CNET : Internet : Regional Dispatches
Bad PC vendors makes no cent$
By Jay Chong
February 22, 2000

Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you. That age-old proverb from the Bible should, ideally, be the mantra of all computer vendors. But we all know it is not, especially when it comes to the technical support and customer service.

Talk to the next person who has bought a personal computer and you will hear tales of pain and horror related to service support from the once-friendly vendor turned nasty.

Ever notice how the PC retailer lights up like a bulb when you mention purchasing plans. How you are swayed by his eagerness to teach you everything there is to know about using the high tech machinery. And oh, how all the applications are so user-friendly, only a mouseclick away.

And yes, of course, he speaks benevolently of providing extra personal after sales support. He will assure you that his staff will constantly be at your beck and call. And how he conveniently drops a hints (a.k.a. back-biting) that the competition is not in the same league as he is by saying that he has been around the last 10 years. Indeed, history does lend the guy some credibility. Or so we think.

Then again, it is easy to be persuaded by such a PC retailer especially if the last few ones that you met behaved like you were a disease from Saturn. Not a glance in your direction, oblivious to your naive questions and basically treated you like the furniture.

Plonking the money down at a friendly retailer was so simple. Transaction over and your dream multimedia machine is delivered, power packed with an array of applications.

And that is when most of us happen to discover that good service is actually a figment of our imagination. By all means, decent service in this lovely country is minimal or non-existent is some cases.

Three months ago, my best friend bought herself a spanking new computer. Not any slave machine but a shiny new Pentium III 500MHz PC with 128K RAM, 8 Gig hard disk and the entire multimedia plus internet paraphernalia.

Excitedly, she hit the keyboard and navigated the mouse to play her favorite tune from The Coors while hooking up to her nearest internet exchange.

Having used a computer at work, she was indeed familiar with a regular word processor, e-mail and browser.

In the background, her Coors CD began to hiccup. Being a live album, she initially blamed the audience for the unwanted noise but the sound persisted. Yanking the CD out, she dashed downstairs into living room and tried it out on the conventional CD player. No blimps, no glitches.

Okay, so the CD ROM drive is faulty. One phone call to the nice PC retailer should fix the problem. The support staff at the other end of the phone line assured her that they would soon be there to replace the defective drive.

Dispatch from Malaysia

Here's a nation that has built a first-world infrastructure. But can the country truly lead its people down the Yellow Brick Road to the smart city of tomorrow? Our Dispatch from Malaysia taps into the collective mindshare.

Jay Chong, a mother of two, hopes her children will benefit from the exposure they are getting through the Internet. Her ultimate dream is to retire when her kids are tech-savvy enough to bring back moolah from their forays online.


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