Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Letter to Asus

Asus US Headquarters
800 Corporate Way, 
Fremont, CA 94539

To Whom It May Concern,

I've never wrwith Asus customer service was so very appalling that I have decided to waste my time on a letter. 

It started with the tell-tale sign of doom with the voice of one thickly non-English-speaking individual struggling to comprehend a language as ridiculous as English. Kudos to him for speaking English far better than I speak Spanish, but in the end communication is frustrating when trying to explain complex technological issues and the words do not seem to be getting through.

As an example, I started the conversation by explaining that my Sabertooth 990FX motherboard will reset 3 times prior to completing POST. He, of course, heard that my motherboard would not POST at all. He asked me to do things in Windows which I explained maybe 3 times that it would have zero impact since it is not getting to the point of even trying to load Windows. I proved this by unplugging all my hard drives and the problem remained. I spent over an hour, shoot, maybe 2, troubleshooting this thing when he finally agreed to give me an RMA. He asked for my S/N but, of course, it's nowhere to be seen on my board and he has absolutely no clue where it ought to be. He offers that it is likely on the backside of the motherboard which means I have to tear it all apart and drain my water-cooling system to get the information.

Before doing this, I want to get an idea of expectations. What will happen? He says they will try to repair it and, if not, if they have it in stock, they will send me a replacement. I asked if they had it in stock. He said he can't tell me without the S/N. I asked what would happen if they did not have another in stock (since, by now, I'd place money on them not finding the problem). He tells me that he doesn't know. Doesn't know? There's no contingency for following through with the warranty if they have none in stock? I assume that they would probably exchange it with a comparable motherboard, but he could certainly not offer that assurance. 

So I sit on it for a while because I don't want to rip my computer apart for no reason. Unfortunately, my computer also has some funny behaviors which, given the POST resets, makes me think something is wrong with the motherboard. Problems remain after a complete reformatting of the computer. Must be hardware and I've already ruled out all the other hardware.

I finally take it apart and to my shock and horror, there is no S/N on the back of the motherboard. Nothing. Nada. I call up Asus once again and get a similarly lacking individual in the ways of communication. I start by explaining to him that my motherboard is IN MY HAND and has no S/N written anywhere on it but that I need an RMA which I was promised after some hours of troubleshooting. He, of course, has no more clue where the S/N is than the previous guy and begins trying to troubleshoot my motherboard. I explain once again that it is no longer a part of a computer but rests alone in my hand so I cannot troubleshoot further and that I've already endured such torture. Unshaken by this, he asks me to remove the motherboard from my computer as if he's heard nothing of what I've said.

After hitting my head a few times on the desk in front of me and getting zero assurances for anything regarding getting it fixed and what might happen to it, I finally find the S/N in a nice little hiding spot only visible from the position of a head being smashed flat on a desk. It's a sticker on the freaking SIDE of a PCI-E port. Not visible from top-down view. Why make it easy, right? Had I placed a mirror on the bottom of my case, I could maybe have read it while it was still connected with all the components. Alas, I share this good news with him and he tells me something ridiculous like the 12th letter needs to be an M. I grit my teeth in frustration and I offer that the 3rd letter is an M, but he assures me that it must be the 12th. Nearly giving up, I allow him to put in an RMA without it, but I press further. "No, this must ABSOLUTELY be the S/N. It says right on it that it's for my exact motherboard and I could have sworn that the previous guy told me that the 3rd letter needed to be M and not the 12th." He then asks me if the 3rd letter is M to which I assure him, as I did the previous 3 times, that it was. He then accepts it as the S/N as if that's what he said all along. 

Fine. Whatever. Finally got the S/N. He can now tell me definitively that there are none in stock. Asking him what will happen to it then if they cannot fix it, he assures me that he has no freaking clue. Wonderful. More assumptions. And guess what? They don't cover my shipping charges. So now I have to ship it just to find out what they might do with it.

I take the plunge. I go to ship it only to find out they want $50 for it. That's 1/3 the cost of the motherboard new... I go and find my own packaging materials and find that I can now send it for $16. Still, a hefty price for shipping, but still a bit smaller cost than a new motherboard so I accept the charge and ship it off.

However long later, I receive an email addressed to "Shawn Lordin" despite having SPELLED my name as "Sean Lauren" to the guy on the phone AND having written it on the RMA. They are returning my motherboard. They found nothing wrong. 

Quickly, I grab a phone. "What the heck is this?" I ask the new non-English-speaking person. The email said that I had claimed that the motherboard didn't POST (which is not what I wrote, but hey, let’s be consistent with not listening to me). It POSTed for them, of course, as it does for me, so they're returning it. They didn't even call me for clarification. The guy, of course, apologizes for this "inconvenience" and replies astoundedly that they wouldn't have called me. He thinks I should “trust them” that they’d have noticed the resetting if it were truly there for them. Yeah, Asus as built so much trust in my eyes thus far! They got the symptom wrong and simply shipped it back with no questions asked. I asked him to cancel the shipment. Too late, of course, despite it not being in the shippers system. He tells me they've already picked it up. The email told me they'd be shipping soon, but who'd have thunk it'd be a mere matter of minutes? I ask him to cancel it. He says he can't because it's not in the system. I ask him to wait until it IS in the system and then cancel it. He says he cannot cancel it once it's in the system either. Absolutely nothing they can do.

I ask for a manager and go through the whole thing all over again. He can't help me either. He offered that I can reject the package or open a new RMA once I get it. Well shoot, if I just reject it, will anyone manage it or would it just sit in a warehouse with people wondering why it came back? Suddenly, he changes gears and tells me that I cannot reject the package. Instead. I must test it when I get it back to see if the problem is still there and, if so, create a new RMA. Are you freaking kidding? Test it again? Hook it all up, fill the system with water, and everything? They did nothing to it and they want me to test it again. I've already tested it multiple times. If the problem disappeared without doing anything to it, that doesn't mean its fixed suddenly and they are out of responsibility for correcting it. It means that there is some kind of problem which is now hidden and will resurface in the near future probably AFTER my warranty expires.

After explaining this 5 different times, with him continually telling me to test it again, I ask for a new RMA now so that I can write it on the box and reject the package to save my shipping that they wasted. He offered, of course, to refund the shipping IF I TEST IT and the problem is still there. New holes appear in my desk and perhaps new cracks in my forehead. After arguing and getting nowhere for far too long, I have simply given up. Asus and AMD used to be my go-to products. Absolutely not anymore. I have never had such a terrible experience with warranty or customer service before. Absolute rubbish. Crap products, crap customer service, and crap promises. I am most certainly avoiding these names for all future builds and I am quite disgruntled that I recently made my newest 3 computers with AMD processors and Asus boards. Never again. I updated my computer with a new ASRock $50 motherboard which works perfectly fine and an Intel i7 processor. Computer now boots in a matter of seconds when before it took almost a full minute despite having a $150 motherboard and an AMD 8-Core FX-8120 processor. Absolute junk. 

I highly recommend you guys get your customer service and warranty process under control especially if you're going to rely on sub-par products to keep you alive. I’ve built around 10 systems with you guys, entirely unaware of what I was missing because of it. Never again.

Pissed off,
Former AMD/Asus Fanboy

PS, listening to how "great" and "advanced" Asus is while waiting on hold many times throughout this ordeal is a unique type of torture. You do know torture is illegal, right?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sticking Together Like Eggs and Teflon

Image result for eggs teflon

I got the call this morning (August 22, 2016)--my grandma passed away last night. She was diagnosed with lung cancer only 6 weeks ago and it had spread to her brain. I had just visited her in Washington for the first time in probably some 18 years or so back in April. I saw her maybe 2 or 3 other times during those 18 years and never talked to her apart from them. Her husband, my grandpa, died a few years back. I don't even remember what year he died let alone the day. I practically gave it no thought. I hardly knew him. I remember playing Home Alone and Carmen Sandiego on his computer when I was in grade school, that he had machinery in his garage, that he had a tough and protruding belly you could bounce off of, and that when grandma yelled for "John" it sounded an awful lot like "Sean." I often thought I was in trouble when it was really he who had it coming.

I am saddened by my grandma's death, but not for the usual reasons. I am deeply saddened that I am not more sad. My wife enjoys a deep bond with her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. A bond that I could never fully understand given my own family relationships. Because of their bond, I have a closer relationship with my wife's grandparents and various relatives than I do with even my own parents, let alone extended family. I communicate with my parents about as often as there are birthdays and major holidays. And that, usually in the form of a text message or Facebook post. This has changed slightly since the diagnosis of my grandma with my mom keeping us informed of her mother's condition, but that's not exactly the best topic of conversation. Even then, it expanded merely to Google Chat instead.

While I am not entirely convinced it is the only reason, I can blame distance for much of our dysfunction. My mom and her family lives in Washington while I am in Michigan. I am in the southeast of Michigan while my father who raised me is in the upper peninsula with his parents, and my biological father is in Florida--his parents in Oklahoma. I only just met him and his parents about 7 years ago and haven't seen them since. I get birthday wishes from both fathers via text message, and we get presents for our kids: money in a card or a gift of my own selection on their behalf. Beyond that, communication is practically nil. As much as they don't reach out to me, I am not reaching out to them. But why? Why haven't we been reaching out? The only answer I have for this is another question: "Why reach out?"

So they're my family. Is this important? Does it matter? What's in a family? I presume family is supposed to be a lot like close friends who stick together and never go away. But we have all gone away. And we're not friends. We stick together like eggs and Teflon. In fact, there is so little similar between all of them and me, that I could hardly imagine we're family at all if not for recognizing their faces as the ones I saw a few times as I grew up. We have a few similar nuances and behaviors, but apart from that we are polar opposites in ideals, entertainment, and life goals. Is it still worth pursuing such a long-distance relationship with those who similarly do not pursue it with me and share nothing in common? I could hardly say yes. Even if we managed to communicate, what bond could be made? It would be much like picking strangers at random with nothing in common and deciding that I am going to become BFFs with them. I have a hard enough time building bonds with people who have similar interests. Perhaps I am simply too socially awkward to know how to have any kind of real relationship family or otherwise.

This brings me to the true state of my sadness. I am sad that I am not more sad because it is a slap in my face that I have nothing to be sad about. I have lost nothing because I had nothing to even lose. I am heart broken only in that it means practically nothing to me. It hurts in all the wrong ways. I feel awful that they never cared about me, or perhaps awful that I could never recognize it. It hurts to know that my family doesn't think I'm worth pursuing or that I simply suck so bad that they have no reason and I am not worth it. Either my family sucks or I suck and neither is the greater revelation. I never called when I heard that my grandma was diagnosed with cancer. I felt no need to say goodbye or provide condolence. I never called when my grandpa died and I don't think I even called my mom to see how she was handling it. Is that because I am terrible or is it the circumstances themselves that were terrible which provided me no reason to call?

I am not entirely sure what to conclude about my family's situation, but I do know one thing: I don't want it to be like this for my kids and eventual grandchildren. I want to keep in touch so that the sadness is in losing me, not in never having me. I want my grandchildren to know who I am and to know that I care. I want my children and beyond to think me worth visiting from time to time and I want them to value each other. But what's to say that my own kids won't find jobs far away and become polar opposites of me? What then? I guess I don't really know, but I will at least try for now. I can only hope we share some common ground when they are older. I would like to think we will if I give them my time now as they grow. They're the only family I've got these days. I hope I can at least keep them.