An Open Letter to Lisa G.

Dear Lisa:

I just became aware of your negative review of Computer Medic on Yelp. Thank you, I think, for your feedback.

It is neither necessary nor appropriate to respond to every critique, but you have made some pretty damaging claims that more or less demand a rebuttal. This will follow shortly.

In my original version of this post I referred to you by your full name. I did so in order to re-establish some balance. Perhaps I’m old school, but it just seems like there is something wrong with a system that allows people to fling hateful and destructive little verbal missiles anonymously, hence with zero personal accountability. It’s crass, rather cowardly, and absurdly unfair.  But at the urging of those whose judgement I trust, I returned you to anonymity. People, I was reminded, can be very unreasonable.

Note that the vast majority of my reviews are strongly positive. Many mention how nicely and thoughtfully they were treated. This is no accident. Every single one of these positive reviews was honestly earned. The fact that you had a different experience should tell you something.

I quite agree with you that it did not go very well, but as a wise man once said, it takes two to tango. Your one-sided account completely glosses over your starring role in this drama.

You see, whether you realize it or not, you set the tone for our transaction by taking a hard line from the very first moment. You were, for no discernible reason, curt to the point of rude. You were pushy and demanding. You interrupted me repeatedly. Your tone of voice and mannerisms conveyed condescension. It was as though you were trying to establish that you were the boss and we were the hired help. I remember thinking “Wow!” and feeling like a scolded child. It occurred to me that you might be one of those women who thinks all men are dolts, and treats them accordingly. No kidding, it really was that bad.

I am a respected and trusted professional with years of experience in a pretty tough business, and have an excellent reputation earned the old-fashioned way. It is not too much to ask that you treat me with a little common courtesy.

But let’s put that aside for a moment.

By chance, you happened to have an unusual problem that required some time to figure out. Ninety-plus percent of the time, a laptop exhibiting the behavior in question has a failed LCD panel. Maybe 5 percent of the time that behavior it is caused by a faulty  video cable, and another two or three percent by some other faulty component. The remaining 1 or 2 percent of the time the behavior is caused by a faulty mainboard. Your case, as it turns out, was of the last type. But to reach that conclusion required testing. Lots of testing. We were very thorough. You clearly do not realize how much effort we expended.

At some point we informed you that you the only way to fix the laptop would be to replace the mainboard. The problem is, this repair would have cost you more than the laptop was worth, and so we recommended against it, as we almost always do in such cases. Ethically, we cannot ask you to pay more for a repair than the computer is worth. We offered you options, but you rejected them. I also got the distinct impression you did not believe me.

You said that we blew deadlines, but they were deadlines imposed by you that would have been difficult to meet even under the best of circumstances.  For example, you called less than 48 hours after dropping off the computer, unreasonably expecting it to be done, and were obviously very annoyed that it wasn’t.

I am sorry that the affair dragged on for as long as it did, but the diagnosis took longer than expected, we hit a snag with one of our suppliers, and after you rejected our proposed solutions, we had no choice but to table the repair and await your decision as to what to do. You apparently did not realize this. After not hearing from you for weeks, we concluded you had abandoned the laptop.

I never argued with you. That would have been pointless. I merely told you, with increasing assertiveness, the realities we were facing. At one point I was, I admit, short with you, but only after you were surly with me.

Neither did I hang up on you. That would have been childish. The incident you refer to was a misunderstanding. I honestly thought that our conversation was over. Right before the phone clicked off I heard your voice again and realized that I had made a mistake. You called back moments later, as I was retrieving your number to call you back. I sincerely apologized and that should have been the end of it. You know this too, yet you dishonestly bring it up in order to score cheap points.

Note that you were not charged a penny, even though we expended time and money trying to solve your problem. Your computer was returned to you in the shape it was received, minus a little unavoidable wear from dismantling and reassembly. So you lost nothing but time. However, it was in every way possible a loss for me. So who got the worse end of that deal?

Could this have been handled better? Yes. Could you have behaved better? Also yes.

Sometimes people just get off on the wrong foot. And sometimes things just go wrong. Perhaps that is the case here. If you would like to clear the slate and start over, I would be happy to meet you halfway.


Scott Snell

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