Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Days of Whine and Rage, or Rants of a Disgruntled Consumer

Blogging might be slow over the next couple of days. I've been having major problems with my laptop, and although some of the finest bloggers have been known to post at work, I'm not eager to do that at the moment.

It started on my Sunday. I switched on my laptop and it wheezed, groaned, and finally ground to a complete halt; it wouldn't even start up. Instead, a message appeared on my screen telling me that my Windows file 'Hal.dll' was corrupt. I didn't even know what 'Hal.dll' was, and what it had done to make it corrupt (was it doing shady dealings with members of Saddam Hussein's regime? Was it leaking to the press without telling me?) But there it was: my computer refused to work.
Apparently I had to reinstall that file onto my computer. Easy enough - if I had the Windows disk. Unfortunately, the disk that I had used to install Windows on my computer was, um, no longer available. You know how these things happen.

The only option seemed to be to buy Windows again. I headed along to the Big W in Lonsdale Street and found a copy in the computer department there. Without looking too much at the packaging - or thinking why it was only going for one hundred and fifty four dollars and ninety-five cents - I bought it. That, as it turns out was a big mistake.
I took the copy of Windows home and put it into my computer. I tried several times to load it; load was something it would not do. I took out the packaging and looked through the booklets, and finally looked up in the top right-hand corner of the packet.

There was a sign in this corner that said 'Upgrade'. The sign indicated that I was to turn the packet on its side and read the instructions there. I did so:

Suitable for use with Windows Millenium, and Windows 98.

So it seemed this was an 'Upgrade' edition of Windows XP and not a full edition; and that it was only used to upgrade computers that had previous versions of Windows on them. I contacted Microsoft, and after having Celine Dion channeled through my brain for five minutes, I was put on to a Microsoft computer guy. He advised me that I probably did have the wrong version of Windows, and that the full version would probably cost around three hundred dollars.

Well, it looks like I'd made a complete goose of myself. In my defence, the package was wrapped in plastic and the 'Upgrade' sign was, I believe, partially obscured by a sticker carrying the barcode. It seemed fairly clear from the title in the middle of the package that I had bought a copy of 'Windows'. Not so.

Well, this Monday I was working late and had the morning off. I gathered up the receipt and took the package back to Big W. I gave it all back and asked for a refund. The girl behind the counter wordlessly took the packaging, went to the other side of the desk and started talking on the phone for five minutes. When she was done with this, she came back and told me that they could not give the money back.
I asked why not.
Apparently, because the packaging had already been opened, there 'is no way we can tell that you haven't used it.'
I was furious. I thought about staying there to argue, but there wasn't much use. I asked for the software back and left.

This is intolerable. I will get my computer working again; it has too much writing on it. I'm facing at least another three hundred dollars, and I've already foolishly spent half of that price on a useless product from a store which now refuses to pay me back for a useless product. I have no idea what to do. Can Woolworth's really get away with this? If you lovely readers have any suggestions, then hit me up in the comments box, please.


nailpolishblues said...

The Windows people will track me down and kill me if I say what I'm thinking...just like they're coming to get you.

Can't you just sell the upgrade n e-bay or something - '[one day to be] award winning writer selling utterly useless yet mostly unsoiled upgrade, happy to sign box'. The whole electronic no-returns thing sucks but I don't think there's any kind of comeback from it.

Caz said...

Tim - I guess you would have told them that you were seeking an exchange, for the correct product, at a much higher price than the item already purchased? Under those circumstances it's rather obvious that the software was not correct, otherwise you would not be looking to pay another $150 for something else.

But this assumes that the store had the right software on their shelves?

I would have stood my ground on an exchange, on the grounds of deception in the way the (wrong) software had been presented to you, the consumer. I would have insisted that they make an exception given all the evidence, and given that the store had contributed to the deception by not providing clear signs, labeling, and so on.

Caz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TimT said...

Nails - I'm not sure whether eBay would allow me to do that, either, though I guess they probably would. This 'upgrade' package is sure as hell useless to me, and I like the sound of the ad ...

Caz - na, I checked the shelves and they actualyl didn't have Windows - this was on Monday, and I don't think they'd restocked yet. I'm guessing they do it just before Saturday, which would be their busiest day.

I didn't want an exchange, I just wanted a refund. I considered standing my ground simply for those reasons, but I had a very limited time window, and it would have involved a three way conversation between me and the girl at the counter (who didn't care either way) and somebody higher up in management who she was in touch with over the phone.

I guess I'm going to check around, find out what my options are, and get in touch with the management myself, because it's just ridiculous buying a product which turns out to be useless and then not getting your money back - especially when the packaging was rather deceptive.
Never having done this sort of thing before, though, I don't fancy my chances.

Caz said...

Let me know if you want to take up the other suggestion. (you do get your comments in email?)

David said...


Depending on your capacity for legally questionable behaviour, I may have a dollar-free solution to your problem. Email me, or MSN me when you get a chance.

TimT said...

I don't get my comments in email currently, though I guess there might be a way of changing that. Thanks for the offer Caz.

Thanks David. I'll mail soon.

Rachy said...

sell it on ebay

nailpolishblues said...

I'd, like, totally buy it from you but there are books and cds and boxed sets of Futurama that I NEED to buy...

Hmmmm, David is clearly a clear thinker and one after my own heart :p

Patrick said...

If I were you Tim, I might be inclined to have someone look at it before I re did windows. I myself have never ever been able to reinstall windows without loseing every bloody thing in the process. I am told it can be done, but not by me apparently.

I am guessing you have no wish to lose your work?

Just my 2 cents worth. You may also like to try installing Xandros (linux). It will allow you to access your windows files (hopefully) then you can save whatever you want before you reinstall from scratch.

If you wanna go down that road, email me and I'll send you a nice shiny copy of Xandros Delux.

TimT said...

Thanks for the advice, Pat. Might mail you in a few days. I definitely don't want my files to disappear.

Caz said...

Ooooh, good thing Patrick just stepped in.

I left off any comments about losing everything on your laptop, as I err, didn't want to suggest that you were not incredibly IT literate & savvy...but it has been nibbling at the back of my mind that you were about to head down the path of unwittingly obliterating every word you've ever written. Not that I'm now suggesting that you are without wit. (Or charm.)

TimT said...

I've had two computers, but I've never had to reinstall windows. The problem's never confronted me before. Though hopefully I will only have to reinstall that file that has gone corrupt.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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