Friday, March 21, 2008

A Potential Conflict Turned Into My Benefit

Today I was in the local Fry's Electronics store. I was in the process of upgrading my main multi-media workstation with a new processor, motherboard and screaming video card that I had previously purchased there. I could not get the new machine to boot so I returned to Fry's to have them test my motherboard which I figured was a dud.

First I went to the computer repair desk to have them test the board. They sent me over to the returns desk because they do the testing of defective items. There was a young White guy who assisted me. He told me that I would have to take the mother board out of the case before he could do anything because he is not allowed to touch it - liabilities purposes. Thus I had to go back to the computer service area to borrow a screw driver.

When I got the mother board out I went back to the same White guy in the returns area. He then had to find my receipt in the system. I had purchased the equipment at another Fry's in the area and it turns out I didn't have my original credit card. (I had zeroed out the balance recently so I don't carry it any longer). Thus he had to look up my purchase via my phone number and at the other store as well. This is the slow way to do it he said. With a credit card it would have popped right up. Finally he found the transaction. Then when I put the loose motherboard onto the counter he noticed that I still had the video card, memory and CPU still installed. Then he said "When I told you that the motherboard had to be out - I was saying that everything needed to be off of the motherboard - just as you bought it. I am not supposed to touch any of these other components." He then took the video card, memory and CPU out of the mother board and then took my motherboard over to the testing bench.

On the walk over I told him "By the way I have the AMD Phenom processor". (I knew that only a few boards supported this newest, fastest CPU). He snapped back saying "I am not worried about the Phenom processor!!". My initial reaction was that this was a snotty reply and that he was angry at me for making him look up my transaction at the other store and for not having my mother board out of the case when I first came in.

Where as my response was that he had snapped at me - I looked around at the other return desk agent - a young Black guy to see if he sensed the same thing. No. He was still typing into another terminal and the response did not cause him to flinch at all. As for me - I wanted to say "What did you say WHITE BOY? I spent a lot of money on this entire new system FROM YOUR STORE. I am paying your salary! Punk!" Since no one else reacted to his comments I figured that it was just me who had taken it the wrong way.

I decided to step back and assess the situation for "more input" prior to settling on the notion that this "white kid" has an attitude problem - WITH ME specifically.

In about 60 more seconds the kid yelled out "Sir could you come here for a second please?" I thought - Well at least he showed some respect this time.

I walked from the returns station over to the testing bench. He had my motherboard connected up and installed his own CPU, memory and video card. The motherboard booted. OK that eliminates the MB as the problem. He began disassembling his components from the board and said "Its not the motherboard that you purchased from us that is the problem". As I thought about what the problem could be - it had to be either the CPU or the memory - I thought to ask him "I know that you are not allowed to touch the components that I brought in - do you mind if I install them and see if they boot here?" He told me "Sure".

This was pay off #1 to my controlled response to him. Had I reacted to my PERCEIVED slight and said what I thought to say initially - he would have told me "Hell NO!" and would have thought "I am not doing Sh_t for you! Asshole".

I loaded my CPU, memory and video card into the MB and powered it on. DAMN!!! It did not boot. He then began assisting me, reminding me again "I am not really supposed to be doing this - they charge $69 down the street to do this". He pushed down the CPU fan and said - "It might be that your CPU is bad". I thought - Damn - that is the most expensive thing of all of the components and I didn't buy it from you all. I am screwed and will have to go in the tank for another several hundred dollars. I thought to myself - You dummy - that's what you get for buying bleeding edge hardware.

From my experience over time, and believe me I don't do hardware any longer - only as a hobby - I figured that it might be the MEMORY instead of the CPU. I didn't see any bent pins and none were burned - which I have done in the past by installing a CPU the wrong way. I asked if he could get the memory that had worked previously and install it in with my CPU and video. He reached down and got his box of memory out. Again he reminded me "I am really not supposed to be doing this". I told him "I know this and I appreciate what you are doing. This is saving me a lot of time and money because I can isolate the problem right here knowing that you have components that worked.

When he put his memory in - the system booted. I KNEW IT!! I figured that a incompatible memory was the more likely problem than a bad CPU. I documented the type of memory that he was using and I went over to the computer parts department and purchased that memory. My computer is at home and working now!

Lesson learned - Instead of flying off the handle at a perceived slight by someone else - step back and assess the situation. Obtain more input regarding the person's interaction with you. If indeed you establish the pattern that he or she is being ignorant and unprofessional to you - CALL THE MANAGER and get him to handle his employee. Launching a person to person confrontation with the individual is not the right way to go.

At the end of the day - had I reacted at the point that I wanted to - I WOULD HAVE BEEN SCREWED! I would have had to pay at least $130 in service fees to figure out my problem. Another day would have gone by without use of my computer. The service agent helped me greatly. He allowed me to use the stores equipment to isolate my problem. He didn't have to do this.

I told him that I appreciate his assistance and stuck out my hand to shake his hand before I left.

case closed.

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