Our First Computer

November 23rd , 1997. We have decided to buy an XYZ computer by mail order in large part because of the good recommendations they have consistently received in computer magazines. They also have SCSI hard drives available. We asked the sales rep what SCSI drive it will come with because only certain drives will work with the video application we have in mind, and he gives us the model number and assures us that this is the model that will come with the machine.

December 1st. The computer arrives. Unfortunately the uninterrupted power supply unit does not. We have to make a number of phone calls to track it down. It arrives a couple of days later and we immediately set up the machine. It crashes on the first day. We spend an hour and a half on the phone with a tech rep trying to revive it. No go. XYZ tells us they are going to have to make a CD-ROM to reprogram our computer. This is going to take a week.

With nothing better to do we decide to open the case of the mini tower only to discover that it has the wrong SCSI drive in it - one that heads the incompatibility chart for our video application. More phone calls: thirty minutes waiting to talk to a tech rep, forty-five minutes waiting to talk to a customer service rep. No calls to the original sales person were ever returned. The upshot? "We can’t specify the model of SCSI drive", XYZ tells us. In short, despite what they said, they are not going to follow through. We decide to return the whole order.

December 12th. The express company finally arrives with the shipping labels, but only for half the order. They come back - a three-hour round trip - a few days later to pick up the rest.

Jan. 5th. Still no refund from XYZ. We call. They have received part of the order back but cannot release our money until Jan. 13th. They have no record of receiving the other part of the order.

By Jan. 16th we have finally received all our money back. But what about the loss of our time and energy? Is XYZ any worse than any of the other big computer mail order companies? Probably not. But from the customer’s point of view there is really no one who takes responsibility for the whole picture. We talked to many nice individuals at XYZ, but we never talked to anyone who made it their business to know our whole story and tried to solve our problem.


We have added our latest (2005) computer adventures in How Microsoft Got to the Point Where it Couldn't Send an Email