It is an old, sad story. It is about monopolies like Microsoft (who dominates the software market) making millions off little people like me from their sales, without being held responsible for their faulty products.
People are now dependent on computers to communicate, process their work, keep records and data. Microsoft created with Windows 95 a long lasting and self- perpetuating dependency for the average PC-user and it feasts steadily in the same fashion with Window XP. The average Joe and Jane Doe who purchase a PC have automatically purchased the market-dominating Microsoft software as their main operating tool. Naturally they have to accept what is offered since there is nothing else readily available that compares and communicate with the controlling marketer’s software. What the buyer doesn’t know is that at the moment they spend their thousand or more dollars for a PC with a monitor, they become, at this moment the cash cow, who will be perpetually milked on a daily basis.
The faulty Windows software requires high maintenance through constant updates, graciously provided by the one who produced an inferior, mutually exclusive product.
Every user of a PC must be steadily virus-proofed and purchase additional software from other makers to protect their highly priced Microsoft product from easily produced viruses that can destroy the operating system.
Then there are the bugs of spies who have a chance to control all your activity on a computer, read your emails, extract addresses, download your IP when logging in to a website. These hackers can get your passwords, social security number and all banking information. So the user of the computer purchased must become a skilled maintenance worker of their costly product if they do not wish to lose what they have produced. Instead of just turning off the computer when finished after a long day, they must begin to back-up what they have. If they don’t, valuable material could be lost in an instant. They may end up like I have because I got tired using additional time to back up my extensive work after 12 hours, 7 days a week on the computer. My stockpile of backup CD’s was getting larger every day. I had to buy more, spend an extra hour to back up my daily work produced on produced different programs..
I am the author of a book and had written 58 pages of a new book and stored it on the C drive. In addition, being the founder of a worldwide organization, I have prepared over 100 articles for publication to be distributed among my three websites. Some of my valuable information was of course phone numbers and email addresses to communicate with people worldwide. Besides graphics produced and text written for a new website, I had two years of research work stored on the C drive. In addition, I had collected my answered emails (an average of 60 per day) to people in need.
Finally, it was not a hacker or a virus that was my undoing: it was Microsoft’s service pack 2. Performing the recommended maintenance by downloading this large so-called update to the XP operating system effectively caused my C drive to crash and become unmountable. Everything is gone. The software that comes with my computer destroyed everything on it just through maintenance. To me, it sounds like a house with a faulty roof where the rain is pouring in, or a car that you need to replace the brake shoes on every day to be assured of safety.
The day came when I had to realize just how little the little people and their work is worth, the very costumers from whom Microsoft makes millions. All I could compare the loss of my work with was being cheated and mugged by someone who sold me an expensive dress whose seams just went to pieces while I was wearing it to a concert. Or to a new car whose brakes failed. I crashed because the maker didn’t give a damn.
I could not wait any longer my work had to go on. I finally managed on my own and used the recovery CD, provided by Compac that gave the basic function. After installing my Web connection I sent this letter to Microsoft assistance online support, on Monday 7:45 PST, with the Case number SRX040829605221, given over the phone. Until this moment I have not received a phone call from Microsoft.
August, 30, 2004 7:45 pm PST
My computer crashed.
Sunday August 29, I followed the Microsoft automatic reminder of urgently needed updates and downloaded the recommended XP Service Pack 2. After a long download time I followed the instruction to restart my computer. The computer would not start again. Many attempts failed. Finally it asked me to insert my recovery disc. After I inserted the CD the question popped up if I would like to select safe mode and I said Yes. Instead of working on safe mode the computer selected automatic recovery. Now all my data is lost. I am talking about two years of writing and research and a book I started writing. In addition, all the programs I purchased on the internet with the passwords and license numbers stored in files, plus a website in the making.
I called MS-Support on Sunday. After pushing many buttons and waiting, I finally was connected to a person. After I stated my name and phone number, the phone connection was interrupted. I called again, went again through the same frustrating menu until another person was online, again I stated my name and phone number, and asked the person to call back in case we were disconnected again. He took the information and gave me the Case number SRX040829605221 and told me he was now connecting me to technical support. But phone connection was again interrupted. I tried to call again, but suddenly the phone instruction menu was changed and I had no way to contact MS by phone.
My request is that Microsoft recovers my data, since it was a Microsoft program that destroyed it. I would like to express my sincerity in my request because I do believe if someone damages another person’s property, he should repair it.
Sieglinde W. Alexander
This was the answer I received from Microsoft the same day with a second case number SRZ040831000688 assigned 7:46 pm:
”Congratulations! Your question was successfully sent to Microsoft. Your confirmation number is SRZ040831000688. Print this page or record this confirmation number for future reference. A Microsoft Support Professional will look at the issue you have submitted. You will receive a notification (by e-mail) with a link to the response when the issue has been reviewed.”
Finally, I thought, my letter has found someone who cares in Microsoft-Tec department. On Wednesday Sept 1, 8:35 I received a phone call from Nathan, Tech-support Microsoft. He confirmed my letter and my request that Microsoft must recover my lost files and folders. Nathan assured me that he would talk to his supervisor and contact me by phone by, Friday or no later than Monday, or at least send me an email about the progress of my request.
I heard nothing from Nathan or Microsoft until Friday Sept. 10. At 6:15, a Michael from Microsoft Tech-support called who began his questions to me with what kind of computer I used. After answering patiently all his questions, saying that I have a Compaq, the conversation changed. Michael explained my memory was erased by the Compaq recovery disc and Microsoft is not responsible for recovering my data.
He further explained that Compaq makes this recovery cd to cut down on Tech-support for their customers instead of including the original Window’s XP which would not, according to Michael, have erased the data.
My suggestion, that it was not Compaq who shut down my computer, that it was the download of Window’s XP Service pack 2 who did the damage was ignored by saying you should have called Microsoft support right a way. I reminded him of my letter and again I indicated that I had contacted Microsoft right away. I also ask him a rhetorical question how can some one get the Phone number from Microsoft support when my computer is down? I had looked in the phone book and there was no phone number. I called 411 information and received the 1800 386 5550 that asks you if you call about window XP service Pack 2. After listening to many announcements and enduring disconnections and reconnections, I experienced what I described earlier.
Now I was told by Michael again that if I would have called, Microsoft Tech support would have helped me then but now they can do nothing because it was the recovery disc furnished by Compaq that has caused the damage. Now I know blame-shifting was the new tactic. Again disregarding my previous statement that I had contacted MS, he concluded that not all data is lost and I should buy software that recovers my data.
My question to Michael was why should I buy another software to undo the damage caused by Microsoft, since it was a Microsoft product that has shut down my computer. Further I asked why the update program did not warn me of eventual difficulties or why the windows update recommendation did not detect the possibility of a shutdown. Michael asked me if I have virus protection and I answered that I had Norton. This was probably the cause of your shutdown, he said. So I asked why the Microsoft update did not warn or provide instruction to shutdown the virus protection program and went ahead with the automatic download?
He elaborated that these instructions were announced in the menu. What menu? The automatic update does not show a menu with a warning, it asks if you trust Microsoft product and I said as I had many times before during all automatic updates “yes”.
I mentioned briefly that all his technical explanations about what should have being done requires more than basic knowledge about computers and software. As far as I know, most people who buy a computer know only how to operate them to get their work done. As he continued with his explanations they became more and more blaming of me as the operator with too little knowledge, while between my lines he always apologized and came with more technical instruction. Having finally had enough of his technical blame-shifting I asked him if he believes that people need to be a mechanic to drive a car.
My last question to Michael was if Microsoft feels responsible for my last of two years work, destroyed by faulty software provided by Microsoft, and he answered: “unfortunately, no.”
At last I stated that is the little people who pay a lot of money for a product that can fail on them at any time without receiving punitive damages. It is again the little people who invest a month’s paycheck and must spend more money to keep the equipment running and prevent losses.
The conversation ended because I was told Microsoft will do nothing to repair the damage done to me.
Now my question to Bill Gates and Microsoft is, have you not made enough money from people like me who must pay more they have to operate and maintain a faulty software? My last question to Mr. Gates is how he would feel, if I and the many others who suffer from damages initiated by his product, would ask you to pay each of us, one month’s worth of his salary as a reimbursement. I strongly believe our time and work is worth just as much as his, unless he continues seeing us as stupid cows, who can be milked dry.
The purpose of publishing my experience with Microsoft is to bring a voice of awareness to the little people who must helplessly endure the domination of the dominator. The reality, that I have not the money to fight Microsoft in court, is also the situation of many others who are hurt by the product. Bill Gates has one less battle to fight and with it the liberty to continue making money. The one with no money has no rights. All we are left with are the consequences. It is the same old wheel of justice that is only available to the ones who have money to pay for it. Microsoft knows it customers and counts on the fact that the users of its product have not enough money to defend their position. The moneyless must remain the cheated, who inevitably manifest their dependency by being forced to buy more or yet another Microsoft product, so the monopoly continues to feed. To heck with the poor who cannot buy Justice!
On a personal note, Mr. Gates, since I don’t have the money to fight you in court, I hope you have a conscience in spite of the millions you have made from people like me. If you do after all wake up in the night with the awareness that you are not the computer-age- savior for the little people, there could be some hope you may stop ripping them off and produce a product worthy of its price. So far you dominate the market und leave people choiceless, dependent on your faulty product.