Ugh. I was working on a hilariously quirky post about my experiences with the online dating site OKCupid, but my computer has a demon and I lost it! Okay so it might not be an actual demon (I should know, my computer has had several over the years), but it does get really hot and shut itself off with alarming frequency. It’s all, A’ight bitch, I’m out. And don’t you even think about waking my ass up again until you gonna do something more productive than pretend to write about nonsense while you really watch tv and troll facebook. (I imagine my laptop speaks with the voice of large irritable black woman because my computer is in fact large, irritable and black.)
Well played, computer, well played.
Though, this laptop really doesn’t have the right to cop that kind of attitude because it’s been nothing but trouble for me since the day I got it.
Picture it, Sicily 1942… No wait, that’s The Golden Girls. My story starts in Hartford, spring of 2008, but I should probably just forget it because it’s a really long story that makes my blood pressure go up every time I tell it. Besides, I’m pretty sure no one cares anyway. Then again, it might be useful for anyone out there who is considering purchasing a Dell laptop. For those people, here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
* Spring of 2008 I decided to spend $2k on a custom built Dell XPS. It was supposed to be the road warrior of laptops. It came with a huge hard drive, it was fast, had the best graphics card known to man, it was small, light-weight AND it was red. I loved it, in a borderline unhealthy way, but you’ve got to understand, I spent my first real (read: most money I ever made from singing) paycheck on that thing so it had a lot of sentimental value.
* That sentimental value went away really quickly when it started to fall apart three months later. Literally. Pieces would spontaneously fall off.
* Then the screen went black. Then stripey, which would have been cool from a design point of view if it hadn’t rendered the computer completely unusable.
* I called Dell customer service. This was a mistake as Dell customer service is awful.
* This lead to a series of the longest phone conversations I’ve ever had in my life. Some of these calls were so long (2+ hours) that I went over my monthly allotment of cell phone minutes (back when plans still had limits) and I had to explain to a very confused Verizon Wireless customer service representative why I shouldn’t be held accountable for my exorbitant cell phone bill and that they should send it to Dell, but instead she just got rid of all the extra charges so I would shut up. Also because Verizon is awesome and I love them.
* The first of many Dell technicians came to my house and replaced most of the inside parts of my computer and one of the outside parts (that had fallen off).
* My computer was happy for a while.
* Cut to October of 2009. I was away for another opera gig and because it was fall that meant it was also audition season (I promise to explain more about opera stuff one of these days) and I had a lot of applications that I needed to send out. but to do that, I needed a functioning computer. My computer doesn’t handle pressure very well and gets particularly freaked out by deadlines so it just quit. It gave up and did the black screen thing again. I could still hear it working (because I had been watching Grey’s Anatomy on it at the time) but no screen. Makes it tricky to fill out and print online applications.
* More long conversations with Dell customer torture representatives. See, when you first order a Dell you get to talk to Brandon in Texas, but when shit breaks you have to talk to ‘I’m sorry can you say that one more time really slowly because I have no idea what the fuck you’re saying’ in God only knows where.
* Dell tech number two comes to the place where I’m staying for my gig and replaces more of my computer’s innards. Something something motherboard something something no-you-probably-shouldn’t-hit-your-computer-with-a-hammer-when-it-stops-working = fixed.
* July 2010: Stripey screen is back! Also, optical drive craps out. Yay! This time the stripes are accompanied by extreme heat that leaves my hands red and kind of numb after several hours of use.
* This time when they send Dell tech number three to my apt in NY, the guy comes three days late and with all the wrong parts.
* I bitched out the Dell people so much they actually had to put a manager on the line to ask me to ‘stop swearing at all of his customer service representatives’ to which I responded with all the politeness I could muster, ‘Fuck you, fix my computer.’
* The next day I received a box in the mail with instructions to send my computer back to the Dell factory so they could fix it. This sucked because I had to back up my hard drive without being able to turn my computer on, so I had to buy this little magic hard drive house, remove my hard drive manually, plug it into the house and plug the whole thing into another computer. It was a major hassle.
* Even with my backed up hard drive, I was nervous about sending my puter away. After all of my horrific experiences with Dell I was picturing their factory as a kind of a fiery Santa’s workshop filled with hateful midgets hitting computers with hammers and laughing maniacally about it. I’m pretty sure I was right too because…
* My computer came back a week later with a note saying, ‘We couldn’t find anything wrong with your computer.’ Except for the fact that it no longer turned on at all. Not even to stripey screen.
* Called customer service again. This time I pretty much cried and was like, ‘Look I know what it says in my file, but I’m usually a delightful person, I swear – I mean, do you know how disappointing it is to spend a ton of money on something when you don’t have a lot of money to begin with only for it to break every five minutes and then have to spend a million hours of your life on the phone with people who don’t give a shit about your problems because they live on the other side of the world even though I’m sure that’s not you because you sound awesome and like you really want to help me besides I’m pretty sure the rule is that after three attempts to fix a broken computer Dell is supposed to send you a new one and I’ve been fighting with these people for so long…I’m just tired…so very, very tired…’
* The next day I received a new (refurbished) computer. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Well, it isn’t.
* The rule with Dell is that if your computer breaks (and your warranty isn’t expired) they have to send you a refurbished computer of equal or greater value to the original. Trouble was, I had been fighting with them for so long that they no longer made the craptacular laptop I originally purchased and in order to get all the bells and whistles I’d installed in what was supposed to be my little 13″ red wonder bot, they gave me a giant 17″ monstrosity that in no way resembled my ‘road warrior’ laptop of yore.
* Seriously, this thing weighs 6.8 lbs not counting the ginormous adapter or the mandatory lap desk you need to carry with you if you want to not burn yourself or melt whatever surface you happen to put it on. Because this sucker ran hot straight out of the box.
* It still does. Even though it’s completely useless as a laptop because it’s a bitch to lug it around, I’ve only had to have two Dell tech guys come and replace parts so I consider that a win. Though one of those times it was because there was a light out on my keyboard and I kept accidentally disconnecting from the internet since I couldn’t see the button.
* When I called Dell to order the part and arrange for a tech to come fix the problem, I was on the phone with a guy from the Philippines for 2:03:56!! For a friggin’ LIGHT BULB! Apparently he had to trouble shoot every other aspect of the computer first, you know cause light bulbs are so expensive. And that was after I called them three other times and got disconnected from their automated service menu and got booted off of two live chat sessions. So I still hate them with the passion of seven fiery suns.
[I circled the light bulb that was out.]
* That’s when I was ready to jump ship and get the MacBook I should’ve bought years ago, but didn’t because I decided it was a better idea to save what only amounted to about $500 even though it would’ve saved me a hundred headaches and been totally worth it in the end.
* So I waited for the next round of Mac updates that Apple rolled out last summer, but I didn’t end up getting one because while the MacBook Air was everything I wanted in size, it was not enough power for all the stuff I wanted to do with it and the MacBookPro was almost everything I wanted in hardware (though the solid state hard drive I wanted cost $1k extra at the time) and was still larger than I would’ve liked. I knew the laptop I wanted would exist someday, so I stuck it out with my Dell crap-top for another year, while constantly stalking macrumors.com to find out if and when my unicorn laptop would magic itself into existence.
* Finally, a few weeks ago there were massive updates to nearly everything in the Mac line and this beautiful machine made it’s debut. It’s so close to perfect that I almost whipped out my credit card right then and there, but then I read this and I couldn’t bear to spend money that I didn’t actually have when there was a very real chance that my unicorn computer could be right around the corner.
So in the meantime, I’m going to try to beat my current monstrosity into submission for another few months, but it’s going to really hard to do when it keeps setting itself on fire and burning me.*
The moral of the story? Don’t buy a Dell anything and if you do, get the extended warranty. It was the first time in my life I ever purchased an extended warranty and I can’t imagine how much more horrible it would’ve been if I hadn’t. A four year warranty only cost $75 at the time because they were running a special promotion and it came with a $50 Dell gift card, so that was pretty cool, but that was also when I was still happily chatting with Brandon from Texas. Now I just feel disillusioned and betrayed. And pissed that I lost my blog post.
Anyway, I gotta go. I can feel my computer gearing up for another scalding.