Posts Tagged ‘Dell’

10 Seinfeldian questions about experience

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

  1. Do the children of NBC Olympic executives watch the delayed broadcasts at 8 pm?
  2. Have executives at the soon-to-be bankrupt Best Buy ever visited an Apple store?
  3. What would it take for my main course at Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant to not arrive on the first bite of my appetizer?
  4. What would it take for Skype to stop moving the “end of call” red phone on my screen so that I can cleanly conclude conversations with my mother (who never hangs up before I do)?
  5. Why is the freezer compartment on my GE refrigerator designed to break my back and why is it separated into bins that do not match the size of any commercially available food package?
  6. How can I get my GE washing machine to stop beeping at me when I load clothes into it?
  7. Why hasn’t any major oil company come up with a comfortable tire inflater at their gas stations (I often go to Exxon Mobil)?
  8. Could Microsoft and Dell tell me when my Caps Lock is on?
  9. Why do small TVs automatically have a bad sound (mine is a Toshiba)?
  10. Why do I receive two or three credit card offers from Capitol One every week, but my Bank of America small business banker never calls me?

The end of my love story with Dell and Toyota

Sunday, January 9th, 2011


The Atlantic Monthly recently published a list of the 15 Most Hated Companies in America. Among them: Dell and Toyota, two brands I’ve loved with a passion. Sadly, I have concluded the survey is right about them.

I was in love with Dell. Of course, I was young at the time. I knew little about technology, and Dell gently initiated me to the art of PC love. I learned that a 3G network is not an erogenous zone but a way to engage with multiple partners at the same time. Dell periodically repaired our relationship through the help of call center shrinks with soothing Indian voices. Dell taught me that gently tapping on my screen does not accelerate the speed of email transmission, as I had thought, and besides, it’s not about speed but about the soulfulness of the interaction. Dell has coached me on how to think of the world from the perspective of the PC, how to take time to boot up, and how to deal with the blue screen of death.

But my PC partner has become so self-absorbed in the last few years that I no longer feel the love. The PC docking station I use at my office has become the latest cause for separation, and I have initiated the process. When love is gone, the simplest things become huge. Dell used to offer rails that made it easy to slide my PC into the docking station every morning. Gone now are the rails, apparently a result of the latest round of cost-cutting. Not only is my PC partner less and less attractive, but I can no longer afford the relationship.

To replace the rails, I’ve had to build my own integrated PC guidance system. The system involves some phosphorescent red tape strategically placed on my lacquered mahogany desk and a couple of flashing lights. The good news is that this dramatically enhances the aesthetics of my desk: my wife tells me nobody in the world has one quite like it (and she’s in the museum business). The problem is that beyond the airport guidance system development cost, we had to develop a training program to coach our zealous cleaners not to move the docking station when they dust it at night, because whenever they do, we incur massive recalibration costs for the system in the morning. The productivity of my office colleagues has also plummeted because the only way to avoid the crash landing that typically characterizes my unassisted attempts is for the four of them to rush into my office when I arrive and prevent the irreparable recurrence.

My other love was Toyota. With the exception of an old Polish-Italian car I had when a student, I have owned only Toyotas (five of them). I’ve had a lot of first experiences in my Toyotas (don’t ask), so saying that I was emotionally attached to the brand is an understatement. I had grown from a tiny white Corolla that could easily disappear in the Wisconsin snow to a huge red Land Cruiser I used to drive the one mile between my house and my office, all the while pretending I was a rough rod-and-gun guy who slept with bears on weekends. About a year ago, I decided it was time to downsize and buy an RAV4.

Over the last year, this RAV4 has marked the gradual descent into hell of my relationship with Toyota. First, there have been factory recalls, which have slowed down our love life. But the main problem has turned out to be elsewhere. Because Toyota keeps loading the car with more and more electronics, the battery of the car discharges after three or four days of staying idle. The issue is that I pretty much travel for at least three or four days every week, which guarantees I have to jump-start my car about 50 times a year. This has created some tension in the relationship I have with my car, and ugly scenes have erupted between us.

AAA has tried to mediate our disputes, and the acquisition of super long jumper cables allowing me to connect to my wife’s car battery without moving either car out of the garage has alleviated some of the tension, but this threesome arrangement has proven awkward. The smart people at the Toyota dealership have provided me with an accessory that prevents the battery from discharging when I’m away, but it requires remembering to plug it under the hood every time I leave, and it does not allow me to leave my car at the airport. “Use a limo service” was the encouraging word from the service guy at the Toyota dealer. “Your car will be at home, comfortably awaiting you.” Forgetting to unplug the gizmo when taking off with the car after a trip also provides an interesting opportunity to rip off a good chunk of the garage wall.

I recently decided Dell and Toyota no longer cared about me, and I have decided to see other brands. I will always have a soft spot for Dell and Toyota, and they’re all over my photo album. But we shall not grow old together.