One of the great pleasures of my life is upgrading to a new computer. My older computer was a Toshiba laptop. It worked great for the last three years. It was a basic model and had no webcam or card reader built into it. I worked around these shortfalls with a portable webcam and connecting my camera and cell phone directly to my computer. It worked, but left me wanting to upgrade to something a little more with the times.
I did a fair bit of research and wanted to get a smaller laptop. I decided on the Dell Inspiron 14” with 4 Gigs Ram and a 500 GB Hard Drive. It has all the bells and whistles that I would need including a webcam and card reader. I was ecstatic when I left the electronics store and headed home. I set it up, transferred all of my data using the East Transfer method, did all of the Windows updates, and added a few of my favourite programs. I was ready to rock. But something was drastically wrong.
I started my Skype program and was adjusting the settings when I found that the computer did not recognize the webcam. I thought at first that I had somehow inadvertently turned the camera off. And so for the next 4 to 5 hours I checked the laptop from stem to stern. I went online and researched and troubleshot the problem.. I found I was not the only person experiencing the webcam problem. There were numerous people experiencing the same dilemma that I was in. There were solutions that ranged from uninstalling and installing the program that controls the WebCam, to replacing the actual WebCam. I tried numerous software attempts to correct the problem but was unable to do so.
Eventually I went to the Dell support site. While browsing the Dell support site, a chat box came up with a support person on the other end. I was asked if I needed some assistance, and obviously I did. I have to admit that the person I was chatting with was very patient with me. It soon became apparent that what the person wanted to do was exactly what I had already done. Nevertheless I allow the person to take control of my laptop, and conducted numerous tests to find out what the problem was. After some three hours of downloading and installing and uninstalling the WebCam control program the support person gave me a 1- 800 number to call and have the problem corrected. The support person assured me that he had conducted all the necessary checks.
Bright and early the next day I made the call to the 1-800 number. After a brief 45 minutes listening to elevator music and advertising I was connected to a technician. I explained what had taken place during my previous marathon session online with the support person from Dell. After about 30 min. the person Obviously located in India) advised me that there was no record of my having been assisted by a support person the previous day. Frustrated as I was, I allowed this person to access my laptop. Of course the first thing that he wanted to do was exactly what the previous support person had done. After uninstalling and reinstalling the WebCam control program and downloading and installing an update each of which of the downloads took approximately 35 min. he came to the conclusion that I knew what I was talking about. He then re-flashed my BIOS from A05 to A06. This as it turned out was the only benefit I received from over four hours on the phone and my laptop. He did however leave me with a service request number and assured me that a technician would be in touch with me within two business days. He also informed me that he would e-mail me the confirmation number I would require should I have any questions.
My e-mail address has been in existence for about seven years. When he asked me my e-mail address and I gave it to him he advised me that it was a non-valid e-mail address. He then asked me if I have an alternative e-mail address, which I did and gave him. He advised me to this too was an invalid e-mail address. Frustration continued to build as I gave him a third e-mail address which he accepted and promised to e-mail me the required number.
The promised e-mail never arrived, however I decided to wait a day or two to see if something would happen. The next day while I was shopping at the grocery store my wife called me on my cell advised me that a representative from Dell (with a strong Indian accent) had called and wished to speak to me. She advised him that I would be up approximately 20 min. and that he should call me back. When I arrived home I was anxious to get the call. The call never came. After about an hour of waiting I decided to call the number that had shown up on my phone. When I called, I was pleased to hear a voice on the other end originating from the USA. I explained my dilemma and after approximately 5 min. of checking for me advised me that I had reached the business section of Dell support.
He advised me that he would transfer me immediately to the general consumer support area and I would be looked after immediately. After about a 3 min. wait on hold I was dismayed to hear the person on the other end with a strong Indian accent again. Now let me be clear. These people are extremely polite and attempt to make you feel good but while doing so they talk far too much and waste an extreme amount of time. I explained to the person that all I wanted to do was have an update on the progress of my laptop dilemma which I believed was the reason for the call missed. After approximately 50 min. and what seemed like an attempt to placate me with consoling for my dilemma and frustration, apology after apology and promise after promise that they were going to look after me right away and save me any further frustration I was told that I would be put on a conference call with her supervisor. I told her I didn’t want to talk to her supervisor that I just wanted to know the time expected for the technician to arrive to fix my laptop. My please were ignored and eventually I had to agree to have the conference call can so I returned to hold.
After 25 min. waiting on hold my frustration got the best of me and I hung up the phone. I had a feeling that somehow somewhere in the United States somebody was aware of my dilemma. How that could be I had no idea but I was trying to be positive and so I decided to wait.
The next morning a technician called from a local computer maintenance company to advised me that He would be at my house between 11 in the morning and one in the afternoon. The technician arrived with a new WebCam in hand, took 15 min. to replace the old WebCam and left with a smile on his face. I was now back in my glory. I finally had a laptop with a WebCam that worked.
Although this product was a Dell laptop it would not matter if it was a Toshiba, Compaq, HP or any of the other big-name computer manufacturers. The products are made in China, service centers are located in India and we the consumer are located normally in North America and Europe. I understand that in order to have the products so low price they have to have low overhead when it comes to human resources and labour, but if in the end they cannot provide the necessary support and end up frustrating their constomers. I do not think that they are doing their customer base any favours.
Whatever happened to the days when we could buy products made in North America serviced in North America and used in North America? Prices are lower but so is the support.