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— this is where I’d put my random quote… IF I HAD ONE!

April 17, 2000 - What if people bought their cars like they buy computers?

General Motors doesn’t have a ‘help line’ for people who don’t know how to drive, because people don’t buy cars the way they buy computers… but imagine if they did…

HELPLINE: ‘General Motors HELPLINE, how can I help you?’
CUSTOMER: ‘I got in my car and closed the door, and nothing happened!’
HELPLINE: ‘Did you put the key in the ignition and turn it?’
CUSTOMER: ‘What’s an ignition?’
HELPLINE: ‘It’s a starter motor that draws current from your battery and turns over the engine.’
CUSTOMER: ‘Ignition? Motor? Battery? Engine? How come I have to know all of these technical terms just to use my car?’

HELPLINE: ‘General Motors HELPLINE, how can I help you?’
CUSTOMER: ‘My car ran fine for a week, and now it won’t go anywhere!’
HELPLINE: ‘Is the gas tank empty?’
CUSTOMER: ‘Huh? How do I know?’
HELPLINE: ‘There’s a little gauge on the front panel, with a needle, and markings from ‘E’ to ‘F’. Where is the needle pointing?’
CUSTOMER: ‘I see an ‘E’ but no ‘F’.’
HELPLINE: ‘You see the ‘E’ and just to the right is the ‘F’.
CUSTOMER: ‘No, just to the right of the first ‘E’ is a ‘V’.
HELPLINE: ‘A ‘V’?!?’
CUSTOMER: ‘Yeah, there’s a ‘C’, an ‘H’, the first ‘E’, then a ‘V’, followed by ‘R’, ‘O’, and ‘L’ …’
HELPLINE: ‘No, no, no sir! That’s the front of the car. When you sit behind the steering wheel, that’s the panel I’m talking about.’
CUSTOMER: ‘That steering wheel thingy. Is that the round thing that honks the horn?’
HELPLINE: ‘Yes, among other things.’
CUSTOMER: ‘The needle’s pointing to ‘E’. What does that mean?’
HELPLINE: ‘It means that you have to visit a gasoline vendor and purchase some more gasoline. You can install it yourself, or pay the vendor to install it for you.’
CUSTOMER: ‘What? I paid $12,000 for this car! Now you tell me that I have to keep buying more components? I want a car that comes with everything built in!’

HELPLINE: ‘General Motors HELPLINE, how can I help you?’
CUSTOMER: ‘Your cars suck!’
HELPLINE: ‘What’s wrong?’
CUSTOMER: ‘It crashed, that’s what went wrong!’
HELPLINE: ‘What were you doing?’
CUSTOMER: ‘I wanted to go faster, so I pushed the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor. It worked for a while, and then it crashed - and now it won’t even start up!’
HELPLINE: ‘I’m sorry, sir, but it’s your responsibility if you misuse the product.’
CUSTOMER: ‘Misuse it? I was just following this damned manual of yours. It said to make the car go to put the transmission in ‘D’ and press the accelerator pedal. That’s exactly what I did-now the damn thing’s crashed.’
HELPLINE: ‘Did you read the entire operator’s manual before operating the car sir?’
CUSTOMER: ‘What? Of course I did! I told you I did EVERYTHING the manual said and it didn’t work!’
HELPLINE: ‘Didn’t you attempt to slow down so you wouldn’t crash?’
CUSTOMER: ‘How do you do THAT?’
HELPLINE: ‘You said you read the entire manual, sir. It’s on page 14. The pedal next to the accelerator.’
CUSTOMER: ‘Well, I don’t have all day to sit around and read this manual you know.’
HELPLINE: ‘Of course not. What do you expect us to do about it?’
CUSTOMER: ‘I want you to send me one of the latest versions that goes fast and won’t crash anymore!’

HELPLINE: ‘General Motors HELPLINE, how can I help you?’
CUSTOMER: ‘Hi! I just bought my first car, and I chose your car because it has automatic transmission, cruise control, power steering, power brakes, and power door locks.’
HELPLINE: ‘Thanks for buying our car. How can I help you?’
CUSTOMER: ‘How do I work it?’
HELPLINE: ‘Do you know how to drive?’
CUSTOMER: ‘Do I know how to what?’
HELPLINE: ‘Do you know how to DRIVE?’
CUSTOMER: ‘I’m not a technical person! I just want to go places in my car!’