Thursday, May 18, 2006

Close the Gate

Looks like the final chapter of the Gateway Computer boom here in KC is about to close. Gateway announced that it is closing the call and support center here and laying off 130 employees. The center once had over 1500 employees and was the cornerstone of redevelopment of the "West Bottoms", an area with turn-of-the-century warehouses from when the area was a major river port. At one time, a job with Gateway was a hot ticket.. I think even I sent a resume.

Sad, but not unexpected. Gateway has been imploding for a long time now; just another DotCom failure. It is reported that after the closing, Gateway will have 1500 employees total, down from 24,000 at the peak.

The Gateway brand of computer was once almost a household word. Like Dell today, you could buy a system online or on the phone and have it delivered to your door. The computers usually came to your door in a large black and white spotted cow box. Even the company headquarters building was painted like a Holstein cow.

My first computer was almost a Gateway, but the horrible experience I had trying to buy it led me to another source. Gateway opened a few retail centers where you could buy their systems directly instead of through the mail. So off I went one Saturday AM to the store in Independence, checkbook brimming with cash ready to buy my own computer. I had a company laptop but I wanted one of my own. My goal was to have my computer up and operating by that evening so I could begin surfing the net in style.

I went in and looked around. Plenty of people there, lots of people working, busy showing all the hardware to some of the customers...but not me. I never got a soul to talk to me. One salesperson spent about 1/2 hour working with some people who could not get financing for their system... calling this, working that... here I was with cash on hand, no 90days same as cash, no finance company.. no I'll pay 1/3 now, post date a check for Tues.... and no one said a blooming word to me. One salesperson talked to a guy for a while, talking all kinds of tech shit and then the guy left without buying a thing and the salesperson or whoever disappeared. I went to Circuit City across the street (still in business) and got my first computer a Compaq. I understand I was not alone in my frustration with Gateway.

So no wonder they are retrenching...probably will be around for awhile longer but never the player they used to be.

I kinda wanted a cow box.... wonder if I can get one on Ebay?

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