The theater of the absurd

It all started with the purchase and the setup of a new TV set.

A few years ago, the process was very simple: you bought the set, you unpacked it, you connected the device to an Internet Service Provider, then plugged the thing into an electric outlet, and you were in business.

Not anymore. This procedure was probably too simple, or maybe not sophisticated enough for some computer geeks. Today, with a “smart TV” you don’t need a cable connection anymore. You access the internet through your home network… and you get going.

The manual setup is very simple, but the rest proved to be nothing but a steeplechase. When you turn your set on, you are required to go through some routine. Mainly to answer some questions before you are allowed to enjoy your purchase… and with a virtual keyboard, it is a rather tedious operation.

Since I bought a Samsung device, I also wanted to register it with the company. I created an account a long time ago, and since I have owned 3 different Samsung TVs in the past, registering the new device should have been a walk in the park. But this stroll very quickly became an obstacle course.

I started by trying to login into the Samsung website. I entered my e-mail address as required, and then my password, but I was immediately summoned to replace that password. All right, as you please… Then, when I tried to change the password, I was stopped cold in my tracks. The system snubbed me and refused to oblige. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark!

After many unsuccessful attempts, I called Samsung Support. Before I was allowed to talk to anybody, I was quizzed by a variety of bots that finally gave me the green light.

I was put in touch with a real human, but to my dismay, he spoke with a strange foreign accent. I am somewhat hearing impaired, and his pronunciation proved to be a real impediment to our conversation.

I laboriously explained my problem to him and after many unintelligible exchanges, he asked me for my name and my birthdate. I provided the data to him, but then he told me that what I had given him didn’t match what was on record. Specifically, my birthdate. I gave him my birthdate again. It is not correct, he told me again.

-OK, then please enter what I am telling you instead, I said.
-I cannot do this he said.
-But I am the owner of the account, and it is what I am telling you that is correct, not what is in your computer.
-No, I can’t do that, he said again, but instead, try to guess the birthdate that you entered initially he said.

What a totally absurd, Kafkaesque situation, this had become. The man refused to change the information that I (the creator of the account) was giving him. Who would know best where and when I was born? Him or I?

We had reached an impasse. I finally told him that I wanted to talk to somebody else. To my great relief, he agreed to my request, and I was soon talking to another person.

I went through the same previous routine and the man told me again that he could not do that. Security, you know. But he promised to put me in touch with a person who could.

I finally got to talk to a sane (probably vaccinated) person. She asked a few questions to verify my identity and then she solicited me to verify my birthdate. I told her. She laughed. I asked her why and she told me that her computer showed January 1st, 1981, as my birthday. I just wished…

We finally resolved the “problem” to our mutual satisfaction. She thanked me for my cooperation, my patience, and my fidelity to her company.

I told her that I loved her and wanted to have children with her.


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