I’m pretty sure I’m being punk’d

By Mir
March 28, 2012

The sucky thing about a prolonged run of bad luck is that, well, it sucks. It’s stressful and people get sick of listening to you whine (I assume; when I reach the point where I’m actually tired of whining, I pretty much figure that anyone who’s been subjected to it is probably fantasizing about smothering me in my sleep) and I much prefer that idyllic life we used to have where cartoon bluebirds sat on my shoulders as I pranced through the daisies.

Okay, fine. We don’t have any daisies. Grant me a little poetic license in my time of woe, OKAY?

But the GREAT thing about a prolonged run of bad luck is that, if you are me (and I happen to be me!), continued problems tend to lose their ability to upset you. Why, if you are me, they start to just become HILARIOUS. Because stress makes me laugh. (Exhibit A: uncontrolled giggling while furniture shopping.)

So when the pediatrician told me this morning that, “Yeah, this stomach bug that’s been going around lasts about a week,” and Chickadee said “I’M NOT MISSING STATE SCIENCE FAIR!”, I just chuckled and told her to bring a bucket.

[Picture it: Rows and rows of projects in the exhibit hall. Eager young nerdlings shifting nervously from foot to foot, awaiting their turns to speak with the judges. And Chickadee there, with her six-foot-tall massive display board, plastered with graphs, proudly… hunched over a bucket. Maybe she’d get a sympathy vote from the judges? Or, given that her project is in the ecological sciences category, she could make a compelling argument for her current state of, um, recycling, just being further enthusiasm for the area…? No?]

ANYWAY. Seriously, at this point I am practically unfazed. Because OF COURSE everything is going wrong.

So when Monkey told me this weekend that our NotPad™* had finally died, I was completely unsurprised.

[* The NotPad™ is a non-Apple computer tablet we received as a promotional item which then became the kids’, because the POOR POOR DEARS have to share a computer and sometimes, man, there are Minecraft videos that NEED WATCHING when Chickie needs the real computer for homework and stuff. Due to the nature of the story which follows, I shall only refer to it as the NotPad™ so as not to incriminate the makers of this fine, fine device.]

The thing is, I have never been overly impressed with the NotPad™. I figured it was mostly because it’s, well, not an iPad, but it’s also because it locks up periodically and it’s slow and the finger tracking is horrendous and… did I mention I don’t like it much? It gives Monkey an easy way to amuse himself and it was free, so whatever. But shortly after we first received the NotPad™ it started having problems charging if you didn’t arrange it and its cord JUST SO. Monkey—primary user of the NotPad™—took to plugging it in very deliberately, arranging it in the Designated NotPad™ Charging Spot with the cord tucked underneath in exactly the right way, etc.

But then this weekend, it died and we couldn’t get it to charge at all. Of course.

Otto looked it over and pronounced it well and truly dead. He could feel that the port for the charger was actually loose inside the NotPad™, which was doubtless the culprit. Still, he went ahead and found another mini-USB cord to test to make sure it wasn’t just the cord. It wasn’t. He then also tested the existing cord with a second device and discovered that the cord was ALSO not working, so the problem was clearly twofold: Busted cord, and loose port.

The NotPad™ is under warranty, you know. So this is where it got interesting. I hunted around on the manufacturer’s site and found a live customer warranty chat. It went something like this:

NotPad™Bot has joined you.
NotPad™Bot: Hi, Mir. How many I help you today?
Me: Hi, NotPad™Bot. I have a NotPad™ that’s no longer charging. Can you help me set up a repair?
NotPad™Bot: I understand that your NotPad™ is having difficulty charging. May I take you through some diagnostic steps to determine the problem?
Me: Sure, but we’ve already determined the port is loose inside the unit. Also the cord doesn’t seem to be working, either.
NotPad™Bot: May I take you through some diagnostic steps to determine the problem?
Me: Okay.
NotPad™Bot: Excellent. Please unplug the cord from the NotPad™ and from the wall, wait ten seconds, and then plug both ends back in.
Me: Okay.
Me: It’s still not working.
NotPad™Bot: Do you see a flashing light or any sort of display?
Me: No, it’s completely dead.
NotPad™Bot: Please plug the cord directly into another computer to see if the NotPad™ shows up as an accessible drive.
Me: Okay, done. It doesn’t show up. The cord isn’t working.
NotPad™Bot: Do you have another device you can plug into the cord to verify that it’s functional?
Me: Um, sure, but the cord is NOT functional.
Me: Okay, I used it on my MiFi. It doesn’t work.
NotPad™Bot: Can you verify that the other device was another NotPad™?
Me: It wasn’t. It was my MiFi. But they both use the USB/mini-USB cable, and it didn’t work. The cord is dead.
NotPad™Bot: It sounds like your cord isn’t working properly. Because your NotPad™ is under warranty, I would be happy to send you a replacement cord. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: Yes, it’s not just the cord. The port is loose in the NotPad™. I have other cords, none of them work to charge it.
NotPad™Bot: I would be happy to send you a replacement cord for your NotPad™.
Me: Thank you, we DO need a new cord, but the NotPad™ itself is ALSO in need of repair.
NotPad™Bot: What makes you think the cord is not the issue?
Me: The cord is ALSO an issue, but as I said, I have other USB/mini-USB cords that I have verified are functional on other devices, and they cannot establish a link with the NotPad™, so clearly something else is wrong as well.
NotPad™Bot: Just a minute, please.
NotPad™Bot: May I take you through some diagnostic steps to diagnose the problem?
Me: Uhhhh… okay?
NotPad™Bot: Do you have another cord which you can plug into your computer and a different device to verify that it is functional?
Me: Yes.
NotPad™Bot: Please do that now.
Me: Okay? I have a cord plugged into my MiFi. It works.
NotPad™Bot: Now please plug that cord into your NotPad™ to see if you can establish a connection.
Me: Okay. It’s not working.
NotPad™Bot: It sounds like your NotPad™ isn’t working properly. Because your NotPad™ is under warranty, I would be happy to send you a prepaid box to ship the unit back to us for repair. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: Thanks, that would be great. Would you like me to include the cord when I send it back?
NotPad™Bot: No, just send the NotPad™ itself. Hang on to the cord, it will work with your device once it’s repaired.
Me: … no it won’t. I also need a new cord.
NotPad™Bot: Once the NotPad™ is repaired your existing cord will work with it.
Me: The diagnostics you took me through showed that the cord is ALSO not working. I need the NotPad™ repaired AND I need a new cord, please.
NotPad™Bot: Just a minute, please.
NotPad™Bot: Okay, because your NotPad™ is under warranty, I will send you a new cord as well as a prepaid box to ship the unit back to us for repair. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
Me: I certainly hope not.

I made that last line up. But I most certainly THOUGHT it, even if I didn’t TYPE it.

The account above is abbreviated, but the entire exchange—including handing over the serial number and verifying our shipping address—took took over an hour. OVER AN HOUR.

But you know, it was a problem I could actually fix, so I’m not really complaining. Much.

Okay, maybe just a little.


  1. Jen

    My brain hurts for you. That is why I left a certain ISP that rhymes with earthlink. ;) But hey! You’ll have another post when they jank up sending a box and cord!

  2. Aimee

    Wow. Just…wowza. I think now the only question to ask is WHO is punking you?

  3. Lisa

    UGH! This is why my husband has to handle those type of exchanges. Otherwise, I start typing really obnoxious and random things into the chat box…maybe. LOL
    Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the old days where you called up customer service on the phone and actually spoke to someone? Someone who spoke back to you in your own language and was mostly polite?

  4. Jeanmarie

    It can only go up from here, Mir – can’t it?

  5. Karen R.

    Okay, something good has got to happen to you. Perhaps the NotPadâ„¢ company will mess up and drop a new iPad 3 in the return box to you?

  6. StephLove

    A stomach bug that lasts a week? Oh my, that IS piling on.

  7. Ellen

    I could substitute in two words and this would exactly duplicate the exchange I had with PayPal yesterday.

  8. Karen

    Well. Let us know if you actually RECEIVE the fixed or a replaced Not*pad, will ya? oooh boy.

  9. mamalang

    I understand that some people are tech illiterate, but when they tell me to do something I’ve already done? I don’t do it. I lie. I know, that is bad, but you also shouldn’t treat me like an imbecile.

    And after working in a call center, I know that they have scripts they have to follow. But I also expect that the person I’m talking to should have semblance of knowledge of the topic I’m discussing with them, and could actually, you know, talk like another human and not some human robot.

    All this to say, this is why my husband makes those calls.

  10. Arnebya

    Oh, JeanMarie, NEVER ask that! Believe me, I know why.

    And Mir, yes, something you can take and handle, even amid notquitesmart NotPad Bots.

  11. nicole

    This is exactly why my husband and I have a deal…I feel out the forms…he talks to customer service people. I know my limitations and I would have turned into a colossal bitch about 5 minutes into that exchange. You are a saint and I’m impressed with your ability to navigate the stupid without killing someone.

  12. Megan

    I TOTALLY do the laughing thing. Which means it’s either a sign of hidden genius (WELL hidden in my case) or impending insanity ;).

    I have an iPad which I love and adore and cuddle with all the time. It has yet to do anything but purr nicely and tell me I’m pretty [KNOCK WOOD] so hopefully I won’t have to go fight the crowds at the local Apple store to talk to the friendly if slightly tech-loony children. They are very nice indeed but their first tendency is to treat me as though I were a very fragile 90 year old who is startled by lit screens and panics at the thought of doing more than pressing the on button. I have to drop several nerd words before they sigh happily and slip into their native geek-speak.

  13. Jamie

    It’s just amazing how inept people can be!

    Oh, and since you mention Minecraft… what is it with that game? My 8 year old is so addicted to it! It’s all he wants to talk about at the dinner table.

  14. Scottsdale Girl

    I was on the phone with a lovely Southern sounding gentleman for my Keurig. (RIP)
    He had me do ALL KINDS OF PORN-Y things to my beloved machine. The first 7 steps he asked me to do I had done already so I just sat on the phone murmering uh-huhs and ok hold on and yep done and nope that didn’t work.After an hour of this he finally said, ok it is broken. (!!!) We will ship you a new one. (Awesome of Keurig to do out of warranty btw)

    Anyway, Customer Service scripts are from the devil. :)

  15. Stephanie Stenner

    OMG! LOL I HATE having to “talk” to those “chatbots”. It’s worse than the automated voices when you have to call the bank or the utility company. At least with those, if you push the 0 enough times, you will be redirected to a human being.

    I’m glad you’re going to get your NotPad repaired.

    I can also *so* understand about the streak of bad luck. Ours started early 2008….it’s a little better, but I certainly find myself daydreaming about (and trying to mentally teleport myself back to) another “better” time in our lives. I stopped whining to anyone a couple of years ago. Honestly, I don’t think they cared and I am *certain* they didn’t want to hear about my misfortunes.

    Hang in there…that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

  16. Victoria

    I earn my living answering the phone at the office, but avoid the device at home. You’ve just reminded me why :)

  17. Valerie

    I loved your post on socks so much that I hit Amazon and blew $60 on funky socks with capes, mustaches or lightening bolts. Then my kids got into a wrestling war to rip them off each other’s feet while screaming like barbarians. But it was happy screaming, so we can still be friends. And I think you’re pretty! Especially when cleaning up kid vomit even though you should be totally done with that stage. Sorry to hear about the sheer volume of suckage. I recommend the yellow socks with mustaches (and ear plugs) to make you smile.

  18. The Other Leanne

    What–it sounds like every customer service chat I’ve ever had. And now I’ve started doing the “uh-huh, trying that” thing while playing Solitaire. I’m with mamalang on this: don’t treat me like an imbecile; I would never have clicked “contact us” if I hadn’t already done the basic troubleshooting.

  19. Brigitte

    Just sitting here mulling over the possibilities of what evil deeds you did in a past life to deserve all this . . :-(

  20. Navhelowife

    Hope things turn around soon. I have to deal with the chat things when working – we use an electronic medical records system that occasionally is dumber than dirt.
    And I’m with Victoria up above..I spend work days answering phones and have found I am now just tired of talking on them.

    Now, off to walk my dogs. Who are much bigger, and not nearly as cute, as Licorice.

  21. dad

    I am in awe of your patience.
    From whom did you acquire that trait or did you just learn that beating your head against the wall is not very productive?

  22. 12tequilas

    I try to joke with those chat robots … it is like trying to get those Buckingham Palace guards to smile.

  23. Stimey

    It’s incredible. You can be SO clear and they still don’t get it. It is ridiculous.

  24. kylad859

    It’s not enough to play Minecraft. We have to watch videos of others playing minecraft. My boy was telling a slightly younger child about minecraft the other day, and that Mom will probably never speak to me again.

  25. Brittany

    Me: Hmm, I home sick with a stomach bug andtwo kids who are also on the verge of puking, maybe I should go entertain myself by reading Mir’s blog.

    Mir: “Yeah, this stomach bug that’s been going around lasts about a week,”

    Me: A WEEK?!? Thanks for that good news Mir. :/

  26. Jen

    I feel your pain, Mir. I recently spent 2.5+ hours, over the course of three days, trying to activate a new prepaid cell phone for my kids, after theirs went through the washing machine.

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