Why Service People Suck

Aw, I’m sorry we can’t fix your beloved but disgustingly outdated gadget; here, why don’t you buy this shiny new one at twice the price but half the capacity instead?

This is a complaint from December last year, but I was reminded of it last Wednesday morning when I – well, you shall see, if you read on – and was irritated all over again.

When I was in Matric (final year of high school for all you non-South Africans reading this), my very best friend in all the world went off to the Global Young Leaders’ conference in Washington DC and New York. When she returned, she brought me a coffee mug with “I YNY” on it and news of a new piece of technology called the iPod. “It’s so cool!” she gushed. “Everyone had one!” This device, it seemed, was small enough to hold in one hand, and played music. I pictured something plastic and pod-shaped, not dissimilar to a shower radio. I had not yet been introduced to the sleek shininess that is Apple products.

Said friend received an iPod for Christmas, in preparation for her gap year overseas as an exchange student. I had to admit, it was pretty cool. Smooth, rectangular, white on the front and gleaming silver on the back, with a fascinating spin wheel-thingy to scroll through your music collection. The screen was black and white, and the best feature was a timer, so you could fall asleep listening to music.

Shiny! The original iPods looked nothing like this. They were only shiny on the back.

So when I was preparing to go overseas, I had to have one too. A combination birthday, Christmas, and personally-financed present (from savings made waitressing), my iPod was everything awesome. My friend’s 20GB was already outdated, less than a year later. Mine was a 30GB Photo iPod, which meant you could store photos as well as music on it. I happily loaded it up and took it off to Europe.

Aside from a brief incident while I was in London, when it refused to wake up one day, and had to be replaced, my iPod has given me relatively few problems. I had to replace the earphones a couple of times, and had to reset it once or twice, but mostly everything was fine. Until last year.

One day, instead of the usual home screen, it displayed a sad iPod icon. I searched for advice on the Apple website and tried everything they suggested, but to no avail. I ended up taking it into the iStore at the Waterfront in Cape Town. A gawky, gangling young man with a spotty face and braces on his teeth took my baby into the back while I paced up and down anxiously. Barely five minutes later he reappeared, grinning. “It just needed to be opened up and cleaned out,” he explained. Oh, the relief I felt!

If your iPod looks like this, it's almost definitely NOT a good thing.

So the next time it happened, I decided I could fix it myself. I googled “How to open an iPod” and, after rejecting the advice that began “Take a clean butter knife” I found a sensible step-by-step how-to list. Armed with a set ofnewly-purchased jewellery screwdrivers (only R16,50!) I gently, painstakingly, began to work on my iPod. I eventually managed to separate the two sides and gingerly turned the front over and laid it next to the back. With a piece of toilet paper I wiped the insides and blew the dust out. I closed it up, turned it on and… voilá! It worked!

I had to do this a couple more times, but it was always successful. Then in December, when I was back in Pretoria, my iPod fell ill again. This time I couldn’t do anything because I’d lost my tiny screwdrivers in the move. So I took it off to the iStore in Menlyn, confident in the thought that they could fix it, what with having the right tools and everything. Well, “right tools” turned out to be exactly what I found.

This is ALL YOU NEED, glorified shop assistant.

I handed my iPod to the technician. He took it gravely, and then proceeded to try everything I’d already attempted. Manually resetting, toggling hold switch, and plugging it into a computer. Um, dude? Do I look stupid to you? Obviously I’ve had this iPod for a while; I’ve tried all that already. The technician then held it up to his ear before announcing that it was “probably the hard drive”. Oh, really? No kidding?! Thanks for that, genius. There’s no way I could have worked out that the primary component in the device was to blame. Seriously. I politely asked if he could take it to the back and open it up. No, they don’t have a workshop there. No, there’s nothing they can do. The only workshop in Gauteng is in Boksburg (or somewhere like that, I can’t remember exactly). Ok, fine then. Thanks for nothing, glorified sales person.

Fortunately (or so I  thought) we were going to Cape Town the following week, so I decided to just take it into the Waterfront, where they’d fixed it the first time, remember? Well, the “assistant” who “helped” me not only refused to open it up and clean it out, he insisted that that particular iStore had never done such a thing, insinuated I was a liar for saying that it had happened, and faux-sympathetically suggested that maybe my (disgustingly outdated, he was no doubt thinking) iPod’s time had come. I marched out of there, face flaming red and fury in my veins.  How dare this, this glorified sales person imply that my beloved iPod, my friend of many years, was finished? Especially when I knew for a fact that all it needed was a good cleaning!

If all else fails... (www.spillingcoffee.com)

Shortly after that I found my tiny screwdrivers, and fixed my iPod. I did the same thing this morning, the first time since December it’s given problems. Sure, it’s old, and looks clunky next to the latest sleek Apple devices; it’s a bit dented on the back and could do with a new battery, but it still works. It still plays music when I want it to, which is all I ask.

When I related the story of how I fixed my iPod to my friend, she was horrified. Her iPod had suffered a similar fate, she’d taken it in, but the Apple people had told here nothing could be done, and she’d thrown it away. “What if all it needed was to be opened and cleaned out?” she wailed.

Ah yes. So the moral of the story is: don’t write something off just because it’s a little outdated (eg video machines, telephones, post) and don’t listen to glorified sales people who are earning minimum wage and probably know no more than you do. And buy a set of tiny screwdrivers.

You needa get yourself summa THESE babies. Très useful.


3 thoughts on “Why Service People Suck

  1. Pingback: Why Service People Suck (via The Complainant) « Chicago Mac/PC Support

    • Thanks :) I think the iPod Touches, and other new generation iPods, have a different memory system. (Someone explained it to me but I forget.) The older iPods have actual hard drives inside, which is why they can be opened and cleaned. Something like that. I think. Thanks for reading!

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