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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Mr. Cooper, NO! You can't buy that!

Posted on September 9, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Nearly five months have passed since I wrote about my client, Mr. Cooper. (Bring yourself up to speed on Mr. Cooper’s particular brand of insanity by reading this post: Customer’s always right, even when he’s crazy)


So, it has been some time since I’ve heard from him. Usually this means he’s saving. For the next bit of madness. (I really thought that purchase was going to be a Definitive Technology Super Cube Trinity Reference sub a while back– I even let him take it home for a weekend. How he got it into his car is truly a mystery since I wasn’t here to see him manhandle the massive it into his small Mazda. Apparently the Trinity was just TOO much bass for his neighbors to deal with, so he – reluctantly and with much walking over and touching it and looking at it -- passed. And I encouraged him – shockingly successful in my attempts this time – to not buy the step down model. I know him well enough by this point to know that if he doesn’t buy the TOP of the TOP, then he it is just going to eat him up inside like a horrible case of internal upgrade cancer until he finally just breaks down and comes back to return the one and get the better model.)


 But, yesterday, Mr. Cooper made up for our recent communication shortfalls with no less than SEVEN phone calls. (Though, to be fair, one of those calls was, “I just can’t talk to you right now; you’ll have to call back” and another was “I need to call the manufacturer; call me back and I’ll have an answer.” ) His latest mania is power. Specifically he is having some issue with noise in his video and audio dropping out.


Now, I have to be totally honest; I have a VERY difficult time understanding Mr. Cooper even when he is standing right in front of me. During my original post, I wrote that I had to ask him to repeat “cottage” four times and finally had to have him spell it because his accent is so southern. And that was in person! Over the phone, when I can’t rely on my crudely developed hunter-gatherer lip-reading skills or try to anticipate his expressions from context, I figure I am probably batting about a 50% comprehension rate. So, from what I could gather from his calls yesterday is that he is having some kind of issue with his power.


His immediate solution? Buy a $300 conditioning outlet switch. Now he has already purchased *several* $149 items called Noise Harvesters which are supposed to bleed noise off the power lines in the form of light. He has purchased several other multi-hundred dollar line conditioners and filters. So, honestly, a $300 switch was not going to fix his problem. In any way. The only thing it was going to do was to lighten him to the tune of three Benjamins. And unless o’le Ben was having some residual lightning-and-key effects on Mr. Cooper’s power, that wasn’t going to cut it.


So I told him so. Straight out, “Mr. Cooper, you don’t need that. That is NOT going to fix your problem.”


“Well, I gotta buy something. I gotta get this power problem fixed.”


So from what I could ascertain, he lives in some kind of multi-dwelling unit (aka – an apartment) and when his neighbors are using some of their devices, the power problems act up. He’s probably sharing power with several other people, and none of the lines in the building are meant to carry the kinds of power that Mr. Cooper’s $1000 power cables are looking to Hoover out of the wall. (Again, the cruel sadness that he would be buying 8 gauge Pure Single Crystal Copper Solid Core Conductor, gold plated and polished connector power cabling to connect to his PLAYSTATION 3 and Pioneer RECEIVER becomes even more  cruelly sad when you realize that he is connecting these 8 gauge $1000 cables likely cost more than the barely 14 gauge crap inside the entire building!) So I explain that there is very little he can do short of getting his landlord to install a new, dedicated power circuit for him. That the couple of hundred he would pay an electrician would A) be far more likely solve the problem and B) be cheaper than just randomly buying a new ultra-high end power outlet.


Reluctantly he agrees to call the landlord. Then he calls back. Landlord says “No!” to running any new wires. “Now I just gotta get that power plug!”


“Mr. Cooper, no! You don’t need it. Look, it is not going to help you. Please, don’t ask me to order it for you.”


“I gotta try something.”


“OK. Look. Here is the toll-free number. Before I order, you’ve got to call the company. Describe your problem and what you’re trying to do and let them recommend a product. Then I’ll order it.”


“What do you think about this power regenerator? Would that fix my problem?”


So now the madness has quickly escalated from a $300 do-dad to a $2000 reference power regenerator. Yes, the low and easy road would definitely be to say, “Hell yeah that would solve your problem! Absolutely! Bring me the cash and I’ll get that mother ordered!” And, to be honest, hell yeah, I think that really would solve his problem. But I’m just not cut from thick enough cloth to try and sell Mr. Cooper a $2000 power product. I want to see him saving to buy a new car, or maybe to buy or rent a better place, or to have some dang food money socked away. At the VERY least to upgrade his 34-inch CRT to a 50-inch 1080p model. Maybe I’ve gone soft, but I don’t LIKE making or taking money from him for things that I know he doesn’t really need to be buying.


So, he agrees to call the company. And then calls me a few hours later and wants to discuss electrical wiring. I give him what little information I have and he says that the wiring in his house is very thin and flat. I agree that the wiring in the house IS the problem which is why I’ve so strenuously suggested getting a new wire run. Then he hits me with, “Well, let’s order the power outlet.”


“What? Really? Is that what the company said?”


“I didn’t call them."


“You didn’t call? Look, I’m begging you to call these people. I’ve told you flat out that I don’t know a lot about power, that addressing power problems in an apartment with shared usage is very difficult and that this power outlet is NOT going to solve your problem.” By now, the day has produced its own load of unpleasantness and I’m starting to get frustrated. This is usually the point where he breaks me down and we end up ordering $600 1meter HDMI cables just so we can both move on with our lives. “Look, I know when your mind is made up. I can tell when you’re past reasoning and you’re going to just buy the damn thing no matter what I say. But I am going on record here: this is not going to help and I am NOT going to take it back when it doesn’t. The only thing that might help – besides running a new circuit – is the power regenerator.”


“I just can’t spend $2000 on that right now. I’ll have to save up until spring for that one.” (Slight sigh of relief on my end.) So I want the power outlet.”


I tell him that before I do it, I am going to call the company. Which I do. And they are super nice. And totally agree that the power outlet is NOT going to address his problem in any way. (Actually seeming a bit confused as to how he thought it might address the issues, but we glossed right over that. ) But – surprise, surprise! – the power regenerator will. However there is another possible $300 solution that is meant to address DC noise on a line, that can be VERY effective, provided that the noise is being caused by DC. If I can get him to call, they assure me their tech support department can help him find the right solution. At least that way, if he DOES decide to go all out for the power regenerator, he is making a smart and informed and not at all spur-of-the-moment "I've got to have it!" decision. Plus, someone else will have told him to buy it, so there is some conscious off the hookness there.


So now I’ve left him with that bit of information and the e-mail address. And every time the phone rings, I keep expecting it to be him. Saying he’s sold his car and got the money for the power regenerator.

Categories: September 2010, CTA

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1 Comment

Reply Craig
3:00 PM on September 10, 2010 
Tell Mr. Cooper to get his ass over to my office and help me out...some asshat turned on a microwave yesterday at lunch and caused mayhem to my UPS and took down the server in my office. I need Mr. Cooper and his power regenerator!