How can a computer company lose data that it gathered only a minute earlier?

Dell has refused to accept a return of the XPS 13 2-in-1 that they sold me for $ 2,400 (sampling of issues: it gets stuck in “tablet mode” even when opened as a laptop, it can’t stay connected to a Bluetooth mouse, it stops listening to its touchscreen hardware, and it stops listening to the trackpad (so eventually there is no pointer at all and you’d have to remember all of the Windows keyboard shortcuts to accomplish the basics)).

On the theory that “Maybe 25 hours on the phone with these guys isn’t enough and the 26th hour will be the charm,” I called 877-907-3355 to try to get tech support. This starts with a 2-minute automated process of entering, via voice, the “service tag” (letters and numbers). The automated attendant confirms the service tag. Then it tries to transfer you to “the right department.” Once this resulted in immediate disconnection. When the call was successfully transferred to a human, the first thing that she asked was “What’s your service tag number?” (Before I could give it to her, the call was disconnected, but that’s incidental to the subject of this post.)

As a computer nerd I am always fascinated when companies have a customer service system that asks for some information and then has no way to make the typed-in stuff available to the human who ultimately answers the phone. Also, that it seems to be rare for customer service agents to have access to Caller ID. So a lot of time is wasted in asking the customer a callback number (not to mention the potential for errors).

In the case of Dell, perhaps they have an incentive to waste customer time so that people stop calling for tech support (though how many will buy a second machine from this company?). But that’s not true for a lot of other companies that answer phone calls. If they are inefficient and drop information on the floor it ends up costing them extra customer service hours as well as potentially reducing customer loyalty.

So… why can’t the computers that answer the phone talk to the computers on the agents’ desks? And why can’t they see Caller ID? How hard can that be?

[Okay, and before the Mac fans start dishing out ridicule in the comments section, let me admit in advance that I made a huge mistake by buying this machine! Obviously a MacBook (or even a $ 500 Acer) would have outperformed this $ 2,400 Dell. And if the MacBook had failed for some reason, I would be able to zip over to the Apple Store and get it fixed rather than spending hours on the phone with Dell or returning it to them for service (projected turn-around time: 2+ weeks).]

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Automatic disaster area status for presidential visit?

My Facebook friends are suddenly concerned about the disruption that occurs when a U.S. President leaves the White House. Street traffic is halted, general aviation is shut down, flight schools have to turn customers away until the President leaves. There are calls for compensation (where were these folks when we suffered through 8 years of Barack Obama vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard (and therefore shutting down non-scheduled aviation in a huge part of New England during a prime season)?).

I’m wondering if a mechanism already exists for this. Suppose that an earthquake or hurricane shut down commerce in a part of the country for a few days or weeks. The President would declare that part of the country a disaster area and cash would flow. A Presidential visit, post 9/11, can be just as disruptive as a natural disaster. Why not have a rule that any time a President visits, the area visited is automatically declared to be a disaster area and thus affected businesses or individuals can apply for compensation?


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Don’t Know Shiloh from Shinola

Here’s a special post for any Californians out there who wonder where their tax dollars are going. Some of you may have heard about this freak, who was convicted of vicious, murderous crimes and yet successfully demanded the state provide him expensive gender reassignment surgery, otherwise he might kill himself from depression. So, in a […]
Slope of Hope

Stock Market Sentiment, Re-Fueled Along the Way

It’s a big picture view with a story to tell. People are micro-managing the VIX, talking about how it either doesn’t work anymore, if it ever did, or is forecasting extreme doom imminently (through investor complacency). But what is “imminently”? Is it next month or is it the 2-3 years that this indicator often wallows […]
Slope of Hope

Could we reenter the great age of custom coach building given a standard electric car chassis?

Tesla dealers usually have an example chassis. It seems as though everything important is contained within it. Is it possible that we could therefore go back to the great age of coach-builders? The beautiful Duesenberg that we admire in a museum probably does not have a body made by Duesenberg.

Government regulations are much more complex these days and perhaps represent an insurmountable hurdle for non-mass-production, but if a standard chassis were available could there be at least hundreds of custom road-legal cars built under kit car regulations?

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

A Quest for Penny Stocks

We all get these, but it doesn’t make them any less entertaining… This time, Ms. Annette even carefully spelled out the ticker symbol – ya know, to make things easier for calling your broker. —–Original Message—– From: Annette Meyer [] Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 4:09 AM Subject: By tomorrow evening this stock will be […]
Slope of Hope