Biked for 10 minutes
I feel like I can comment with such a shameful entry because of the effort required. I woke up this morning with a brain-splitting headache (sadly not from drinking), and took three Aleve. I forced myself to bike for 10 minutes. I remember thinking, "Maybe it'll suck blood away from my brain and it will hurt less" in a sort of daze. I biked for 10 minutes (at a pretty nice clip.. I burned 100 calories), and then went to go nap to try to get the pain out of my head. I drifted in that not-asleep not-awake dream haze, then woke up, was sick, then slept some more.
I woke up feeling better, with no headache, and feeling like I'd been kicked by a mule. Also, I was starving, and it was 1pm. Naturally, I went to work. [Mainly because I needed to be fed, and since work feeds me 70% of the time, I have water and pickles in my fridge.]
We had oysters for dinner, but I was recovered by then, so they tasted like the best thing in the world.
I got this Dell 24" monitor, and it's God's Monitor. It's ~$500 cheaper than the comparable Apple Cinema display, and it's just *gorgeous*. I wish I could give you a screenshot to appreciate it, but the picture may be too small for the margin of your monitor to contain it. So, as a test, I plugged in my powerbook into it, and it was good. Playing around with it on my desk, I realized that I was one step away from complete Apple assimilation: I caught myself thinking, "Why don't I just get a Mini to plug into the monitor?"
It may be too late for me, but I can still warn the world.
But speaking of Dell: It took me 2-3 weeks to get this monitor, largely because their customer service sucks. I ordered it, got a notice saying I should expect a shipping notice, then nothing.
Four days later, I punched in my customer order number, and just got, "Your order has been cancelled". No explanation of when, why, or how.
I called up Dell, and they said, "It was cancelled. Check with your bank."
I called my bank, they said, "No, it was just fine. In fact, our records indicate you often buy electronics online and so this fit with the normal pattern." (Tell me something I don't know).
I called Dell back, "Well, it looks like it was flagged as being fradulent".
Me: "So wait, it was ok for my bank, but not Dell?"
Them: "We're not sure why."
Me: "So, I'll just reorder"
Them: "Oh no, it's better for us to re-run the card."
Me: "Ok then, whatever will get it done quickest." (Famous last words)
So, I was transferred to several offices, until I finally goto the "right" (I use that term loosely) place, where I was informed that "Of course we can reprocess your order. However, the price has gone up by $300. Also, I have this thick Indian accent and there's static on the line in order to better serve you!"
Naturally, at this point, I began to get surly. Words like "Bait" and "Switch" were used, and then they hurriedly admitted "Oh, we weren't applying the right discount! Let me transfer you there."
I was transferred to the main customer support switchboard for Dell, and prompted for an extension. The one I had been given was two digits two short.
I had to call up, and go through the same rigamarole again, then I ended up with a different person, who barely spoke English. It took me 15 minutes to give her my address, spelling very slowly and very carefully. At the end, I told her it was the worst customer experience I'd ever had with Dell.
Net time to get it taken care of: 1 hr 30 minutes.
By contrast, in early, pre-collapse 2000, a friend of mine at Exodus had called in a bad hard drive on his Dell laptop and asked for support. He was told a tech would call him back, and then an hour later, _MICHAEL DELL_ called him back and told him how sorry he was for the delay. Now, obviously this was just a gimmick -- Michael Dell would randomly pick customers to call (and who knows, maybe he picked high profile companies), but man, what amazing PR. Even if it was a gimmick, it showed that Dell was at least thinking creatively about how to manage customer pain. As a consequence, I'd always sort of thought of Dell's customer support as something decent.
Whatever changed between then and now, it was disastrous.
Some support pointers:
(i) Your operators should always speak the language of the person calling. This is not a negotiable demand.
(ii) Your system should minimize pointless transfers, particularly when you have to give the same information *Every time*.
(iii) Never keep your customers in the dark if you cancel their order, and don't make them go through shitty customer service just to get an answer.
That said, the monitor kicks ass. Buy one, all the cool kids are doing it.
 Unless, of course, you don't like oysters. In that case, every oyster has the consistency of snot.