Windows Automatic Update apparently misconfigured my OS, which then required re-validation after two years of good service. What looked to be a minor inconvenience escalated after Microsoft’s automated helpdesk informed me that my copy of XP was incorrectly installed by the computer manufacturer, HP.
I called HP, whose tech support told me for $50 we could fix the problem.
“No,” I argued. “I have perpetual rights to this copy of XP. I did not cause this problem. I have two Dells and one other HP that are unaffected. I do not need Windows; I can install Fiesty Fawn. And I will never buy another HP.”
Despite my protests, no resolution was reached after a couple of hours and several HP techs: Steve, Anita, Kevin, Bryan, and Shabanna.
I went to bed miffed. When I awoke, I realized I had not yet backed up my recently filed taxes to my external hard drive. What the heck, I thought. It will be worth the fifty bucks to save that data. Then I’ll install Fiesty Fawn.
I called HP again. I told them I was ready to purchase tech support. I could sense their hesitation as they reviewed my call log from the previous night. They said we could resolve the problem and they took my credit card numbers.
After a couple more hours and a couple more techs, I was in worse trouble. They had guided me as far as unseating the battery, thus throwing off time and everything on a computer and the software that is guided by time. Still, I did not have access rights to my copy of XP.
The tech said to bring my PC to a repair shop and have them back-up my data. Then, I have fourteen days to call HP back and they would guide me through starting over.
Flustrated, I gave Microsoft one more call. I worked through to a live voice. She took my product key, acknowledged that it was valid and gave me a new key to unlock my PC. No unseating batteries, no cost.
I was livid! I called HP again and laid into them about their dealings with me. They agreed to credit me for the tech support cost . . . and I insisted they stay on the line until I had all my time-related hardware and software issues resolved.
And now the moral of the story: All the techs were in India. Microsoft’s call center is in Bangalore; HP’s is in Chennai. All but one of the techs had adopted American first names. Some spoke perfect English. Most spoke OK English. But one spoke pitiful English.
In a different day, I might have taken offense at this abomination of customer service. However, I worked hard to communicate with this fellow because the situation required some flat world understanding. (Try relaying a 25-character product key when the only common dialect is English Phonetic Spelling.)
I recognize the emergence of India as an economic super power, the sheer magnitude of its educated class, and the affect of its per capita income on corporate bottom lines.
Postscript: Later while driving my 12-year-old daughter to her orthodontist appointment, I told her I had just spent considerable time on the phone to India.
“Is that where HP is?” she asked.
“Maybe,” I replied. “But they have your jobs. And those jobs are not coming back. You are going to have to be very creative in your pursuits.”