20060812

Windows Update

People always wonder why Windows-bashers like myself hate Microsoft so very much. Here's a good reason to start: Windows Update consistently breaks my antivirus program and sometimes my firewall.

Every time I've installed any updates to Windows, either off the website or through the auto-update tool, my copy of Norton Antivirus, which in this case is perfectly legit, breaks. I have a legal version of Windows, a legal version of Norton, and a legal version of ZoneAlarm. There should be no reason at all why a professionally built computer, an inspected Dell refurb, should ever have its anti-virus suddenly just start to fail right after an update. I've reinstalled Norton at least five times in the last month or so.

With Linux, when you install updates, you use something like yum, which checks to make sure that there aren't any conflicts before installing the updates. Updates don't break completely unrelated programs. Likewise with Macs. Updates don't break key programs. But it happens with Windows.

Perhaps the problem is the Dell Refurb. Perhaps the problem is Norton. But I know dozens of people who don't update apart from Service Packs, and have Norton on their Dell Refurbs. They're fine. I also know people who use Linux on their Dell Refurbs. They're fine. For some reason, Windows just isn't smart enough or coordinated enough to avoid breaking something every time it comes in with a fix.

This has happened before: Windows Genuine Advantage prevented my computer from booting entirely. I had to reinstall the OS.

These are the sorts of problems one would expect from Beta software. These are the sorts of problems one would expect from software written by people who don't have a good enough grasp of coding practice to clean up after themselves. Not a well-funded corporation.

There is no excuse for such shoddy workmanship.

20060802

Sprinting away from Service

I'm a sales rep at a major electronics store. I deal with cell phone complaints, TV complaints, radio complaints, and every other type of complaint under the sun. Worst by far are the cell phones.

I just recently had a customer in to upgrade her cell phone. She's a Sprint customer, and has been since 2001. In that time, she's had service interruptions, repetitive dropped calls, undelivered messages, and stonewalling when her phone broke and she attempted to get it replaced under the insurance. Eventually, her contract lapsed. It was a great relief, right until Sprint started calling her to ask her to re-up the agreement. She was a dedicated customer, they said. After much begging and pleading, they listened to her issues, and cajoled her to re-up, promising that she'd be given a $150 dollar credit towards a new phone, and immediately giving her a 5% discount on her $70/mo service.

Fastforward seven months. She's kept meaning to get into my store to get the new phone, but that was December when she called Sprint, and it took a while for stores to open up again here in New Orleans. Finally she comes in, and tells me about her promised service credit. I check the system, and when I can't find it, I call Sprint. They tell me that it expired. The Call Center Rep says that it expired and that there's nothing she can do. The customer asks to speak to her at this point, and I pass the phone over, glad to stop talking to such a Service Rep. Throughout their conversation, the service rep tries "offering" to undo the 5% discount, blaming the customer, and keeps suggesting that the customer sign a new two year agreement, which, considering the service quality, is not on the short list at this point.

Eventually we get a manager, Dan Williams. Dan is a lifesaver, an island of sanity and compassion in a sea of rigid policy. He offers, after some conversation, to try something interesting. I'm to run the upgrade as usual, and then he'll dig into the computer system and cancel the new agreement, so that the old agreement stays in effect. It works, and the customer glows with relief.

Moral of the story? When you have customers paying you $70+ every month, appreciate them. Give every customer your best service, because they're the only reason why you're still here. They can just as easily let their contract lapse and switch to another provider. And thank you Dan Williams, you've cleaned up quite a mess. Hopefully it won't happen again.