First and foremost: I've finally cleared the hurdles that kept me from getting a 1-year Russian visa. Doing so required me to enroll as a student in a Moscow university, which is not especially cheap. This in turn required me to request additional funds from the organization that's given me a grant for my research. Much to my surprise, the additional funds were approved, and I'm now making final preparations before leaving for Russia. If my current run of luck continues, I'll find housing in Moscow and get final approval from my university to begin carrying out my formal dissertation research in the next few weeks. (I never thought I would be quite so alarmed to see myself weeks away from fieldwork rather than months, years, or an indefinite wait.)
Meanwhile, I'm also celebrating victory over the customer service department of a computer manufacturer that shall go unnamed. To protect myself and this company, I'll skip most of the details and just share that I've been trying to get a stuck key on my laptop repaired since April. I was finally able to send the computer to this company for repair in mid September, and after another month of waiting I was then told that they weren't sure when they would start repairs, nor why they had not already started repairs, nor when I would see my computer again, and by the way, they couldn't do anything at all at the moment because they'd been experiencing some computer problems of their own with their customer service database.
It was at this point, more than five months since this stupid key became stuck, that I began to talk about going to the Better Business Bureau or to the local TV stations' consumer affairs reporters or to a lawyer in my family. Within a week, I received a call asking me if I would be satisfied if they just replaced my old computer with a new top-of-the-line notebook. I asked about the computer's specs, and was told it would have...
- a dual-core, Intel Placation Class Processor, with a unique Class-Action-Lawsuit-Preventing subprocessor
- a 14 inch anti-glare widescreen display, with a state-of-the-art coating that prevents the user from seeing red
- 4 gigabytes of ultra-fast memory, capable of remembering just about anything except for bad customer service experiences
- an innovative CYA graphics card
- and much much more!
I'm not entirely sure that it was worth this much trouble, but I'm certainly overjoyed that this company is saving me the cost of upgrading my three-year old computer, and that I'll be going to the field with a brand new machine. Let's hear it for customer service!