From the Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, March 1, 1994.
Reprinted without permission
BEFUDDLED PC USERS FLOOD HELP LINES, AND NO QUESTION SEEMS TO BE TOO BASIC
AUSTIN, Texas - The exasperated help-line caller said she couldn't get
her new Dell computer to turn on. Jay Ablinger, a Dell Computer Corp.
technician, made sure the computer was plugged in and then asked the
woman what happened when she pushed the power button.
"I've pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happens," the
woman replied. "Foot pedal?" the technician asked. "Yes," the woman
said, "this little white foot pedal with the on switch." The "foot
pedal," it turned out, was the computer's mouse, a hand-operated device
that helps to control the computer's operations.
Compaq's help center in Houston, Texas, is inundated
by some 8,000 consumer calls a day, with inquiries like this one related
by technician John Wolf: "A frustrated customer called, who said her
brand new Contura would not work. She said she had unpacked the unit,
plugged it in, opened it up and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for
something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the
power switch, she asked, 'What power switch?'"