Spoke to my mum yesterday. She's just bought herself a new computer from Dell, one of these less-than-£500, all-in deals. Looked quite good.
Only thing is, they're no longer specc'd with a built-in modem (she connects via ye olde dialup). She didn't notice this (and in fairness she asked me to go over the spec before she bought it and neither did I), so when the computer arrived there was no way of her getting onto the web.
Rather than phoning me (just as well since from my perspective she asks such silly questions, and from her perspective I am very short with her!) she phoned the ISP. All I can say is that I hope when the support people actually worked out that the reason she couldn't log into her email was because there was no phone connected to her computer, they had a good laugh!!
Still, to most people this wouldn't have been a big problem (would it?) - her old computer still had a fully working modem in it (albeit an internal PCI jobbie, so screwdriver required). So when she finally did phone me my advice was simply to swap it out. I seem to remember that it is a fairly recent moden - she got some guy round to fit it when the old one went bang - and of course the PC will be state of the art, so I figured if she could just get it in the slot then plug'n'play should take hold.
Anyway, this advice was received as though I'd told her to build the thing from scratch - raw metal, silicon and solder! Next thing, she'd made an excuse about "needing to go to the shops now" and hung up.
I thought about getting her an external usb modem on eBay... surely they couldn't be too expensive... but I thought I'd wait a day to see if she could pluck up the courage to swap the old modem out.
Anyway, I called her yesterday, ready with my eBay offer, only to find that when she'd finished speaking to me she'd picked up the phone to Dell, who'd politely explained to her that the only way out of her predicament was to get an external modem, and that by the way, madam, they had just the model which would be guaranteed to work with her new computer. And so they managed to fleece another £70 (yes, SEVENTY POUNDS) out of her.
I did look on eBay and could indeed have got one for £15. The final piece of advice I could offer has was to call Dell and cancel the order, but unfortunately the smooth-talking salesman's use of the phrase "guaranteed to work" had won her over, so now she is £70 lighter.
Apart from the fact that I am pissed off that (as is always the case) the kind of knowledge my clients are willing to pay pretty darned handsomly for means diddley-squat to my mother, I can't help wondering what kind of modem one would get for a £70 outlay. 18-carat gold, perhaps?