I've had a Gateway computer for two years now, and I've been fairly happy with it. Since I'm no code monkey or tech whiz, like some of you folks, I've appreciated their on-line support, and basically I've had no complaints. Until today.

I got a call from a lady who told me that now even though my 2-year warranty was up, I had been placed into the YourWare program. Here's a fairly good representation of how that conversation went:

"That's pretty neat, since I didn't pay for that YourWare option."

"Well, Mr. dannye, our records show that you are now eligible for the YourWare option. Do you know how that option works?"

"I think so. I can trade my old machine in and upgrade to a newer one, right?"

"You certainly can!"

"Let me ask you this. I like my monitor, my keyboard, my mouse, and all the other ancillary stuff. How much would it cost me to just send you the old box back and get a newer box?"

"You're investment would run between $800 and $1000."

"Whoa! Back up! My 'investment?' You sound like Bill Clinton when he wants to raise my taxes. Don't you mean my 'cost' would be between $800 and $1000?"

"Ummm, well, yes. You see, your old box is only worth around $100 on the open market."

"OK, let me get this straight. A couple of years ago I spent over $1000 for a box that is now only worth $100. Now you want me to give you that box and pay... oh, I'm sorry, 'invest'... in a new box that costs $1000. So, in a couple of years, that box will only be worth $100. That means that my investment has had an net annual return of -45%. Does that sound like an investment you'd recommend for, say, your mom?"

"You're not interested, are you?"

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