Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time to Move On

Moving does not mean packing up the household belongings and hitting the road. As a child with a father in the military, and then later in my youth working for a major construction management company I got to redo my life on a regular basis via United Van Lines. Home was just where my parents lived. And given their lives not anywhere I had lived often.

Now I have lived in the same house for almost 15 years and in the same geographic area for almost 23. I until recently would image moving house just to not have to be trapped. But I have at last discovered that movement can be a rather static thing. It can be just a shift in attitude. Or turning just a bit to be aware there is another path to follow. It can be not calling the same friends for lunch or belonging to the same board of directors.

It can be like the newly emerged butterfly just quietly pumping its wings full so it can fly - a movement so still as to be almost no movement at all at first. Then that leap of faith. Leaving that comfortable space.

I have done a lot of moving this summer. Changing people and goals if not place. And while a bit scary it feels good. And it seems that the universe has united behind my shift in direction. Or should I say directions. To a lot of my old friends it seems that I am going all ways at once; that I am leaving behind what they believe is important.

The biggest visible shift has been to photography. But, never fear, I am still painting. I just am not painting for fairs or the expectations of galleries. I am painting what I want to paint. And I am painting at a pace my muse can support. A lot of energies are going into the photography just now but that is understandable. It is new and exciting to me especially given my success with it thus far. To the outsider this seems all so sudden. But it was a change in some ways long coming.

In some ways I was pushed by the economy, the down turn in fairs, the death of the Astro Van that took me to those fairs, my stand against giclee prints of my paintings, and just plain got to move off this damn leaf I am on. If I hadn't moved I could have been gobbled by some frog.

But yes I am still here. I have not moved house as the Brits say. I am still blogging but the focus of my blogs may have shifted a bit. More poetry on Creative Journey. Less politics and more consumer issues on Travels with Charley. A tad more introspection on Sidetracked Charley. And I have left groups I began on Facebook as I consider new groups I might want to start.

Times they are a changing. Like the butterfly whose new wings are at last dry: Move or die.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Modest Proposal

Aiming for the Ponytail Joe
As the previous blogs indicate I have been battling HP computer company and Fedex shipping over the issue of incompetency when it comes to dealing with my under warranty HP Pavilion Desktop computer that broke over Labor Day weekend.

I was promised it would be fixed in 7 to 10 business days and we are now on the 7th business day and it sits boxed and ready to go but without a shipping label. HP forgot to include it in the box shipped to me. But Fedex refuses to allow HP to e-mail me a label to print. Not the label has to be shipped Fedex!

I live in a rural area and we love our UPS service. And know our mailman by name. We often chat with both before they go on with their scheduled deliveries. But nobody in my area likes Fedex or Ponytail Joe, the current Fedex man. We groan when some internet company we have purchased from gives us confirmation of shipment and a Fedex tracking number. I personally shifted from one art supplier to another due to their shipping methods. DickBlick ships USPS or UPS depending upon the product. Cheap Joe's shipped Fedex.

I know big companies sign contracts with shippers, but these contracts are not exclusive. When I had my mask business I, for a short while, had accounts with both UPS and Fedex so they would pick up. So why can't the Internet customer be given a choice on shipper. We are already given a choice on bargain, standard, second day air, etc. Just a couple more options, an invisible to the consumer calculation behind the scenes to figure shipping cost and the customer is happier.

I love shopping on line but it gets complex for me because my billing address is a rural route box and my UPS or Fedex delivery address in a street address with a different postal code. Unless I know how the company I am dealing with plans to ship I don't know what address to give them. UPS has developed an agreement with USPS and hands over a package with a rural box number to the delivering post office. Fedex doesn't. But if I could choose my delivery method no problem. And I would never, ever have anything delivered Fedex.

We are being denied choice. I have complained to HP that admits the error Fedex made by not delivering a second day air package on the second day. And they admit that not being allowed to e-mail me a label creates further delay. They apologized for the error of their shipping department with the label. Fedex complaint department apologized for any inconvenience the tardy shipment or their new policy has created but that does not get my business computer fixed.

Yesterday I was told that the label would not be picked up by Fedex till Wednesday ergo I might be lucky to get it Friday and maybe not. If I had the money I would just buy and MAC as long as it would be shipped UPS.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fedup with Fedex

My HP computer broke again. Mother board this time. And of course it crashed on the first day of Labor Day weekend. It was under warranty and I have a laptop, but my desktop is where I do all my company business and all my photo editing. And, of course, I had a deadline on getting some photos printed for a show I was accepted in.

HP agreed that only 8 months old the computer was under warranty. They would send me a shipping box. It left their center on Tuesday with second day express shipping. It was schedule to be delivered by Fedex on Thursday.

That delivery date was critical because I could then box the offending computer and call for pickup on Friday. With any luck it would be in the repair center on the following Tuesday at the latest. I cancelled all appointments to not miss the Fedex delivery van. I rushed downstairs after making the bed just in time to see it pull out of my driveway.

No box on porch where most drivers leave packages, no box at my renter's apartment. She saw the Fedex very distinctive white truck drive away too with nobody getting out of it. Checked with my immediate neighbor to the west. He gets constant Fedex shipments of chemo drugs. No the driver had not left it there. I called Fedex Help line (now that is a misnomer) and they said the driver could not find my address.

I mentioned he was in my driveway. They asked if he had left an attempt to deliver tag. He had not. He did not get out of his truck because it was raining. Pony Tail Joe has quite a reputation in the Angel Fire area for non-delivery. As 29 comments to a community Facebook page attest. This is just a sampling:

  • We would have to start a new page to list all the complaints about Fed Ex deliveries in Angel Fire. My new skis were dropped at a local business that was closed the following 4 days. Home delivery was never attempted despite the tracking saying the package was delivered to my house.
  •  does seem to be the norm here with Fedex. He recorded that he could not find my address even though he was in my driveway.

  • I wonder if it's the same driver that lied about (not) picking up our package at the Resort last week. Even though it's not a public drop-off, the Resort has been kind enough to allow us to take our overnight lab work to their Fed-Ex drop off for the last few years because it (was) the most reliable pickup spot in town. We left our box in the usual spot and Fed Ex hadn't picked it up in 3! days so we took it to the Chamber. When Jo at the Chamber mentioned it to him she said he rudely said, "that box hasn't been at the Resort" - liar!! They need to get Fabian back as a driver - he was great!

  • This guy needs fired. And I plan to collect all these experiences and put them in a blog and mail it to Fedex

  • If it was the younger kid then yes! I filed a complaint just last week! Er

  • I never saw him because he did not get out of his truck

  • He better show up with my new Mac tomorrow after I paid for overnight shipping fees

  • I used to accept packages for people at the old bookstore. One of the reasons I quit doing it was because I had sooooo many problems with Fedex. Never had a problem with UPS.Fedex delivered a package to me yesterday....I met him at the top of the pass. I asked him if he was the regular guy and he said no...he was probably mid-to late 40's, with a pony tail. Heavy-set guy. White econoline van with FEDEX on it. That's all I can tell you...didn't get his name.
The Fedex agent on the phone insisted my box would be delivered later Thursday evening and to call back in a half hour. I did and the computer record had deleted the bit about the driver could not find my house. Package was not in the truck on Thursday for delivery. They apologized for the inconvenience and promised it would be delivered on Friday - hardly second day air I was paying extra for.

It has not been nine days since my business computer crashed. I did finally get the box on Friday at 6:30 but only because I saw the Fedex truck parked in the middle of my county road ready to once again drive off. I understand from a friend that Fedex is now commercializing their service in rural areas. I can only say . . . . well, I try to keep my blogs clean. I have for sometime tried to avoid all FEDEX shippers when I shop on line. This recent experience with them (see previous blog about VAS too) as validated that decision.

I am definitely worried about my computer being picked up and delivered to HP in a timely manner now that I finally have the box. I would drive it to a repair center if I knew where that was but HP forgot to include a return pre-paid label. So add that I am also fed up with HP.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Customer Service an Oxymoron?

In the old days before technology ran wild you had a chance of talking to a real receptionist or a real operator. Note I did not say human. Ma Bell, the mega telephone company we insisted on breaking up, gave all their operators and service personnel a list of questions and responses from which they could not vary. One of Ernestine's lines on the old Laugh In comedy show was, "Is this the person to whom I am speaking?"

I was reminded of Lily Tomlin that made Ernestine famous yesterday in a series of telephone calls to HP and Fedex concerning the undelivered package to ship my broken computer back in. Both have a set list of questions and responses from which they are not allowed to vary regardless of how inappropriate the are.

 "Your driver failed to deliver the chemo drug package this week and my husband has died."

" We are sorry for your inconvenience."

"The funeral is Wednesday."

" We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."

AND both have Voice Recognition Software as do several other companies I can mention. I had several well chosen words to say about VRS last night. None of which I think the software recognized. But then it also did not recognize what is was designed to recognize. In short, Voice Recognition Software is an oxymoron. It does not recognize voices and it is more hardware than software.

VRS might work with your home security system because you get to program it to match your voice and is not filtered through two telephones and miles of, if you are lucky, fiber optic cable. But VRS as used by companies on service lines make absolutely no allowances for the device you are speaking from, your sex, your regional accent, or any speech impediments, static on the line, or a major lightning storm. Most VRS used on customer service sites are programmed for the male voice in the lower registers (name the last time a man placed his own service call?). Screaming at it when it fails for the fifth time to know the difference between J and K just raises your voice an octave and makes you harder to understand. It does not like repetitions unless it is asking for it, will not start over if you say, "whoops, I meant 5 not 9," does not get that Alpha, Beta, Charlie is ABC, . . . well this list could go on. And there is a lot of GIGO as with HP last night that wanted one zip code to match one telephone number when for my problem they had two of each. Any one remember set and subset theory?

Let me say that the first few times I had to repeat something, because what it read back to me was so far from correct, I was a bit amused. When it thought 2300 was 1350 I pressed zero (once operator now what passes for a human voice) and figured I would rather talk to Ernestine. Instead I got Pakistani who had only a fleeting acquaintance with English and Ernestine's canned script. Even reverting to my 6th grade vocabulary did not help. In the end I reverted to screaming which had the same effect on him as it did on the VRS.

"Sorry if this caused you any inconvenience. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I declined to mention he had not helped me with anything to that point and hung up. Sometimes all you can do is hang up and see of you can find an e-mail address on the website to which you can send your queries. Or never use that company again! Bring back Ernestine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Southwest ablaze

Wallow Fire in Arizona and New Mexico

John McCain set off a firestorm recently by blaming out open borders and illegal immigrants on the fires in the southwest.

He has a point. They certainly cannot check into hotels so they do camp and in forests both Arizona and New Mexico have closed because of the very dry conditions. This hurts the economy of locals that depend on tourists this time of year. And this is where are homes are . . . or families and our pets and our friends. We are all on edge and very aware of the restrictions. I, who does not live in the forest but a meadow near its edge, cannot have a barbeque in my yard even or celebrate the 4th with fireworks.

We are all living in terror of illegal campers. And they could be US citizens from another state just unable or unwilling to read the signs warning of new camp fires, no smoking, no fireworks. But, Senator McCain is right, there is a higher possibility they are illegal migrants seeking to stay off of main roads and hide in the woods, set signal fires for others to meet them, etc. There is a piece of privately owned property near the national forest that has been used for years as a "gathering place" by the coyotes.

But to be fair it is not just illegals we are angry with. As our governors seek to ban the sale of fireworks as we approach the 4th of July we know the Indians will continue to sell them on their reservations knowing full well that is not where the buyers will set them off. And state officials of New Mexico and Arizona have no standing on reservation lands. But fireworks can be brought across state lines by visitors.

I think it is long past time that we ban fireworks and their use by anyone other than licensed individuals that set off public displays in closely controlled circumstances. Let's ring bells on the 4th of July instead. I have had enough flash, band and boom. We in the southwest are sitting on the front lines of a battle for our forests and the way of life they provide not just here but to the global climate.

Pacheco Fire in Pecos
I have been watching the smoke from the Pacheco Fire go 30,000 feet into the air. It was started by someone that went into a forest that was closed.

Whether an illegal immigrant or not it was someone doing something illegal but it is us and not them that will pay. And if our governor bans the sale of fireworks it is legal vendors that will lose money while the Indians continue to make it.

The 4th of July used to be about all men being created equal.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

A blog friend of my from Australia opened his blog with that quote. The citizens of the United States took a lot of flack yesterday for what the rest of the world sees and vengeance. This blog is a response to that.

The news media (and not just ours here in the states) has blown the "celebration" of Bin Laden's death all out of proportion. From what I can determine it was the drunken young emptying the bars and dancing into the streets in New York City. It was their city which was forever scarred. And 9/11 was the first bump in charmed lives of that generation. He was their boogie man and he was dead. Still his body was not hung from the portico of a hotel for days like Mussolini's at the end of WWII.That done by his own people.

Most American citizens behaved quite quietly upon hearing that Bin Laden was dead. For us the report of his death was closure. Not unlike hearing the pronouncement of Ted Bundy's successful execution whether you believe in capital punishment or not. And for many of us it was a subtle proof that former President GW Bush didn't try to get him. In the frontier days of the United States it was believed if you killed the chief of the tribe the fighting stopped. Perhaps on some level we still believe that. We don't want the wars we are currently fighting. We don't want wars. And we would like to hope that killing the chief of this war on terror would bring peace.

And I certainly do not believe (even though I do go along with some conspiracy theories) we faked this. I understand the burial at sea was in keeping with the Muslim tradition of burial within 24 hours and that at sea his body would not risk being dug up and mutilated. No doubt our Navy Seals got the proof the wicked witch is dead.

As for the eye for an eye bit that seems to pervade several major religions in the world, Bin Laden argued that 9/11 was an atonement for sins of the American people. GW called our invasion of Iraq a holy war. But that we could have put both on a gallows and hung both at the same time. The leaders that create war, and not the innocent among their populations should be the ones that wage it and pay the ultimate price for it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


It is not a new idea. In college I voted for Pat Paulson one election and Snoopy another. I just didn't feel that I could vote for any of the candidates offered. Up until President Obama I frequently voted for the lessor of two evils and that isn't good. In state elections I when I cannot bring myself to vote for the candidates for a particular office and do not vote for any. I was surprised in a recent off year election when a newspaper article made note of how many left that particular position blank. But the politicians don't seem to get the message.

Obviously we are going to have to be more direct like the voters in Nevada where I got this image for the blog.

After the very childish behavior of our representatives in the United States Congress I suggest a national JUST VOTE NONE OF THE ABOVE campaign for 2012. And we stick to our guns for every election until everyone in congressional office at the moment is out and the laws for campaigns and financing to get in the office are drastically changed: NO professional politicians, NO smear campaigns, NO ten second sound bites, NO professional fund raisers, NO to running for office over and above running our government, NO to partisan politics, NO repeated terms in office. JUST SAY NO.

Let us get back to what our founding fathers had in mind.

So in 2012 and every election year to 2018 just vote NONE OF THE ABOVE for every representative or senator running for office. I personally am going to do it on the state level too.

Note: I was going to advocate t-shirts and buttons but it seems there are a lot out there already so just Google NONE OF THE ABOVE and have fun. I personally want coffee mugs. And an OFF WITH THEIR HEADS t-shirt. Anyone?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Only one of ten die in the dentist's chair

I come from a family of dentally challenged. I was the one with the perfect teeth as a kid. But every time another member of the family came home from the dentist there seemed to be a new horror story. I was threatened with braces when I was 11 and was so terrified that I chewed gum to develop my lower jaw and read books with my head leaning down against the heel of my palm to push my upper teeth back.

I was ecstatic when family circumstances sidelined my dental checkups until 16. Then I had four cavities which the dentist filled all at once on the same day without word one of explanation or preamble. I only had my father's joke of only one of ten die in the dentist's chair for company during the ordeal. I managed to tap dance around dental health issues until my late twenties and a couple more cavities and a root canal.

The root canal was done by Igor in a office that looked like Frankenstein's laboratory without a word of preamble or explanation. I fainted. I had a huge infection which was into the sinus cavity and inner ear upsetting my balance. I got absolutely no sympathy or rest because my significant other at the time had a knee injury. I had to fetch and carry for him and work days. I remember thinking death would be easier as I waited for the infection to clear so the huge hole in my tooth could be filled.

The dentist that sent me for the root canal was thrilled when that day arrived because now we could "attend" to the impacted wisdom tooth. That is a horror tale for another day but it is when I discovered that when I am under I am never quite under and my memories of having my tonsils out were memories and not dreams as my parents insisted. I can repeat every single word ever said in an operating theater where I am the main course.

I am at constant war with myself over the need for regular dental checkups to insure dental health and my total animal brain need to run for hills. And ever present is that memory of Dad saying, "Don't worry, only one of ten die in the dentist's chair. Yesterday sitting in the plush examining room of a man that makes his living pulling teeth I read through the release from I had to sign which included the list of all things that could go wrong. I stopped at number 12: Broken jaw. The extraordinarily sunny disposition hygienist assured me that would not happen to me. And I smiled while thinking: They lie to you all the time.

All that said the oral surgeon knew his business. The tooth was out in three minutes. Numbing me up took longer. He explained every step before he began it but not so far beyond I could escape. He probably earned about $100 a minute for his time but I walked out. I was not one of the ten.

I am totally broke till payday but out of pain, and find myself wondering about dental costs, why they are not covered by medicare, and why there is not an affordable dental insurance option out there for us Yanks. Anyone know?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Unclear on nuclear energy?

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant
While everyone is worrying about an earthquake generated meltdown at a nuclear generator (or three) in Japan the nuclear energy people here in the United States are all upset that it will cause negative reaction (pun intended) to plans to expand nuclear plants in this country. Like it is all our fault?

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in California sits on top of one of the most geologically active (read that as earth quake prone) areas in the United States. And one plant in California was shut down because of earthquake activity. The 63 MW Boiling Water Reactor at the Humboldt Bay Nuclear Power Plant in Eureka was in operation by PG&E from August 1963 to July 1976. It was the seventh licensed nuclear plant in the United States. It was closed because the economics of a required seismic retrofit could not be justified after riding through a moderate earthquake.

California law now prohibits the construction of any new nuclear power plants in California until the Energy Commission finds that the federal government has approved and there exists a demonstrated technology for the permanent disposal of spent fuel from these facilities. California's existing nuclear power plants provide a significant amount of California's non-fossil fuel based energy and power but produce significant amounts of spent nuclear fuel. Continued operation of these plants will require substantial investments in replacement steam generators, turbines and other major pieces of equipment, ongoing recruitment and training to maintain an experienced nuclear work force, and accommodation of evolving federal policy regarding nuclear technology, in addition to other requirements.  

All, well and good, especially since everyone wants to store those spent nuclear rods in caves in New Mexico and Nevada.

However, this 1978 action, makes no mention of the San Andres fault and the tendency of power companies to build their plants on such unstable and shifting bases. And in high population areas. On the map below white is where it would be safe to build. But when I was living in Missouri we were fighting to shut down the building of a plant on the New Madrid fault. That is that red oval on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

The track record of companies proposing to build nuclear power plants is not good. The old joke was would you want to go on a rocket ship to the moon built by the lowest possible bidder? The bidding system on construction projects in the United States is about cheap. That New Madrid Fault plant was using substandard materials and rusty rebar. It does not inspire confidence. And some of the problems that occurred in the Three Mile Island near melt down was due to inadequately trained personal hired on the cheap.

So if we here in the United States are seemingly anti nuclear power may I suggest the fault is not in us but in the companies that build and maintain these plants. Look not at the population but at yourselves. Show us you can be responsible and also that you won't lie to us.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Many of  may have missed the huge emergency in northern New Mexico. Some of you don't even believe we are a state. And during the huge storm that brought record low temps (-34F at my house) even the Weather Channel said it covered from Texas to Maine.

We were all huddled down in our homes and getting our news from each other via Internet, Facebook, and telephone. We are an area that has only weekly papers and spotty coverage on radio. Our television is from some other place. But news quickly spread when the natural gas began to run out beginning in Albuquerque and spreading north up the Rio Grande valley to the Colorado border.

First the media lied when they shut down schools. It was because of road conditions. Then various agencies began to make calls quietly offering vouchers to people that might be suffering from the lack of heat. Taos got hit particularly bad because they depend on natural gas and have all the stores we all use. After being house bound for a couple of days everyone hopped over the mountain to shop. Smith's pipes were frozen, and the gas was out everywhere. The electrical coop was in a state of emergency planning for a sudden surge of electrical use do to dependence upon electric space heaters. They quickly sent around e-mails and had mayors in the area post on the internet rules for conservation of energy. They included staying off the internet. This rather reminded me of the Egyptian crisis.

How do you run out of natural gas? Especially in New Mexico where there are huge deposits of it. The explanation was that Texas had shut down the compressors to the gas pipelines to the gas utilities in New Mexico because of rolling electric black outs in Texas due to the cold. Why was this reminding me of the Enron scandal in the early days of GW's presidency? Enron, a Texas based firm, pretended a shortage of electrical power in California and created black outs to enable a raising of the rates. But surely this gas crisis was just a lack of planning and consideration in the wake of a huge unexpected storm?

Evidently not. I was wondering why conservation of electrical usage would necessitate the shutting down of compressors. Surely they could be isolated from the blackouts and kept up and running? And evidently they were. The gas company just chose to send New Mexico's gas to Oklahoma. Why should that have even been their choice?

Some of our residents are beginning to get gas back. Natural gas is being obtained from other pipelines. Residential lines have to be re-pressurized and checked and relit. It is a slow process and natural gas companies from the surrounding area are sending in technicians to help in the laborious process. No doubt this will mean rates get raised. Businesses in Taos and Red River have been shut down since last week and may not have heat until Monday or Tuesday when a new Arctic cold front is coming our way. We are still in a state of emergency especially if this can be pulled on us anytime a corporation decides they want to to increase their profits.

There needs to be a congressional investigation of this and it needs to be now. And I have to ask why wasn't deregulation of public utilities stopped after the Enron scandal? Clearly we cannot depend upon people with a profit motive to act responsibly.

Friday, January 28, 2011

End of our side versus your side?

I "watched" the President's State of the Union Address this year with friends on Facebook.

I don't watch what passes for television these days but instead get my media fix via the internet. A Facebook friend had posted a link to the yearly address and I opened it in another browser window on my computer monitor. This allowed me to see and hear the speech while commenting to my Facebook friends about salient points. Let me say that I do believe HOPE is a strategy FOX.

In these iffy times in world history we need hope and not doomsayers or sowers of negativity and venom. We need our lawmakers to make good use of their time in office and by that I don't mean in planning for their next run for office but to insure the well being of the nation and its citizens. We need you to put aside the rhetoric and work together. My friends and I discussed the points of the speech openly on Facebook even though we clearly had different stands on some of the initiatives highlighted. During the Bush years I became a closet Democrat for fear of being burned at the stake. That wasn't good for me or the country.

One of the best things about the President's State of the Union, was for me not the speech. It was the bipartisan seating arrangement. There are reasons that college stadiums put the home team fans on one side and the visitors on the other and it isn't the spirit of cooperation. It is to foster an adversarial atmosphere. And the Republicans on one side of the House and the Democrats on the other (a few scattered independents down the center) only made the US vs THEM atmosphere in American politics worse. It even allowed one Republican  in Obama's first State of the Union to feel supported enough to Boo. OMG was that embarrassing.

So while FOX is calling this a ploy or trick I am calling it a first step not unlike our first step by man for mankind on the moon.

Hatched last week by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., the idea caught fire over the weekend after a poll showed a big majority of the public wanting lawmakers of both parties to sit together at the presidential address. A spirited round of private phone calls and e-mails among lawmakers followed, and by Monday at least five dozen House members and senators had announced they had bipartisan dates for the big dance.

Bravo! Let's make America work again.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Rest of the Story

When last I posted I was fighting with HP about a computer that did not work and a customer service department that was from HELL.

I finally received a replacement computer that did boot up and seems to be working. I have not blogged about that success because every time I turn it on I hold my breath. My faith in computers was dashed by the whole experience.

Windows 7 is not as "all inclusive" as Microsoft will have you believe and I still have one HP printer (my favorite) that even with new driver downloads I cannot get recognized. And I fear my monitor is going out. I stayed with the old one so I could get more bang for my buck with the tower. Found a great (not HP) one on sale recently and it is arriving this week. I have not cheered about that because I have lost faith in new products working.

That whole experience with HP Tech support and customer service left such an awful taste in my mouth I don't know if I ever want to call them again.  But in chatting with friends recently I have found that nobody seems happy with product support provided by any major company. I have a few tips following my horrendous 10 day experience:

1) Move all tech support back to United States. English is a complicated language and non-native speakers seldom get it correct enough for highly technical conversations. Or all the cuss phrases a frustrated customer will use. And Asian accents are very difficult for English speakers.

2) Trash all the canned phrases and script! This did not work for Ma Bell before we broke up the telephone monopoly. It just made everyone angry enough to want to break them up. That isn't working very well for us right now. Definitely by the second call a customer ought to be bumped to someone that has the permission of the company to actually dialog - i.e. compose their own responses.

3) Which leads me to the world escalate: ditch it. Yes, I know it is a well used phrase in tech support communities these days but it is also used in wars. So keep that in house because with customers it creates a hostile environment. Tell the customer you are elevating their complaint to the next level. And have it truly be the next level up; not merely the customer support person in the next cubicle. "Hey, Mac, get a load of this broad."

4) Don't put all of us in the same box. One of the reasons I so hate tech centers is I obviously have to begin at the dumb blond lady level. I have been an electrician, I worked with computers when they had only 17K, I know every possible version of re-set on any electronic device I own (though to be honest I still have not been able to setup streaming Netflix through my Samsung Blu Ray/DVD player - who writes these manuals?). By the time I pick up the phone to call the 800 number I know the computer, television, modem, vacuum cleaner, lawn mower, etc. is broken. I want permission to send it back. And not for repair but replacement.

5) Don't put us on hold. Every customer service division supposedly records this call for training, and keeps electronic files on our previous complaints (problems with your product). Get my telephone number, read the file, listen to the tapes, and then call me back with the answer! This is the era of no land lines or minimal land line service. Every single telephone call I made to HP cost me 3 cents a minute. And when the average length of a call is from 20 minutes to 150 I am not doing that on my cell phone with dropped calls and dying batteries. And verifying I am the same customer that called before and that the complaint has not changed routinely takes 2 to 4 minutes of every call.

6) Make it MARCH. Time is money for both of us. And continually hitting F11, F9, F8 while waiting for something different to happen on the screen is not marching. It is giving me carpal tunnel syndrome.

7) Apologize earlier and mean it. When I finally got an e-mail apology from HP I was already to I am never buying another one of your products level. It will, research shows, take me nine years to forget this experience. If I replace a computer on the average of once every three years you have lost out on a minimum of two other sales to me. And then there is the screen I just bought from Amazon, and the replacement printer I am looking to Epsom for.

In closing let me just voice a growing nagging concern  about the quality of the products being manufactured over seas by supposedly American companies.  My mother owned a Whirlpool washer that Dad gave away to a neighbor when it was 20. It still worked. My first cloned PC, with parts made in silicon valley, lasted almost ten years and the laser printer I gave to my ex-husband was still working at 20 years old.

Four years ago I replaced all my twenty year old baseboard electric heaters in my house because, while they still worked, they looked rather banged up. Two of those have already failed. My last Dell computer needed a new mother board at less than a year and I replaced the tower when it was 2. The first monitor with my last HP Pavilion burned out the day after the warranty.

I gave up buying electric drip coffee makers after going through 4 in 6 months. And a few years ago I returned three TV's within the 90 day warranty period because they failed. Does anyone else feel we are doing something very wrong here?