For Christmas, I bought my wife the MP3 player she's been wanting. I read the comments on Dell's site before doing so, and solely because I'm somewhat experienced in these sorts of technical matters I decided to go ahead and make the purchase.
That's because one reviewer said that the instructions were impossible, that it was all unnecessarily complicated, but that is was very simple once you got used to it.
OK, I can handle that, I thought.
But boy was he right. Nothing on the player is marked, and what made everything so difficult is that the instructions show symbols for each button – but those symbols are not on the flat, plain buttons on the player, so I could go into great detail about how awful the experience was, but just as my wife was thoroughly fed up with the yelling and desirous of sending it back, BREAKTHROUGH!.
Suddenly it all made sense to me. Let me put nit this way, it was so easy, even my wife could do it – no thanks to Creative… uh… except for one thing…
I spent the better part of Saturday loading music files, setting up playlists, and showing my wife how to play them, and it was Saturday evening when she asked what should have been an easy question – but it threw everything for a loop.
You know how they say, "From the mouth of babes?" Well, as my wife was starting to enjoy her new portable music, she asked quietly, "How do you change the battery?"
I'd never given it a thought.
And the more I looked, the more it appeared that you couldn't.
So I called Dell on Sunday, talked to tech support, and a very nice Indian answered the question: you can't change the battery.
I told him that I was not aware of any batteries that last a lifetime, so what happens if the battery fails?
Here is exactly what he told me:
"If it's still under warranty, we'll replace it, otherwise…"
Did you get that? "Otherwise…"
Otherwise, I spend $250. on a player, and as he went on to explain, a battery usually lasts one to two years, and then I apparently either have a major repair on my hands or – I just toss it and buy the newer technology of the day.
That might be fine with some people, but since I bought this player because it holds all the songs we'll ever need to put on it, I don't care if they come out with something as thin as a credit card in two years. I want this one to play forever.
So unless someone has some insight that I and the technician don't, this player is going back.
And that's a tragedy.
It's not just that it took a lot of effort to get it working,, it's that my wife loves it. I could feel the great disappointment even as she was the one urging me to just get a return authorization from Dell.
But before I did that, I wanted to exhaust all possibilities, and that's when it got uglier.
In a subsequent call, I got my first surly Dell Indian. He asked me for the order number, and when I read it right off the Dell packing list, he informed me it was not a valid number. He then told me what to look for, and it wasn't there, so he simply said, "Then I can't help you."
Me: Then transfer me to someone who can.
(I'm furious with myself that I didn't get this fellow's name. I know it began with a "B" – something like "Ballast or Blister," but I felt that wasn't enough to tell a supervisor who, at the time it also never occurred to me to demand to speak to, but I was thoroughly disoriented by the lack of appropriate numbers, and I think you can see just from this sentence structure just how disoriented I was.)
The conversation continues…
Indian: Without the right number, no one can.
Me: Wait a minute, are you giving me a hard time?
Indian: You need a valid order number
Me: I gave you the number right off Dell's sheet, find me some other way.
Indian: There's nothing I can do, sir
Me: Then get me to someone else, anyone else, NOW!
He gave me their 800 number.
I called customer service (as opposed to tech support), and I explained that it appeared the battery on my shiny, new player could not be replaced, and so if that's the case, I would probably have to return it.
The rep then explained that it was just like the I-Pod, as if that was supposed to be a mitigating factor, not to mention that I knew absolutely nothing about the I-Pod. So now I apparently know that you can't change the battery on I-Pods either? Great, the number of garbage music players just went from thousands to millions?
And there was even a kicker with Dell. I told the guy that I had used a gift card for part of the purchase, and I inquired as to whether they would be sending me a new gift card if I returned the player. He said they would just put the money back on my old card.
The gift card expired Dec 31.
And according to this "customer service" rep, oh, that was a shame, but he'd credit the restocking fee as consolation.
Restocking fee, you wondered?
It's not a Dell problem, that thing I found wrong with the player, so there would ordinarily be a fee. But had Dell noted that the battery would eventually die, and with it so would the unit, I would never have bought it.
From experience, I know to take things in order and to not push to solve a presently non-existing problem. In other words, if I do return the unit, and it now appears almost certain I will, Dell will not be charging a restocking fee as he's already noted on my account, and they -will- be issuing a new gift card, even if they don't know it yet.
Now I admit the very small possibility that everyone at Dell is as stupid as this rep was, and that they'd rather lose a customer than credit money they'd have received unjustly, but it's the very rarest of companies who doesn't have one person who would understand that not only is that not good business, it's theft.
But my rep didn't see it that way. he said that I bought the unit on Dec.5, which I did, and that I had "plenty of time" to bring the problem to Dell's attention and still use the gift card again before it expired.
I'm sure you're not stupid as he was, but I also don't want to make any assumptions anymore, so I'll just say that the player wasn't even opened until Dec. 25, and it took a week to figure out how to get it to a usable state, not to mention that if my wife hadn't innocently asked about the battery, who knows when I'd have realized the player was a dead man walking?
Also, even if I'd discovered the problem sometime in December, it's highly unlikely that i could have returned the unit and gotten credited in time to reuse the card before it expired, but then if my service rep understood that, he wouldn't be where he was, eh?
Anyway, the reason for my finally writing this is that I went to Creative's site in the hope of finding a simple answer to a simple question – "a five minute job" as I call this sort of thing, and I quickly realized that this is not the kind of company I want to do business with: you could only write customer service when, you had model numbers and serial numbers to give them. In other words, I couldn't ask a simple question like, "Hey, where's the battery?"
There may be another area on the Creative site that allows for "outsider" questions, but this was the address given in their miserable help manual, and I'm not inclined to throw more effort after effort already badly spent.
I know companies think they are saving themselves a lot of nuisance by asking for information, but in my opinion, they are simply discouraging potential customers – and I only need to be discouraged once to be a non-customer forever. I mean, is it just me or do you too find those "information required" asterisks infuriating?
So there's my sad story, and I think I already know the answer – that there is no further enlightenment to be had, but I thought I'd ask because I was amazed by the response I got to my Vista crash episode. And thanks in advance for any assistance