Monday, April 28, 2008

A consumer response.

I have a Gateway laptop. My sister has a Gateway laptop. My father has a Gateway laptop and a Gateway desktop. My mother has a Gateway laptop and a Gateway desktop. My parents have a small glass end table with shelves in the corner of their living room, and when my sister and I are both home, there are four Gateway laptops placed neatly on those shelves. Sometimes, at night, the TV will be on and all four of us will be sitting around our living room, tapping away on our Gateway laptops. The desktops are in the basement office, along with the discarded remains of the many computers my family has owned over the past fifteen years or so. Most, but not all, of these old computer carcasses are Gateways. (My parents own a small business, which partly explains the number of computers.) When I was young and we got a new desktop – I think it may have been my family’s second computer – my father used the Gateway boxes with the cow pattern to build a cardboard cow for my sister and me to play with. We are, or we have been, a happy little Gateway family.

One reason for our extraordinary loyalty to Gateway has been its generally excellent customer service. But this past fall, my mother bought my father a new laptop for his birthday. Of course, she bought a Gateway. His current laptop is not particularly old, but it has been dropped or knocked off of tables a few times, and it hasn’t been working very well anymore. So my mother called Gateway and ordered a sexy, sleek new laptop that was configured to my father’s specifications. And she made sure to select a model that would be compatible with my father’s port replicator. As part of the birthday gift, my mother spent about a month getting the new computer ready for my father to use. He has so many files and programs on his computer, and he works so hard, that he didn’t have time to deal with transitioning from one computer to another. So my mother spent a lot of time and effort making sure that this new computer would be all set up with everything that he needs. But when she was almost done setting it up, she and my father discovered that this sexy, sleek new Gateway had a problem. It didn’t have a port that would fit into my father’s port replicator, although the people at Gateway had assured her that it did. And they didn’t make this discovery until after my mother had spend a month loading and organizing all of my father’s files and programs, which was understandably frustrating and disappointing for my parents. So this is a big problem and it seems like Gateway should help fix it. But they were totally unhelpful and unapologetic and unwilling to do anything to help my parents resolve this problem, or even to return their phone calls. Eventually, my parents gave up on getting any assistance from Gateway, and my mom has just wasted a lot of money on a new computer that my dad refuses to use. Naturally, my mom feels very sad and horrible about this and I can see that it has caused a fair amount of hurt feelings and tension in my parents’ relationship.

So my dad is still using his old broken computer and after all our years of loyalty to Gateway, my parents are trying to come up with a different brand of computer to buy. Neither of them is interested in Macs, because they find them difficult and annoying to use, and I agree with them, although I lust after their sleek outer design and the fact that they match my iPod. Everyone knows that Dells are crap and I had a Sony Vaio that inexplicably stopped working after less than six months and none of the other brands we have owned were particularly impressive. So they asked me if I had any suggestions.

Now, my own Gateway laptop is just over a year old. It is slow when I first turn it on and I get error messages from time to time, but it is still perfectly good. But it’s a tablet laptop and it’s bigger and bulkier than I would like, so I have a future fantasy in the back of my head about replacing it something thinner and sleeker and sexier. But as I said, I don’t like using Macs, and after the recent fiasco, I obviously don’t want another Gateway. I am not inordinately knowledgeable about computers, but I have been thinking about an HP. I have no experience with HPs and I haven’t heard anything negative about them, which is more than I can say for most other brands. And their current advertising campaign makes them seem almost as slick and appealing as Macs.

Then, this weekend, I saw a new HP commercial with Jerry Seinfeld. And although I enjoyed “Seinfeld” as much as anyone, in 2008 after Bee Movie and his wife’s plagiarism scandal, Jerry Seinfeld just seems lame and annoying. Like the opposite of the sexy, sleek, cool computer of my dreams. And after just one viewing of that commercial, all the positive impressions that HP’s ad campaign had instilled in me were shattered.

That was long. I did have a point. In fact, I had two points.

  • I don’t like Gateway anymore.
  • That HP commercial was not good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

caitlin, i loved my gateway too, and never gave up on it until it gave up on me. then i realized the computer was clunky and gateway is bankrupt. now i have this sleek toshiba number (haha jk so not sleek!). anyway this story has no point, but the symbolism just kills me.