Thursday, December 4, 2008


I’m having a tough time getting used to the Global Economy. Billy Durant once told my Grandfather, "If you have a nickel put it in General Motors." That was right after Billy lost control of GM. My Grandfather was a young man who didn’t heed Mr. Durant's advice and therefore I didn’ t inherit fifty million dollars. But maybe what goes around comes around. Maybe if you have a nickel now it’s a good time to buy GM.
But that is a small part of the Global Economy problem. My biggest beef is with technical help. Every time I call for help for anything electronic I end up talking with someone on the other side of the planet. This might be a good thing for foreign economies but it doesn’t solve my problem which makes it bad for my economy.
I called a company in Arizona recently and they connected me to tech support. I couldn’ t understand a word the guy was saying. The conversation went something like this, "You problem. Yabadabadoo Wadoodlewaday no work!" Not only could he not speak clear English, I could tell he was reading the same trouble shooting manual I had. I hung up, called right back and got another guy. He was a little better so I hung up on him and called a third time. I can’t guarantee this will work for you but you can give it a try. Since I couldn’t understand them, I decided to see what would happen if they couldn’t understand me—I stuttered. Immediately they switched me to a tech who spoke perfect English. His expertise consisted of suggesting I turn off my printer and turn it back on again and it would magically fix itself. So after three calls and three different tech people from who knows where, I ended up with a guy I could understand that didn’t know anything. This is what American business calls progress.
Let’s not forget about the scam factor. The consumer used to be considered a valuable customer. Companies used to bend over backwards to keep you happy. Today you're just another schmuck with a buck. Let’s revisit my printer problem. I finally gave up calling the company tech service. I emailed them. I was sure they would email me back in English. I was right. After explaining my problem and giving them the error message that continued to come up on my screen they emailed back with these instructions: "Your printer needs service. Take it to a certified technician."
The error message was: "A part on your printer is at the end of its life. Service your printer." I discovered that my printer has a brain, and that the brain is programmed to help the company scam me out of my hard earned money.
It’s a little techno war I’m waging against the establishment. Basically I hate paying $50 bucks for a little cube of ink that doesn’t last all that long. My first attempt at beating the system was to buy those little kits that refill the ink cartridge. I would end up with more ink on my hands than in the cartridge but it did save some money. I discovered the printer engineers were miles ahead of me. They have designed a little cartridge chip to fail after so many trips back and forth across the printer. So even though the cartridge was full the printer would go on strike after a couple refills.
I’m Irish. I was not going to let them get the best of me. I went on Ebay and bought a bulk ink system— little bottles of ink that sit on the side of my printer with tubes intravenously feeding ink to a super cartridge with chips that automatically reset themselves. I thought I had’ em—that’s when my printers brain started playing chess with me. Error message, blinking lights, printer playing opossum as if it were brain dead. I spent hours googling the net for printer options. Finally I found a site called "Printer Doctor" with a small piece of code I could download to revive my printer's brain and bring it out of its coma. This little code makes the printer think it’s working for me instead of the printer manufacturer. It seems surreal. I have brought this innocent piece of machinery over from the dark side to fight for right and justice and cheaper printing ink dispensing.
I guess I have gone global. I have an American printer made of Japanese parts. The tech support for my printer is tucked away somewhere in the Middle East. If I need to give it a brain transplant I go to the "Printer Doctor" on the internet who is based in Britain.
To top it all off I discovered recently that if I get mad and want to throw my printer in the trash I have to deal with my global garbage company. They practically have a monopoly on North American garbage. They control collection, recycling, disposal and landfill services. Instead of paying large monthly trash bills and throwing everything away, I fight the disposable economy and recycle a large percentage of our waste. I can fit everything we throw away into one "budget bag" every two weeks. I pay $2.50 for the bag and put it at the end of the driveway on my allotted trash day and it goes to the landfill along with all the garbage they hall here from Canada. I was just informed that they now want a surcharge of $5 if I insist on continuing my environmentally, economically sound practice of not generating enough garbage to boost their corporate spreadsheet balance. Stay tuned. I’m googling for the "Trash Doctor." I’ll let you know if I can bring my garbage man over from the dark side. —Keep Smilin’, Dick E. Bird

1 comment:

Jayson James said...

I think the author is right. I am also working on ink dispensing system