I just got off the phone with Toshiba laptop support, a distinctly unfulfilling experience. I am enough of a computer help-seeking veteran to know the second I heard that otherworldly vacuum-like hum that I was speaking with someone in a country far, far away whose name was not really Roger or David or Chad or whatever he pretended it was. Even without the precise English with an Asian twist, the excruciating politeness was an instant tipoff. I’m from New York. No one is that frigging polite without an agenda.
The event leading up to this was that I did my grad school homework, all except for the last section. Normally I email unfinished homework to myself in case one of my obsessive fears is realized and my computer is wiped out in my absence by alien invasion, viral disease, unmitigated boredom, etc. But today Husband and I were celebrating Valentine’s Day a day early and going to brunch at an uber-classy hotel, so I figured I’d be back to finish it before anything really devastating could occur. The calories we consumed at brunch were deadly enough. Our joint experiment worked. You really CAN put butter or chocolate on anything.
When we returned home, I booted up my trusty Toshiba and the screen went black except for a rectangular blue box in the center saying ENTER PASSWORD. I have no password for such an occurrence. Never had, never did. Never even saw that screen before. After restarting a healthy number of times with identical results, I called the dreaded Toshiba support line. Following the usual preliminary questions about my laptop, my name, his name, and the possible recording of our call, we got down to business.
ROGER: So good to be of help to you today. And how are you today?
OSV: I’m not well because my computer is not well. It needs a password I never set and don’t know.
I described the screen staring back at me.
ROGER: So sorry to be telling you that it is a BIOS password. It is set in the motherboard. You cannot be using this computer without this password.
OSV: That’s a fact, Roger. I don’t know how this hasn’t been a problem for the past five years, but when you give me the password I’ll be up and running and it won’t really matter.
ROGER: Sorry to be telling you that this laptop is out of warranty.
OSV: You’re right about that too, Roger, but if the password is in the motherboard it still belongs to me, doesn’t it? So out of warranty or not, I should be told what it is.
ROGER: Please to hold on. (goes away and comes back) Yes, sorry. Send us the computer and we will reset. Please send also $175.
A lively debate ensued, with me debating and Roger saying a lot of please and thank you. I hung up swearing to Roger I will never own another Toshiba.
I booted up my new little Toshiba netbook (don’t tell Roger) and went online to research BIOS passwords and how to reset them. The news was not encouraging. After trying all the suggested backdoor passwords with no result, the remaining fixes all involved taking off the back of my laptop and fiddling with the motherboard. This will never happen in any lifetime I ever live. I left a message with my local computer repair service to call me in the morning.
Daughter called right after I hung up. A dedicated Mac user, she was suitably outraged by my unexpected BIOS predicament.
DTR: This is unacceptable, Mom. It’s Toshiba’s responsibility to honor the quality and performance of their product. I would write them a letter.
OSV: And I certainly will. Right after my computer guys get me up and running.
DTR: You mean you’re going to pay someone to do what Toshiba should have done for free?
OSV: Yes, I am.
DTR: That’s just wrong, Mom.
OSV: That’s the cost of living, sweetie.
Daughter’s Featured Fotos come at us Sideways