Fry's has a part to play in this as well - they're the retailer I bought the machine from. (If only I'd remembered that CostCo lets you return a computer within *six months* of its purchase date...) I call them, tell them that HP is jerking me around, and they tell me to bring the machine in and they'll take care of it.
"Taking care of it" turns out to mean after booting it and watching it hang a couple times with their own eyeballs, they run a diagnostic suite overnight which says the computer is just fine. "The problem must be software," they tell me. "Your service plan doesn't cover software. That'll be seventy bucks."
So that's something to remember about Fry's "service plans" - they can just tell you, "The problem's software," and then they don't have to do anything. Oh yeah, and they can charge you for it. I did manage to talk them out of that, at least.
So, once more into the breach; I call the company formerly known as Hewlett-Packard and manage to get through. I tell them that the case manager never called me, I'd like to talk to him, and that I need recovery disks.
"I'll send you the recovery disks, but tell me, if you get the recovery disks, what do you need to speak to a case manager for?"
Fine. Just send the recovery disks.
"Very good, sir. There will be a charge of $29.95."
I go nuclear again. Again, I'm told a case manager will call me. I point out the number of times that promise has been broken already. This time it'll really happen, I am assured.
A couple days later, after the case manager hasn't called, I call and do manage to get in touch with one. Hooray! I manage to stay calm and ask for the recovery disks, free of charge. He agrees to send them to me, and transfers me to someone to fulfill the order.
That someone says, "Did he give you his phone number?"
"Well, he's got your case locked in the database, so I can't actually enter the order for you. Tell you what, I can have him call you--"
"No! That's not acceptable!" I say, on the verge of tears. "They never call. They never, ever call."
Perhaps he took pity on me, because he somehow managed to solve the problem and get the order in for me.
The recovery disks arrive the next day!
I reverently put the first one in the CD drive - it takes ten minutes to boot, which is strange - and then partway through installing it says, "CD/DVD read error. Press any key to continue."
The system reboots.
In the midst of my preparations for Hari-Kari I receive a phone call.
It's a case manager from the company formerly known as Hewlett-Packard. And he speaks perfect English. He apologizes for not calling sooner, says he was sick, and wants to know if everything was going okay with those recovery disks.
You know, it almost made everything okay. BUT - it turns out this was just a trick. You see, if he hadn't called, I probably would have just thrown the computer out of a moving vehicle and been done with it. But this phone call gave me hope. I told him the disks didn't work and he agreed that the media might be bad and he'd have new ones out to me as soon as possible.
Two days later. The new ones don't work either.
He offers to replace my computer, but I need the proof of purchase. I e-mail him a copy of the receipt.
So, guess what - he doesn't actually get to receive his own e-mail. It has to be processed by some other people first before they send it on to him. "So, when are you going to call?"
"Tuesday at the latest," he says. That's four days later.
I see if there's anything I can do to shave the turnaround time. "You know, I have the box the machine came in, can I just pack it up and send it in, so I don't have to wait?"
No - he has to send me a new box.
So, despair. But hey, they're replacing the computer. How bad can it be?
Of course, guess what? It's Tuesday night. He didn't call. I tried calling him. I got this message:
"Your case manager's voice mailbox is full. Goodbye."
Stay tuned for more adventures with the company formerly known as Hewlett-Packard!