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The Nine Circles of Dell
November 9, 2010 8:24 PM   Subscribe

A fine way to remove unwanted hair is to wrench it violently from your scalp. To facilitate this, try reading Dell Hell (Part 2), in which a sad soul descends into madness at the virtual hands of Dell's customer service. It's a companion piece to a 2005 series of Dell Hell deranged scribblings.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese (100 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"I don't understand why a one hour old computer needs to download updates to both Windows 7, Microsoft Office and McAfee. If it needs updating it means that out of date versions of Windows, virus protection and Office are shipped on brand new machines."

Oh fercrissakes
posted by HopperFan at 8:42 PM on November 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


WARNING: Tries to post a favorite to your facebook page if you are logged in.
posted by unSane at 8:47 PM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


This guy - I've read about half of it and surmised he's kind of an idiot. Is that pretty much accurate?
posted by kbanas at 8:47 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Avast detects a trojan on link to the 2005 series.
posted by juv3nal at 8:55 PM on November 9, 2010


This guy - I've read about half of it and surmised he's kind of an idiot. Is that pretty much accurate?

No, not at all. I don't know how you got that. All he tried to do was have his defective computer repaired, then returned for a refund, only to wind up in some Kafkaesque nightmare. Keep reading and you'll get to the part (for example) where Dell phone support claims the Dell return center where he sent his computer either doesn't exist or is not actually run by Dell, and has to bring both parties into a conference call so they can agree that they work for the same company.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:57 PM on November 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I haven't looked at Dell products lately but my understanding is there's a business line and a consumer line. If you buy one of the consumer models you are eternally facefucked by werewolves in a river of living diarrhea.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:59 PM on November 9, 2010 [60 favorites]


Oh no, their business line service bites ass too.

This was all too plausible to me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:05 PM on November 9, 2010


you are eternally facefucked by werewolves in a river of living diarrhea

Not gonna look for the Rule 34 application of that.

My experience with Dell has been pretty positive for both business and consumer model purchases, but the thing is you can buy the consumer models through the "small business store" and that's the key to success - having an account rep.

But anyway, the guy's clearly not very computer savvy - not that he should have to be - and probably could have avoided the refund process and gotten his computer working. Most of his complaints stemmed from the refund process, though, and there's really no justification for that.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:08 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I don't understand why a one hour old computer needs to download updates to both Windows 7, Microsoft Office and McAfee. If it needs updating it means that out of date versions of Windows, virus protection and Office are shipped on brand new machines."

Granted that there are things he doesn't seem to understand, but his Dell Hell is quite real.
posted by vidur at 9:11 PM on November 9, 2010


Trojan warning in that second link, as well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:14 PM on November 9, 2010



So, my boss had me send his macbook in for service. Long story short, they lost it for over a month, but did eventually find it, not fix it, and send it back. They tried to charge us for the return shipping, even. I found a local apple repair place to get the work done, but it cost us a 75 dollar "diagnostic fee".

Does apple suck ? Yes, but that's not why.

I've been doing IT shit for 16 years. I have spent a ton of time on tech support calls.

Every vendor has a horror story. Seriously. But then every one has gone that little extra, too.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:17 PM on November 9, 2010


Granted that there are things he doesn't seem to understand, but his Dell Hell is quite real.

The updates bit, though - that's just how things work. I'm typing this on a shiny new MacBook Air I've had for all of a week, and it had a new update available when I turned it on. If Dell, or any other vendor, had to inject patches into their disk images every time they came out, they'd never get anything out the door.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:37 PM on November 9, 2010


WARNING: The second link appears to have some malicious javascript in it. I downloaded the source and ran it through an online checker. Results here: http://virusscan.jotti.org/en/scanresult/ca3835b842475b576c495c16aa902bcdab7880be.
posted by aberrant at 9:46 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having worked customer service for a certain unnamed telecom company that starts with an A and ends in &T, I can assure you that hell is just as frightening on the other side of the phone.

Working in one of those places, you're given a lot of training. We had almost 3 months of training before we ever picked up a phone. 99% of trainees quit within 4 months. You're given a binder with a couple hundred pages of phone numbers for different departments, all labeled with cryptic acronyms you're supposed to intuitively know the meanings of. Then other employees will start giving you phone lists, with other departments that support or supplant other departments. Entire groups of phone numbers, representing tens of thousands of employees drift in and out of existence as another team lead hands you a stack of sheets of new phone numbers. BEUC now handles NBI Accounts, eliminating the Blue Telegence NBI Team, but only for regions X, Y, and Z. For accounts in the X region call the BSE (Northwestern) Team in CBE Activations, but not the BSO Certification Center in X Region. It's a kafkaesque clusterfuck straight out of Brasil, and you often wonder how anything ever gets done at all, or how this company still manages to make money with seventeen layers of employees required to put a stamp on an envelope, but such is the nature of the beast.

Having worked customer service for a large corporation, I can no longer hold fault for call centre employees transferring me to the wrong number, for sending me the wrong form, or otherwise not knowing how to do their jobs effectively. I simply nod knowingly, and choose to do business with a smaller company.
posted by inedible at 9:57 PM on November 9, 2010 [33 favorites]


A decent rant, but this is peanuts against my 10-month ACS/Parking Violations Bureau saga.
posted by carsonb at 10:34 PM on November 9, 2010


(ongoing)
posted by carsonb at 10:35 PM on November 9, 2010


I guess you need updates to your antivirus software to make sure your web host hasn't been infected with malware.
posted by benzenedream at 10:39 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


and that's the key to success - having an account rep

For various reasons I am sometimes forced to be a Dell Enterprise customer. I am supposed to have a team of people assigned to take care of my every Dell related whim. But after spending many many frustrating hours being frustrated at the sheer ineptitude of numerous Dell account reps, technicians, advanced technicians, "Premium support" pretengineers and customer service people in every conceivable department, I can most assuredly say that this is, in fact, not the key to success. The key to success (for server stuff anyway) is called HP. I think Dell starts out hiring normal people, but working for a shitty company that sells garbage causes them to be quickly turned into soulless zombies.
posted by tracert at 10:40 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hey Fuzzybutt - I've been using Macs longer than I care to remember. Suffice it to say, I was a proud owner of the PB540c, Apple's first notebook computer.

There are three reasons I ditched Microsoft eons ago. First and foremost, Apple's technical assistance absolutely rocks. Did way back then; still does now. Great people working in the USA--no Indian or Phiippine call centers. Upon rare occasion you'll come across an ignoramus, but the ignoramus' supervisor will always be able to resolve your problem. Second, I love Mac's operating systems. Third, Macs don't catch as many virused.
posted by zagyzebra at 10:42 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, do apple customers in India or Philippines call American call centers?
posted by vidur at 10:50 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I worked in an office that had the exact opposite thing happen.

1- IT tries to return defective equipment Dell.
2- Dell makes IT jump through hoops to arrange a pickup.
3- Pickup never happens, but IT gets money refunded.
4- IT does not like to have defective equipment taking up space, legal and accounting do not like to be in possession of of the equipment.
5- After four months of escalation and Dell claiming they already have the equipment, they admit they made a mistake, will rectify ASAP.
6- IT gets refunded again.
7- It has been a year, I quit my job there, the company is still trying to get Dell to take back the hardware and the extra money.
8- Company goes out of business, I go to the closing down party and the equipment is still taking up one corner of the printing supplies room.
9- I have a collection of very strong magnets that look like they came from defective hard drives.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:56 PM on November 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


[I swapped in a new link for Dell Hell, one that doesn't throw virus warnings up for people]
posted by mathowie at 11:02 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


All pc's are sh#t. Apple is not perfect by any means, but they work the moment you take them out of the box (almost all of the time), and they work with their family of products. I went through a Dell Hell and made the switch, I voted with my money and ended up saving 10 times more than the price difference between the pc & mac.
posted by analogtom at 11:19 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was on board with this guy until

I don't know what your experiences are like but the two times I have installed an operating system took on average 4 hours and half a bottle of recovery scotch each time.

Even if this is hyperbole (even not counting the scotch), this is pretty n00by. Four hours to install an OS? Sure, an hour for Windows and even OS X, it's not instantaneous, but four is absurd. Methinks this guy doesn't know quite a bit.
posted by zardoz at 11:26 PM on November 9, 2010


First and foremost, Apple's technical assistance absolutely rocks. Did way back then; still does now. Great people working in the USA--no Indian or Phiippine call centers.

I've since left the world of hell contract call centers. Apple contracts out their tech support to the same contract call centers that Dell does, yet there is a vast difference between the two.

Apple has an appreciation for the fact that they have fanboys, lots of them. They want to keep their base happy. The percentage of Apple products that fail are relatively low (recent notebook repair numbers have put them in second behind Asus). When people call in to the US support, they get US or Canadian agents exclusively. The process Apple has set up is to run through a few easy troubleshooting tasks, and then do the repair if needed. Often, if you are near an Apple store, they will have you go swap out there, saving shipping hassle. The entire tech support process has had the same viewpoint as the rest of the company: we have high quality products and charge a premium for it, we had better have high quality support.

Dell. Oh my. The first thing you will notice with Dell is that the support will be at the best call center for the dollar. Whereas Apple will calculate cost of tech support into the overall cost of their products, Dell does not. Dell's goal is to have tech support pay for itself, more or less. There are three general strategies to make this happen. The first is to keep calls as short as possible. The directive was that any call going longer than 15 minutes goes to the next level of support so that the skilled techs can get the call done ASAP.
The second strategy is to do as few repairs as possible. The cost to ship, insure and repair any machine instantly wipes out the profit on that sale. This is what results in long phone calls with tech support. The call centers are graded quite highly on repair percentages, and low is good.
The last strategy is sales after service. A typical expected revenue per call RPC for an agent is going to be somewhere between $4-7 per call. The goal is to have the RPC high enough to cover a large percentage of the cost of the agents. An example of $5/call times four calls per hour is $20/hour, which will cover a large chunk of what Dell pays the call center. The big push is, ironically enough, to sell you extended warranties. Extended warranties are 90-95% profit.

Full disclosure: I worked for a major call center with locations in the US and Canada for 2.5 years on multiple contracts. I managed to work for neither the Dell or Apple contracts, but I know enough about the business to understand.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:34 PM on November 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Even if this is hyperbole (even not counting the scotch), this is pretty n00by. Four hours to install an OS? Sure, an hour for Windows and even OS X, it's not instantaneous, but four is absurd. Methinks this guy doesn't know quite a bit.

zardos: I agree it's absurd for four hours to install Windows or OS X. Problem is, Dell (among others) don't send you Windows install disks. They send you their recovery disks which install a disk image including the crap software. The recovery programs go largely unchanged for years and tend to run excruciatingly slow.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:37 PM on November 9, 2010


A fine way to remove unwanted hair is to wrench it violently from your scalp.

It's one way to remove unwanted hair, alright? Enough with the editorializing.

This post makes me a little sad because it reminds of an epic 5 hour Verizon tech support call, and I know that if I'd recorded and transcribed it, it would have had a chance off-Broadway (with a few interpretive dance vignettes.) I actually do believe that. The drama turned to tragedy, only to finally came back around on itself as a weary resignation that had some things in common with comedy.

Act three was solid, too. The internet came back on.

Nowadays, I start with filing an escalation, then check recent press releases for the name of a senior vice president, and call the corporate switchboard.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:47 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


First and foremost, Apple's technical assistance absolutely rocks.

I say this acting against type, but I've had some great technical support from Microsoft. I found myself asking the guy: How old are you? And when did you start hacking XP? Oh I see, 3/4s of your lifetime ago.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:59 PM on November 9, 2010


Dell - "Just say no".

I never pass on an opportunity to warn people of this, based on my own experience.

I recall being irately put on hold for a long time. Then the indian chap comes on, we start discussing my issue. Then he tells me I'm on the wrong extension for my particular model of Dell. I ask him how's that possible when I was directed to his extension based on the model I had?

He said there must have been some problem with the system. I said, "yes, and it's probably because your system is run by Dell computers."

posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 12:36 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am now having flashbacks of speaking with HP customer support when a defective NVIDIA chip fried my motherboard.


the horror
posted by louche mustachio at 12:41 AM on November 10, 2010


Wow, that sounds pretty bad. But most of it was dells shitty, cost-cutting service. Rather then letting the customer ship the machine back, they want to make him run 4 hours of tests. Kind of insane.

A couple of years ago I bought an HP laptop from best buy. I skipped the warranty plan. When I got it home, it started blue-screening. This was more then a little exasperating because my desktop was having, uh, issues (totally my fault, btw) and I wanted to burn a Linux recovery CD. So i bought the laptop.

Anyway, I just drove back to best buy and they ran a quick test, figured out it was the ram, and replaced it free.

I had a working laptop a couple hours after I bought it. No problems since then. Although shipping a laptop with bad memory is kind of B.S.

Dell is a shitty company. They cut a lot of corners to bring down their operating costs.
posted by delmoi at 12:45 AM on November 10, 2010


I don't understand why it should be so difficult to collect the refund. In particular, why does DELL need to acknowledge the receipt of the shipped goods before they give you the refund.

Dell owes the guy a refund. The guy owes Dell the returned goods. Why can't the guy say "OK, I'll give you the broken computer back, but only after I have confirmed that you returned my money." Turn the tables so to say.

Actually, I think the two transfers should be unrelated, and the guy should have demanded the money back right away, independently of the shipping of the computer. Set them a deadline of two weeks and then sue them. And tell them that they are free to pick up the broken computer next Thursday between 6 and 8pm.
posted by sour cream at 12:53 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anytime anyone asks me why they shouldn't buy a $500 Dell laptop, I sit them down in a chair and tell them the story of my 1501 that couldn't run the operating system it shipped with (Vista), even after the initial updates. After my dad's older Dell laptop falling apart piece by piece, and my experience with the 1501, I never want to so much as touch another Dell again.

Never had to deal with their tech support, though. I can't even imagine.
posted by gc at 12:59 AM on November 10, 2010


All pc's are sh#t. Apple is not perfect by any means, but they work the moment you take them out of the box (almost all of the time)

First of all, Apple's are PCs. You can run windows and Linux or any other PC Os out of the box.

Secondly, PCs work out of the box (almost all of the time) too. It's just that sometimes things arrive broken, and in that case they need to be fixed. This guy had a particularly horrible experience, while when I bought a laptop with bad memory it was fixed within a couple hours, just by taking it back to the store.

The difference between Apple and Dell is that apple spends money on good service, and charges more for their products, while dell does not.

----

By the way on 4-hour OS installs, I had a couple of those a while back. I was trying to install Linux on super-old laptops my dad had bought. Neither had CD-Rom drives. On one, I had to figure out how to setup DHCP and network boot to install Linux via another machine after plugging the first directly into his wifi router via eithernet.

The other one couldn't boot of eithernet, and it didn't have a floppy drive. The only boot media it could take were floppies Eventually I found a floppy disk image that would supposedly let you boot off USB. So I had to download the floppy image to USB, copy it to a really old computer, write the image to floppy, boot the laptop, plug in another USB stick with a network install image for Linux, and then use the floppy to boot from the USB stick. I was pretty impressed with myself :P

As you can imagine, I'm not the kind of person who needs to make user of tech support too frequently.
posted by delmoi at 12:59 AM on November 10, 2010


Could not finish the first link because it was like reliving a bad dream circa 1998. His experience, even if moderately hyperbolic, is an encapsulation of why Apple is slowly consuming a higher and higher percentage of the PC market. Because people are starting to factor in time and agita into the overall cost of owning a device that, like a basic automobile, should function seamlessly from the get-go. And even though many people have had very little exposure to the ways in which aesthetics and style in everyday life make us happier people, it is something many people appreciate when offered at no extra cost.

I have had to purchase three Dells for work to run our EHR and Dragon software. The same error messages started appearing within a week, meaningless of course but obnoxious when every extra mouse click is an obstacle to getting the day finished, and the same need to reboot every day or two as they slowly grind themselves into nonfunctional oblivion started after a few weeks. I suspect their tech support is top notch, but the thing is, with Apple, after two iMacs, two iPhones, an iPad and two macbooks I've never had to dial their support line a single time. Besides my gas range, their is nothing else I own with that track record.

I stopped voluntarily purchasing Windows based machines over a decade ago. As an Apple stockholder this post warms my heart.
posted by docpops at 1:19 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because people are starting to factor in time and agita into the overall cost of owning a device that, like a basic automobile, should function seamlessly from the get-go.

At last we get to the car analogies.

This is a very good point, but should be complemented with another: An automobile has a very well specified function ( get from point A to point B ), and the expected range of user configuration/customization is clearly defined. Driving a car would be about as aggravating as owning a computer if the user expected to be able to rip out the engine or transmission, install one with completely different operating parameters, manufactured several years ago and designed for a different model using just a screwdriver and spending a total time of 10 minutes, with no written instructions or training.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:33 AM on November 10, 2010


That is an interesting analogy. But i think the more common point is that most people purchase a computer for the same esssential functions: internet, email, archiving and managing media. So point A to B, indeed. But if what you are saying is true, then it only confirms that things will insidiously worsen for the average PC owner, I suspect.
posted by docpops at 1:56 AM on November 10, 2010


My cheap Dell laptop had a broken power socket. I spent 20 minutes on the phone and then a guy came round and replaced my motherboard (which fixed the problem).

They were a little robotic (heaven help you if you try and shortcut the process, given you know exactly what is wrong) but perfectly competent.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:07 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


analogtom: "All pc's are sh#t. "

No.
posted by Splunge at 2:37 AM on November 10, 2010


I knew he was an idiot when it took him an hour to take the computer out of the box and plug in five or six cables...

I gotta admit, I got tired of his whining about two screens in and left him to rot in hell....
posted by HuronBob at 3:04 AM on November 10, 2010


But i think the more common point is that most people purchase a computer for the same esssential functions: internet, email, archiving and managing media.
Yeah but look what you wrote:
I have had to purchase three Dells for work to run our EHR and Dragon software.
I'm not sure what EHR (electronic health records?) is and I'm guessing dragon is dictation software? Anyway, that's not really a common use case. My guess is if you were running it on Macs, you would be having issues, and on the other hand if you just used PCs to "Internet, email, and manage media" you probably wouldn't be having any problems at all, they are pretty good at doing that.

It also sounds like you may be blaming windows for the crappy software you're running on it. The less users a piece of software has, the buggier it's going to be. Something like firefox or chrome will be rock solid, while whatever bloatware 'enterprise' stuff is forced on you by management is probably going to suck - especially if it's internally written.
posted by delmoi at 3:08 AM on November 10, 2010


An automobile has a very well specified function ( get from point A to point B ), and the expected range of user configuration/customization is clearly defined.

Drilling the pin-holes into the cylinder and then threading the holes to take the NO2 nozzle was a little tricky.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:42 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey Fuzzybutt - I've been using Macs longer than I care to remember. Suffice it to say, I was a proud owner of the PB540c, Apple's first notebook computer.

Not even close, man. The 540c was released in 1994, and was the 4th or so rendition. The first Powerbook was the PB100, which came out in 1991. I owned one. The Mac Portable (20 pounds and 7000 bucks!) was 1989.

Kids these days.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:44 AM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Delmoi-
Good point, except I run Parallels on an old Macbook and have yet to experience a single glitch with either entity. I respect the POV that an experienced person has on the relative sameness of either system. I can't really offer a better explanation.
posted by docpops at 3:44 AM on November 10, 2010


I knew he was an idiot when it took him an hour to take the computer out of the box

I paused over that too. Then I remembered what Dell user guides are like.

We used to buy Dell machines when we needed PCs in my (academic department) shop, although we're 85% Apple around here. Still, over the past 13 years I've bought or been privy to the purchase of perhaps 10 or 12 Dell boxes from the enterprise division. They have gone steadily downhill on every single axis of build quality and customer service. Wouldn't touch one these days.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:47 AM on November 10, 2010


Oh, and over the past 20 years I have owned over a dozen macs personally, and bought dozens more for my shop. In those years I have certainly had bad machines -- bad designs and individual lemons -- and plenty of interaction with Apple customer service. I can count only one truly bad experience with them (although it was baaad, I ended up winning the fight in the end), and I have one friend with a horror story (Apple reselling his returned machine without wiping the drive, leading to identity theft, seriously, in 2003 or so.)

Just say the words "Dell customer service" at any bar frequented by IT professionals and watch everyone order a double.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:51 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My cheap Dell laptop has worked perfectly for the 4 or so years I've had it and it's never skipped a beat. I feel so left out.
posted by markr at 3:53 AM on November 10, 2010


Re: the computers and cars analogy... I remember reading an E.B. White essay in an old issue of the New Yorker, where he was reminiscing about what it was like to own a car back-in-the-day back in the day, when you were as like as not to break down on any trip of more than ten miles and you were lucky if there was a mechanic somewhere in a three-town radius. Back then to own you had to be to understand function and be able and willing to diagnos and to tinker. The more we came to rely upon cars, the more sophisticated and advanced they have become, the less the average person understands them. I'd be surprised if more than half of owners even know enough to change their own oil. This to explains the rising popularity of macs....I think the people who truly love computers will be sad about it, though. On the other hand, the gearheads don't seem to mind having their sheds to themselves....
posted by Diablevert at 4:07 AM on November 10, 2010


So, my boss had me send his macbook in for service. Long story short, they lost it for over a month, but did eventually find it, not fix it, and send it back. They tried to charge us for the return shipping, even. I found a local apple repair place to get the work done, but it cost us a 75 dollar "diagnostic fee". Does apple suck ? Yes, but that's not why.

Speaking as someone who gets really annoyed whenever I post a question asking for help with my PC and some clown decides to "answer" by saying "get a Mac" -- you've just made my day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:13 AM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and:

My cheap Dell laptop has worked perfectly for the 4 or so years I've had it and it's never skipped a beat. I feel so left out.

Same here. (Pets her Vostro 1500)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:17 AM on November 10, 2010


Four hours to install an OS?

I see someone wasn't a Unix admin in the '90s. Hell, it could be just as psychotic these days to upgrade Solaris, I'm just not aware of it because I don't got to do that crap anymore.

No. Now I get to upgrade data security "appliances." These are single-purpose servers sold to IT as feature-rich and easy-to-maintain alternatives to general-purpose servers running an application suite.

What it really means is they're all lowest-bidding-vendor commodity PCs with a fancy PCI card, and they're all running home-rolled Linux distros with a thick layer of suck slathered on, and no way to get at a bash shell. Once things are configured, they'll merrily hum along forever... provided you don't need to upgrade or patch the software.

Four hours for an OS upgrade is a fond fantasy on some of these boxes. I would call tech support, but at this level, they generally wind up calling us for help if they can't find anyone on their dev team who'll pick up the phone. One vendor's named their bug reporting database after me.

And I see it's just wiped my old configuration, and importing the backup to the new version isn't working. Pass the scotch.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:24 AM on November 10, 2010 [6 favorites]



My cheap Dell laptop had a broken power socket. I spent 20 minutes on the phone and then a guy came round and replaced my motherboard (which fixed the problem).


I had the same experience with my Dell laptop which needed a new motherboard. One of the most impressive service experiences I've ever had with any company.

tldr: I'm buying my Mom a new Dell laptop for Christmas. Her current laptop (also a Dell) is working fine after 3 years but I want to get her something lighter since she travels a lot.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:26 AM on November 10, 2010


First of all, Apple's are PCs. You can run windows and Linux or any other PC Os out of the box.
Secondly, PCs work out of the box (almost all of the time) too. It's just that sometimes things arrive broken, and in that case they need to be fixed.


Intel processor or not, Apple builds their products to workstation-levels of quality. In my experience, the DOA rate and MTBF for Apple gear is right on par with IBM, and a little better than Sun's. Brief experiments with going cheap to compete with PCs on cost in the '90s were horrible failures... as expensive as Macs were, the reliability of the hardware really was a feature people would pay for.

They still do. $999 is stupid expensive money for an entry-level laptop these days, and Apple will sell the new MacBooks hand over fist.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:37 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking as someone who gets really annoyed whenever I post a question asking for help with my PC and some clown decides to "answer" by saying "get a Mac" -- you've just made my day.

Since you've noted this before, the computing part of your Ask Metafilter question history appears to show no one having done this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:46 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apple builds their products to workstation-levels of quality.
What does that even mean? Sounds pretty vacuous. I mean, back in the day a workstation was an expensive Unix box sold to researchers, but as commodity hardware outpaced expensive custom stuff it's basically become a totally meaningless term. As far as I know.
Since you've noted this before, the computing part of your Ask Metafilter question history appears to show no one having done this.
Maybe she uses other message boards besides metafilter?
posted by delmoi at 4:58 AM on November 10, 2010


My home computer is self-built, which allows me to choose very high quality parts and pay less for the same amount of power than I would if I bought through an OEM. Of course, that means that I don't have technical support except for each individual component... but I've never had a problem.

At work, I use a Dell Precision workstation, which I have to say that I have enjoyed. It's not a consumer machine, though.

Dell's laptops suck.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:11 AM on November 10, 2010


What does that even mean?

Pay attention. It was defined in the post. Please read before reacting.

To save you the trouble of scrolling up, it means in my experience Apple gear has better MTBF and DOA rates than comparable equipment, and more along the lines of high-end computing gear. Their position at or near the top of almost every survey that measures quality confirms this anecdotal observation. Cite.

More to the point, the engineers responsible for the cheap, fragile shit coming from other manufacturers like to take digs at Apple's over-engineering. Cite.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:24 AM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Err, not to derail, but how is Dell consultancy services? Massive migration project in the works.
posted by jadepearl at 5:34 AM on November 10, 2010


Splung:

You're just in denial.
posted by organic at 5:40 AM on November 10, 2010


Maybe she uses other message boards besides metafilter?

There are other message boards?!
posted by nomadicink at 5:45 AM on November 10, 2010


Unfortunately neither he nor Dell recognized the original problem from the start...a faulty video card/driver. You tell me that whenever you watch videos you get a BSOD, I have to think there's a problem with video. Truth be told the current 6410 laptops come shipped with the wrong driver installed.
posted by Gungho at 5:54 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My cheap Dell laptop has worked perfectly for the 4 or so years

On balance, the odds are good that any individual machine one purchases will be problem free. We're all arguing anecdotal instances here, although some of us on the basis of fleet purchasing experience or long personal experience over many machines. Still anecdata.

As far as I recall, in almost any ranking of PC customer service quality, Apple winds up at the top, and Dell usually shows up closer to the top than most PC makers, but behind Lenovo and HP. Last consumer reports ranking I recall had Apple at 86/100 and Dell at 56/100. Either way, you're not really risking life and limb buying any new PC, of course.

It's that one case in 100 at the margin where the nightmares happen; and it is those cases, for better or worse, that define the long-term reputation of any company for customer service. These things also change. At one point, Dell had unquestionably excellent customer service. And Apple has sucked for stretches of its history too (although not in recent years).

Follow the trendlines.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:56 AM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


All pc's are sh#t. Apple is not perfect by any means, but they work the moment you take them out of the box (almost all of the time)

Not true. Apple like Dell, is just another computer company working with a variety of vendors and experiencing its fair share of bad component lots.

For example, in *MY* experience, I have personally witnessed five brand-new macs (over the course of 6 years) come in spanking fresh from Apple, only to have defective hardware that rendered them inoperable. Compared to the total number of brand new macs I have first-hand experience with, Apple is not even batting .500
posted by DavidandConquer at 6:20 AM on November 10, 2010


I call such bullshit on this guy:

"Therefore Dell insisted that I receive three separate deliveries on three separate days"

When you order peripherals via Dell, they ship from different locations - it's cheaper to buy them on your own but Dell sales won't tell you that- they get good mark-up on the 3d party crap.

"With all the boxes in front of me the process of installation began. I had forgotten how much has to be done to put together a computer. Aside from the physical unpacking of the boxes and plugging in of cables"

If it takes you an hour to unbox a desktop system and plug in the essential 4-5 cables (power to the box, power to the monitor, vid cable, keyboard, mouse) you're a fucking moron.

"Then I had to add the basics - skype, firefox, chrome, itunes, live messenger, adobe reader etc. Each time I added a program I had to pause and tell Windows "yes please let this program load".

This was the guy's fatal mistake. He should have just brought the system up, done the updates and let it run for a while. Once he installed his personally chosen 3d party software, he cooked his own goose.

"I experienced four blue screens of death within the first 12 hours of finishing the computer set-up"

Nope - he encountered four blue screens of death after loading his "etc." software. If he's just left the factory image alone and had blue screens then, he could have done a lot of things- demanded a fully imaged hard drive swap, he could have run the factory-provided disk reimage utility from the hidden partition - he had a lot of options. But once he fouled this thing up beyond belief and THEN called support, not much to do for the guy.

Working tech support is a weird gig- it's like selling people cars- you can buy a brand new four-wheel-drive jeep from a dealership, but the mechanics over at the dealership garage aren't going to take you out and teach you how to drive off-road. Same with tech support- they support what they sold you, not the glorious mess you created yourself.

This guy clearly got at least two idiots on the phone. I know this because I used to work for Dell doing phone support in a past life. But, when an idiot talks to an idiot over the phone about computer problems, nothing good happens. This guy is the WORST kind of customer. He knows just enough to be dangerous, he's whiny, he's painfully white, and he's just obnoxious in general. I have zero sympathy for him. 90% of his problems are his own. Make that 95%. He bought a consumer system (Inspiron) which guaranteed him the dregs of tech support at Dell (the consumer desktop queue). That's just the way it goes. If he'd bought a high-end business system through a resaler, he'd have been eligible for better support, just by by nature of the way Dell divvies up their talent. At any rate, callers like this are the reason I didn't answer my home telephone between the ages of 25 and 28 if I could help it. And drank myself into oblivion 4-5 nights out of every week.

(Just checked his profile - his picture = confirmed cheez whiz head - feeling strong urge to reach for bottle of rum from the freezer that isn't there)
posted by PuppyCat at 6:32 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


the reliability of the hardware really was a feature people would pay for.

They still do. $999 is stupid expensive money for an entry-level laptop these days, and Apple will sell the new MacBooks hand over fist.


The reason people overpay for macs is NOT because they are all enamored of the build quality (which is good). Most people have never opened up a mac and are not technically savvy. People who "want a mac" mostly are playing to the branding and the hip, approachable image that Apple has worked on. There is even a subset of mac-owners (I know a few) who are STILL convinced that they "needed a mac" so that they could use their iPod.
posted by DavidandConquer at 6:36 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh oh, we're gonna go down Mac/PC lane again.

Mutually assured destruction. They are only machines. You pay what you are willing for something that will do what you need it to do the way you want it to do it. It's not shameful to pay extra for a slick car, even though a shitbox will get you from here to there just as quickly. Some people like leather seats and wood trim, ok? Not everyone wants to work on their cars on the weekend. And then again, some of us who do like to work on our cars and can afford any car we want will buy a 1972 Dodge Charger on occasion, but drive to work in a Honda Civic. Time is money, and more than money. How we spend it and value it is a personal choice. The facts are what they are. Consumers appear to be voting in large numbers for the particular luxuries Apple offers, some of which are as ephemeral as the idea that a red car will enhance your masculinity (if you're a 46 year old dude like me) and some as substantial as an aluminum engine block or a superlight frame.

You go your way, I'll go mine. We'll keep getting our work done and meet in the future when all of this will seem like ancient history because we'll all be using tiny pocket computers with display glasses that run any OS in virtualization mode from the cloud.

OK?
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:46 AM on November 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


If he'd bought a high-end business system through a resaler, he'd have been eligible for better support, just by by nature of the way Dell divvies up their talent

At that price point, for all the trouble this is, he might as well have bought an HP or a Mac, and gotten better tech support and more features for the same money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:56 AM on November 10, 2010


One possible strategy for avoiding the outsourced standardized script tech support is to call the French language support line (in NA). Quebec technicians are often bilingual.
posted by CDHJ at 6:59 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm beyond Mac vs. PC. I've got a Motorola as my main computer these days... their build quality is exemplary, and has been since the time of the Star*Tac. That said, the Android interface is pretty crummy - unintuitive, inconsistent and poorly documented. I'm thinking of switching to Nokia's pocket Unix workstation, but would really like it in CDMA, as to be compatible with Verizon's network.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:00 AM on November 10, 2010


Maybe it's the XPS service, but I have found Dell used to be quite good with their service. I hear they've dropped the ball recently, but I remember in the late 90s I had a problem with a recently acquired machine (XPST650) and they shipped me a brand new one with the same configuration and told me to ship the faulty one back. All this on their dime. And overnight.

I haven't always bought Dell, but I remember being impressed by their case designs in the early 2000s with things like hinged cases and mounting rails for all sorts of internal hardware.

And even more recently, I had an XPS Gen 2 notebook (early M170, a fantastic machine at the time but they had some reliability issues) that I had purchased in the US wear out its headphone jack while I was living in the UK, and just for kicks I called their customer service and after I had explained the situation the guy came back on (after a 3 minute hold) saying they'd send a local tech out to me the following day to replace my mobo. And I got a new copy of my installation CDs too, again at no cost.

To be fair, the screen on that notebook was replaced twice in 3 years (all under warranty), but I wasn't too gentle with that machine anyhow.

Overall I'm pretty satisfied with my XPS M1340 (studio xps 13) that I bought at the time when I was considering an equivalent Macbook Pro. The EXACT SAME configuration (I mean it) was available at just about twice the price from Apple. I tried, but I couldn't justify it (US$899 vs. US$1699). If I had the money, I don't see why I wouldn't get a Mac. They're nice designs, nicely built, and they seem to have less hardware failures. It's just that reading the specs makes me think twice.

And, this may be somewhat outdated info now, but the Dell mini9 was a FANTASTIC little Mac OSX machine (which ran Mac OSX/Ubuntu/whatever perfectly). I challenge you to spend that much on a comparable Apple product.

Although, the first Apple product I ever owned was an Apple IIgs that my parents bought for us and the home office. I was young, but I have never loved, truly loved a computer as much ever again.
posted by donttouchmymustache at 7:01 AM on November 10, 2010


All in all I've had more problems with macs than with pc's. But I've switched over to an iPad now. I don't care that I can only do a handful of things on it and if it ever breaks I'll get a new one.

I have a Dell at work, but I have a elite cadre of Canadian IT professionals to clear the cache or whatever it is they do when I complain that my vs2010 solution is taking hours to compile. Whatever it is they do is no help at all but it makes me feel important.

Needless to say I am done messing with computers. I take a lot of crap at work from the other nerds because I don't want to jailbreak stuff or run ubuntu or hack together wifi antennas out of pringles cans.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:03 AM on November 10, 2010


With Apple it's not necessarily the reliability of the hardware (Stuff breaks and burns out on Macs too, just ask my Dad, who's been through 2 or 3 logic boards on his G5 iMac) as it is
  1. The compatibility of the OS with the hardware; since Apple knows exactly what hardware configurations OS X is going to be running on out of the box, they can avoid a lot of the obscure driver headaches enjoyed by Windows users.
  2. The absence of crapware installed on top of the OS by third-party partners; 30 day trials, ISP signup links, gallery software, music players, game demos, etc, each trying to take over ownership of various filetypes and generally confusing non-power users as to what icon they're actually supposed to click to surf the web, look at their pictures or whatever.
Yes, Macs have a slick/hip image, but for every hipster buying into the brand there's a parent or grandparent who have been steered there by progeny who got sick and tired of doing free Windows tech support... because by and large, for everyday e-mail and web-surfing purposes, Macs really do "just work".
posted by usonian at 7:04 AM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The percentage of Apple products that fail are relatively low...

yeah, they keep it low by adamantly refusing to admit that there could possibly be any problem with one of their products. it's infuriating to have an identical issue as has logged hundreds of complaints on their support boards (to which they do not respond), and then have tech support tell you they've never heard of any such problem.

dell does the same thing, though. a few years ago i had a monitor start flickering strange colors; i called and they forced me through over an hour of restarting this and reinstalling that and resetting yonder, only to have the guy tell me that the problem was a loose cable in the back--which he knew because they had "rooms full" of returned monitors with exactly the same problem.

People who "want a mac" mostly are playing to the branding and the hip, approachable image that Apple has worked on.

i've never gotten this thing of non-marketers trying to guess at other's purchasing motivations as some kind of moral judgment (there goes martha again, buying those del monte canned green beans because she thinks she's just too good for the store brand), but i'm more mystified as to what pathetic state of existence must exist for one to take the time and effort to dwell on it at every opportunity. seriously, the common claim about apple fanboys is that they buy the stuff for the purpose of making others envious; but what it is besides envy that makes people angrily paw at their keyboards making an issue out of it?
posted by fallacy of the beard at 7:24 AM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


but for every hipster buying into the brand there's a parent or grandparent who have been steered there by progeny who got sick and tired of doing free Windows tech support

This.

As I work with computers as my job (though not tech support), I got really tired of coming home to my friends and family asking for help with their computer. In the past few years, my answer has been "I'm only going to help you if you get a Mac." For the people that got them, I don't get questions anymore.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:29 AM on November 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Having used, programmed and serviced PCs for years, I finally got an iMac as my main computer and I have no technical complaints. I'm a little pissed off that Apple announced Java was deprecated seemingly before making arrangements with Oracle, but that's an obscure political beef to most people.

I would unhesitatingly recommend an iMac as a main home desktop for a non technical user. It's worth the extra money for the solid hardware, well thought out design and lack of headaches. And as Threeway points out it's less of a headache for me if I steer people that way. Helping friends and relatives with their barfing Windows boxes can easily turn into an unpaid second job if you get a reputation as the go to guy.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:49 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My cheap Dell laptop has worked perfectly for the 4 or so years I've had it and it's never skipped a beat. I feel so left out.

I hear you here. Ish. I've had a couple problems, but they've been easily solved. Three year old Inspiron 1720 laptop (Back when it was their midrange line rather than the budget consumer line).

Six months in, power supply goes out. I have a backup, so I calmly pop on to the text-based customer support (which oddly reminds me of IRC), and say more-or-less "My power supply has died, the green light is out, and it's making a whistling noise." The response: "Can you check another power socket to be sure? Ok. I'll send out a dispatch." And just like that, a new power supply shows up at my door the next day, and the old one is sent out just like that. All free.

About a year from there, a hard drive goes out. SMART tests said it was dying early. Manufacturer defect or something in that line. Again, pop on the text-support, tell them SMART tests are saying my hard drive is dying, and their response "Sounds like you know what you're doing. Do you want a technician or can you install it on your own?" And just like that, dispatch is sent, hard drive is swapped, and I even get slipstreamed OS discs. All free.

About six months ago, something serious actually comes up. The left half of my screen starts fading, getting worse and worse as time goes on until it's more or less unreadable. Again, I pop on text-support, they hem and haw a little by asking me to check external monitors and the like (reasonable, of course, but more than I've had to do before) before saying that the new screen should be sent out to the local technician in 3 days. Service guy comes out, swaps out the LCD, and is on his way. Problem shows up again within a week, with the added part of it being fine if I turn down the backlight, and popping otherwise. I figure it's the LCD power inverter, I tell text-support that, they send out a new inverter and a new LCD to be sure. Tech comes by again, swaps it all out, and it's worked perfectly ever since.

And just to be clear: I didn't have to pay a cent out of pocket on any of this. Not for parts, not for labor, not for shipping. And each time, within half an hour of contacting Dell, the solution was on the way.

So the moral of the story, I guess? Standards from one Dell center to another probably vary, but text-support is awesome.
posted by CrystalDave at 8:00 AM on November 10, 2010


Apple my ass. I have a two month, 30+ email exchange with iTunes support that shows incompetence just as great as in this article.
posted by LarryC at 8:56 AM on November 10, 2010


Since you've noted this before, the computing part of your Ask Metafilter question history appears to show no one having done this.

I'm pretty sure such answers would be flagged and deleted, and thus not shown in the history. Doesn't mean they were never there.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:03 AM on November 10, 2010


EmpressCallipygos, the same thing happened to me when I asked for advice on what machine to buy (nb. not here.)

'Get a Mac.'

'I don't want one.'

'No, really, get a Mac.'

'I'm dyspraxic and I would struggle to learn a new OS, plus they're expensive and my work software doesn't run on them [it does now]. Any suggestions for Windows machines?'

'You should get a Mac.'

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
posted by mippy at 9:10 AM on November 10, 2010


Briefly, what's your itunes problem, Larry? Is it about content you bought? I'm not going to launch into a defense of Apple here - I think itunes is just okay and I'd never buy any DRMed crap through its store. It works ok to play the stuff I download or rip though.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:16 AM on November 10, 2010


My Commodore 64 still works perfectly. The internal floppy drive on my Amiga 1000 is a little flakey, though.
posted by rfs at 9:21 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


'You should get a Mac.'

You should buy me one.
posted by fuq at 9:30 AM on November 10, 2010


My Commodore 64 still works perfectly. The internal floppy drive on my Amiga 1000 is a little flakey, though.


Oh fuck yeah, the two main problems I had with my Amigas was their seeming inability to read a floppy disk without destroying it and every one of them somehow got 1 pin pushed in on the monitor ports.

my 64,64c,128, 2 1541s, 2 1581s all work great.

Of course booting out of rom or a floppy disk pretty much meant you never had to worry about your OS install getting fucked.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 AM on November 10, 2010


I am now having flashbacks of speaking with HP customer support when a defective NVIDIA chip fried my motherboard.

Contrast with the same chip frying my Apple motherboard when it was already out of warranty: adorable tech support guy makes jokes with me about zapping P-RAM (I start all tech support calls with: "I used to work in tech support, too. It's ok, you can use the big words with me."), says yup, your chip is fried but we're gonna cover it because it's a known problem, he schedules me an appointment and they end up replacing the entire motherboard for free.

God, I love Apple SO MUCH.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:00 AM on November 10, 2010


$999 is stupid expensive money for an entry-level laptop these days,

Stupid me, I guess. I thought I'd try a Macbook as I'd heard good things about OS X. Short story there is that I have some issues with the OS, starting with (1) the fact that search (Spotlight) doesn't actually search a huge number of folders, and (2) that it cannot search some large .pdfs.

On the support side, I noticed a dead pixel. Not a huge deal, but the first one I've seen on a new LCD display ever. I spoke to a Mac rep on the phone, and he gave me an authorization number to get it serviced at a local Mac shop. Good stuff! Except that the shop subsequently informed me that Apple has declined to make the repair. So I was without my machine for a week, had to make two trips to the store, and still have the issue. Hmmm.

Some time (seconds?) after the warranty expired , DVDs will no longer eject from the thing, because of its design (the drive bay is warped). I mentioned this to a friend who has a Mac - the same thing has happened to him. I hope don't have to replace the drive, as it's about $175.00. In the meantime I have to create disc images of anything I want to install from a disc.

I've since put Windows 7 on an older tower, and I prefer its common sense approach to file locations and searchability. It's got its problems too, but Microsoft doesn't trade on user friendliness and dependability in the way that Apple does.

They both kinda suck. But the disparity between Apple's marketing and reality increases its suckitude past that of Windows. And Macs cost more.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:16 AM on November 10, 2010


I apparently dodged a bullet on a Dell a ways back. God bless their 30 day return policy, anyways (do they still have that?), but really their customer service and sales guys need to talk to each other or something. I'd had some issues and they'd sent a guy out to fix them and some other issues cropped up later (still within the 30 days) so I called them up and said "listen, I'm still under my 30 days here, but these issues are troubling, can you get me an extension on the 30 days?" They said no, I returned it, and a week later, the sales guy calls me up and is all "Please, baby, it won't happen again." Any sane customer retention policy would have their customer service guys give me the extra 30 days, because now not only do they not have my money, they're also out of pocket for the time they sent a guy out to look at the machine.
posted by juv3nal at 10:59 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just n-thing the 'buy Macs for old people' thing. We have now transitioned all our elderly relatives over to Macs and the support calls have dried up completely.
posted by unSane at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to recommend Dell to people at work because of the support they offered to educational clients.

Now I recommend against Dell because of years of increasingly shitty build quality in their systems.

They were one of the first companies to make it easy to crack the case and swap out parts without tools, sure. But the fact that they went from "This is a cool option" to "Yep, you will NEED to be able to do this if you want to use the computer" really stinks.

As for build quality, well... I loved my carbon-fiber black and red Acer, but after a couple of years stuff started going off on the thing, the trackpad buttons work only sporadically, and the screen was never as bright as it should have been. I gave it to my in-laws. When I have to play with the computer now I am frustrated as hell at how bad it is, painfully slow and oftentimes unusable.

My neighbor's beat-up, crusty old PowerBook is the same age (or older) as the Acer but it runs much, much better. And after three years of constant use, my own MacBook Pro is in far better shape than the Acer was after an equivalent period of time, plus it has not yet begun to annoy me - a first for a laptop. Never owned one before that didn't begin to piss me off and seem outdated and sluggish after a year or two.

I'll give Dell this though. The PowerEdge 1300 next to my feet was pretty damn solid Linux server/router right up until the hard drive died and I gave up on fixing it and replaced with with a standalone gigabit router. I don't even know what drive died, either - I suspect the IDE one I added, and the original SCSI drive is probably just fine... man, they used to be good. What happened to them?
posted by caution live frogs at 12:02 PM on November 10, 2010


The only issue I've ever had with Apple was that they INSISTED that I had to buy iLife '10 to upgrade from Tiger to Snow Leopard, even after I explained to their genius guy why it wouldn't make any sense to sell a new operating system as an upgrade only disk (no restore disk, etc).

Moral of the story: 30 dollar upgrade from tiger to snow leopard.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:21 PM on November 10, 2010


My most memorable 'Dell Hell' moment was actually with HP. I was having display problems with an HP monitor and knew full well that it was a hardware problem with the monitor, as the issue could be reproduced by hooking the defective monitor up to various machines. The tech support person would hear none of it and had me install and uninstall various drivers, make adjustments in Windows and all sorts of other time wasters. I had spent over two hours on the phone with him and was becoming a bit exasperated at the whole process. After finishing another task that I knew wasn't going to solve the hardware problem with the monitor, I let him know I was done and it had it hadn't resolved the problem. I was met with silence.

Me: (again) Okay, I've finished and it hasn't fixed the problem.
HP: (silence)
Me: Are you still there?
HP: Yes.
Me: (third time) Okay, I've finished and it hasn't fixed the problem.
HP: Silence.
Me: What is the next step.
HP: I'm out of screens.
Me: Come again?
HP: I'm out of screens.
Me: I don't understand... Out of screens?
HP: Yes.
Me: What do you mean "out of screens"?
HP: I'm out of screens. I have no more screens.
Me: Your out of replacement monitors?
HP: No, I'm out of screens. I have no more screens.
Me: I'm still not getting what you're saying. What does "out of screens" mean?
HP: I'm out of screens. I have no more screens to help you.
Me: You mean you have no more help screens on your computer?
HP: (indignant) Yes. I'm out of screens.
Me: Okay. Could you please transfer me to someone who can help me then?
HP: No.
Me: Sorry?
HP: I can't transfer you. I'm out of screens.
Me: There's no one in all of HP that you can transfer me to that can help me solve my problem?
HP: No. I'm out of screens.
Me: So now what do we do.
HP: You have to hang up.
Me: Why in the world do I have to hang-up?
HP: Because I'm not allowed to hang-up on you.

I related the story to my brother the next day. Now, whenever one of us is exasperated with a situation and give up, we will loudly state, "I'm out of screens."
posted by bionic.junkie at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2010 [18 favorites]


Metafilter: I have a elite cadre of Canadian IT professionals

My basic philosophy of Apple product purchasing is, go for the pro. Do not buy the plastic model. To paraphrase the long-forgotten Garett Morris, "Plastic breaks." Just like rubber.

Really, most people keep a laptop 2-3 years (me, it's one a year at best, often one every 9 months or so, but I take them into fieldwork situations in the arctic, etc.). $2-300 is a *trivial* amount of money over a couple of years, folks. Upgrade your initial purchase. You almost cannot kill an aluminum MBP (except the f'ing hard drives, which go quite often on me, but again, I'm a hard case who is used to replacing hard drives on the fly).

A $600 machine you tolerate, a $1000 machine you like, and a $1300 machine you love, amortized over 3 years and the productivity gains of using a machine that suits your needs perfectly, and who gives a flying fuck about a few hundred dollars up front? Do all the low-cost PC fanboys drive around in base model Kias too?
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:08 PM on November 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Add to the fact that the high end macs keep on keeping on for YEARS. I have G3 and G4 powermacs that are still working perfectly (although relegated to things like running my network drive and SCSI scanners). My MacBook Pro has been subjected to hellish abuse and never blinked (apart from that glass of wine I spilled on it). Typing this on an 8-core MacPro that I suspect will outlive me, seeing as it appears to be carved from a block of solid unobtanium.
posted by unSane at 2:23 PM on November 10, 2010


I bought a Dell laptop (remember those grey and blue ones everyone had for a while there?) for use at college back when they still offered four year warranties. I had a couple of problems with the heat sink in that first year of use, then no problems for years 2-3, and literally five major system failures in year 4 (motherboard, keyboard, mouse pad, power supply, and fan). After the fifth failure, I sat down and called Dell.

I was still under warranty, so all of the technicians were making house calls with free parts. I steamrolled over the guy and basically said, 'at what point is this machine going to cost you more in technician hours and part supplies than the cost of a replacement machine?' The guy took a deep breath, put me on hold to talk to his supervisor, got back on the phone and told me they'd ok'd a new machine. For whatever reason, the machine they gave me was all of the parts of a 2007 machine at the cost of a 2003 machine. I had the first dual-core computer in the dorm, free, courtesy of that frustrating tech support call and its many predecessors.

The 2007 machine lasted me through grad school, but after the eighth time I replaced a power cord (it ate them, for no reason I ever figured out), I got a Mac. Don't know what Mac tech support is like because I haven't had to call them.

Then again, I'm typing this comment on a Dell; my work machine is a Latitude. Of course, at work I have tech support at my beck and call.
posted by librarylis at 3:15 PM on November 10, 2010


Since you've noted this before, the computing part of your Ask Metafilter question history appears to show no one having {said "Get a mac."}
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:46 AM on November 10

Maybe she uses other message boards besides metafilter?
posted by delmoi at 4:58 AM on November 10


She does indeed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 PM on November 10, 2010


And the reason she does is because she's seen "just get a mac" bandied about when other people ask such questions and knows that that's what she'd hear too, so she says "fuck it".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 PM on November 10, 2010


Do all the low-cost PC fanboys drive around in base model Kias too?

No, we buy high-end BMWs and overpowered Japanese racers with the money we save from avoiding Apple products.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:28 AM on November 11, 2010


Do all the low-cost PC fanboys drive around in base model Kias too?

Only if they get to push them. Gas is for suckers!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:19 AM on November 11, 2010


$2-300 is a *trivial* amount of money over a couple of years, folks.

For you, perhaps. Not for everybody. It's not just portability that have made netbooks really, really popular.
posted by mippy at 7:33 AM on November 11, 2010


I recently purchased a netbook, and after booting it started installing all sorts of afterthoughts by itself, and then various bits had to be updated online, with more reboots. It indeed took hours — immensely user-unfriendly.

It probably has to do with the fact that Microsoft requires OEMs to not modify the installation media to preactivate software but requires all modifications to be done after the initial boot sequence.

But the 4 hours the article quotes for installation: totally believable.

typing this on a MacBook Pro
posted by LanTao at 9:40 AM on November 11, 2010


Apple builds their products to workstation-levels of quality.
What does that even mean? Sounds pretty vacuous.


To me a desktop is a machine that is optimized to it's own configuration. The hardware supports all the internal connectivity that it needs. The communication protocols that it doesn't use, are only emulated in software.

A true workstation implements the full set of protocols in hardware, so it can run high speed data-capture and all kinds of video editing peripherals, etc. Look at the list of computers approved by Avid or Bluefish. Those are workstations.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:40 PM on November 11, 2010


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