Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Acting and Computers

Now here’s a typical actor story. Or perhaps it is only typical for us.

Around 2 pm the other day I get an e-mail for Rand from one of our agents (we have one in each of three states) saying he has an audition for the series Army Wives in Atlanta.


ALI (the name has been changed to protect the innocent)


He has asked them time and time again NOT to send audition notices via e-mail but to call. And to ensure such, he never gave them his e-mail address. That’s why they sent it to MY e-mail address, so I get to deal with it. We do not spend all day at our computers. We have a life. And sometimes, golly gee, the computer or the internet is down for a period of time and you can’t access your e-mail, so we feel it’s important to call your client. Especially when time is of the essence.

Why they insist on doing business this way and not picking up the telephone is....well, it’s apparently the way they do business here in the South. Or, to give the South a break, let us say - smaller markets. Never did we experience this with our NY agents when we lived there. Nor did they send out mass mailings saying HEY FOLKS. Nor did our NY agents tell us to remember to bring a picture and resume to the audition, “dress the part,” and try to memorize our lines. If you’re a professional, you know that - you don’t need a nanny. But I guess the FOLKS down here need nannying and live attached to their computers. The level of professionalism here is - well it’s...just a step above community theatre. (And I mean no offense to the community theatre world when I say that, but professionals know what I mean.) It’s a whole ‘nother world. The majority of the "talent" down is is non-union.

So, where was I? Oh yes. “AUDITIONS ARE THIS AFTERNOON” - well that lets US out. It’s 2:00 and it’s a three hour drive to Atlanta. But then there’s also...”TOMORROW MORNING ONLY!” Well of course he had a 10 am doctor’s appointment in Spartanburg. “FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO LIVE OUT OF TOWN PLEASE CALL USE TO DISCUSS HOW TO GET YOUR AUDITIONS TO US.”

That’s when the trouble began. We call. Normally in situations such as this you can put yourself on tape at home and then send it to the casting director. Neither of us, nor no one of our acquaintance, has EVER gotten a job this way, but hey, we’re actors, we ever live in hope and...ya never know!

OK. So we’re told that the way to GET YOUR AUDITIONS TO US is to send it through the computer. Oh? And how, exactly, does one do THAT pray tell. We’re not in our teens, nor are we Geeks. My husband is more or less computer illiterate, although he DOES know how to work in WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. I am literate - to an extent. I more or less at least understand the language of today’s technology. And I can send my computer back in time by doing a reset and know how to troubleshoot my high speed internet connection. But fire wires are new to me.

I’m told that it’s very easy. But apparently I need QuickTime Pro in order to make it all work. So I purchase QuickTime Pro over the internet for thirty bucks. Download that, go to plug in my fire wire (which is still in it’s package from when I bought my digital movie camera last year, which the sales rep assured me I’d need for $25) and realize I have no fire wire port on my computer.

Time is rapidly running out here for the submission of this audition. Rand says NUTS to it and decides he wants me to put him on tape anyway and he’ll just mail the thing in to the casting director directly. So I tape him and it looks good. We then call our agent and say we’re sending it directly to the casting office ourselves and to please let them know. We’re told they will do so. They encourage me to get a fire wire port. I tell them I will.

CUT TO: several days later I’m on the phone with Bombay. And even though I was told at Office Depot that my computer did NOT have the capacity for an external fire wire port, I am assured by Dell that that is not the case and so I purchase what I assume will be a device that will enable me to use my fire wire. For $47.97.

It arrives a few hours before I am leaving for a ten day trip to Florida. Swell. I take a quick look at it and come to the conclusion that it is NOT what I was told it would be, and will NOT enable fire wire connection. And I do not at this moment have 45 minutes of extra time to talk to Bombay again to see about getting my money back.

CUT TO: I return from Florida and look at the Dell return policy. It says I have 21 days to return it. So I know I don’t have to rush. I received it May 23, so I’ve got until June 13th. I call customer service in Bombay on the 6th of June. They say their system is down and to call back in two hours. I then decide to call their tech dept. to make sure that I am indeed correct and was sent the wrong thing. Yes, it’s true. They informed me that they had misinformed me. The only way to get a fire wire connection on my three year young computer is to have my internal modem removed and to put in a fire wire card (or whatever the heck it’s called). And of course I could do this by friends in Bombay are quite happy to help walk me through the process. But first I would need to hire a translator.

By this point I really didn’t want to talk to Bombay again, so I had some Tandoori chicken for dindin and went to sleep.

NEXT DAY: I call customer service which is back up and running. I’m told that my 21 days elapsed YESTERDAY. That the period is based upon the day the item was shipped, not from the day of receipt. It doesn’t matter that I received it the day I went away to Florida and wasn’t here to discover that it was the WRONG hardware piece. I pointed out to them that I did attempt to call them yesterday. “Yes, but you see there is no record of your call.” I KNOW THERE’S NO RECORD OF MY CALL, BECAUSE YOUR COMPUTERS WERE DOWN! “I’m sorry but that’s the policy.” “OH. SO YOU'RE TELLING ME THAT BECAUSE YOU GAVE ME MISINFORMATION TO BEGIN WITH AND SHIPPED THE WRONG ITEM, AND BECAUSE YOUR COMPUTERS WERE DOWN, I'M GOING TO LOSE MY FIFTY BUCKS??!!!! I did make a call to the tech department about it yesterday, PERHAPS THEY HAVE A RECORD OF MY CALL!.” “I will speak to my supervisor, just one moment please.”

I’ve given Dell about $6,000 over the years. And they’re about to lose me as a customer.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting. My supervisor says they will make an exception this one time....” And I feel happy now. Why do we allow our lives to be run by machines and foreigners.....

They sent me a UPS label so I could return it for free. Only - not really, because they deducted the original shipping fee from my rebate.

So for a five dollar fee I got to talk to strangers in a strange land, learn that my computer does not have fire wire capacity and thus I am not able to send auditions to my agents via computer.

Which means, I suppose, I will soon have to buy a new computer with VISTA (an operating system with which I am unfamiliar and have not heard good things about) and transfer all of my files to IT.

Life was a lot simpler and more pleasant in the old days. And my office was a lot neater because computers take much more time than good old file cabinets and now I must deal with both.


Dan said...

Ohhhh... I sooo feel your pain. I hate Dell. My mom had some trouble with their customer service awhile back. The hard part was getting a person on the phone. And when we finally did -- they could not help us. Sounds like you have a very similar circumstance. My last two computers have been HPs and I have been VERY happy with them.

And re: your agents using email -- I'm glad it's not just real estate agents who are so inept sometimes. LOL.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

You have ME pulling out my hair! All the technology customer service reps are out there in India telling US how to work our computers that we spent an arm and a leg for and they don't even have toilets in their houses. No wonder we get the wrong information half the time.

I'm sorry, I can't help it. I have to say it. Obama wants to stop the tax breaks to the companies who hire out the jobs to other countries. Then maybe we'll get workers who can at least speak English!

Send a movie by e-mail. Yikes. I often think computers make things harder nowadays.