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What if people bought cars like they buy computers?


General Motors doesn't have a "help line" for people who don't know how to drive, because people don't buy cars like they buy computers - but imagine if they did...
Helpline:
"General Motors Helpline, how can I help you?"
Customer:
"I got in my car and closed the door, and nothing happened!"
Helpline:
"Did you put the key in the ignition and turn it?"
Customer:
"What's an ignition?"
Helpline:
"It's a starter motor that draws current from your battery and turns over the engine."
Customer:
"Ignition? Motor? Battery? Engine? How come I have to know all of these technical terms just to use my car?"

Helpline:
"General Motors Helpline, how can I help you?"
Customer:
"My car ran fine for a week, and now it won't go anywhere!"
Helpline:
"Is the gas tank empty?"
Customer:
"Huh? How do I know?"
Helpline:
"There's a little gauge on the front panel, with a needle, and markings from 'E' to 'F'. Where is the needle pointing?"
Customer:
"I see an 'E' but no 'F'."
Helpline:
"You see the 'E' and just to the right is the 'F'."
Customer:
"No, just to the right of the first 'E' is a 'V'."
Helpline:
"A 'V'?!?"
Customer:
"Yeah, there's a 'C', an 'H', the first 'E', then a 'V', followed by 'R', 'O', 'L' ..."
Helpline:
"No, no, no sir! That's the front of the car. When you sit behind the steering wheel, that's the panel I'm talking about."
Customer:
"That steering wheel thingy -- Is that the round thing that honks the horn?"
Helpline:
"Yes, among other things."
Customer:
"The needle's pointing to 'E'. What does that mean?"
Helpline:
"It means that you have to visit a gasoline vendor and purchase some more gasoline. You can install it yourself, or pay the vendor to install it for you."
Customer:
"What? I paid $12,000 for this car! Now you tell me that I have to keep buying more components? I want a car that comes with everything built in!"

Helpline:
"General Motors Helpline, how can I help you?"
Customer:
"Your cars suck!"
Helpline:
"What's wrong?"
Customer:
"It crashed, that's what went wrong!"
Helpline:
"What were you doing?"
Customer:
"I wanted to go faster, so I pushed the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor. It worked for a while, and then it crashed -- and now it won't even start up!"
Helpline:
"I'm sorry, sir, but it's your responsibility if you misuse the product."
Customer:
"Misuse it? I was just following this damned manual of yours. It said to make the car go to put the transmission in 'D' and press the accelerator pedal. That's exactly what I did -- now the damn thing's crashed."
Helpline:
"Did you read the entire operator's manual before operating the car sir?"
Customer:
"What? Of course I did! I told you I did EVERYTHING the manual said and it didn't work!"
Helpline:
"Didn't you attempt to slow down so you wouldn't crash?"
Customer:
"How do you do THAT?"
Helpline:
"You said you read the entire manual, sir. It's on page 14. The pedal next to the accelerator."
Customer:
"Well, I don't have all day to sit around and read this manual you know."
Helpline:
"Of course not. What do you expect us to do about it?"
Customer:
"I want you to send me one of the latest versions that goes fast and won't crash anymore!"

Helpline:
"General Motors Helpline, how can I help you?"
Customer:
"Hi! I just bought my first car, and I chose your car because it has automatic transmission, cruise control, power steering, power brakes, and power door locks."
Helpline:
"Thanks for buying our car. How can I help you?"
Customer:
"How do I work it?"
Helpline:
"Do you know how to drive?"
Customer:
"Do I know how to what?"
Helpline:
"Do you know how to DRIVE?"
Customer:
"I'm not a technical person! I just want to go places in my car!"

Sent in by:
Stefan Dalibor - dalibor@immd3.informatik.uni-erlangen.de

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Anke Weinberger, 1995-09-15