PC World...

A relative of mine - who doesnt work in IT - came by this evening. He'd just spent a considerable amount of his money on a new laptop, and an ADSL/Wireless router. Could I help ? But of course..

I went round to their house, and checked out the windows 98 machine which was their current model. "Oh-ho.. Not good" I thought. It'll take a while to get that working with wireless. Ah. Not at all. The netgear router was up and running in three minutes, and the old WIndows 98 had the USB wireless card plugged in and running -granted three reboots later - after 10 mins. "Phew", I thought - "Mission accomplished". Ah.

The new laptop - running XP instead of Vista (he dodged a bullet there) claimed to have a wi-fi network card installed. Ah. No. Windows didnt see it. And so the voyage of discovery started - 30 minutes later I had established that E-Systems, or Ei-Systems - is an "own brand" PC line from PC world, and that technical support costs £1.50/minute over the phone. After assaulting the 'The Tech Guys' web site for a while, I was able to figure out the type of wireless adaptor this Laptop should have, and re-install the driver. The supplied one was woefully out of date. Ouch.

A few reboots later, and still no wireless. So my relative has to make a 70 mile round trip tomorrow to get them to fix it.

Now. Where does this leave us. My relative is not in IT, and had flung himself to the mercy of PC world. Who - to their credit - have a bunch of IT guys in store, and their own brand computers. However, it should be noted that this particular laptop just didnt want to work over wireless. Pretty shoddy stuff. And my poor relative had just shelled out a significant lump of his money for a working system. One that he wouldnt have to struggle over.

This really pisses me off. This store had sold him a lemon, and then sold him an ADSL/Wireless router, expecting him to install it himself (unlikely) or come back to them and pay another £70 to get someone out to help him. This isnt good enough.

When will the IT industry - and the windows/intel part of it in particular - realise that not everyone can troubleshoot this crap, and lets face it -dont care about it. Mom+Pop computer user want to walk into a store, decide on a system and walk out with a working computer. Apple do this very very well. Dell do it remotely pretty well (but rely on the infamous indian call center routine to mop up failures).

What IT people fail to grasp is that when normal people - people with actual hygene, who dont know what 'world of warcraft' is and who dont frankly care if their wireless is 802.3b or g - shell out significant multiples of monthly income on this crap - it HAS to work. First time, every time. Like a TV or refrigerator. And the biggest sticking block ? Microsoft.

The good news is that my relative was basically told 'Vista was crap' (These are my words and not the sales person) and to stick with XP. Some seven days before MS were going to prevent the sale of XP with new systems. The bad news is that even the premier UK PC superstore couldnt actually configure a straightforward laptop to work out of the box - some six years after XP was released.

Oh. My. God. There reallly is no hope...