The good and bad of technology

Ever since signing up to Three mobile a few years ago, I’ve had a terrible time with them – when I’ve been able to penetrate the thick Indian accents, the customer service has terrible.

Leaving them seems to be a complete stramash, too. I’ve just spent too much time on the phone to them this morning sorting out my final bill which I don’t recall receiving but for which I’ve received two final demands. It turns out that this is not the final balance either – apparently when issued with the PAC number, the fact that it can be used for up to 30 days means that you still pay for those 30 days on your account regardless of how early in that time period you make the switch.

That sum just missed my “final” bill and so will go into the bill generated at the end of August, which I probably won’t get until early September. Given that I requested my PAC and gave notice of my desire to end the contract at the end of June, three months seems a ridiculously long time to process an account closure.

There’s loads more about Three I could rant about, but I’ll instead cheer myself up by telling a story of good customer service I’ve just received.

Yesterday morning, my wireless router appeared not to be working, and the plug was very hot to touch. I switched it off at the wall, unplugged it from the multi-socket adapter I use for all my computery stuff, plugged it back in and switched the wall plug on again.

The router plug fizzed, popped and banged in a way that makes me feel relieved for my safety that I didn’t take it out from the multi-socket adapter and put it back in again with the power still on at the wall. I may be unpractical with such things, but I’m not that stupid.

I took it to Sutherland SAS, an excellent wee computer shop on Tomnahurich Street who I have used before, and who I am glad to use as a means of avoiding unhelpful and incompetent chains like PC World. They showed me the inside of the plug, which looked like a small explosion had taken place. Which was unsurprising, as that in effect is exactly what had happened.

Now one option could have been to sell me a whole new power adapter – or even a new router, which would have involved the ridiculous hassle of setting up a new wireless network at home. However, they proposed instead to recycle an old power adapter they had, splicing on the connector from my old one onto the new one.

Not only was it a cheap job, it also was reassuringly old-skool in this day and age of “buy it, use it, break it, bin it”. How many shops would recycle and cannibalise spare parts in order to come up with something that’s cheaper than a new product but works just as well?

It’s nice to know that I am doing my bit for the environment, one recycled plug at a time.

As a general footnote to both tales, thank goodness for the iPhone – on the one hand proving that phones and phone providers can be excellent, and on the other keeping me connected (albeit quite slowly) with the internet during the 24 hours that my wireless was out of action. Which reminds me, I must blog a review of my iPhone now I am a couple of months in.

And finally, to quote Sir Trev, it’s quite telling that 24 hours without a proper laptop internet connection was something of a hassle for me. Yesterday’s odd jobs in the flat included sorting my unnecessarily large number of books into those I want to keep and those I want to give to a charity shop. The vast majority of those I am getting rid of are reference books, out of date politics books, and other things which tell me stuff I’d – in this modern information age of Google or Wikipedia – never even consider looking up in something as antiquated and time-consuming as a book. Just a decade ago, we’d turn to a book for facts about people or the world. Now, the information is just a click away.

As long as the wireless is working, of course.

2 thoughts on “The good and bad of technology

  1. I’ve had a heck of a time with computers the last two weeks. Bought a new router on the advice of my ISP. The new router didn’t work, and then eventually did (without any changes on my part). Now I’m not sure I needed to buy it (£60!) but am scared to take it back in case the problem happens again. My admin PC fell off its desk and stopped working (yes, that’s the verrrrry short version) and I can’t get my PC to recognise the 16gb card in my sony a300 camera even though I’ve got lots of photos on there,whenever I connect it, it keeps asking me (helpfully) if I want to format the disk.

    Gah. And the next person who suggests I buy a mac will have to pay for it themselves 🙁

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