t must have occurred to you that dear old Microsoft (aka “The digital vampire”) will suspend the support for XP on April 8th.
Not because XP is a bad OS, no. They do this just because they don’t sell enough tablets and netbooks running that sorry excuse for an OS called Windows 8.
Well, W8 is an abortion of an OS and as such should be relegated to the curiosity cabinets of digital mishaps.
But hey: the average user cannot live without Microsoft (or they would immediately move over to any user-friendly Linux distribution, like Ubuntu or Mint), so what MS does is to push W8 on every new machine sold anywhere, while Windows 7 would do just the same work (better, actually) at the same speed and with a less steep learning curve.
But that is not the point here.
Whether you like W8 or not, if you’re buying a new Laptop you will have to use it.
No discussion possible.
If it was for me, I’d be quite able to force W7 on my new laptop and work with that instead of W8, but not the average user…
So what the average user does, is to go online and look for a cheap laptop, but still one made by a so-called “A-brand”.
Take Hell… I mean Dell.
Living in the NL makes it logical to go to www.dell.nl, which as such is quite appealing and has a section called “Dell Deals”.
That is something a true Dutchman (or woman) really gets a warm, fuzzy feeling from: the word DEALS!!!
And true enough, there’s a nice deal: an Inspiron 15 for just less than 400 euros.
Kind of a miracle in laptopland.
Intel i3 CPU, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD, W8.1 (alas).
All considered just what one would need for some “Office” work, mails and a little web surfing. Nothing pretentious, no need for super-detailed gaming or heavy-weight multimedia applications.
In short: perfect for the scope.
That is until you want to actually buy one…
First bad experience:
No specs anywhere about the type of keyboard.
Since you would like to get a standard QWERTY one, while you know that a Dutch one is not a standard QWERTY keyboard.
So what do you do…?
…You try to get in touch with someone.
The site itself suggests you start a chat session with someone, but as soon as you click on the chat icon, the new page opens, stays there for an eternity and half, and then… nothing.
So you go back to your original page, but then the chat icon has disappeared altogether, so you try to find out how in heaven’s name you can contact those people, reload the page, try to start all over again, but nothing happens and the new chat page stays blank and gives no signs of life.
Fine, then close the browser, try a different browser. Same shit…
Try even another browser and a different computer…
Again same shit.
Then you have the brilliant idea of cleaning your browser’s cache, history, cookies and whatnot and for a good measure you throw in some good old DOS command to flush the DNS cache as well (if you reall want to know: “C:\ipconfig /flushdns”).
Only then, the page will show again the chat icon, so you trigger a chat session again, and miracle upon miracle, you get to the “Moxie” chat page (Moxie is the name of the chat application, made by another company not worth mentioning).
Finally someone’s home… The guy can answer your questions, even in your own language (Dutch) so despite his name, he is not stationed in a call-center somewhere in India.
If he is, then he must be out of his mind to go work there…
Anyway, a few questions and answers later, you are ready to place your purchase order.
Well, in theory, because the page that you had left open when you started the chat (the page with the product description and the half-completed purchase form) does not respond anymore.
Almost logical (but not entirely if you know how those things work) because after all, you had not typed anything for the last 20 minutes so the token may have expired.
OK, so you start all over again (for the second time) and you get to the point where you can start checking your purchase, extra options, discounts…
Hey, wait a second!!!
The initial web page announced a discount of 20 euros (incl. tax) on the whole purchase, but now this item has a value of 0,00 and nothing is subtracted from the total, even worse: the announced discount on the expedition fees is also not detracted and the total price is suddenly almost 50 euros higher than announced on the product page.
Even more interesting, the product is shown in the “basket” twice and both items have a different price. so what the H(D)ell is going on here?
OK, start again, delete browser’s cache, history and all that shit and now (attempt number three) the discount is applied, also the shipping fees special offer is applied and finally the end price matches the one on the product page.
This could have been the happy ending of an unfortunate story, but we’re not there yet… more misery is looming at the horizon and we’re heading straight into it.
The price is finally right, so next step is to fill in the form with the delivery address, name, zip-code and so on…
One item is typed the wrong way: the zip code had to be typed with a space between digits and letters (how would one know? Some site wants it like that, some other wants it all in one piece… and we talk about standardization of data… Idiots).
Anyway, the site shows the line in red where you add the space and finally click “Pay” (“Betalen” in Dutch).
After loading for something like 50 seconds, the page finally crashes with a message that “there was an error and the operation could not be completed”.
So here we go again (attempt number 4).
Everything filled in again (using the godforsaken space in the zip code, for crying out loud!) and ready to choose the payment type.
I normally use the standard internet banking option (I never use a credit card, as it is eventually more expensive). So at this point the page again fails to load after 1,5 minutes waiting for something to happen.
Once again a useless error message that tells you that “something” went wrong (what? where? how? why?).
So before starting attempt number 5, you want to give the chat another try, but then you re-think the situation and decide to phone the blokes at D(H)ell, because that is what is suggested on the error page (“neem contact met onze telefonische bestellijn”, in other words: call our telephone purchase service).
There’s a link for the “contact”, which returs a wonderful “server error” page, because the expected company logo (for chrissake again!) could not be found, as it poined to a “.co.uk” domain instead of a “.com” one as requested by the script. And all of this while I’m supposed to be on a “.nl” domain.
Where does D(H)ell purchase their web services? At the “Graduate School for Village Idiots”?
Or maybe they have their own in-house web-services, which would make sense, because at this point they have convinced me that they must be a bunch of true idiots doing something they are absolutely not qualified to do.
So here we go again, restart everything (attempt number six… or was it seven?) and even before starting, go to the Dutch D(H)ell site and immediately look for the “contact” link. This time the page gets you the number you want, in Amsterdam.
So the phone goes on with the unavoidable series of menus and choices and finally you land on the queue for the telephone purchase service… just to be told that there is no-one who can take your call at the moment and refers you back to the chat…
You know what D(H)ell?
I’ll buy my laptop from one of your competitors, no matter which one. I’ll probably pay a bit more, but I’ll get at least some sort of service!