Control – What A Beautiful Illusion AKA Why Best Buy is An Evil Corporate Giant

17 05 2010

Last Wednesday, the unthinkable happened – my laptop died. For someone who works from home as a writer, my laptop is a pretty important part of my life. I spend hours every day working and looking for more work. Without my laptop, I’m pretty much lost. So when my 3-year-old Gateway locked up and then wouldn’t restart, I  was suddenly very sick to my stomach. I have been backing up my data, but not every day. It had been 2 or 3 weeks since I had so all my work files for the last few weeks would be lost, as well as the chapters of my novel that I am working on but hadn’t shared with anyone else yet. Words on a computer screen that I could never exactly replicate. I thought I was going to get sick. My novel is almost like another child to me.

I am pretty computer savvy. So when something goes wrong, I can do basic troubleshooting. So I knew right away that this was not good. In an ironic twist, the three-year service plan I had purchased from Best Buy when I bought the laptop had expired exactly one week earlier. It made me want to scream. Just one week.

This wasn’t the first time the laptop had died. It had died three times previously – once the motherboard had to be replaced and twice the hard drive died. The service plan from Best Buy states that if they computer has to be worked on four times during the three years that Best Buy will replace the computer on the fourth time with a computer of equal technology.

So here I was last Wednesday with a dead computer and a service plan that had expired one week too soon. I decided that even though the plan was expired, I had to try and get Best Buy to do something. But first, I called my brother Paul in Cleveland who knows even more about computers than I do. He suggested I buy an adapter that would allow me to hook my laptop’s hard drive to another laptop as an external drive. So after a quick trip to our local computer store, I removed the hard drive from my dead laptop and hooked it up to my fiancee’s laptop. After saying a quick prayer that the hard drive wasn’t the reason my laptop had died, I plugged it in. Of course, it didn’t instantly work the way it was supposed to, but after another half hour of messing with things, success!!!! My files were still alive. That was an instant weight off my shoulders. At least I had the chapters of my novel and my work files that hadn’t been backed up. I wouldn’t have to spend hours trying to reconstruct them. Which was a good thing because I knew it would take hours trying to get Best Buy to do anything about fixing or replacing the computer. I wasn’t wrong.

My first step was to fire off an email to customer relations. I explained the situation about the computer crashing just one week after the service plan expired and it had died three times before. I told them that they should honor the service plan and take care of this for me because I was a longtime customer. In the last five years alone I’ve bought three computers, two TVs, a digital camera, a video camera, an iPod, a Zune and hundreds of CDs, video games and DVDs. I really didn’t expect to get any results from an email but I started there.

On Thursday, I drove to the closest Best Buy, a half hour away in Mansfield, OH. I took my laptop in and the Geek Squad member listened to my story, hooked up my computer and decided it was the motherboard again. He told me that he couldn’t do anything for me. He told me I would have to call 888-BEST-BUY and talk to someone to get approval for extending the service plan.

So I went out to my car and called the number. After being on hold forever and routed through three different people, I finally got a Customer Relations associate. He proceeded to tell me that there was no way they could extend the plan because the company who underwrites the plan for Best Buy would not allow it. So I told him that even if they couldn’t “extend the plan,” they could decide to just bite the bullet and fix or replace the computer for me as a longtime customer. The Customer Relations associate told me that he couldn’t make that decision. That was up to the local store manager to eat the cost. So he told me the names of the managers of the Mansfield store and said “I’m so sorry. If there was something I could do I certainly would.” Yeah sure. He was just in a hurry to pass the buck on to some other poor sap.

So, I headed back inside, still determined to get some satisfaction. After waiting yet again, I talked to the same Geek Squad associate, who then told me he had to talk to his manager. More waiting, and then he returns and tells me there’s nothing they could do. But if I wanted to buy another computer at Best Buy they’d be happy to do a data transfer for me. Oh my gosh. He is so lucky I didn’t jump across the counter right then. Really? A data transfer? That is the best you can do. I was willing to just let them send my old laptop out and repair it for me. I wasn’t pushing for a replacement. Just repair. But the manager wasn’t willing to do that for me. At that point, Best Buy went on my No-Shop List.

So I resigned myself to being without a computer for awhile. Luckily, I had Erin’s laptop I could use as needed, but I really didn’t want to steal her computer. She needs it for work, too. I was upset, but glad to have my files off my laptop at least.

At this point, it was totally out of my hands. I had done pretty much all I could. I was going to find email addresses for the store manager and anyone up the food chain that I might be able to continue my efforts, but didn’t really expect much success. But as always, God is in control. He asks us to make the efforts and do what we can, and then leave things in his hands. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that even after we are done working, he is always working.

Two days later, on Saturday, I got a phone call from a Best Buy customer relations rep from the corporate office and he told me that he had gotten the e-mail I had sent on Wednesday right after the laptop died. He had talked with the assistant manager who was on duty on Saturday at the Mansfield store and he said they would exchange my computer. I think my chin really did hit the floor. I immediately prayed “Thank you God.” I knew that He had made this happen.

It was a confluence of events that had made this happen. A customer service rep who had the authority to do this, and was convinced by my e-mail that he should do this, talked to an assistant manager who was willing to do this. The same set of events could have happened on Thursday when I went in to the store and made the phone call, but it didn’t. Now, on Saturday, it did happen. Why? God! He just wanted to remind me yet again that He is in control of it all. He will make things happen in His time.

With all that has been going on in my life in the last few years, you’d think I’d know by now that God is in control and watching out for us. No matter what has happened, He has never abandoned us. Even in our darkest hours, He has been there. Even when we’ve been in what has seemed like an impossible situation, He has saved us. There are many times I wish our situation was different – that I was making more money, that we had a nicer house, that Erin didn’t have to fight her many afflictions, that we didn’t have all the strife with certain people in our lives. But I have to step back and see that God is in control of it all. If we do our best to find out what He wants us to do, He will take us where He wants us to go. Not where WE want to go, but where HE wants us to go. Those two things aren’t always the same. In fact they often are not the same. But where He wants us to be is infinitely better than where we want to be.

We all need to give up control and let God take over our lives. Besides, we can never truly be in control. It is just an illusion, something for us to grasp us to make us feel more secure in this uncertain world. There are too many variables in life for any one person to actually be in control. You can do your best at work – never call in sick, work hard, work overtime, make your boss look good – but if your company suddenly loses a major client or the whole economy goes south, you can still be out of a job in no time. You can work hard and save your money and invest it wisely in the stock market, but when the whole market crashes, you can suddenly be without any retirement savings. We can’t see the future. We can’t even see all that is happening in the present or has happened in the past. Only God can see all things and know all things. Only He knows what end result is best for us.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

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