Taking Care of Business

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

It’s over. It has begun.

Friday was my last day at my old job. It was mostly uneventful: I went to lunch with some people, packed up my last box of stuff, and said my goodbyes. One guy got drunk at the luncheon — a forgivable sin, considering he had been fired after working there for eight years. He ended up puking in front of the building. Good enough for him, good enough for them.

Monday, I started my new job, working for myself. It’s been great — I’m busy. Better still, I’m busy with stuff I enjoy doing. Better that even that, I’m busy with stuff I enjoy in a stress-free environment. I do not need a badge to go to the bathroom; the only cell phone that rings is mine; other people’s bad decisions do not affect my job. This is the life for me.

We signed a new client on Monday. Gerald’s Gift Emporium is unhappy with their current site. The company they hired to create it did not add all the functionality they wanted, so Gerald has asked us to build him a site that has what he wants. I’m using osCommerce — I normally wouldn’t, because it’s a nightmare to customize. But, Gerald wants a simple site, and the osCommerce community has already written some of the special features I need.

We continue working on our projects for The Bike Stop and Chocolate Lizard. Clemency has also requested a lot of new features recently, including a community forum. Plus, we still have a few potential clients we’re working on signing. It looks like I’m going to stay busy. Whether I’ll stay busy enough to make a living remains to be seen.

Work got even better today — my computer returned. A couple of weeks ago, I called HP about getting a broken hinge on my Compaq laptop fixed. HP owns Compaq now, you see. The relationship is similar to that between a greedy foster parent and the children he takes in just to get the monthly check from the state. “Compaq? I think he’s one of the short ones. Just holler and he’ll probably come runnin’.”

Anyway, the first time I called I got right through, had no problem with the service rep, and was assured I would receive a box to return the computer in a couple of days. Days came and went, and no box arrived. I called back. They had no record of my previous call, but I was assured this time I would receive a box in a couple of days. Days came and went, and, sure enough, I did receive a box. I packed up my computer, along with a note, “Please take good care of my baby.”

One day, I got a voice mail from HP support, requesting permission to format my hard drive. Now, I’m no certified computer technician, and I’ve never actually repaired a laptop computer, but I’m fairly certain formatting a hard drive will not fix a broken hinge. I called back, and told them no, do not format my hard drive. If there are software issues, I can solve those myself.

I had been assured that I would get the computer back in 5-7 business days. Days came and went, and my computer was not back as promised. The “Status Page” continued to assure me my laptop would be shipped back through time to arrive on the correct day. I called the phone number listed on my “Status Page.” That number is not for Compaq products, it’s for HP products. “Compaq! Go get Daddy another beer.”

I was transferred through a variety of automated systems, none of which seemed to have any relation to my problem. After nearly an hour on hold, a support rep came on to assure me that I had been in the wrong queue the whole time, but she could transfer me to the right one. Nearly an hour turned into over an hour, and I gave up.

While I was on hold, every thirty seconds or so, I was reminded how easy it is to get answers to questions by contacting HP through their online contact form. Since I wasn’t doing anything except sitting on hold, I decided to give that a try. I had a response in a couple of hours: I should check my “Status Page,” then call customer support. No wonder they advertise that service so heavily — it gives people something to do while they’re on hold. And, as helpful as the e-mail support is, is it any wonder they can respond so quickly?

I called tech support again on Monday. I went through the exact same process, and was once again told I was in the wrong queue. I made a point of telling this rep that there was in fact no possible way for me to get into the correct queue. She transferred me, and I was finally allowed to talk to someone useful. They checked, and found the delay was because they were waiting on a response from me as to whether they could format my hard drive. And, yes, they also had a record of my previous response. Apparently, one response is not good enough. They have to believe I mean it.

I must have been convincing, though, because today my computer is back. I have promised never to let it travel alone again.

And now you’re all caught up, and it’s time for me to go to bed.