It's an old joke, but a spokesman for Gateway swears it's true -- that the computer maker's technical help line once got a call from a new purchaser complaining that her teacup kept slipping out of the computer's cup holder.
The reason, of course: The "cup holder" was the tray that slides out to hold a CD-ROM.
And so it has come to this: Americans buy the most sophisticated computers, the coolest digital cameras, the most advanced automobiles, the most versatile cell phones and handheld organizers, and then . . . and then we forget, or decline, or flat out refuse, to read the directions. Owner's manuals, care guides, how-to directories? No, thanks.
There are lots of theories about why, but one thing is certain: The situation is driving manufacturers nuts -- and costing them, and eventually all of us, money.