Email has been a comfortable part of my life for more than 15 years. I exchange questions and documents with clients, learn from experts, keep up with my friends and update my brother on our aging dad.

I enjoy going unplugged for a few days here and there, but as soon as I get home I check my email, even before Facebook.

Recently my hard drive suddenly crashed, so I went shopping without doing much research.

I was excited about all the bells and whistles on my new HP, with Windows 8. The sales associate at Best Buy promised it would not only enable me to do the simple stuff like write, but also edit video without the fan coming on and listen to music with a decent sound.

She did not inform me that Windows 8 does not support POP accounts, which most people in Canada have.

I did not occur to me that I would go days without email. The last time I had to switch to a new computer, email was easy. But that was before Windows 8.


To make matters worse, my smartphone was in Ecuador, after my daughter’s iPhone was stolen the night before she was leaving. Worse still, my email host Bell was incapable of resetting my forgotten password so I could use their webmail.

From the many comments on Microsoft’s community forum, I know I am not alone. As one said, POP means SOL.

Sure, Microsoft provided some solutions, but they didn’t work for me or the other grumbling commenters.

One of their top suggestions was to get my email host to change my account to a type Microsoft would support. No way, according to Bell, one of the top two Canadian providers. From the responses I got from Bell’s support team, you’d think I was the first person to have this challenge.

Not counting the online password reset attempts, I talked at length to three people at Bell. The first insisted I no longer had an account there, despite the large bills I pay every month. The second tried very hard to help, but did not succeed. The third, the charm named Tim, figured out the work-around to connect me. More than 1200 emails later, I was caught up.

Just before Tim, I tried the Geek Squad at Best Buy. The condescending phone jockey would not help unless I paid  $100, even though it would be much cheaper for somebody to help me than to exchange my computer for one with Windows 7.  In a condescending tone, he insisted it was like paying to have my car repaired, though I cannot imagine any dealership not making sure I could drive off the lot. No wonder the chain is in such trouble.

While I stressed through the problem, I was not out of touch. Thank goodness for Gmail, SkyDrive and Facebook.  And my landline, though I had to race out and replace my portable phones when they konked out in the middle of this crisis.

Every time I could take a break from billable work, I would try again. With each failure, the knot between my shoulders swelled. Yoga, gardening, reading and all my usual de-stressors were no match for the evil force of Windows 8.

I’m thrilled to have email again, though I’m running into the same trouble trying to connect my email to the Windows 8 tiles for contacts and calendars. Tomorrow I’ll crack that nut. I’ll probably also delete a lot of those subscriptions that I didn’t miss.

Mysteriously, some of the subscriptions are going into my spam folder. But when I move them, they appear in the inbox of the POP account I gave up on trying to directly connect. Oh well.

I’m still getting used to a lot of hiccups, such as when my keyboard suddenly starts adding French accents and odd symbols everywhere.

You Mac people are insisting that I would not have suffered these injustices with an Apple. If the loss of Steve Jobs doesn’t lead to a quality decline, I will return to the Apple fold for my next computer.

Others may wonder why I don’t switch to Rogers, the other big Canadian email host. I still haven’t forgiven Rogers for my early email experiences, when I’d have to lie about my television not working so a guy would show up days later, provided I hadn’t nipped out, and fix the cable connection. More recently, I worry that adding services will encourage their telemarketers to pester me more.

I will not be shopping anymore at Best Buy.

Let me admit that I’m not the most tech savvy person. But my tech savvy kids and friends were not able to help.

If anyone in the chain of Microsoft, Bell and Best Buy actually took seriously customer service, instead of pretending to in ad campaigns, I would have been fine.

My story ends with happy enough for now. Tim is not my Prince Charming, as he doesn’t want to move from India. Maybe I should try to find an older Toronto geek on an online dating site.

Then again, I’m too comfortable to consider exchanging sex for tech support.

What’s your new computer battle story?

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