Burn, Baby, Burn

A tale of tech support, a CD drive, and frustration.

I had been dreading this day for months, but I just couldn’t justify putting it off any longer. I would have to steel my nerves and just go through with it. I had to contact Dell technical support about our busted DVD/CD drive.

The problem had started around a year ago, when even pristine DVDs played on our computer were starting to skip and stutter. An IT-savvy friend of ours suggested the driver might need updating, and — mercifully, for me — my wife handled the chore of spending an hour online with a nice tech support person from halfway around the world.

Problem solved, or so we thought. The DVDs weren’t skipping anymore. It was months later, after I had just bought a spindle of CDs for backing up our kids’ favorite scratch-prone discs, that we discovered that the drive’s ability to burn CDs had gone kaput.

I puttered and futzed. The blank CDs languished in a cabinet for most of a year. A stack of new software and other upgrades was starting to grow cobwebs, as I put off tackling new problems because I still didn’t have the CD drive fixed. Finally, I had a weekend with enough time for me to sit on hold or online with tech support for three hours.

Those of you who have some experience with this kind of thing are probably on the floor now, convulsed with laughter at my naïveté. Three hours! you’re gasping, as you wipe tears from your eyes. You’ll need at least 30!

But as it turned out, it didn’t even take three hours. That’s because I never did reach Dell’s tech support — the online chat-with-a-technician feature stubbornly refused to start up for me. That’s right: I would have needed technical support to help me reach technical support.

So I gave up. I fell back instead on the good old reliable amateur IT fix-it method — namely, poking around on Google until I got an idea of what might work.

So, problem solved — mostly. Some of the software that’s supposed to work with the drive still isn’t playing nicely together, but in general it’s back to burning CDs like a champ, and soon I’ll have my kids’ whole audio library backed up.

But don’t bother to call and congratulate me about my success. I’ll be busy the rest of the week, upgrading my sound card’s software.

Article © 2009 by Michael Duck