What’s the average non-technical computer user to do when faced with incompetent technical support?
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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.net.
Last week I posted an article detailing my experience calling Microsoft
customer support in order to activate my copy of Windows XP
Besides the usual anti-Microsoft comments, the pro-Mac and Linux comments
and comments from people who’ve had similar experiences, there were a couple of
folks who took me to task for even bothering.
Their reasoning went like this: there are workarounds and hacks to activation
– why should we bother wasting any time if a problem arises? If it
doesn’t work right away, hack it.
And, I gotta say, it’s tempting. Any technology that gets in the way of
otherwise legal and legitimate users is bound to push some of them over into
more legally questionable approaches. Any form of obtrusive DRM can have that
But this wasn’t my goal. Left to my own, I probably would have “just made it
work”. I certainly have the technical expertise to either know, or know how to
find the non-obvious fixes and work-arounds, legal or otherwise, that would’ve
allowed me to solve my problem.
But I’m not normal.
And that was my goal in calling customer support – to take the road that the
majority of non-technical, “normal” people would have to take in that situation
– to take the road that I so often advise.
And in this case the results were extremely disappointing.
Yes, some, though not all, of the customer service representatives were
clearly located in India. I don’t consider that a
problem in and of itself. I’ve had excellent customer service through
other companies where it was clear the individual I was speaking to was on the
other side of the planet. What matters is: can they get the job done? Can they
resolve my issue? The answer here was clearly no. I did have trouble
understanding them at times, and clearly they had no clue as to what was wrong
in my situation.
And that’s bad no mater where they were located.
So what do normal people do?
Yes, yes, some might leave the platform, moving to Mac or Linux I suppose,
but while activation might be considered uniquely Microsoft (even though it’s
not), shaky customer support isn’t just a Microsoft problem, it’s an industry
problem, and no platform is immune.
So what, normal people just hope for the best? Have techie friends. Learn
enough to use Google to find any of the hundreds of support sites like Ask Leo!
and know enough to interpret what they find?
What do you think? What would you advise the “average” non-technical
computer user to do in the face of situations like the one I’ve described?
I’m not sure.
I’d love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.net and enter 12297 in the go
to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me
a comment. While you’re there, browse the hundreds of technical questions and
answers on the site.
Till next time, I’m Leo Notenboom, for askleo.net.