I Am A Terrible Technology Prognosticator

I’ve never been good at predicting where computer technology will go. Sure, I’ve wanted a terabyte capacity hard drive since I first heard the term 15 or 20 years ago, but only recently have I had enough data to justify one. But more storage, more memory, more speed, those are obvious things. Doesn’t take a guru to figure it out.

My first Big Mistake with judging technology was with CD-ROM drives. I read all the geek news so I was aware of them, and eventually they started coming with new computers. But when I got my first one I thought “Well, that’s neat, but I doubt I’ll ever have many of them”. Today I have a 16.5 gallon plastic box in the basement, full to the gills with data CDs, containing god-only-know-what. At a guess, there’s well over 500 discs in there. One of these days I’m going to sort through them and get rid of the obsolete and useless ones. No, really I am.

Same deal when USB first came out. It sounded like a nifty idea, but I couldn’t imagine ever having more than a couple of USB devices. I figured sure, a mouse, maybe a printer. Ooof. So wrong. So very, very wrong.

Laser printer, ink jet printer, two USB hard drives, mouse, Palm, iPod, handheld GPS receiver, Wacom pen table, memory card reader, UPS monitor. That’s eleven devices that are hooked up pretty much any time I’m at my desk. Add a couple of thumb drives, and it’s a real mess. And that’s just on my primary computer. Luckily both of my LCD monitors have built-in USB hubs! My notebook and my server each have a couple of devices attached to them, and there’s a couple more rarely-used USB gadgets floating around, as well.

I can hardly wait to see what I’m wrong about next. Let’s see if I can rig the game – I don’t think that small-device hardware makers will ever standardize power adapters so that we no longer need a metric ton of wall warts all over our homes.

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.