Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pit of Despair

The Lord has determined that I am in great need of sanctification. Either that or He thought I needed another techno-blog entry. And so, Luke’s Live OneCare (anti-virus/anti-computer evil) program stopped working. Neither of us knows when it stopped working, but my computer notified me that Luke’s computer had “issues.”

With a heavy heart, I tried to run the program on Luke’s computer. It wouldn’t run and threw his entire system into a fatal loop. My heart now feels like lead because it means I need to troubleshoot the problem.

And, guess what? Microsoft doesn’t provide you with a phone number. You have to go to their website. I click the link. Now I feel like I’m a spider hanging by a thread over the bottomless pit of software malfunction. But maybe it’s not impending doom that I feel swirling up from the pit. This could all work out. Right?

Wrong. Microsoft wants you to troubleshoot using their handy-dandy fix-your-problem steps. I try problem fix number one. Another infinite loop. I crash and restart the system. Probable fix number two doesn’t work either. Crash and restart. Probable fix number three is “download this fix file”—it will send Microsoft the information they need to resolve the problem. My thread is unraveling. I click "file fix informational download". Infinite loop number three. The thread snaps, and I fall into the pit.

From my computer, I email Microsoft and tell them the operating system, the problem, and explained that I tried all their website fixes. A few hours later, I get an email from Lily. In her email (which has grammar errors, including improper verb tense shifts—English is not her primary language), Lily has the wrong operating system instructions and then tells me to do exactly what I told her that I already did.

But I do them again because who knows. However, the results are the same: infinite loop and restart. Three times. I email Lily again.

An hour or two later, the phone rings.

Microsoft phone person: Hello, Connie. Your computer problem fixed.
Me: No.
MPP: Oh.
Me (assuming these people actually communicate): Yeah, I emailed Lily and told her that all the stuff she had me do didn’t work. And I tried—
MPP (interrupting): I not technician. Just calling to find out.
Me: Right. The program still isn’t working.
MPP: So there is second problem?
Me, (sighing, clearly they aren’t using their computers to communicate customer information. Isn’t this why people buy Microsoft products?): No. I have just one problem.
MPP: Oh. You have identification number?
Me: Yep. (Then, I proceed to read off a 13 digit number—if they have to use 13 digits for a problem id number, they have way too many problems)
MPP: You want phone call tomorrow?
Me: No. No phone calls on Sunday. Can Lily call today?
MPP: Lily can’t call—she email only.
Me (thinking: Her English is worse than yours? What a bummer.) saying: Oh.
MPP: Someone else call today. What time is latest?
Me: 10pm
MPP: Okay, someone call between 3 and 8 tonight.
Me: Eastern or Pacific?
MPP: What your time?
Me: Eastern.
MPP: I make note of that.
Me: Great. Thanks.
MPP: Good-bye.
Me: Bye.

I hang up and say to Ariel: What was the point of that call?
Ariel: That was Microsoft’s we-really-care-about-you-as-a-customer-so-don’t-buy-an-Apple phone call.
Me: If I could afford one…

Now I’m freefall in the Great Pit of Computer Despair, waiting and hoping that I’ll get a native English speaker. Or least, someone who understands how verbs work.


  1. Hmm..."Pit of Despair." Is that supposed to be some sort of subtle tribute to The Princess Bride?

    I'm still convinced that Lily doesn't know any English at all. They just teach her what sections to cut and paste from various documents to create customer response emails. That would explain why Lily can't call you (unless you speak Swahili), and it explains the sudden switch in verb tense. Whoever writes up the documents that the email people cut and paste needs to be notified that not all those documents are in the same tense...

  2. In respone to Ariel's Message, I think Lily isn't even a person. He/she/it is a computer program that automatically responds to all complaint/technical/thanking messages using certain keywords and a special PTU Statment.