"Brett William," said the familiar voice with the slight Southern accent.
"Hi, Nan." Nan is my 73-year-old iMac-using grandmother.
"Brett William, my iMac is slowing down and when I go in to render my Bryce animations it's really taking a long time."
"Well Nan, we'll have to upgrade your RAM. I can buy a RAM chip next time I'm out there. That CompUSA is still open isn't it?"
"Yes, but you really should go somewhere else."
"I know, Nan, but it's so convenient to go to 'America's iMac store.'"
Do you remember those ads where CompUSA boasted being "Americas iMac store...the other guys, they don't know jack"? Jack, of course, rhymes with Mac for those of you who are phonetically challenged.
"Besides," I foolishly reasoned, "we bought your iMac there, so we should be able to go there for service."
Okay, so that's not really how the conversation happened, but it sounded better than the real version: "RAM, what's that? Will that make my AOL connection work all the time?"
"No, Nan, but that sure would be a nice benefit..." However, I really did have to go to CompUSA. And guess what? It didn't go so well.
"Can I help you with something." No, this is not a dream sequence. There before me stood an actual, pimply-faced, gawky-stage sales person asking if he could help. Something was clearly amiss.
"Do you have RAM for Rev D. iMacs?"
"Um, yeah, but you'd need to go to the upgrade counter." Wow, assertive and helpful. Where was I? Nordstrom?
So, to the upgrade counter I went. There was one person at the counter, and he was busy. Sure, there were plenty of people walking around the store, one who was walking around talking on what I presumed to be her cell phone. Either that or she had gone completely mad.
But certainly someone would notice and help me. Certainly I must be on drugs to think that; this is CompUSA.
"Are they going to help you?" Questioned my father, who, along with my partner had braved the aisles of CompUSA with me.
"Are you kidding?" I asked. "I'm here to spend money, why would they want to do that?" We laughed. He got the joke. He always does.
After about 10 minutes I started getting a bit irritated. I walked closer to the one guy at the upgrade counter, and in doing so, noticed there were other people in the back, perhaps playing video games.
"I'll be with you in a minute," he said.
"Sure, but I only need a RAM chip for an iMac."
"A RAM chip, you know, RAM, upgrade?" He didn't.
"RAM, you mean like...memory?"
"Right! Memory chip!" This "me tarzan you jane" thing wasn't making me feel any better.
"For iMac you need this?"
"Yes. For iMac. Do you have that?"
"I don't know, let me get someone else to help you who will." He did, and it was the same guy who told me to come up here. When I asked him, he simply said: "Off the top of my head, I don't know."
Hey, don't bother to look around, just speak off the top of your head. I'd had it. It was time to leave, but not without first voicing my disgust.
"My God! Does anyone know anything here? Can anyone help me?" While I was saying that, the manager came out. Not, however, to help me as you might think, but rather to simply walk past me looking the other way.
Apparently he had some "business" to attend to. As in, "he gave her the business," business. I never caught her name, but they did a large portion of their business right there in the store. Great, can't get RAM but can get a free peep show. This is nerd heaven.
While leaving, without Nan's RAM, my father, my partner, and I discussed the current state of no-customer service. We all agreed that a side effect to our local economic boom is that you're not going to find qualified employees who'll work for $7 an hour, and pay $1,500 a month for a studio apartment.
Unfortunately for all of us, no one has bothered to tackle this by introducing a computer store that has higher prices along with the better service we'd all certainly pay for. And why not, we have a superior computer that we line up to buy. We practically throw our cash at Apple, yet we have to do it at CompUSA, Sears, and Circuit City. Oh, definitely where I go to get my computer parts .
As for Nan, Outpost.com had a deal on RAM this week, and with no tax and free overnight shipping, there's really no need for me to go anyplace else.