Tongue in Cheek: Judgement Day

It really says something about the IT industry when you consider that it hasn't already had its butt sued offAside from a few high-profile anti-trust cases, computer companies have ended up in court far less than they could have. In an age where people get sued for glancing sideways, I'm very surprised that there hasn't been an avalanche of lawsuits leveled against them.

Where is the big international corporation who sues Microsoft for billions of dollars because Microsoft promised you could run that mission-critical system on NT, but guess what, you can't?

If you were the CEO and saw your business empire crumbling because of the "bloody computers" wouldn't your first reaction be: "Let's sue the bastards"?

Where's the student who sues the hard drive vendor for loss of future earnings. After all, he only flunked out of university because that final brilliant assignment that was sure to save his bacon was lost for all time when the goddamn hard drive died.

"Seagate stopped me from becoming a dentist!" the flunker would proclaim passionately from the witness box.

Where's the lonely heart who sues the Internet Service Provider because his declaration of love that would have stopped his dream girl from running off with some other chump, never arrived because his e-mail went down.

Surely, one wouldn't lose such law suits? Surely, every juror would empathise having at one time or another, slaved over a computer for hours only to see their work vanish like it never even existed. Surely every single judge has more than once raised their fists to the sky and declared an almighty hatred of all things electronic. Surely.

So what's the story? Why aren't you and I and Joe next door hauling our local, not-so-friendly computer vendor by the scruff-of-their necks into court right now? (Oh, by the way, if you're a computer vendor, I am of course referring to that other vendor.).

Is it because people find it difficult to comprehend that something -- especially something they've paid so much money for -- might break for no reason. Generally, if something breaks it's because you've broken it. The lamp smashes into a thousand pieces, for example, because you dropped it.

So when technology fails, the average consumer naturally looks to blame themselves or whoever last used or is responsible for managing the computers.

The CEO doesn't blame NT for the constant crashing of the mission-critical computer system, he blames the IT manager, who of course gets the bullet. This is despite the fact that it was actually the CEO who signed the deal, against IT's recommendation, on the 17th tee at the Lakes.

Or perhaps it's exactly the opposite. Perhaps, it's because we all know computers are so blasted unreliable that anyone who gets burnt should have known better in the first place.

When the student cries about his never-to-be-realised dream of becoming a dentist, the judge simply lectures him on how you should always back up all data, because of course a hard drive failure is going to hit you one day. She then orders him to pay all court-costs.

Which only leaves the lonely heart. He doesn't sue, either, because he sells his story to a woman's magazine and makes a bucket load of money anyway.

Philip Sim is the editor of Australian Reseller News. E-mail him at

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