Monday, November 19, 2007

Accent On Helpful

Okay, I'll bet you've seen this picture at one time or another. I'm not saying this is what happened but my laptop has undergone some kind of inner trauma that has made it behave as though it's -- well -- pissed off -- or on, as the case may be.

It started out with a few very, very thin vertical lines that came in assorted colors. Some flickered and came and went. Some were solid and hung around. Gradually, more and more verticals appeared and then the day came when, upon firing up the computer, a 2 1/2 inch wide white vertical would appear for a minute or less, then flutter out of existence, leaving me with just the thin verticals.

I should probably have called Dell right away but even though I have a warranty that allows me to expect a tech to come to me and do the work, I was really worried that would somehow not apply because I'm in such an isolated, backward area, technologically speaking. So I kept stalling and the vertical lines kept proliferating and then a second wide vertical appeared. This one also lasted less than a minute when the computer was first turned on so I kept ignoring the problem. Especially this month. I really didn't want to be without my computer with NaNoWriMo going on. Next month, I promised myself. I'll tend to this next month.

It was getting to the point where the vertical lines were becoming very annoying. It was like trying to look at my screen through a curtain of multi-colored fine threads. Then, this morning, the situation jumped from annoying to nearly impossible. The wide verticals I was used to seeing on firing up the old hoss, instead of fluttering away after a minute, began to shimmer and wiggle and act like a berserk symphony of pixels who had just found the religion of break dancing. And then the whole damned right-hand side of the screen went black. With a bunch of multi-colored threads, to be sure, but the black was totally opaque. No more peeking through the curtain.

Ohshitohdear. Do you realize how much you count on the right-hand side of your screen? It isn't just the stuff on your task bar. There are also those thingies in the upper right corners of your windows that allow you to resize or minimize or exit. I couldn't even shut off the computer from the screen because the button I needed was behind the black wall.

I guess you know, I poured a sustaining mug of coffee, grabbed the phone and called the toll free number for Dell-help-me-before-I-do-something-desperate.

You may have heard Dell leaves something to be desired in the way of customer service. I've heard all kinds of complaints about them but I couldn't speak to that myself because, with both a Dell desktop and a Dell laptop, I've only had to call them once. That was an easily handled problem and the tech was pleasant to deal with. Frankly, as far as I'm concerned, Dell puts out a quality product so service calls seem to be pretty much unnecessary.

There is one irritant; like seemingly everyone else, they have outsourced tech help to India (I think) so you have to pray the person you talk to does not have too heavy an accent. I lucked out today. My tech, named Amol, took pains to talk slowly and distinctly and I didn't have to feel mean for making him repeat himself too often.

I'm not sure exactly but all the tests Amol had me run through took somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. By the time we finished up, my poor walk-around phone was angrily beeping the low battery signal. I can't even remember all the things we tried, each procedure designed to narrow down which component was causing the problem. I even learned how to pry up the panel that covers the hinges for the lid without breaking any fingernails (a fingernail file works perfectly).

When we had done everything we could do with the computer as it was, he had me haul out the monitor for my desktop, which has been stored in the closet for the last couple of years. Thank God it's a lightweight, small footprint flatscreen or I'd have had a serious problem. And thank God I even had an external monitor because it's going to be an excellent work-around until the new screen arrives.

Yep. I'm getting a brand new lid for my laptop. Don't know when but the order has been placed. As I understand it, the new screen will be sent to whatever designated tech happens to be in the general vicinity here and they will call me to arrange an appointment so they can come and install it. I have no idea when that will be, nor am I worried about it. Surely it won't be until after Thanksgiving. This is not a good time of year to be distracted. Between cooking and writing -- and thinking about cooking and writing -- the hours are jammed.

But I'm here to tell you, Dell's customer service is kewl beans and I'm mighty grateful for them. Even with the accents.


John Bailey said...

I've nothing but good experience of Dell, too, Dee, and hope it'll go on the same way.

bonnie said...

So glad you had a back up. Wouldn't want you to go into puter shock. :-)

Blogger comment section is doing weird things to me. It opens up this little window but also another that is full screen. So this morning I clicked the full screen closed and your page was gone! Do you recoken (sp?) blogger has a toll free number?

Wolfie said...

Dee, I had the same experience with Dell. My laptop died - said "click" and went off, then wouldn't turn back on - I went online on the desktop and chatted with a tech. We did all the diagnostics, and two days later there was a tech at my door with a new motherboard. He had it fixed in less than half an hour. I'll stick with Dell, thanks! Hope yours works out as well, and as quickly!

Mage And George said...

I am so sorry about the lid....and so glad you had the old flat screen in the closet.

Yer so lucky. I've had nothing but misery with Dell. Two computers worth of misery, and right now have two Gateway's as the major computers here. And too, I let my G talk with their help desks as he speaks the language. I know that's cheating.

Dee said...

John and Wolfie, glad to hear the positive reinforcement. One feels so much more vulnerable when one needs help. (smile)

Bonnie, Blogger doesn't have a help number, toll-free or otherwise. I spent some time browsing the help faqs on your behalf but couldn't find anything that applied. I hope this was just a one-time anomaly.

Mage, I had a Gateway before I turned to Dell. It was a good machine and I loved their techs. I can't say anything bad about them but I just like Dell better. One of those inexplicable thangs.

DellCAJohn said...


I am a support analyst at Dell headquarters.

I wanted to drop in to first say how nice it is to run into a blog post citing a good experience with our support. I also wanted to follow up on this to make sure everything went smoothly afterwards.

If you needed any further help, please let me know!

Dell Customer Advocate

Dee said...

John (from Dell), how nice to hear from you! Thanks for checking in. I will be delighted to update you on the situation but I'm mystified as to how I'll reach you. Your blog site doesn't seem to have any content or means of communicating. If you shoot me an email at deecee at toast dot net, I can keep you posted.