated the phrase with irritation, and we both knew that she hadn't really helped at all and that she probably has no soul. I said no and apologized for being rude, even though I hadn't been too rude. She hesitated and then said, not meaning it, "That's okay have a nice day thank you for calling Toshiba." I think her name was Louisa.

Something's fishy, I think, if the warranty says one thing and I'm told otherwise. I'm guessing they felt that, since my warranty has under a month left on it, they can get away with repairing the computer one more time and claiming that they've satisfied the warranty (though they haven't satisfied it in any instance thus far). Plus, how I was treated before and during my conversation with the Customer Relations authority figure was simply bad customer service. The only people who seemed remotely sympathetic were those in the tech support department. The prevailing method everywhere else was to half-listen and then attempt to get me off the phone as quickly as possible.

While I don't think all Toshiba products are fundamentally poorly made, such shoddy customer service indicates a lack of respect for the people who are keeping them in business and will thus make me hesitate before even considering giving them any more business. I don't like to have "this one thing was bad so I'm never giving these guys another shot" policies for myself, but I'm sure that if Louisa's computer had these problems, she wouldn't like to be treated the way she treated me.

I think people in the customer service industry often end up with a video game mentality, envisioning each new person who calls them not as a person but as an aggravating floating blip in their mind's eye that needs to be shot down. It can be hard to sympathize with people, but it's so necessary for all of us to receive it.

I started this entry a few days ago to help me get over how angry I was with them, and it worked, but I'm posting it anyway. If anyone has read this far and has ideas on how to handle this situation, let me know. I'm definitely buying an extended warranty. But I'd much prefer to just have a computer that didn't need to be serviced on a monthly basis.

File under DAILY. Posted at 05:35 PM | Comments (4118)

November 23, 2005
turkey thieves

A number of internet people (it's probably accurate to say "a handful") are stealing the delightful hand turkey I made last year for all of you to enjoy. I know this because they are linking to it directly, thus using my bandwidth. Thanks, guys.

My favorite thief is Tuckmeister44. (The other hoodlums are all kids on MySpace.) "Don't forget to make a hand turkey," he says, though apparently he didn't have the time to make one for himself! Tuck also wins the contest for Best Use of Content-Obscuring Background Graphics on the World Wide Web. I am honored to have played a role in this honor!

Honorably yours,

File under DAILY. Posted at 08:51 AM | Comments (10232)

November 06, 2005
rhode island

Andy, Chris, Steve, and I took a mid-October jaunt to Rhode Island. I've culled photos from our various cameras to create a lazily-captioned gallery about the trip. Either Steve's photos have a different aspect ratio by default, or Shutterfly does some weird cropping. A lot of the ones he took have the tops of heads cut off, and I suspect it's Shutterfly's issue. Anyway, enjoy.

All of us in the mirror, right before checking out of the hotel

File under DAILY. Posted at 01:11 PM | Comments (1480)

November 04, 2005
prometheus light show


Andy made a new animation, and I think it's pretty awesome. I sort of wish it were longer. Anyway, you can watch it and then read about it, if you want.

File under DAILY. Posted at 08:12 AM | Comments (3488)

November 01, 2005
that's my boss

For the past couple of weeks, I've been out of touch with friends, with world happenings, and with myself. I've been working long, hard hours on projects that are more frustrating than rewarding. The impulse to quit my job keeps flaring, and the only bonus (albeit a questionable one) is that I've lost three pounds from not having time to eat lunch.

So today, when my boss asked me to handle a sales lead that wanted to be called in the evening, I responded with this message:

[Boss], if you'd like to call her in the evening you can, but I have been working too many evenings lately -- I've missed the past two weeks of my class, which I paid to take, because of it -- and I just cannot afford to give up my evenings anymore. I have enough work to last the next month at least and do not need any new jobs right now. Basically, I am going crazy. My sales are not higher because, like [Coworker in Another Office], I am interrupted so many times throughout the day. But note that they have been consistently as high as that of many programmers, except I am working on 15 projects instead of two or three.

I would also like to have a salary review with you in the near future.


A few hours later, I received this response from him:
Dear Beth,

It seems like you need a laugh. Maybe this note from my cousin Dave will do it.

A revue is due and you are not the first to ask the question. I am hoping the company will be in a position to consider reviews in January. I will talk to you about it then.

Subject: This is why Men prefer the Republican Party

He told me in September 2004 that I'd have a salary review this January. I wrote back and told him I was making him stick to it this time. I couldn't think of how to work in a joke about being registered as an Independent (or about my role in the performance of a "salary revue").

File under DAILY. Posted at 06:24 PM | Comments (9)