The Corner

Cri De Computer

As I type this I am, as I have been for time on end, on hold, the phone balanced between my shoulder and my head, with a crick developing in my neck that’s beginning to throb.

I suppose I should have known better. I went to Costco, and, thinking that by spending more rather than less money I’d be saving myself problems, bought the most expensive HP Pavilion computer that was on offer, a gorgeous system (or so I thought), with a gigantic monitor and an Pentium 4 processor running at 3.0 MHz. Spent a day-and-a-half setting up the machine and loading it up with our software. Yesterday, tug on sleeve.

“Dad, the computer isn’t working.”

“What do you mean? It’s brand new.”

“I know. But it still isn’t working.”

The problem? The kids’ favorite game, Warcraft III, refused to boot up. I monekeyed with the computer for a couple of hours, involving my brother in all this by putting the poor man, who knows a lot more about computers than yours truly, on speakerphone, and keeping him there. All that we managed to achieve was the strange state of affairs in which, if you attempted to play Warcraft immediately after rebooting the computer, you do so between two and six times, but never again, instead getting an error message informing you that no CD was in the CD tray, even though there most certainly was.

Then I spent an hour on the telephone with technical support at Blizzard Entertainment, which makes Warcraft, and which is $40 to the better after my purchase of same. The techie had me download this and that patch, none of which work, and finally told me the problem lay in my having old drivers for my DVD-ROM and DVD+RW. The solution? Get in touch with HP. Which I did, instantly getting through to technical support, which is no particular surprise, since by now it was one in the morning. The HP techie listened to my woes for only a moment or two before suggesting that I take the machine back to Costco to have it replaced. Since I’d spent hour on hour setting the machine up in the first place, I went to bed last night feeling a strange combination of anger and fury.

Deciding to give HP one last try this morning, I called 1-800-HP-INVENT. After remaining on hold for 20 minutes, I finally got through to a technician who listened to my trouble, then said he’d transfer me to yet another technician. Ten seconds later, the line went dead. I called HP yet again. Yet again I remained on hold for a good long time. Yet again I got through to a technician, and this one actually sounded especially well-spoken, sympathetic, and determined to help. Five minutes into our conversation, the line went dead.

So here I sit, good readers. My brand-new, putatively slick-as-could-be HP computer has so far cost many, many hundreds of dollars of my extremely hard-earned money and almost two days of my life–two days in which I should have been playing with my kids, making notes on my next book, and, yes, watching Mrs. Miniver.

If anybody at HP technical support reads this happy Corner, would he kindly let Carly Fiornia know that the next time she gives an interview to Forbes or Fortune in which she blithely claims to be turning HP around, at least one of her customers will merely emit a bitter laugh.