Newsgroups: alt.sysadmin.recovery
From: (Steve Richardson)
Subject: A Tale of Three Queues
Date: 25 Apr 1996 02:29:47 GMT

After years of installing, maintaining, and upgrading computers from
Compaq, IBM, and Gateway 2000, here is a brief overview of some of my
Technical Support calls in the last year. A few years ago, all three
companies spent a great deal of money upgrading their Technical Support.
Compaq and IBM have succeeded by leaps and bounds over Gateway. Gateway's
Tech Support has actually gotten worse. These conversations are of course
exaggerated, but the end results are accurate. It is designed to show the
quality of Technical Support of the three companies.

Creative license: This documentary assumes that one can actually get
through to Gateway 2000's Technical Support. I have succeeded once. As
for Compaq and IBM, one does have to wait to talk to an engineer, but I
personally have never had trouble getting into a queue.

Compaq Technical Support:

ME: I'm having trouble with my computer.
COMPAQ: No sweat. What's the problem?

ME: I want to install a second hard drive. How do I get into the CMOS?
COMPAQ: You don't have to go into CMOS to add a second hard drive. Our
computer will automatically detect new hardware and configure it for you.
You just need to format it.

ME: Can I install a modem?
COMPAQ: Yes, set the switches to COM2, plug it in and it's ready to go.
We anticipated that you might want a modem and left COM2 open.

ME: How can I install a sound card?
COMPAQ: Plug in the card and the computer will configure it for you.
ME: Outstanding.

ME: Can I send email to you with technical questions?
COMPAQ: Sure. Our address is in you user guide in the chapter "Contacting
Technical Support."

IBM Technical Support:

ME: I'm having trouble with my computer.
IBM: I need to know the model number, serial number, type number, your
date of birth, your blood type, and your shoe size.
ME: My shoe size?
IBM: We have this great idea for a new "Sneakertop" computer and we are
trying to gauge our users' average shoe size.
ME: I don't need a "Sneakertop" computer.
IBM: Our market research department says you do.
ME: Oh.

ME: I want to install a second hard drive. How do I get into the CMOS?
IBM: That hard drive is not compatible.
ME: But it says "IBM" on the top.
IBM: Oh, there's a chance it might work then.
ME: What do I have to do?
IBM: If you can get the top off the computer, go ahead and plug in the
second hard drive. When you power up the system, it will go into the
system configuration. Follow the prompts.
ME: OK, I did that. Now it's asking for something called a "Reference
Diskette in order to complete the installation." What is that, exactly?
IBM: It keeps track of the system configuration on a floppy.
ME: I thought that information was stored on the hard drive.
IBM: It is.
ME: So why do I need a floppy disk with the same information?
IBM: After extensive market research, that's what we decided that you,
the customer, wanted.
ME: Have any of your customers ever wanted this?
IBM: No.
ME: Well, what if I can't find the reference diskette?
IBM: You mean you don't have it?
ME: No, someone else set up this computer.
IBM: So much for that. You can't add new hardware without the reference
diskette, and there is no way to create a new one.
ME: Shit.

ME: Can I install a modem?
IBM: Yes. Follow the same procedures as with the hard drive installation.
ME: Shit.

ME: How can I install a sound card?
IBM: Again, you need that reference diskette. Man, you're really screwed
without that, aren't you?

ME: Can I send email to you with technical questions?
IBM: If you must. Here's our address.

Gateway 2000 Technical Support:

ME: I'm having trouble with my computer.
GATEWAY: What else is new?

ME: I want to install a second hard drive. How do I get into the CMOS?
GATEWAY: I've heard of seaweed, but not seamoss.
ME: No, the system configuration.
GATEWAY: Oh! Simultaneously hold down every letter key that's not a
vowel, then press the left ALT key, followed by the right Control key,
then F1, F6, ESC, F2, F2 again, and F15.
ME: Wait a minute, there is no F15 key.
GATEWAY: Yes, you have to press one of the Shift keys and hit F5 and Num
Lock at the same time.
ME: Good gracious.
ME: OK, I'm in CMOS.
(Long pause)
GATEWAY: Uh, what?
ME: The system configuration, not the stuff that grows in the ocean.
GATEWAY: Oh. What was the question again?
ME: How do I tell the computer there is another hard drive?
GATEWAY: You can't. Adding new hardware requires a BIOS upgrade.
ME: Can I get the BIOS upgrade?
GATEWAY: Unfortunately, the only BIOS upgrade that exists for our
computers is manufactured by a company located somewhere on Mars. And
they won't be shipping until early next year.
ME: Damn.

ME: Can I install a modem?
GATEWAY: You have to go into the system configuration and disable all the
COM ports so that you can never use them again. Then set the switches on
the modem to any COM port you want since it probably won't work anyway.

ME: How can I install a sound card?
GATEWAY: Ooops! There's that pesky BIOS problem again.
ME: You mean I can't add any new hardware to my computer?
GATEWAY: Looks that way.
ME: How can I get these options in a Gateway computer?
GATEWAY: You have to buy one of our new computers.
ME: Can your new computers ever be upgraded?
GATEWAY: Of course not.

ME: Can I send email to you with technical questions?
GATEWAY: You can try.
ME: What is the address?
GATEWAY: It's printed in one of the 27 manuals that ships with the
computer. However, I think you should know we set up several email
addresses but we don't know where they went. We suspect they were stolen.
Either that or we need to upgrade our BIOS which we can't do until early
next year.
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