How To Behave Like A Wanker

I check the website most days, just keeping an eye out for good deals on useful software. For example, the excellent backup tool AJC Active Backup is available there from time to time for under twenty bucks, and a lot of the software offered on BitsDuJour is worth at least a look. A nice feature is that they have a blog-ish format where people can ask questions or make comments on the software, and the software authors can respond.

Last week they offered DiskMagik, a hard drive defragmentation tool from Rose City Software. There are quite a few defragmenting tools out there, and one person asked a question:

While it is true that defragmentation is necessary, what I really wonder is the feautres in your software DiskMagik. I have installed the ffollowing software:

Now both the softwares are free.

So I would like to know what are the advantages of your software that gives me an idea to buy it.

Pretty reasonable question. There are free alternatives, some of them very well respected. Defraggler, for example, is from the same people who make CCleaner, which is a great system cleaning tool.

Rose City software developer and CEO Joseph Burke answered:

There are freeware options for most software today. Developers from Third World countries flood the market with knockoffs. If you wish to trust the integrity of your system to an unproven freeware product because you cannot afford a few bucks for really good trusted software, that is your choice.

Ouch! Let’s see, in one paragraph he insults freeware, third world developers, and the person asking the question! And he completely failed to actually answer the question or offer any reasons why his software is worth paying for.

Turns out that the people who check BitsDuJour don’t suffer fools gladly. Joseph Burke was quickly taken to task for his attitude. One respondent pointed out that some of the best applications on the market are freeware, and listed a number of well-known examples. Another pointed out that the two freeware defraggers in the original question are from London and Hong Kong (both cities will no doubt be surprised to discover that they’re in the third world).

Now, most people who are trying to attract customers would realize they’d made a mistake, and try to fix it. Not good old Joseph Burke though, no sir. He barreled on ahead with another post:

Look be my guest… use garbage freeware with zero support or backup and risk your system. Unlike you jokers, I have have spent thousands of hours working with programmers from China, India and Russia and I *know* how much junk comes out of those countries (and many others as well) and just how many bugs there are. […] If I valued my time at just $5 an hour which is probably what you do, I have read morealready wasted more time than the $15. If you cannot afford $15 for a piece of software you obviously don’t use your computer for anything much more than computer games and are not a customer of Rose City Software, not are you worth wasting our time conversing with on message boards.

Jinkies. Zoinks. Wowie. Ooof. Etc. Will I be buying anything from Rose City Software? No, no I don’t think so. Ever.

You know what’s kind of ironic? Rose City Software has a page of freeware that they recommend as interesting. I wonder if they mean ‘interesting’ in the ‘knock-off garbage’ sense of the word?

Addendum… See the juicy goodness for yourself HERE.

HP Customer/Technical Support

Shortly after I started my current job (March, 2005) I bought an HP L1955 LCD monitor through my employer. About a year later, it died suddenly and inconveniently. I ran out and bought a new monitor because I had to have one that same day, and put the dead one aside. And ignored it. For a long time.

On Friday evening, 12/07/2007, I dusted it off and tried testing it in a dual-monitor setup. It worked enough that my computer was able to recognize that it was connected and determine the model number, but there was no image via either VGA or DVI inputs. Dead. So I checked the warranty, and whaddyaknow, it’s 3 years parts, labor and on-site service. Since the monitor was only even manufactured in March 2005 (per the sticker on the back), it was certainly still under warranty.

So at 11:00 pm I got on the phone. Naturally the call went straight to India, where all customer support calls seem to go these days. On a whim I started keeping notes.

The first person could not find the serial number in her system. Nor the part number. Nor the model number. She decided I must have the wrong information, at which point I suggested she do a Google search and note the 15,000+ hits on L1955. At 11:15 she gave me a ticket number and transferred me to tech support (I guess ‘customer support’ is different from ‘tech support’). After a long series of beeps and tones, I reached another person, who quickly informed me they were desktop, not monitor, support, and transferred me again at 11:20. To desktop support, again – this time a guy named Jason in Ontario. Who transferred me again at 11:24. To ‘Anita’ in India. Naturally, Anita was with the desktop support group – hey, who isn’t – and transferred me yet again.

At 11:29 I reached yet another person (Malina?) who could not find my ticket number in the system and so had me go through all the questions to get a new ticket number, and told me that since there was no such thing as an L1955 in her system, she’d list it as an L1925. She also told me that the unit was no longer under warranty. I found this surprising – if she couldn’t find any information about the model at all, how did she know what the warranty was? I pointed this out, to which she suggested that perhaps I had bought an extended warranty. No, I told her, I’m looking at the complete specs of the monitor in question, L1955, on the HP web site, right now. I read her the text of the warranty, and assured her that it most certainly was still under warranty.

She got a bit huffy. Not rude, but you could tell she was exasperated. I was pretty much way ahead of her on that. At 11:53 she transferred me to someone else – ironically, back to Anita with the desktop support group. I told Anita that this was the second time I’d talked to her, and that I’d now been on the phone for 53 minutes, been transferred five times, and was starting to become annoyed.

Anita took my ticket number, model number, part number, shipping information, etc. down, and told me that a replacement unit would be shipped to me, and I should have it Monday or Tuesday next week, and to ship the dead unit back in the same box using the paid shipping label that they would provide. Total call time, 60 minutes exactly. Useful call time, 7 minutes.

It’ll be interesting to see if I actually do get the replacement.

Update 12/12/2007 – Well, it didn’t arrive on Monday, but I didn’t really expect it to. In truth, I was a little surprised to see it arrive today, but there it was. Just the monitor in a box – no cables, documentation, etc. Makes sense, as I already had those. I’m now running a dual monitor setup, which is very cool. Wanted that for a long time. So, minus points to HP customer support for an hour-long phone call, but plus points for coming through in the end. Nice to actually have a warranty work out so well for a change.