So, the year is almost over and I have been so busy that I forgot about the Chronicles lol. The 2010 blizzard has already been posted, as it seems 2010 simply did not wish to go out without one final bang! The one thing we can all say for sure is that life is full of challenges and surprises…
After the State of Emergency (see previous post) and the harrowing experience of living without power for 6 days, we were mentally exhausted. All we wanted was a nice long rest but it was not to be. The lesson that stayed with me was just how easy modern civilization has it with all its conveniences and niceties, when they work!
The 2010 Nor easter occurred in mid-February and barely two weeks went by before we found ourselves confronted with the next challenge. Our business laptop, aka as the lifeline, came down with a Virus. The Virus ran undetected in the background and all we noticed at first was a slowing of performance. Then, we began to get strange garbled messages which were too prolific to ignore. I was incensed as we were busily preparing for the Spring Landscaping season and had no time for MORE challenges but they rarely come when we have time, right? This, coupled with the fact that the laptop was barely a year old, and loaded with the latest virus protection was just the cherry on the cake.
We began proactive measures by calling Tech support. Tech what?! Tech support, you know, the guys that are supposed to help you when things go wrong with your expensive appliances. The ones that collect all that money for warranties that will safeguard you in the event of trouble. Every time I have to place a call for my home office or personal gadgets, I realize how spoiled I have been by my previous life as a technologist. A part of me expects support to pick up the phone in a timely fashion. Yet another part of me, expects to get someone who has technical acumen. Finally, I have the gall to expect someone who speaks English. One by one, I have been disabused of this idea.
My partner and I took turns calling support to ease the burden. It took us about an hour to get a technician. After that, we spent another hour working with them to straighten out their records so they could confirm that we had indeed purchased support. Never mind the time it took to understand them and make ourselves understood as they were from Pakistan. Outsourcing is the bane of American existence. The only people to benefit are the corporations while the rest of us are left fumbling and cursing in the dark.
We spent another 3 hours doing recommended steps, allowing them to run scripts and downloading logs for analysis to no avail. They could only confirm that we did have a nasty Virus that the software had failed to block as they mistakenly thought we weren’t valid subscribers and we erroneously advised us that we were protected. To remove the Virus, they wanted to charge us even with the warranty. I REFUSED to pay as I had no confidence, based on their performance thus far, that they could actually assist us. Yet again, we were reaching a crisis point as the laptop had begun to crash at odd moments and was delaying us from completing our Spring promotion.
We decided to try and outrun the problem by using an older, backup PC that we had. Unfortunately, in order to run our business related software, we needed Windows 7 and it was Windows 98. Ha! The Operation system had to be upgraded and then files would need to be converted for compatibility. We persevered but in the process of loading realized that there wasn’t sufficient memory to hold all the new apps and the processor was slower as well. I cursed the Virus software company more than you could imagine. At this point, I was dividing my work between two systems and ran to the store to buy a huge external backup system so as not to lose the data currently on the laptop.
So, we contacted Best Buy support since that is where we bought the laptop. Similar story, different day. They would take a minimum of 14 days to wipe the hard drive, remove the Virus and reload everything with a hefty fee attached. Again, I refused to pay. My landscape design software is in regular use at the beginning of the season and it would only run on the laptop. From previous experience, I knew I couldn’t trust that they would get it back to us in a timely fashion. It is worth noting that we met an irate customer in the store who was outraged because she had brought her pc in for repair and when it came back she discovered that her email account had been hacked and pornographic emails had been sent to the Principal and staff of her son’s school. No ONE was accountable even though the emails were sent when they had it for repair. We left the store in horror!!
Then we tried Fast Teks, a local PC repair company. I am still shaking my head at the foolishness that transpired. A tech came out 3 times and without resolving the issue. He claimed that we kept re-infecting the PC with bad files that he had supposedly scanned and cleaned. They charged us approx. $500 for the privilege of finally telling us that we would have to pay an additional fee to continue working on it. I called their corporate offices in Florida and threatened to report them to the BBB until I received a manager who was equally disturbed that his local offices were servicing their customers in such a shoddy fashion. Unfortunately, he turned out to be equally helpless as nothing got done and we never received a refund.
Finally, in a fit of desperation, I bought a new PC and migrated the data over to the new drive, scanning and cleaning infected files with the new software. By then it was April 15th and garden season was in full effect so we didn’t have time to do anything else. We now religiously back up all files to external sources and have automated scans run by McAfee software, which is first rate.
(1) Don’t believe everything the techie salesmen tell you. I am convinced they work on commission or outright ignorance. Check out major software purchases with someone you trust as they will give you the real low down on support and functionality. Search the web to see if other customers are happy with service or have a long list of complaints. Trust me, you will be thankful that you did.
(2) Don’t buy anything from Best Buy and expect to get good support. When I asked for their Corporate offices, the Store Manager told me there was no one they could reach to actually speak with re: repairs or prioritization. WTF?!
(3) Do backup everything critical to two sources, if you must. Most providers now have online data storage that can be purchased for a nominal fee and the backup drive that I purchased for about $100 has a Terrabyte of storage. Yeah baby!!
(4) Good virus software is your best friend as the web has become a seething cesspool of viruses and crackpots who are just waiting to corrupt your data and cause you untold aggravation. If you are one of the lucky few who hasn’t had similar problems, believe me, it is simply a matter of time.