Posts Tagged ‘Technical Support’

The Faucet Episode

October 29, 2011

I like doing home improvements (drip, drip, drip) I embrace the challenges and I gain satisfaction from a job well done.  I also understand my limitations.  So if it’s a repair I haven’t done before, there will be some type of… learning curve.  Before I start one of those projects I make sure my girls aren’t around because odds are good that at some point in the heat of the learning curve… the words that roll off my tongue …are four letters and commonly shouted by every football coach and fourth grade boy in the Western Hemisphere.  The girls would chastise me more than they already do…they think they are steering the ship. (drip, drip, drip).   I’ve noticed that the more challenging improvements in our home seem to come in groups rather than being spread out over time.  Lately they have all involved plumbing.  (drip, drip, drip) The tough ones are deceiving.  They appear to be simple half hour jobs and yet somehow they are magically transformed into an odyssey that requires an attitude adjustment, two hours of YouTube instructional videos, a part that is on back order, and schematics designed by engineers…for engineers. (drip, drip, drip)  I think I just realized that maybe I don’t understand my limitations.  However I’m not talking about installing a new furnace, or rewiring our house.  The latest task was…wait for it…fixing a dripping faucet in the girl’s bathroom.  Seriously, now that you know the repair, would you expect the fix to take…two UPS shipments, and seventeen days?  It’s important to highlight the fact that even though it appears I’m in denial about my capabilities…I didn’t discontinue the model of our faucet, I didn’t decide to only label the schematics in Chinese, Latin, and Mayan, or take the replacement parts off retailer’s shelves…I did however turn off the hot water in that bathroom until the parts arrived because the drip became a small stream after the third time I partially took the faucet apart (see learning curve for details).  So every day it wasn’t fixed…there was more of a sense of urgency to do so.

Several years ago we remodeled our home.  Our bathrooms were rebuilt from the studs…by studs.  I say that because they did a great job.  I draw the line at totally rebuilding a room because frankly that kind of construction project takes a lot of knowledge, resources, and time.  Time that I need to devote to working so that I can pay for the stinking upgrade!  I’d love to do a project like that, but I’d also love to keep my marriage, keep my job, keep my sanity, and the list goes on. 

So the new faucets were all higher end Brizo Faucets by Delta which look like this.  They’re nice…when they aren’t dripping.



They come with a lifetime warranty.  Our model was discontinued sometime between installation and malfunction.  So Delta replaced the bad parts for free.  That makes the repair inexpensive, but we had to wait for them to fill, ship, and deliver the order, which takes about ten days.  Thanks to technology upgrades in plumbing you don’t simply replace a washer to stop a leak.  The top of the handle slides off revealing a set screw, unscrew the set screw to take off the handle.  That leaves the inverted bell shaped thingy (in the schematic it’s called a 鐘形片) I had to unscrew the bell from the base.  That reveals a cartridge that is held in place by another part that screws…since I didn’t do this installation I didn’t know the bell had been cemented to the base with clear calk.  So my attempt at unscrewing had me a little… screwed.  The bell wouldn’t budge so I was stuck, and puzzled.  Could the schematic be wrong?  I was forced to regroup.  After two trips to Economy Plumbing for advice, a pair of vice grips, and some choice words, I was able to separate the base from…my life which revealed the cartridge.  Under the cartridge was a spring and a rubber ball like thing.  Thanks to my first UPS shipment I could replace the spring, ball, and cartridge.  Then I screwed everything back in place, slid on the handle, set screw, cap, and…presto change, no drip.  I get to undo it again in ten days when the new bell comes in.  At least now I know what I’m doing. 

Each time I worked on that drip I had to clean everything out from under the cabinet. That way I could get under the sink to bang my head and wrench my neck.  I didn’t realize the cabinet had accumulated so much stuff.  There were two hair dryers (two?) A curling iron, a flattening iron(?)…why the curling iron if you need a flattening iron?…two rags, tampons, pads, sponges (the cleaning variety), toilet cleaner, Clorox wipes, half of a fresh water clam shell, fifteen swear words, some of my thinning hair, and several hours of lost productivity.  The last three are relatively new additions.


Customer Service?

June 9, 2009

My wife came home from grad school last weekend.  The kids were away for the week visiting family.  It was one of those perfect weekends.  She had a lot of studying to do so I worked around the house, but I knew she was there.  I could walk over and kiss her.  We could have coffee together in the morning listening to the birds.  We could hold hands without interruption.  There were no schedules to coordinate and no sibling rivalry.  The weather was nice so we ate on the porch…when we wanted to.  There was no food compromise.  Just two people who love each other sharing time.  She left mid afternoon on Sunday.  I kept working in the yard while I focused on what I needed to do Monday.  I reflected our time together and felt the love.

 I use a Dell computer at work.  It has been trouble free for over three years except the “palm rest”.  My Dell is a lap top.  The palm rest is the mouse/finger pad contraption that allows you to right and left click.  It’s a spring loaded button that has broken twice.  The second time was Monday just after lunch, just after my weekend of bliss.  I was sending e-mails to my customers and vendors when my mouse began dragging the icons all over my desk top.  Suddenly I was closing out of applications for no reason.  I was moving things, opening things, changing things against my will.  It was like my machine was possessed.  I realized it was a mouse issue.  I powered down and then tried to begin again.  When I tried to open the first application it stuck and before I say, “click” or a dirtier version of that word I was dragging things around my desk top and opening Internet Explorer five times.  My business is all about communication on the computer. This was not working for me.  I quote jobs, keep track of jobs, prospect for clients, look up numbers, on my computer.  It’s my company life line.  I was dead in the water.   I called Dell.

 One of the questions everyone is asking these days is, “What could GM and Chrysler have done differently to avoid bankruptcy”.  My gut reaction, first answer, they should have listened to their customers.  Dell needs to do this too!  Stop…I repeat…stop… out sourcing your customer service positions over seas!  It took me two hours speaking with fifteen different people who used fake American names, two dropped calls, and twenty five “f” words to reach and unsatisfying resolution to my problem.  One of the automated tips they give you when you call Dell is to visit Dell on line if you want faster resolution to your technical questions.  Let me get this right.  The brilliant minds that created the personal PC and marketed it to the masses have not considered that fact that when PCs break…YOU CAN’T GO ONLINE!  You have to speak with someone…Human interaction, get it?  Don’t pick corporate profits over real customer service!  I realize that you wear a pocket protector and mismatched socks.  I understand that you could never relate to people in high school.  I get the fact that your social life is relegated to discussing strategies involving dungeons & dragons, Star Wars roll play, and other games of science fiction fantasy, but your consumer is not like that.  We carry real conversations with people.  We shower daily.  We shop at bricks and mortar groceries and a little e-bay too.  We need to speak with a person who does not follow a script.  We need to speak with someone who has a grasp of the English language…so keep the call centers out of Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, and the mountains of Tennessee when you move the business back to the states.  Let me talk to a real person who doesn’t need to transfer me from one region of the world to another while I force fed automated advice and sales pitches.  I traveled the world so many times on the phone yesterday that I should quality for enough frequent flyer miles to travel to Mars and back on the space shuttle. 

After an hour and ten minutes I reached the person who could order the part I needed.  His name was John.  First he assigned me a case number….because its all about the numbers…number of calls, number of dollars, number of jobs, number of times that I was transferred!  Case number?  Yeah as in the doctor will see you now…you have been committed to the asylum because they pushed you over the edge…case number.  Any way John assigned me a case number…really John?  I wanted to say dude come clean your name is not John.  I know you’re over seas.  I know your name is Sonjya or something and that’s OK.  Your name doesn’t add to the level of customer service or my comfort.  Getting the part I need in 10 minutes without angioplasty adds to my level of customer service.  I don’t care what your name is our where you live.  I only care about making my computer whole.  That way I can service my customers, a notion that seems to be foreign to Dell!  It should be noted that I was nice to everyone I spoke with, all fifteen of them. My dilemma is not their fault.  That said, my call was dropped before I could actually order the part from John.  I had to start the process over again.  No one had or could fine the case number John assigned me.  After the two hours of world travel I was no closer to servicing my customers.  It was time for plan “B”.  I climbed into my car and drove ten minutes to Best Buy.  I purchased a wireless mouse without hassle.  My lap top was up and running less than a half hour after I put the key in the ignition.

 I long for the feeling I had when my wife was home.  I long for the day when large companies chose customer service over the savings of a nickel.  I know for a fact that if I treated my customers the way Dell treated me I would be out of business.  Now if you excuse me I need to check my blood pressure and meditate.