Technical Support Woes
Cruz Moncivais, CUGG
"Technical Support we don't need any technical support!"
At least that's what I feel is the motto of most
software manufactures of today. Gone are the days when you
technical support with an issue. Odds were if your problem were
significant enough a software engineer would answer your question and
possibly write a patch and mail you the disk. Or at least offered to
replace the unit. What has prompted me to write this article are three
recent experiences I have encountered trying to solve problems for
And complains that their Palm Pilot "m505" that I have recommended has been recently crashing on regular bases with no rhyme or reason. So we exchanged units for a few weeks and sure enough within 48 hours the unit crashed and all data were lost. I have used Palms for many years had never experienced anything such as this. So I took it to the place of purchase and was told that I had to deal with the manufacture, as the 14-day period had ended. Sound familiar?
So I contacted 3Com and after nearly 2 hours of waiting, a support person answered the phone. I explained the situation and amazingly enough the unit failed as I was speaking the lady on the phone. We tried several different methods of rebooting and resetting the unit but as soon as I transferred the information the unit would crash.
(Now let's take a step back. While I was "on hold" my expectations were that the unit would be replaced by the manufacture or perhaps there would be a firmware upgrade on the net. Perhaps there was a flaw with this particular manufacture run. Now back to the phone call.)
After several attempts to reset the unit the lady passed me to the next level of support. Ah ha...now we are going to talk to someone with more experience with trouble shooting correct? I wait another 20 to 30 minutes (I am guessing but as I was watching Good Morning America and now I am watching the local news update for a second time I am guessing it was at least 20 minutes). Finally a gentlemen answers the phone. He is reading the notes on his computer screen provided by the previous person and he begins the conversation with "Well it seems all of the standard resets are not working." To which I reply "yes, and while I was on hold it has crashed again, and the Palm logo is blinking on the screen again." His reply. "I recommend that you reduce the amount of information you load into the unit and back up regularly." I ask "Are you serious?" This unit is not functioning, as it should. I have owned many previous models and this unit is definitely not performing, as it should. His reply? "We do not guarantee the information you load onto the unit and therefore are not covered as part of our warranty, and I would recommend that you reduce the amount of information and backup regularly. I am sorry there is nothing more we can do. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
Needless to say nothing more was accomplished and I noticed that "The View" was now ending on my television set. So my client was in a position to either buy another unit or do with this malfunctioning unit. Lucky for my client; I have a few contacts in the retail market, and I was able to replace the unit (in exchange for a few favors). My client has a working unit and my contact in the retail market has an interesting problem to solve. Well actually the unit was stripped down and is now spare parts for repairs.
Case #2: Client purchased...
A Linksys wireless router for their home office. Concerned about security they are having difficulties activating the WEP. Based on the cell phone conversation, they seemed to have followed all of the correct procedures. Familiar with this device, I visited their home office a few days later and sure enough the unit was not performing, as it should. I have set up hundreds of these units in the last two years (many brands and manufactures). You do get accustomed to how a unit should perform. We call Linksys support services, after spending nearly 2 1/2 hours on the web, and not finding any specific answers to our problem. So we called the support line at approximately 7 a.m. local time. It was a short wait of roughly 20 minutes to get a support person. I begin to explain the problem and in mid-sentence the support person states: " I am sorry sir we do not support any WEP issues at all. We only support the product's router functions and network issues." So I ask, " Where do I call or perhaps you can transfer me to your wireless support services for your wireless product lines." His response: "We do not offer any support other than general set up and configuration services for our wireless products." So I inquire further, " So am I to understand that when it comes to the security services portion of your products you offer no support. And if any of your consumers which have data security issues you will not offer support or any type of guidance?" "I am sorry sir we are unable to help in the wireless portion of the product thank you for calling" THEN...ial tone. Yes that's right, he actually hung up the phone.
Again with my contacts in the retail and used market place I was able to find a replacement unit for my client. And needless to say that the 14-day return period had just expired.
Case #3: Client calls...
With a software problem. It seems, that the stock tracking software is not working as advertised. He has Internet access and has subscribed to the Internet data stream for one month. This individual is neither a day trader nor a heavy stock trader; however, he does have the need to control which stocks are purchased and sold in the retirement account. Prefers to have hands on approach rather than rely on a traditional broker. The hardware he has meets all of the software minimums and his Internet connection is adequate for the job. Yet each time we attempt to connect to the Stock data stream the computer locks and freezes. So we call the tech support services. The wait is short, a good sign that the lines and support teams are not overwhelmed, a good sign for the product. A few different things were tried to no avail and finally the support person recommends that my client purchase a new computer or format and re-install Windows. After additional dialogue he finally reveals that the software was originally designed to work with high speed Internet connectivity and although it has worked with dial-up accounts it has problems with AOL and EarthLink accounts.
Had I not continued to inquire and ask questions, the average computer user would have formatted their drive and reinstalled Windows or gone to the expense of purchasing a new computer. Luckily my client has an excellent relationship with his independent computer retailer and was able to exchange for a different stock tracking software compatible to the subscribed data stream services. And it worked quite well with his hardware and Internet dial-up services.
It seems to me that in today's market place the
you) are willing to put up with less than adequate support services. I
clearly remember not so long ago, customers demanded at least one
warranty or exchange services form the independent retailer they
purchased the product from. Yet today the 14-day policy that the
megastore outlets now offer is acceptable (???).
Are you—the consumer—truly satisfied with this level of service?