Last week wasn't much fun. The icing on the cake of crapola was Friday, when my laptop seemed to be on its last legs.
I'd been having problems with my beloved laptop ever since I'd run some sort of software designed to free up harddrive space by removing the extra languages. (I'm really not going to need Finnish any time soon, no matter how much I liked James Thompson's SNOW ANGELS)
The computer was running slowly, taking an ungodly amount of time to turn off and on. I'd taken to just having it sleep most of the time, rather than actually power down.
Then Thursday I downloaded a bunch of movies, and the computer said "naw, not doing that" and sat down on the metaphorical curb and cried.
Well, I knew I needed to back up data before taking it in, but I couldn't get the software installed for the new remote harddrive. I sucked it up and trudged down to Tekserve. I've been a customer there since 2002. I've bought five or more computers there, almost all my peripherals, and been content enough to keep going despite a glitch or two.
I expected to wait a while for repair, but I didn't. I was surprised how few people were there. The first time I'd been to Tekserve was on a Friday night and you'd have thought there was an open bar there were so many people standing around. This time there were maybe five people waiting.
I explained my problem to a very pleasant young woman who had a really nice bird tattoo. I explained I'd probably done something stupid by trying to clean the computer a while back, and then probably downloaded too much stuff the previous night.
Fine. The young woman tells me what she's going to do as if I'll understand it. Do what you need to I say to her, and she does.
Fifteen minutes later she says "your hard drive is corrupted. You need a new one. Fortunately it's covered by warranty. Of course, none of your data can be saved, but we can try to restore it for you for $549. If we can't, you don't have to pay."
Hang on a second.
I'm pretty sure my hard drive is working, albeit slowly. I'd sent emails on it five minutes before leaving the office. It turns off and on, slowly yes, but it does. The screen doesn't go blank. It doesn't suddenly fail. It's just slow.
And what's this about losing all my data? I don't think so.
I ask if it's possible to drag and drop my file folders onto a flashdrive.
The birdlady says "no, your hard drive is corrupted."
Fearing the worst I ask how long it will take to fix. "Oh just a day," she says.
"So if I bring it on Saturday, I'll get it on Monday?"
"No, you'll get it on Tuesday."
"And if I bring it on Monday?"
"You'll get it Tuesday."
Well, it seems clear that the thing to do is go home and try to salvage as much data as possible, either by emailing myself files or getting them on flash drives. There's nothing to be lost by bringing the computer back on Monday instead of leaving it now.
So I buy the three largest flash drives Tekserve has. Three 32 GB flash drives, and off I slither into the subway.
I get home, and pop the first drive in. I drag and drop a file folder. The computer burps and says "no, I don't think so"
So I drag and drop single files from the folder.
And lo and behold it works.
It's going to take a while, but it works.
As I'm loading up the flash drives I realize I need to find the software disc for my MS Office program. Of course I have to hunt for it. I'm pawing through my discs when I come upon something I'd forgotten I had. The discs that reinstall the operating system. For this laptop.
When I'd screwed up the computer, maybe I'd screwed up the operating system. What if it's not the harddrive? What if it's just the operating system?
I get everything on the flashdrives but a couple of files from iTunes, and I sadly say "sayonara" to four seasons of Law and Order, figuring when I reinstall the OS, I'll never see them again.
Then I take a deep breath, install the discs and mutter a prayer.
And it works.
The OS gets reinstalled. The computer restarts itself and presto, magic turns on in about 30 seconds, not three minutes like it had before.
The computer coughs a few time like she's waking from a nap, then starts back to work. And my god, all my files are THERE. I have the backups, but the files on the computer are still THERE.
Es su milagro!
At this point I'm so grateful I don't have to 1. buy a new computer 2. lose any data 3. have three days downtime I forget that the technician at Tekserve not only had the wrong diagnosis, she didn't actually ever ask me if I'd tried reinstalling the operating system.
And she was right: replacing the harddrive WOULD fix the problem. It wouldn't cost anything. It was covered by warranty. What she ignored was the cost in downtime and lost data.
This is the second time Tekserve has been cavalier about cost when I've dealt with them. Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern.
Now, I'm not going to say "I'll never buy another thing there again ever ever ever" cause those kinds of blanket statements can end up biting you in the asterisk.
What I am going to do is this: I'm not going to Tekserve first. There are now other places to by Apple products in NYC. There are other places to talk to Apple techs. I have no idea if they are any good, but I'm going to find out.
And losing my business won't damage Tekserve in the least. I'm a small potatoes customer. Of course, I am intending to buy my assistant a new computer, and I am intending to buy a wireless router, and I was looking at Macbook Air computers with an idea of upgrading, so they maybe lost three sales in the next month. That's not much. But it's something.
So what's the point of this blog post? It's not an exhortation to boycott Tekserve. Make your own decisions on that.
The point is that I was reminded how important it is to listen to what people say. I can remember times I've just been so certain I was right I cut people off in conversation. I've done it during pitch sessions. I've done it in conversations. I've done it a lot.
This incident was a pretty clear reminder to me to shut up and listen carefully. This was my reminder that you can be right, and still be wrong.