David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

David's Church Information Technology

March 29th, 2007 at 2:48 pm Print This Post Print This Post

Windows Vista “Express Upgrade:” less than express

You may know that Microsoft offered a free or discounted upgrade to Windows Vista for computers purchased between October 26th, 2006 and March 15, 2007. The exact terms were set by each manufacturer for each of their systems sold with Windows XP, with different Vista versions available based on whether you got Windows XP Home or Professional. We purchased two computers at Lakeview and two computers at the other office I work at, all four Lenovo machines, and I tried this week to request the free Vista update based on the procedure posted by Lenovo. The Leonvo page is very clear and I have no problems with their site. The rebate request page, however, is provided by Moduslink, who appears to do the Vista Express fulfillment for Microsoft. Hang on for the ride, this is a bit long, or bail out now if you’re short on time.

I don’t know who Moduslink is, but Microsoft made an extremely poor choice of partners to work with for this project. Their website has to refresh after each form field selection. After typing in my two model numbers, COA (Certificate of Authenticity) numbers, dates of purchase, etc. for my other office two days ago, putting in shipping and billing addresses, and the credit card information (for the almost $12 shipping charges), rather than a confirmation page I receive an error saying, “An unrecoverable error has occurred, please try again later.” This wasn’t a one-time event, either, I re-typed all the pages in the multi-step process again, just to receive the same message. How about a descriptive error message if you must display one? They keep adding insult to injury here, and it’s taken at least 15 minutes of my time if not more, including gathering all the needed information together. But it gets worse.

I email their customer service after trying to find a phone number for five minutes, unsuccessfully. I explain in detail the steps I took, as above, with the error message. I even thank them in advance for their help. Their reply that evening, which I receive the next day: “Thank you for your interest in the Upgrade Redemption Program. We are unable to process the credit card used for your order. Please contact us at (800) 817-5602 or (801) 431-1504 to resolve the issue.” Finally! A phone number! I call the toll-free one (do they think I’m going to pay long distance given the option?) and try the menu option that sounds like what I’m trying to do (redeem the Vista Upgrade or some such). After a long-winded message that basically consisted of them saying “visit our website to do this” over and over ad nauseam, they politely told me I could have the message repeated (“press 0”), or they’d helpfully hang up. I try again. Different menu option, same result. Quite a waste of time, no human still. Third time I try yet a different option, which has another long-winded message but finally says, “if you need further help, press 8,” at which point I proceeded to hurt my finger pressing eight so hard and fast (not really, but I thought that would sound good).

After an impressively short time on hold, I was able to speak with a woman without an Indian accent. But still located in some other foreign country with English as a second language. After telling her my problem (twice), she wanted me to give her the information so she could try it. Whatever. She proceeded to ask me for the information for each form field, and I could picture her typing it into the same website because it was in the same order and everything. Only it took about 20 minutes for me to spell out Every. Single. Word. I know my last name’s a bit tough, but how many stinking times do I (and she) have to spell “Indianapolis” phonetically only for her to discover that she’d typed ID instead of IN in the state field to cause the error?

Result? Same as mine. I was so shocked I had a heart attack. Or maybe that was from having to sit still through this phone call rather than being up and about getting some exercise to keep my heart strong. (Ha! If you believe I would have been exercising if I hadn’t had to be on the phone, you don’t know me too well! I sit at the computer, too!) After recovering from my “shock” I heard her saying something about writing down my information to submit manually, and that someone would call me for my billing information (credit card number) later. I left my cell phone rather than office phone for this purpose, and was finally done with that ridiculous phone call. But have a heard back from anyone yet? Nope. If I do get a call back, I might end up with a real heart attack from the surprise. But I’ve done my part, and they’d better send me the upgrade at some point, because I submitted my rebate before the March 31st deadline. The only problem might be contacting them to make sure they keep up their end of the bargain.

Fortunately, I did the two Lakeview rebate submissions today, and besides the user interface on the submission site still better fit for website purgatory than human use, it did give me a confirmation page and ask me to mail or fax my receipts to confirm the upgrade, which I have no problem with. At least writing this rant has helped a bit, emotionally if not in substance. And I’m not in a hurry for the upgrades, I just want them to save money when we eventually go to Vista, which is not for a while!