Another day in IT paradise

It's amazing how, in the modern computing world, an average workday can go to hell with no apparent warning.

It's amazing how, in the modern computing world, an average workday can go to hell with no apparent warning. Check this out.

I woke up this morning with the usual list of 30 things I needed to get done, knowing full well that I wouldn't get to most of them. Just another day in the working world, right? Not exactly.

When I logged onto my relatively new Sony VAIO SZ780 notebook and opened Outlook, I was greeted with a message telling me the trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 Small Business Edition had expired. That 60 days sure went by fast.

There was no "your trial version will expire in 7 days" warning or anything like that. Just a nice message telling me that certain features would no longer work. That sounded relatively benign, but it didn't take long for me to figure out that Outlook and Word were effectively crippled.

Okay, fine. I got online and guess what? Microsoft actually gets $449.95 for this version of Office. Major sticker shock. So I did what any cheap consultant does: I bought the OEM download version from an authorized online reseller for hundreds less.

I thought I was a clever shopper until I read the payment confirmation message:

Due to past fraudulent orders, we need to process all orders manually. It typically takes up to 12-24 business hours or even less for your order to complete and for you to receive an email with download instruction and links plus the license key.

I couldn't believe it. I checked the website's Live Support. OFFLINE. Contact Us consisted of an email form which they will reply to in, you guessed it, 12 to 24 hours. No phone number.

For $50 more I could have bought the software from a bigger online reseller that doesn't process orders manually and actually has a phone number. But I was in a hurry and this place came up in Google Shopping so I figured, why pay more?

What the hell was I thinking? It's not like I don't know better. I've been buying online since Amazon just sold books.

Now I feel like an idiot. An annoyed, frustrated idiot.

Oh sure, I'm not completely dead in the water. There's Microsoft Works, Gmail, even my old Dell notebook if I get really desperate. I'm entering this post directly on CNET's online tool, so that's not a problem.

Still, I think I'd rather wash my car, pay bills, or even go for a run instead of trying to be productive under these circumstances. What a day.

Lessons learned

1) When you get a new system with trial versions of anything that you actually intend to buy, just buy right then and there; don't wait.

2) When you do buy, even from an authorized online reseller, pay the extra bucks and buy from a reseller that's been in business since before last Tuesday.

3) The old expression: "you get what you pay for," doesn't just apply to the quality of a product. It also applies to the customer serviceexperience.

4) Don't be such a cheapskate. Penny wise and pound foolish is still alive and well in the 21st century.

5) I should consider Macs or open-source. Nah!