The other day my printer died, Fatal Error message – print-head grinding to a halt with a squeal like a mouse caught in a trap. Oh joy! Nothing to do with the cheapo ink cassette just loaded? Who knows? The printer was already misbehaving like a toddler long before I decided to economise on ink. An ‘elderly’ machine considerably younger than my toddler grandson and, of course, out of guarantee (and anyway mention cheapo ink and everything null and void).

So, a new printer purchased – why did my heart settle somewhere in my boots? The Set-Up, that’s why. An experience encountered many times… Here is a Set-Up Guide. (Caution – allow at least four hours for completion).

Step 1: Unpack box and un-stick tape, plastic and cardboard from shiny new machine. Re-check later for hidden packaging when trays won’t budge.

Step 2: Place shiny machine on desk and plug in. The Easy Bit.

Step 3: Look at Simple Guide with fuzzy diagrams, throw it away and use commonsense to assemble trays, load paper and insert ink cartridges.

Step 4: Download software onto PC and install wireless connections. Wait for updates and random ‘special offers’. Try to avoid giving away all personal details including Bra Size. Here comes the first trap. Software not quite right. Eventually the printer will work but not completely. And an Error Message comes up on PC screen ‘Out of Paper’.

Step 5: Work through on-line Trouble-Shooting Guide at least 3 times. Unplug machine, reload paper, check for log jam etc. No Joy. Printer prints from stack of paper in tray but Computer, He (for obvious reasons not She) say ‘Out of Paper’.

Step 6: online search for advice. Happens to everyone, why not try helpful Trouble-Shooting Guide?

Step 7: Uninstall all software and start again. No joy.

Step 8: Uninstall again and reload software from CD supplied – Aha – this takes in Windows 10. Could be the on-line software doesn’t/can’t. Now the printer prints properly. Only the Error Message to sort.

Step 9: Send away Other Half peering over shoulder (intent on offering helpful advice) to make a cup of tea.

Step 10: Customer Support through website – Warning flashes up – “Beware fraudulent scams and don’t give away personal details”. OK they have Bra Size already – are you bothered? Opt for on-line Chat with Viola – a teenage boy in pebble glasses, a Korean Mafiosi, a robot, or even an orchestral instrument?

Step 11: The Chat-line – in that quaint Oriental English we know and love from Christmas novelties and instruction leaflets for electronic equipment:

‘You have problem with Printer?’

‘Yes – problem fully explained in my enquiry.’

‘You have error message?’

‘Yes. See my enquiry.’

Give up and repeat all information already given. Work through most of Trouble-Shooting Guide again, reassuring the lovely Viola as you go.

‘Please supply Name, Address, Phone, e-mail, another phone, IQ level, details of education and Bra Size.’

‘You have the relevant information already. Can you confirm you are a genuine Customer Service person?’

‘Will send email. Kindly do the needful.’

A long wait, email arrives. Looks genuine.

‘Email received. You have my details already. Now can you sort it out?’

Another long wait. Viola is typing, with one finger and her hands tied behind her back.

‘Kindly send image of screen error message and printer serial number. Kindly do the needful.’

‘Sorry, can’t do this. No facility.’ Reiterate the details and number.

A very long wait. Viola is doing a lot more typing.

‘Kindly send image of screen error message and printer serial number. Kindly do the needful.’

‘No. Please sort out problem.’

‘You can ignore error message if printer working.’

‘Printer working as I’ve told you already. Not happy with error message.’

40 minutes will have flown by enjoyably. It is now 5.58 pm.

‘Please to continue by email.’

Ignore and wait.

‘Sending a link to try.’

Check link which appears to be a complete re-download of software.

‘Do you mean I need to reload the software?’

Check Chat-line. Viola has Gone. It is 6 pm.

Long wait. But Chat-line still open. Someone starts typing, with one finger.

‘Hi I’m Rachel. You have problem with printer?’

Another 30 mins during which Rachel will gradually admit he/she/it has relevant details and eventually take over PC. Watch possessed mouse scuttle round screen gathering intimate personal details. Imagine the Worst.

‘All is correct now. Please check print.’

Print and report back, fine.

‘Great!! Haveniceday.’

Rachel relinquishes control and is Gone, because knocking off time was 6 pm and Viola won’t have waited for her.

Check computer screen. He say Printer ‘Out of Paper’.

Check Chat-line – dead as a squashed mouse in a trap.

Experience a moment of inspiration. Load some photo paper into the empty second tray.

Check Computer. He smile and say Printer Ready.

Meanwhile Rachel will have missed her bus and be wishing she signed up for a different job.