Scrooge and Marley's Christmas business was lousy, so Scrooge decided to to sell turtledoves and pear trees on his Web site at www.humbug.com. Scrooge had no choice, since his S&M countinghouse business had lost out to Pricewaterhouse. The problem was that Scrooge, as tightfisted as he was, bought a very cheap secondhand computer with hardly any memory at all. S&M lost a lot of orders.

Scrooge was stuck with several gross of turtledoves and dozens of pear trees. This made him short-tempered. He said to his employee, Bob Cratchit, "Don't people know how to order on the Internet anymore?"

Cratchit said, "Sir, maybe we should upgrade our computer."

The old man said, "Bah, humbug," and went home to bed. There he found an e-mail on his laptop from Marley. It was a joke. Marley was always sending people jokes by e-mail.

The jokes always had to do with a dog going into a pub and ordering a drink from an unfriendly bartender.

Marley also told Scrooge that if he didn't change his ways and become a better person his screen would go blank, his hard drive would freeze and his software would turn to oatmeal.

Scrooge was frightened and said, "What can I do?"

Marley said, "Call the 800 help number."

Scrooge dialed the dealer, and a voice came on the line. It said, "This is Christmas Past. All our lines are busy, but your call is very important to us."

Scrooge became even more frightened. Four hours later the voice said, "Your call is very important to us. If you know your party's name and the date of birth of his grandmother, punch them in now."

Scrooge decided next to call the Ghost of Christmas Present. A voice said, "What's the problem, dummy?"

"My screen is dark and I can't take orders for turtledoves and pear trees."

"Is your power line plugged in?"

"Yes."

"Did you try booting the Escape key with your foot instead of your hand?"

"Yes, spirit."

"Okay, kick it."

"You want me to kick my computer?"

"This usually works."

Scrooge kicked the computer, but the screen remained dark.

He called Christmas Future, but a recording said they were only open on Easter and Guy Fawkes Day.

Scrooge decided to go to Bob Cratchit's house for Christmas. He walked in and said, "My computer has crashed, so don't give me any of your Christmas cheer."

Tiny Tim, Cratchit's little boy, said, "It sounds like you have an online problem. You should upgrade your modem and increase your memory. If this doesn't work, you probably have a dead mouse."

Scrooge was amazed. He went home and did what he was told. He never had trouble with his computer again, and business was so good he added to his Internet inventory seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree.