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Who Designed This Crap? Tech Support, Need I Say More?

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July 14, 2006 2:16:36 PM

Tech support has a well deserved negative reputation. Read about a bad and a good tech support experience and then send in your own experiences.
July 14, 2006 2:26:49 PM

Seeing as I do tech support on systems that aren't even mine I would think I would rate pretty high...

Oh yea, I forgot B, you don't even return emails. So how would Mobility Guru rate on your scale?

The winner will be DELL or the next highest advertiser. That's hard to figure out.

Turn off laptop mouse pad...DILL tech says it can't be done. Yet it is plastered all over the internet and in their own user manual!

Gateway Audio Driver problem..., guy can't even get a response from GayWay (I didn't even know they were still in business).

Driver and Memory Issues. HP says they can't duplicate the problem.

July 14, 2006 3:20:18 PM

First I'd like to say that I've worked in the IT field for approximately 9 years. 99% of the time I have no problem troubleshooting a problem and identifying what part(s) need replaced to make the system operational again...most of my encounters with tech support involve getting the parts I need to fix the systems that are under warranty.

My first story pertains to Toshiba. While I was in the Marines (97-2001) Pretty much all of the laptops in service were Toshiba and they were bulletproof machines. When I finished my tour with the Marines and moved to the private sector, I continued to employ Toshiba laptops whenever there was a need.

It must have been in 2003 that we purchased a batch of Satellite Pros (6100). In a short time nearly every 6100 Satellite pro that we owned had a drive failure. Unfortunately Toshiba will not ship out parts for end-user service so this required us to box up the machines and send them to Toshiba for service. Generally this would take around a week for turnaround. Because of this service model, we seriously began to question whether Toshiba laptops are still a viable choice in our environment.
Being a rather faithful (or foolish) individual, we decided to give Toshiba a chance and purchased several P25's a short time later.

Within months of purchasing the P25's the modular DVD-ROM drives began failing. Obviously we tested this by swapping in a known-good DVD-ROM which fixed the problem. We contacted Toshiba and asked for them to send new DVD-ROM's and we would cross-ship the broken DVD-ROM drives.
Toshiba would not do this. They would rather us ship the entire laptop for them to examine and replace the drives.

At this point I was infuriated. My end-users had to go without a machine for X period of time because Toshiba refused to send a modular drive to replace the broken ones. After complaining to the technician about this, I finally agreed to send them the entire unit...what other choice did I have? I provided the technician with my mailing address so that he could mail me the box which I would put the P25 into and return to them in Memphis. I hung up.

10 minutes later I received a call from the same technician and I was told that Toshiba did not have a box big enough to accomodate the P25 laptop!!! Therefore I would have to drive the unit to the nearest Depot which was 2 hours away!

This ended our relationship with Toshiba.
Related resources
July 14, 2006 3:25:28 PM

My favorite part...

Toshiba did not have a box big enough... so it became your problem. Unbelievable.
July 14, 2006 3:43:32 PM

The second story I'd like to relay pertains to Dell.

First of all I've been relatively happy with the support I have received from Dell. As I mentioned before, I usually can identify a problem and it's really just a matter of getting the parts to remedy the issue.

The main gripe I have with dealing with Dell is that sometimes I have to spend a fair amount of time on the telephone with some jackass explaining that I know I have a failed hard drive. Of course he'll want me to repeat everything I already did to identify the problem and it's a big waste of time for me. This all depends on what technician you get and whether he is cool or not.

the good
Several years ago I had a strange problem with one of my raid controllers. For some reason the machine was throwing errors during the post of the controller. I swapped in a spare (known good) controller and the same thing was happening. I tested a few other things and I came to the conclusion that it was a motherboard problem.

I called Dell and I spoke with a technician. He had me test the disks and also the backplane of the machine. Everything checked out and it was looking like it was indeed a motherboard issue. He finally told me to update the bios and firmware...I laughed. I said outloud:

"Are you kidding? This machine was fine and just out of the blue it stops working. We've ruled out the raid controller, the backplane, the cables, the disks...surely it must be the mobo".

He pretty much agreed with me but he had to go through the motions before dispatching a new motherboard for the system.

I applied the updates and somehow, someway--it fixed the machine. This is by far one of the stranger things that I've encountered dealing with servers...so I always remember to test this out.

The bad

Just a few months ago I had a failed disk in one of my servers. I contacted tech support and they dispatched a new disk. When it arrived I noticed it was a 15K disk made by Maxtor while the disks in my system were 10K disks made by Seagate.

I know, I know...you can mix and match disks all day long in a RAID config. But generally you want to use the same make, model, capacity, speed for all disks in a set...it's just a good practice that I adhere to.

I called up Dell and told them that I'd really just like my 10K seagate disk. They told me that my system was originally equipped with 15K maxtors and that is why they sent the Maxtor. I proved to them that this was not true. At this point the tech said to just use the 15K disk...it would be fine. He also mentioned the reason I didn't receive the correct disk is because they ran out of them.

I forwarded this email to some other folks higher in the food-chain at Dell. They responded in the same manner. I replied and said something along the lines of:

-I currently have 2 systems running raid 5 in a cluster. They are both equipped with 10K seagate disks (model# XXXX). For a total of 6 disks.
-One of my disks failed, I requested a replacement disk and received a Maxtor 15K disk which is more expensive than the replacement disk.
-Either send me the 10K seagate or send me 5 more Maxtor 15K's.

This got the attention of someone. I was put in touch with a technician who had an interest in what I had to say. He agreed that it wasn't unreasonable to expect the 10K disk as a replacement. He even went so far as to offer to send me 5 additional disks. I wasn't particularly interested in this...I just wanted the 10k.

Turns out that they had a warehouse full of the disks in question and I received one the following day. Case closed.
July 14, 2006 4:01:45 PM

The more I think about it...the more I realize I could easily spend several days typing up my numerous encounters with Tech Support....This will be my last one.

Verizon DSL

In 1999 I was in the Marine Corps living outside of Jacksonville, North Carolina. My house was so far out in the boonies that I was lucky to have telephone service. I had to use bunny-ears on my television to watch the one station that came in clear...PBS.

In those days I was limited to dial-up internet. I played Tribes and Asherons Call on my laughable connection.

In 2001, I finished my tour with the Marines and moved to Massachusetts. One of the first things on my agenda was to get high-speed internet. This was available through Verizon "High Speed DSL".

I signed up and received my modem and "starter kit" a few days later. The instructions said that I had to wait until I received the confirmation email that my service had been turned on, before connecting the modem and DSL filters. The estimate was 6 weeks before this would happen.

Let the waiting begin.

Three weeks went by and I received an email saying that my service had been started and I could now hookup my systems. I went home that evening and hooked everything up and...no service.

I called TECH SUPPORT...here's where it gets good.
I spent several hours on the telephone with these people. They had me troubleshooting everything. They finally told me that my network adapter was not supported.

My main system was equipped with a 3COM 3C905 card. This is by far the most widely recognized and supported card in the world of network cards. Just about any operating system you load on your machine will have support for this card...so I knew they were full of shit.

It was then and there that I was sick of playing this game. I told them that I was a CCNA and an MCSE and I can guarantee that the problem is not on my end. The call was escalated and the end result was...The service had not been activated, I would need to wait another 3 weeks.
Fine, I can live with that.

I went to work the next day and I started thinking about how pissed off I was that Verizon was jerking me around. Why did I receive an email saying my service had been activated? Why did I spend several hours on the phone troubleshooting crap only to be told that my service wasn't activated? I decided to call Verizon and give them a piece of my mind.

I explained the situation to the customer service representative. She looked in the system and told me...My service IS ACTIVE. WTF?! I was instructed to go home and call tech support to resolve my issue.

Once I arrived home that evening I went through some of the same crap as the night before. I finally said to the technician to "put me in touch with someone who knows what they are doing." and tossed my credentials her way.

Within 5 minutes I had someone on the line who had identified a problem on their end pertaining to the binding of the protocol to my line...I had connectivity.
July 14, 2006 4:53:23 PM

Interesting article, but I disagree with a few of your conclusions.

First of all for IT staff to pay for technical support kind of defeats the purpose of having IT staff doesn't it? Why pay someone to pay someone $245 to get support.
Secondly, public forums can potentially be the best places to look for help. Simply because its free and web based doesn't mean it should be taken with "a grain of salt". IT thrives on free software (open source\linux) and solutions, you just have to know where to look.
July 14, 2006 4:56:56 PM

Hey KN. I do my best with email and the forums. I read 'em all, but can't answer 'em all. I'm the sole manager and often only producer of content for MG. That takes up 12 hours a day seven days a week. What specifically did you write about? To the best of my knowledge, Dell doesn't advertise on any of the TG Publishing sites.

As for Dell, it can take a day or so, if you don't buy 24/7 support, but they get the job done. I recently had a Dell server go down. Aside from their putting me through tests I'd already done, they quickly figured out what was wrong and the next day a tech showed up with replacement parts. If I bought 24/7 support, they say it would have been fixed in 2-4 hours.
July 14, 2006 5:25:05 PM

Let's get together so you can review A K/N Executioner.

I will put it against that DELL XPS any day.

I am thinking:
Executioner
Core 2 Duo T7400 2.16
Flash RAM drive for the OS & Programs
100 GB 7,200 media & Data
7900 GTX 512 MB
108 Mbps G+ internal wireless
2 Gigs RAM
and a body bag for the DELL XPS.
July 14, 2006 6:01:38 PM

First of all, I do tech support and have for years. If you were to go into any tech support call center and ask which customers are the hardest to deal and they would say that the hardest to deal with are network admins, people with the CCNA, MCSE, ect ect, that have already troubleshot, basically any customer that thinks they know more about our system than we do.

Granted, there are a lot of incredibly talented individuals out there that know a whole lot about computers, networking, and programming. But you wouldn't have the experience in dealing with the network at hand. Everyone that has done any kind of long term troubleshooting of a network knows that every network has is own little quirks and difficulties. DSL especially!

You may have troubleshot the issue and know exactly what the issue is, but until we troubleshoot we won't. Do you realize how many customers call in on a daily basis and say something like "my modem is broken, replace it" only to find out that reboot fixes it? Imagine how much your DSL bill would be if you had to pay to ship out every part that every "technician" calls in to get replaced. It wouldn't be 14.99 a month!

Any technician that has had to work within an organization knows that before any money is spent, whether it be to replace a part, or repair it, that it has to meet certain requirements. So be patient as we do what is required to get your issue resolved, or part replaced. If we can see for ourselves that it is broken we will take care of it. (If it is the customer that is broken, we will take care of that too - see below)

Where I used to work for a major high speed provider, we had a customer that would call in every so often and throw credentials around and escalate and just generally be a pain. We could run tests on our side and show that he was getting what he was supposed to, but he kept calling. He eventually got blacklisted. Now he is on dial up through a local mom- and pop provider. He was not permitted to get high speed through our company again. That list is forwarded through all the major high speed providers and the do take it seriously.

In closing, just remember that we are people too, we make mistakes, but we are just trying to get you fixed. Besides, when you troubleshoot, how to do take someone standing over your should second guessing every step you are taking?

Brassfly
July 14, 2006 6:20:33 PM

I concur totally on this post.

The job of the support call is to fix the problem and get off the phone.
If they are really good, they will make sure it happens again so that can collect another service charge. They are there to make money.

What a GOOD IT support person does is understand how things work and is able to solve his own problems quickly. The guy you are calling has little knowledge of your IT network as a whole and many other things. Additionally, the 1st/2nd/3rd level guys you often speak to are paid much less than you and are still doing scripts.

They key to getting GOOD online help that is free is knowing who you are talking too. Generally the "On-Line" guys I talk to are all famous authors who worked on the development of the products they are supporting. Often there are only a handful of people in the world who know more than they do on the topic, and those are not the ones you get when you shell out your money.

Now, if you don't know what you are doing on a product, call. This can be expected in small shops where the amount of stuff you need to know can easily stretch beyond what the IT staff can learn/know. They key is to know what you dont know.
July 14, 2006 6:21:30 PM

I am your tech support.

I've worked on contracts with to do technical support for cellular data products, a national ISP supporting dialup, DSL, Dialup DSL, Fibre Connections, T1 lines, DNS, Web, and Email hosting as well as on-site tech support at a major US bank on behalf of Dell, another US investment company on behalf of Dell, a large regional hospital in Seattle, and I was also a bench technician at a small computer retailer and local ISP. All of these positions required proprietary and specialized information to properly support. From host names to ISP settings to niche operating systems and plain business proceedures there is no way someone could perform these roles whithout recieving training or experience for these specific jobs. For all of these postitions combined I recieved less then 5 weeks of training, 4 of which were for the wireless data products support. None of the companies had what I would call "good" knowlege bases, if they had one at all.

Most tech support positions have high turnover. If you get someone who has been working there for more then 4 months you're lucky. If you have any experience supporting the problem you're calling about your chances of getting someone who knows more about the problem then you are slim.

In my unbiased opinion I am an extremely good technician. However, I have commited countless numbers of flat-out failures at technical support due to a lack of training or access to effeciently searchable knowlege bases.

In my first job as an ISP telephone tech support person I had never heard of "Dialup DSL" until a customer told me how it worked (nothing new in the technology, just your DSL connection isn't always on, you will get disconnected and have to reconnect. A special DSL modem in a host computer acts just like a regular 56k modem). I didn't know we provided internet access to home fibre connection until the customers started calling us for support. Half the time I didn't know what domains were hosted where and the only way to find out was to ask an admin or search all the servers, one by one, as there was no centralized search tool.

Although they did attempt to provide at least some training, the wireless data product support position was probably the one I was least prepaired for. 3 new operating systems with several subtypes each (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, whatever the other one was) on a dozen different supported PDAs, plus a dozen smart phones each with a completely unique user interface, several new pieces of software and web interfaces for wired and wireless data syncronizing. Combine this with a knowlege base that worked not by searching for keywords in a problem discription, as one would expect, but by searching for relevance of search terms to the solution of the problem. You could not find a solution by searching for the problem it solved, you had to search for the solution directly. If you didn't already know something about the solution you were SOL. (This database search engine was obviously designed by my most-hated technician archetype that I have dubbed "the guess-tech" A guess tech does not problem solve or trouble shoot to find root-causes and solutions. They inventory symptoms and create relational databases to solutions. When presented with symptoms a guess tech will start going down a list of, ie. guessing at, relevant solutions without ever trying to determine the cause and having no way to know if the solution solved the root problem or merely alleviated known symptoms and no way to effeciently address symptoms they have not previously encountered.) Not only is this an ass-backwards way to trouble shoot to begin with, the search logic would sometimes give you completely irrelevant results. 1 moth of training me in this and I was thrown into an almost completely unfiltered "teir 1" for all support problems with all data services on all internet-cabable devices. Also, the support queue that wasn't hooked into the telephone directory system (ie, we had to ask customers for their information even though they had already entered it at least once). Quite frankly half the time I had no idea what the customer was talking about and with the wide variety of OSes supported I had to look up the walkthrough almost every time or I wouldn't be able to guilde an end-user due to minor differences in the OS (while it's annoying that most end-users can't cope with minor descrepencies like "ok" or "accept" mean the same thing, especially when the only other button says "cancel" if you say the wrong word you'll confuse them. A good technician says the names of the options exactly as they appear to the customer.) At least when I started out with ISP support teir one they filtered the queue so that I only dealt with one of 2 problems on only 3 versions of windows until I learned the companies proprietary settings and recieved some additional training and moved to a different queue. Here I could be dealing with one of many (network connectivity, email, contact list syncing with remote or local host, blue tooth, internet connectivity, etc, etc) problems on one of several versions of 3 major OS types. I feel truely sorry for the people that got me as their technician for the first ~2weeks I was taking calls. If you happened to be one of them... I'm sorry, but it's not my fault.

On site Dell technician at major financial institutions? "Hi, my name is Lex. I'm with Dell." Ha, ha ha ahahahahaha... Dell didn't hire me, Dell contracted Qualixserve... they didn't hire me either, they contracted Go2IT who hired me off of monster.com with only a cursory telephone interview. In my case, Dell got lucky. Some of the other guys I worked with were morons. The directions they gave us were fairly complete and accurate, but there was so much paperwork most of the people didn't even read it (personally I never read any of the revisions as I had already written my own 1page version).

On site technician at a regional hospital? I got to see a woman's ovaries, no joke, along with all the rest of her internal organs. Although the computer that controlled the cat-scan machine was never comprimised the other computers in the imaging lab were virus laden, so there I was cleaning them up durring her appointment. The look on her face when 4 guys walked into the control room and started poking around on all the computers was... amusing, and distrubing. Oh, and my lead technician made lewd comments about all the attractive female receptionists and the woman who's more-than-private bits we got a free show of.

In summary: low-level tech support persons are not properly screened or trained. Higher level tech support persons are ussually just low-level ones that managed to not get fired or quit for more than a few months. Good technicians get better jobs. Tech support should be your last resort.

Personal horror story: My mother's internet connection with Charter went out. I couldn't call in because it said I had an outstanding ballance, but I had automatic payment enabled. So I called business line and got transfered, they said billing was fine and sent out a technician. The technician said it was a billing problem. So I call in and pay the ballance less 57cents as they didn't have an option to just pay the whole ballance and I didn't remember how many odd cents they said I owed them, then tried to get to a technician to make sure everything was ok. After screaming at the automated voice-recognician AI I was told I'd be transfered to a real person and was disconnected. I called in again and was asked to pay the full ballance again, I hang up in disgust. The next day I call in and it asks for the 57cents before it will let me talk to anyone. I pay it, hoping the transaction fees betweent he two payments total more than 57cents, get to someone who says that it's turned on now, but refuses to refund any money as the service was disconnected due to non-payment. "Well, if I DIDN'T pay why are you charging me for it? And it's YOUR FAULT you didn't recieve payment. Why didn't you call if there was a problem? Like sometime before you disconnected her IP-phone??? If there was a billling problem why didn't you just use a DNS-redirect to ask for account information like you did the first time we hooked it up instead of disconnecting my mother's internet access?" I got transfered to a manager who did give me a small refund, but the internet connection never worked. She got a wireless connection instead that's faster and more reliable (after the telephone company refused to even talk to me about my options for getting new copper or fibre installed as the CO was only a few blocks away but they insisted I couldn't get DSL).

Good story: Dell tech support. Called several times for systems under warrenty. I told them what was wrong, they quickly ran me through a few tests to confirm, and sent replacement parts with return shipping packaging. Why trying to deal with them just sound competent and tell them all the steps you did to diagnose the problem, no problems after that. Don't expect them to send you new part just because you say you have some Certs and it's "broken".
July 14, 2006 6:36:52 PM

duplicate post-
July 14, 2006 6:38:20 PM

Brassfly,

I want it to be known that I don't call up "Company_X" and start mouthing off my certifications and make outrageous demands. I'm a pretty easy-going and humble individual. When I pickup the phone to call technical support, it's the first step in me admitting that the current situation requires assistance...be it a new hard disk or someone telling me to upgrade the bios.

Calling up tech support, treating them like shit and trying to make them feel inferior by blasting them with professional certifications does absolutely nothing to remedy my problems...so I don't want you to get the wrong impression here. I respect the job that tech support folks do. In fact, I have many of the same responsibilities. I deal with my fair share of ignorant people on a daily basis. I hang up the phone after speaking with one of my end-users and I laugh at his or her foolishness.

When I call tech support I'd like to be able to speak tech-to-tech to cut through most of the bullshit. I don't think that's too much to ask.

If you worked for my ISP and I was having problems, I should be able to call you up and say "look bro, I can ping the ISP DNS server from both of my machines, but when I traceroute to google I can't get past this hop."

Instead of:
"Sir, I need you to turn off your modem and router and pc. Once that has been done turn your modem ON. Wait 1 minute and turn the router ON.
Wait 1 minute and turn the PC on....is your computer up yet?"
July 14, 2006 7:02:24 PM

Ok, I have some stories to share and some comments on your article.

Back in 2001 I tried to get broadband at my new apartment I moved into, little did I know this would become a long an drawn out affair.

The reason I picked the complex I did was that they offered a massive discount on a T1 line service. At the time I was big into file sharing so I could really dig the extra upload speed. I called them to open service and they said that I would have to wait a week as they were in the middle of a migration. I called a week later and they said that they were still busy with the changes and to call back a week later. I called the next week only to find out that they were out of business and no service was possible.

This annoyed me greatly since there were two better deals on apartments that I would have gone with if not for this offering but I darned sure wasn't going to move again so soon.

So I tried getting cable modem in my area. I called the local cable modem provider (which if I remember correctly was still AT&T @ Home) and they said they didn't service my area yet but that it was on the list. I'm not sure what list this is but they told me if I was a worldnet customer when service did become available then I would get a massive discount. I held off to see what my other options were first.

Then I tried Southwestern Bell DSL since I had my phone service through them already. That was a mistake. First they said I was supported and they sent out my welcome package. Then they charged me for the welcome package after they told me they would not. Then the DSL did not work. Then they restarted my service and charged me for (and sent me) another welcome package. I spent an hour on the phone and got them to reverse the charges for those two welcome packages. They didn't want the spare back so I got a spare DSL modem for free. On top of that they double reimbursed me and I ended up not having to pay for the service for quite a long time. This is good since it never worked.

For about four months I called tech support weekly because my internet connection only worked about a quarter of the time and when it did work my speeds were only slightly better than dialup. Finally after four months of this pain they said I was in fact not in their supported area and they terminated my service.

Great.

So I try Earthlink. Another mistake. They send me my startup kit and charge me appropriately (score one for them). I get my kit and proceed to have very similar problems to the ones I had with SWB. I call their tech support, who seemed fairly competent and patient, but ultimately ineffectual. I spent a full year calling them up between weekly and monthly trying many different things to fix my internet connection, but at least I was getting decent speeds and 75% uptime so I could make do. Along the way, about half way through my time subscribed they also tried reinitializing my connection. This meant canceling my subscription and renewing it.

After a year of this headache I heard about another ISP called Speakeasy. They promised top notch support, better speeds than anyone else I had seen, and a free Playstation 2. I call up Earthlink to cancel with them since I had been with them for over a year and they tell me I have to pay a $250 cancellation fee because I didn't complete my 1 year contract. Aparently since TECH SUPPORT restarted my service in TROUBLESHOOTING the problem my CONTRACT got restarted.

After about 2 hours of arguing with a rather rude customer service agent who refused to let me speak to her supervisor about this matter I gave in and paid their extortion fee.

Now on to Speakeasy. Ahh a good choice at last! Speakeasy not only figured out what my problem was, and fixed it within a week of starting the service, but they were unbelievably professional and knowledgable. Their customer service AND tech support departments called back whenever we got disconnected, offered me better plans that would save me money even though I was already going to subscribe, and were really nice and friendly. I know I am sounding like a commercial right now but a breath of fresh air like that after around a year and a half of living in tech support HELL was just sooooo nice.
July 14, 2006 7:20:03 PM

Now for the commentary.

I disagree that a good tech should call tech support so quickly. I learn by fixing. If someone else fixes everything for me, I never learn how to fix it myself, thus costing a lot more money in the long run.

Also, having done various IT related jobs for several years I know that the vast majority of problems CAN be fixed in less than an hour with the help of google groups and support.microsoft.com. Very VERY few problems should take more than 3 hours to fix unless it involves a reinstall of windows. If you are running into such problems frequently, you probably need to spend some more time learning the systems you are working with.

Also techs are supposed to walk you through the troubleshooting steps. So many idiots have MCSEs in the world that not even that carries any weight. I had network admins calling tech support who couldn't troubleshoot their way out of a wet paper bag. The only techs who let credentials intimidate them are the newbies. If you do tech support for more than a year, the credentials of the customer mean nothing to you. Only solving the problem quickly is important.
July 14, 2006 7:43:28 PM

Quote:
Let's get together so you can review A K/N Executioner.



i think that is something a lot of people on this forum would like to see.
July 14, 2006 8:44:42 PM

A for Effort, F for Results:

My tech support story deals with a JVC Mini DV Camcorder. The issue du jour was a 1394 Firewire connectivity problem, which I learned through other forums seems to be a fairly widespread problem. I exhausted all the routine 'do it yourself' options before calling tech support. The response was basically what I expected from first tier support, their fingers pointing squarely at my PC. Given that in each case I fully explained that other 1394 devices (including DV cameras) work just fine, I expected at least one of them to consider the notion that their own product might be bad, even though it had just worked 2 weeks prior on a different machine, and I knew at a minimum the port was still 'live' on the camera having tested voltages. I think they are somehow trained to discuss hardware failure as a last resort only even though it was already well past warranty.

Being fed up and sent a 'disgruntled consumer' letter to a number of high ranking people at JVC. Their response was top notch, within three days I was contacted by a senior tech and one of their application people. After composing lengthy emails to both fully explaining all the hardware combinations I had tried, including multiple firewire cards, registry tweaks, etc. I also carefully noted that I had read about this being an issue with some of their products and included a link to one of the online discussion boards about the specific problem.

Not one, but BOTH of them, operating independently came up with the same 'solution'. It was apparent to both that my PC firewire had an issue and must be defective. I haven't replied to either since I can't think of a way to start that doesn't involve a string of expletives.

It seems to me that many support organizations are just not equip to deal with 'oddball' problems effecting relatively small percentages of users, no matter how real they are. Just once I wish they would be honest and either admin that "Yes, we know there is a problem, but have no planned fix", or even, "Sorry, but I just don't know." would be better than trying to blame the customer.. Correction, EX-customer
July 14, 2006 9:34:51 PM

After having served over 20 years in tech support.. I can honestly say the bad rep of tech support is pretty much a myth. Each HORROR story usually has the fault lie at the side of the user and/or a policy the company has in place.

Such as some of the stories here and in the article.

Sony probably didn't replace you'r battery right away because it had a limited warranty or something like that and since you bought it from a unauthorized reseller, any 90 day warranty etc.. would be suspect. As the original 90 days would pertain to the original owner (the reseller) and not you. The laptop could of been a year old sitting on the resellers shelves and out of warranty. Sony was nice enough to forgive this and yet they are the villians in your story.

The not having a box big enough story... Ummm. I am sure they have a box big enough to fit their own products in. Most likely, the cost of shipping the box to you was the reason they said they didn't have a box big enough. And why ship in the whole product? Because most problems were probably found to be bad drivers, malfunction installs, or maybe broken pins where the drive plugs in. So why replace a perfectly good drive over and over.

All in all.. if you get calls day in/day out of the worst possible rejects of society who expect everything from anything.. you end up treating even the normal callers as suspect. This is I think is the reason behind most HORROR stories. For every stupid, "Did you try this?" is a success story. And yes, people have called due to power outages complaining their desktop doesn't turn on... need I say more?
July 15, 2006 12:58:59 AM

Working in a call center myself and doin Tech Support I completely understand this thread. Unfortunately there are few of us good tech's out there even within the company I work for. But here is an experience I had with Cox Communications in regards to my broadband connection.

Coming home from work one night and attempting to settle in I boot up the PC and try to check my e-mail only to find out that I have no connection. So after a basic run of trouble shooting, reboot the route check all the physical connections and checking the other outlets in the house I decide to call up the cable company. Something is wrong with one of the two feeds into the apartment.

Once I finally get a hold of a Tech Rep at Cox I start to explain the situation to him. I have two feeds running in one works and the other doesn't. One feed the digital cable TV is working fine and on the other feed both my digital TV and cable modem are not working. Explaining to the rep that I've already power cycled the modem and checked all the connections he procedes to tell me he needs to try and log into my cable modem (which takes him 10 minutes) even after I told him the line is dead and explained it multiple times that he wouldn't get through.

Finally he comes to the conclusion that my cable modem itself is defective and needs to be replaced. This is the point where I start to get a bit frustrated. So after attempting to ask him why my digital box is out for the TV as well I finally ask to speak to his Supervisor. Again I work in a call center. There is always a supervisor. You probably won't get past the Sup to speak to a Manager but there is always a Sup around. Or at least someone willing to act like one while you yell at them. Instead he places me on hold and comes back a few minutes later stating that he spoke with his Sup and he said that since both my modem and converter were both out that they were both defective and I should bring them into a retail outlet to get replacements.

Now again keep in mind that this is later at night and I don't generally expect the best and brightest to be working but anyone can see through this cop out. 50% of the time when someone is told to "goto the store" the person referring them has no idea what they are doing.

Frustrated I hang up and call back. Brave the hold music and happy go lucky advertisements and get in touch with another rep who treated me like I expect to be treated. I told him the problem. Explained what I had done and gave him the details of my prior conversation. He performed the necessary required tests to say he did his job and sent out someone to check the line for me. Low and behold they had sent someone out earlier that day who unplugged me from the main feed at the junction box.

There's my story on both the good and bad. Unfortunately one usually has to take 10 times longer than the other.
July 15, 2006 1:03:49 AM

Quote:
Here is a very good article about tech support from their point of view:

http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2004/02/23/no_s...

It's a little long, but well worth it.


Wow this was a really good article. I do agree ech supoort can be somewhat of an enigma. I don't really have to deal with it much. I usually build my own systems. So I never have to deal with system builders and I buy most my stuff from newegg who is pretty liberal on returns. If it's more than 6 months and something breaks I will try to deal with manufacturer but if no dice then I figure it's time to upgrade anyway.

As for software I just dig until I fix it. But I can appreciate in a network environment you need a quick fix but alot of times you are better off just figurning it out yourself if you have a good team backing you up. I work in IT/Operations and I havent' had a problem in the last 6-12 months that couldn't be located and fixed within an hour with the right people within our organization. IBM had to be called a couple of times a long time ago for their shark servers but that's because their hardware is proprietary.
July 15, 2006 2:32:15 AM

Well skorpius do you see what I mean?

I can't even entice these guys with a T7400 2.16 Core 2 Duo that isn't even released in the USA for another 2 months!

How many systems with flash RAM hard drives and secondary 100 gig 7,200 rpm hard drives do you think they have tested?

I mean, besides NONE! It isn't about actually testing products to give you an idea of what is the best... it's about advertsing dollars bro!

July 15, 2006 3:26:35 PM

Quote:
Interesting article, but I disagree with a few of your conclusions.

First of all for IT staff to pay for technical support kind of defeats the purpose of having IT staff doesn't it? Why pay someone to pay someone $245 to get support.
Secondly, public forums can potentially be the best places to look for help. Simply because its free and web based doesn't mean it should be taken with "a grain of salt". IT thrives on free software (open source\linux) and solutions, you just have to know where to look.


You're an idiot just by your first two sentences. I get paid for having the ABILITY to figure it out, not to know everything about everything. Trust me, when you have a RAID controller on a Dell PowerEdge 2600 go, taking down Sharepoint/Exchange. You don't go to a news group. You get paid your $25-30/hr to pick up the phone and call Dell. I worked at a consultancy where the attitude was figure it for yourself instead of picking up the phone occasionally. They didn't last to long. I have had NTBACKUP backup/restore done by the book, that didn't restore properly had to call MS and have them agree it shoulda worked, help me out and waive the charges. Your post shows naivety beyond belief.
July 15, 2006 7:59:01 PM

Quote:
Brassfly,

I want it to be known that I don't call up "Company_X" and start mouthing off my certifications and make outrageous demands. I'm a pretty easy-going and humble individual. When I pickup the phone to call technical support, it's the first step in me admitting that the current situation requires assistance...be it a new hard disk or someone telling me to upgrade the bios.

Calling up tech support, treating them like shit and trying to make them feel inferior by blasting them with professional certifications does absolutely nothing to remedy my problems...so I don't want you to get the wrong impression here. I respect the job that tech support folks do. In fact, I have many of the same responsibilities. I deal with my fair share of ignorant people on a daily basis. I hang up the phone after speaking with one of my end-users and I laugh at his or her foolishness.

When I call tech support I'd like to be able to speak tech-to-tech to cut through most of the bullshit. I don't think that's too much to ask.

If you worked for my ISP and I was having problems, I should be able to call you up and say "look bro, I can ping the ISP DNS server from both of my machines, but when I traceroute to google I can't get past this hop."

Instead of:
"Sir, I need you to turn off your modem and router and pc. Once that has been done turn your modem ON. Wait 1 minute and turn the router ON.
Wait 1 minute and turn the PC on....is your computer up yet?"


I agree completely here and this is why:

I work in tech support for a so called Company X. And you ask anyone that works for Company X who they don't like dealing with the most? And they will tell you they don't like dealing with people who assume they know all there is to know because they have a certification... hey guess what? We all do (I will not go into details).

It boggles my mind sometimes when I get people calling in stating "I've worked in PC's for X amount of years and I know this will not fix it". But it kinda puts a smile on my face seeing them put their foot in their mouths.

You will notice the more laid back you are, the easier tech support is. I can understand it gets fusturating very quickly (can't stand it) when it's outsourced.

I've noticed this myself when calling in for tech support (ISP in particular) or being on the tech support side, the easier going you are, makes it easier for the technician to do his job, and therfore should go a lot smoother.
July 15, 2006 7:59:08 PM

Quote:
The second story I'd like to relay pertains to Dell.

First of all I've been relatively happy with the support I have received from Dell. As I mentioned before, I usually can identify a problem and it's really just a matter of getting the parts to remedy the issue.

The main gripe I have with dealing with Dell is that sometimes I have to spend a fair amount of time on the telephone with some jackass explaining that I know I have a failed hard drive. Of course he'll want me to repeat everything I already did to identify the problem and it's a big waste of time for me. This all depends on what technician you get and whether he is cool or not.

the good
Several years ago I had a strange problem with one of my raid controllers. For some reason the machine was throwing errors during the post of the controller. I swapped in a spare (known good) controller and the same thing was happening. I tested a few other things and I came to the conclusion that it was a motherboard problem.

I called Dell and I spoke with a technician. He had me test the disks and also the backplane of the machine. Everything checked out and it was looking like it was indeed a motherboard issue. He finally told me to update the bios and firmware...I laughed. I said outloud:

"Are you kidding? This machine was fine and just out of the blue it stops working. We've ruled out the raid controller, the backplane, the cables, the disks...surely it must be the mobo".

He pretty much agreed with me but he had to go through the motions before dispatching a new motherboard for the system.

I applied the updates and somehow, someway--it fixed the machine. This is by far one of the stranger things that I've encountered dealing with servers...so I always remember to test this out.


Having worked for several years as a 1st and 2nd tier support tech at Dell, this is more common than you think. More often than not, people have a "if it aint broke, dont fix it" attitude with servers. Drivers/firmware updates are engineered to resolve current issues we have seen, and possible future issues. People will have two identical servers, with the same bios level. One fails, the other doesnt. Then I have to hear how their other server is working fine. Sometimes hardware is funny that way.

A piece of advise from someone on the other side of the phone? Tech support receives a bunch of calls a day, and in a few months you generally see the same issues over and over. If you are calling tech support, be prepared to follow what they suggest. After all, you are calling them for help.
Quote:
The bad

Just a few months ago I had a failed disk in one of my servers. I contacted tech support and they dispatched a new disk. When it arrived I noticed it was a 15K disk made by Maxtor while the disks in my system were 10K disks made by Seagate.

I know, I know...you can mix and match disks all day long in a RAID config. But generally you want to use the same make, model, capacity, speed for all disks in a set...it's just a good practice that I adhere to.

I called up Dell and told them that I'd really just like my 10K seagate disk. They told me that my system was originally equipped with 15K maxtors and that is why they sent the Maxtor. I proved to them that this was not true. At this point the tech said to just use the 15K disk...it would be fine. He also mentioned the reason I didn't receive the correct disk is because they ran out of them.

I forwarded this email to some other folks higher in the food-chain at Dell. They responded in the same manner. I replied and said something along the lines of:

-I currently have 2 systems running raid 5 in a cluster. They are both equipped with 10K seagate disks (model# XXXX). For a total of 6 disks.
-One of my disks failed, I requested a replacement disk and received a Maxtor 15K disk which is more expensive than the replacement disk.
-Either send me the 10K seagate or send me 5 more Maxtor 15K's.

This got the attention of someone. I was put in touch with a technician who had an interest in what I had to say. He agreed that it wasn't unreasonable to expect the 10K disk as a replacement. He even went so far as to offer to send me 5 additional disks. I wasn't particularly interested in this...I just wanted the 10k.

Turns out that they had a warehouse full of the disks in question and I received one the following day. Case closed.


I cant tell you how many times we get calls about 'failed' disks. I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 the disk isnt actually 'failed'. How do I know this? Because tech support has the statistics from the manufacturer from every drive returned. More often than not, drives are not 'failed', but rather 'offline' What can cause a drive to fall offline?? Bad parity, hardware anomolies, bad sector on the drive, bad connection. Heck, any part of the SCSI chain can cause a failure, it isnt always the drive. You can usually tell if a drive needs to be replaced by accessing the hardware logs. The techs in support can assist you with getting the log, and will likely want you to send it to them. People see 'failed' and automatically think the drive is bad. Perhaps there needs to be a naming convention change. Usually reseating the drive will resolve the issue.

As for the size of your replacement disk. As long as the replacement drive is bigger/faster than your current it should work correctly. Unfortunately most of tech support is unable to choose which drive is sent out. If the tech stated your server was shipped with different drives, he/she is probably right. Tech support has direct access to how the server was shipped/configured. You are quite lucky you found someone to send you that many drives. That is an exception I dont see very often.

I guess my point is, it doesnt matter how many certs you have, or how knowledgeable you are. There is a reason you are calling tech support. We dont know it all, but we do see enough of the same issues over and over again, we may know something you dont.
July 15, 2006 8:04:59 PM

I guess my point is, it doesnt matter how many certs you have, or how knowledgeable you are. There is a reason you are calling tech support. We dont know it all, but we do see enough of the same issues over and over again, we may know something you dont.

Exactly.
July 15, 2006 8:16:23 PM

Oooh, I have been WAITING FOR THIS THREAD. This is my calling. Well, let me start at the beginning of my epic. And it is an epic, so grab some pop corn and bring the family.

This is at the beginnig of December.I had a Sony Ericsson K700i. It is probably the best phone I have ever used, BAR NONE. It had everything: a resonable camera, a load of space (for a phone), excellent GUI, and top that off, a great battery life. Well, one day I'm using my phone to play some games when I die suddenly. Now, that doesn't happen very often. :D  I play the same level a few times when I realize the joystick doesn't always respond to my touch. I might touch it five times, only for it to scroll three times. After browsing numerous threads and "do it yourself" fixes, I realized that this must be an internal problem. I call up Sony Ericsson, and they seem somewhat helpful. They first off telling me that this phone is a "gray-market" phone. I had no idea what the he!! that meant, so I asked. They tell me "it is a phone not meant to be used in the US." They are somewhat correct, the phone is marked with an "i" at the end, meaning international, instead of an "a" meaning America. Since it was an international phone, they left off the 850 American band, while leaving the 900/1800/1900 still there. I proceed to tell them my problem, and they say that this is a somewhat common problem, but to fix it, I would have to send it in. I say, sure. It was an annoying problem. They do tell me that it may take up to 40 business days for parts. But, they tell me, that is rare and it probably will only take around 20 business days. That is still kind of long, but I didn't really care at that time. So I package it with some bubble wrap, go my local Post Office, and mail the phone per instructions. It came with a tracking number, but it didn't work. This was probably the beginning of the month. The phone would have to go to Bloomington, Indiana and I live in Richmond, Kentucky; not very far, a-to-b distance of 154 miles. I am very anxious about my phone so I call every single day to note the progress. So about half-way through the month they tell me that "it is pending". They tell me that means they have gotten it, it is not yet been worked on, but will be soon. I call later that week to find out that the part needed is on backorder, but they don't mention the joystick being the part. I just assume it is. I call near the end of the month, they say they have JUST GOTTEN THE PHONE. I'm surprised, telling them that I sent it in the beginning of the month and no way in he!! it took a month to travel that far. I also told the guy that they said they already gotten it! He says he will "check on it". I'm waiting and he says that they actually did recieve the phone in the middle of the month, but it still hasn't been "entered into their database". Mad, I hang up. A few more WEEKS pass by, it is already the next bloody month. I get a message from them one day after coming back to school. I get really excited and listen to the message. They say that after looking at the phone, the screen has been found damaged. I'm like, WTF?!?!? WHAT THE F*CKING HELL?!?!?! It will cost $100 dollars to fix the phone, as broken screens are not covered under the warranty. That is 1/2 the price of a new one. HALF THE BLOODY PRICE. I'm really pi$$ed now. After numerous phone calls wondering why they took so long to tell me this, they tell me to file a claim from the USPS. They, USPS, say it will take 60-90 days for them to process it. I begin to think SE might've cause the damage and write them a letter.

The letter:

Sony Ericsson
Repair and Service Department

Dear Sir/Ms:

This is regard to Return Merchandise Authorization number XXXXXXXXXXXXX. I was left a message on May 5th that the screen on my K700i was damaged and it was not covered under the warranty.

Here are the facts:

1. When I called in the company initially to request a repair the Joy stick on the phone was not working and was advised to return the phone which was received on April 4, 2006.
2. If screen was damaged I don’t think that the RMA would have been issued by the Sony Ericsson in the first place.
3. Since then I had contacted Sony Ericsson numerous times and I was told that technicians are working on the problem of the joystick and eventually that the joystick was on the backorder. Not once the question of damaged screen came up as there was none to begin with.
4. After keeping phone for more than a month I was informed that screen was damaged and phone would be returned unless I paid 100 Dollars.

Given these consideration, I don’t understand the discrepancy between what has been told to me on numerous occasions and the last message on my phone. On receiving the message, I tried calling Sony Ericsson but the office closed at 3:30 PM on Friday.

If there was damage to screen while the phone was with the company for a whole month, I don’t understand that I should be responsible for paying to fix the problem. Please refer to all previous telephone conversations that only problems with the phone were malfunctioning joystick and issues regarding dropped calls.

Thank you very much for your understanding.


If I don't pay the $100 in three days, they will return the damaged phone back to me. I guess after they got this letter they had a change of heart. They say they will replace my phone, for free! I'm ecstatic! I'm so happy! They also tell me that the phone was in Canada. (WTF?! They don't mention Canada, again, though.)Then they tell me, a few days later, that they phone is out of stock and they don't have any left. They ask if I would like a Z520a (Note the A as the last letter). It is a similar phone, except it is a flip-phone. I say if there are any other phones left. I, jokingly, ask for a K750i. I say jokingly because the K750i is bounds and leaps ahead. It is like having a 6600GT and asking for dual 7950GX2's. They are that much different. The K750i is the phone I wanted next, it has everything! LOADS better than the K700i, like a 2 MP Camera, expandable memory, enhanced GUI, auto-focus, marco, play list's. They say they'll call me back. A few days later they call back. They say that I am getting a K750i! At this point, I've nearly fainted! I'm jumping up in joy, calling distant relatives, investing in Sony Ericsson stocks. OK, not the last one, but. So a few WEEKS later (they must be really slow at processing/shipping) I get the phone! I put in my SIM. It says "Insert Correct SIM". I know instantly what this means and I am foaming at the mouth! It means that it locked to another carrier, a carrier in England, Orange. I know it is Orange because of the obvious branding. I call them, they don't seem too mad. They tell me that it'll void the warranty if I change it. I tell them, "What?!?!? YOU gave me this phone. It is YOUR fault." After many words, they say they will have to contact Orange for the unlocking code. It may take a FEW WEEKS. I'm extremely pissed now. I call Orange to see if I can get it quicker, but they don't tell me. They don't believe me, thinking I am trying to unlock a phone so that I can use it on another carrier for my own purposes. A few WEEKS later, they finally have gotten the unlock code. I punch it in, it seems to work. I hang up and try to make a call with it. It doesn't work at all. I call again, and I think it didn't unlock correctly the first time. Then I see, that I have no bars! Nothing! I call them, telling them this; I don't mention how I got it or anything. They say that this phone was not meant to be used in the US and my carrier used the 850 band, a band that this phone does not have. I feel perplexed because my last phone didn't have the band either, but it worked fine. I go to my local Cingular Service center, they say that they use the 1800 and 1900 bands. The phone clearly has these. I call Sony Ericsson. They say the Internal Antenna must be damaged. It has to be sent into a Service Shop. I grudingly agree, after the email that I get reads 'A FULLY FUNCTIONING PHONE WILL BE RETURNED TO YOU WITHIN 8-10 BUSNIESS DAYS.' This time I package it with an enormus amount of bubble tape and send it with UPS. It, though, has a perfectly fine tracking number. They get it WITHIN THE WEEK. Yes, less than 3 days! They get it Friday, so says the tracking number....I call them, they tell me that "the repair is pending". Then I call them around the end of June, they tell me that they JUST GOT IT on the 27th! What the HELL? I sent it in at the beginning of June. I provide my tracking number, which baffles the guy on the other end. He says he will look into it. He then tells me that it might take 60-90 BUSINESS DAYS for them to get the phone done. Holy f*cking shite! Why wasn't I told this earlier? "Someone should've told you before you sent the phone in, sir." This is where I am now. I sent the first phone around early December of 2005. This is July 15th, 2006. I've been phone less for all those months. I'm really pissed and do not have the money to get a new one. There is a pool at home when I will ever the phone back. Currently 2/5 members of the house predict late 2007, one guy is at never, and one optimistic person who says late 2006. This is probably littered with more typos than trash that is on a New York Freeway. I still call once, every single day, to see what is happening. Same response....

Good luck to all with Customer Support issues.

~Ibrahim~

P.S. It is still unknown whether improper handling of shipping the phone or if Sony caused the damaged screen on the K700i.
July 15, 2006 8:26:35 PM

Ugh, sorry to hear about that man, that is probably one of the worst tech support stories I've heard...
July 15, 2006 9:49:07 PM

Thanks. It has been troubling, but I hope to get my phone back before the summer is over. It truly is an amazing phone...

On the topic of Dell, they have some of the best darned support I've ever seen. I think I have gotten over $200 worth of hardware from their Support department on my Dell Inspiron 2200: A motherboard, two CD-RW/DVD drives, three power cables. That is the large reason people sometimes defect to OEM's: Amazing warranties/Peace of Mind. I don't remeber how much the warranty was, but the total cost of the machine was like $400...And to boot, EVERYTHING was cross-shipped; something I want ALL companies to start doing.

I wish everything in life was that easy. My only nitpick on Dell is their choice of parts, but I don't want to go off topic.

~Ibrahim~
July 16, 2006 12:01:20 AM

Quote:

The main gripe I have with dealing with Dell is that sometimes I have to spend a fair amount of time on the telephone with some jackass explaining that I know I have a failed hard drive. Of course he'll want me to repeat everything I already did to identify the problem and it's a big waste of time for me. This all depends on what technician you get and whether he is cool or not.


I just reread this post, and thought I would address this rather than edit my other post.

This kind of attitude is exactly what makes me want to quote policy more than actually help. First rule of getting good service, is to treat those serving you with some level of respect. Coming at them from the beginning thinking what a "jackass" they are, will get you nowhere. Like anyone with a job, we have rules we have to follow. First rule of troubleshooting, is to actually troubleshoot. When you come at me telling me about your MCSE, CCNA, and 20 years of experience, all I hear is "blah blah blah, im superior"

My friends at work used to call me Mr. Policy. Treat me decent, and I will break my back to help. Treat me like your 15yr old kid, and I will quote policy until the cows come home.

Even better are the people who start cussing you out, cause they know they are right. Nothing irritates a self righteous, holier than thou moron more than killing them with kindness. The angrier you get, the happier I get.

A tip for you Unstable (a poetic name it seems). Maybe you should try Warranty Parts Direct when dealing with Dell. When you call them, they ask for what parts you want and immediately send them without troubleshooting. You should know though, if you happen to be wrong and need more parts, you will have to work with a tech to get more parts. At that point, try treating the tech on the phone like a human being, and you might find us more helpful.
July 16, 2006 12:11:55 AM

Quote:

The main gripe I have with dealing with Dell is that sometimes I have to spend a fair amount of time on the telephone with some jackass explaining that I know I have a failed hard drive. Of course he'll want me to repeat everything I already did to identify the problem and it's a big waste of time for me. This all depends on what technician you get and whether he is cool or not.


I just reread this post, and thought I would address this rather than edit my other post.

This kind of attitude is exactly what makes me want to quote policy more than actually help. First rule of getting good service, is to treat those serving you with some level of respect. Coming at them from the beginning thinking what a "jackass" they are, will get you nowhere. Like anyone with a job, we have rules we have to follow. First rule of troubleshooting, is to actually troubleshoot. When you come at me telling me about your MCSE, CCNA, and 20 years of experience, all I hear is "blah blah blah, im superior"

My friends at work used to call me Mr. Policy. Treat me decent, and I will break my back to help. Treat me like your 15yr old kid, and I will quote policy until the cows come home.

Even better are the people who start cussing you out, cause they know they are right. Nothing irritates a self righteous, holier than thou moron more than killing them with kindness. The angrier you get, the happier I get.

A tip for you Unstable (a poetic name it seems). Maybe you should try Warranty Parts Direct when dealing with Dell. When you call them, they ask for what parts you want and immediately send them without troubleshooting. You should know though, if you happen to be wrong and need more parts, you will have to work with a tech to get more parts. At that point, try treating the tech on the phone like a human being, and you might find us more helpful.

What's even more irritating is the fact that when people purchase something such as a Gold Contract through Dell and automatically assumes it entitles them 30 minute cross country dispatches with onsite OS installs + a free shoe shining
July 16, 2006 3:23:47 AM

I have had to RMA several HD's to dell before. Thankfully most of the time the process can be had in under an hour. I know they have to cover their bases, but thankfully I was able to process one request very quickly.

I had a failed hard drive, aka clicking. I was asked to give the error codes, and said I couldn't, said the drive wouldn't recognize. Then I simply held the phone up next to the drive and said, "that's what it sounds like". They said okay, we'll switch it out for you. I bet it took about 5 - 10 minutes tops. That was one of the best tech support calls I've ever had.
July 16, 2006 4:52:21 AM

Quote:
Well skorpius do you see what I mean?

I can't even entice these guys with a T7400 2.16 Core 2 Duo that isn't even released in the USA for another 2 months!

How many systems with flash RAM hard drives and secondary 100 gig 7,200 rpm hard drives do you think they have tested?

I mean, besides NONE! It isn't about actually testing products to give you an idea of what is the best... it's about advertsing dollars bro!



i know i will be talking to you soon about buying something like that.

wrong thread to ask so maybe another to be started say now, something like:

now that i have waited so freaking long to buy a next generation laptop (th)
July 16, 2006 6:31:44 PM

I hate it when they quote these absurd policies. I am usually a very polite guy on the phone, but when you start lying, watch out. If you look at my post, Sony Ericsson didn't tell me until AFTER I sent my phone in that it may take upto 60-90 days. I'm sure another person would've cursed the poor lady out hearing that news, but I just asked for a supervisor. They got it cleared up, a little, but still hid behind that someone should've told me and I heard those infamous words "there is nothing we can do about it."

I consider myself pretty technologically inclined, but even I get stumped by the guys at BellSouth.

I have a question for you Support Guys, if there are any here. How do you proceed when you get a call? Is there a step-by-step book? Can we get it? I've heard most companies say that "All of this information can be found on our website." Is that really true? Or is there some secret Knowledge Database that we consumers do not have access to?

I feel we ,somewhat technologically inclined people, sometimes feel superior to the guy on the other line, and on some occassions we might know a little more than them, but they are, after all, just trying to help.

I hate those people who are just dying to get you off the phone. They keep trying to get you to their website or trying to direct you to another manufactuer. Whenever I hear, "you will have to contact the manufacturer" I feel that they should at least do a damned conference call so that all three of us can discuss it and also so that we won't have to explain our entire problem again to the manufacturer...

~Ibrahim~
July 16, 2006 8:47:03 PM

Quote:
I hate it when they quote these absurd policies. I am usually a very polite guy on the phone, but when you start lying, watch out. If you look at my post, Sony Ericsson didn't tell me until AFTER I sent my phone in that it may take upto 60-90 days. I'm sure another person would've cursed the poor lady out hearing that news, but I just asked for a supervisor. They got it cleared up, a little, but still hid behind that someone should've told me and I heard those infamous words "there is nothing we can do about it."


That crap you went through with Sony wouldnt fly where I provided tech support. You did get screwed, and I am sure I wouldnt have been as patient as you if I were in your shoes.

Quote:
I consider myself pretty technologically inclined, but even I get stumped by the guys at BellSouth.

I have a question for you Support Guys, if there are any here. How do you proceed when you get a call? Is there a step-by-step book? Can we get it? I've heard most companies say that "All of this information can be found on our website." Is that really true? Or is there some secret Knowledge Database that we consumers do not have access to?


As for policy, you cant expect us to lose our jobs going against it. There is some latitude, but the policy is there for a reason. It is usually accessable on the website, there was no book. I have sent links many times showing someone their support policy based on the level of support they have.

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I feel we ,somewhat technologically inclined people, sometimes feel superior to the guy on the other line, and on some occassions we might know a little more than them, but they are, after all, just trying to help.

I hate those people who are just dying to get you off the phone. They keep trying to get you to their website or trying to direct you to another manufactuer. Whenever I hear, "you will have to contact the manufacturer" I feel that they should at least do a damned conference call so that all three of us can discuss it and also so that we won't have to explain our entire problem again to the manufacturer...

~Ibrahim~


There are good and bad tech support people. This is true with any industry. There are people I want to get off the phone, but I am usually pushed into that corner by them or their actions. You got caught in the middle of an ugly mess between the provider and manufacturer.

On the other side though, you would be surprised how many people will outright lie to you, to get free support/parts/service. Sometimes I catch them in the lie, sometimes not. When I do, its usually something they slipped up saying. It works both ways, you lie to me, and I will break out the 'Policy' book.

** Edit ** HTML corrections
July 16, 2006 10:49:01 PM

Yeah, I did have to scream into my pillow a few times, though. :D  I feel cheated that they didn't tell me earlier...I guess I just got to live with it. Not much I can do about it now. I have been debating about asking it back, but then what is the point of a phone that can't make calls?

Oh really? So it really is there on the website. I need to look harder, ;) 

So, if a customer pays more for support, they get better support from you? Is that like the the "Specialized Customer Care" that Dell gives for thier XPS line? I don't mean to be rude, just wondering....

Seriously? People actually outright lie? For free parts? That is cheap and low. If I was your company and they tried anything like that I would drop their support, for good...Cheap and pathetic...Exactly, you have every right to break out the Policy book, heck even more than that... You are right, it does work both ways.

I realize support is not free, but why do they just completely shut the door on you when you have exhausted your warranty? It is simply, "Your warranty has expired. I'm sorry, but I cannot help you. Good Bye." Why don't they just help, even a little? I don't expect any free parts or free service, but why not just some support? I never lie about when I purchase a product, but I'd still like some help.

~Ibrahim~
July 16, 2006 11:53:19 PM

Well let me tell you, after spending two years myself working for one help desk/call center or another, providing tech support for home internet users, just about every horror story you've heard about tech support is true. However, how many of you actually know why your tech support is so inadequate, aggravating, or rude?

Let me fill you in, my friends!

1. The hiring process is often a joke, and the apptitude/technical tests are often a formality because the vast majority of call center companies will hire anybody that can speak english, and some that can't if they speak another useful language (this is just for the call centers in north america mind you, never been to India).

2. Discipline is lax, so the call center "techs" can get away with a lot, and when a supervisor is called in on an issue, they almost always immediately side with the tech, regardless of what they're telling you over the phone. I can't count the number of times I had to get a supervisor and they would just brush off the customer.

3. 95% of the people that call in to a call center are either rude, mean, or idiots. Now you yourself may fall in the 5% that aren't any of those things, but the fact of the matter is, at 50+ calls a day, after 47 or 48 of the worst types of calls immaginable, when you finaly get through to the tech, he's got nothing left for the day and is just looking for the quick punt to get rid of you and inbetween calls is joking with other employees about shooting everyone that calls in.

4. In a call center, the people on the phone are put under enormous pressure to sell products to people, despite the fact that nobody working in the call center actually believes in the product. Example, turbos and e-mail filters offered by many dial up companies, and antivirus/firwall services offered by high speed companies. These programs are never developed by the people trying to sell them to you, and often quality controll is next to non-existant, leading to bulky, ineffective software that you end up paying an additional god knows what per month for.

5. Unless you're working for some very specific companies, the majority of call centers are contracted out, which means the person you're speaking to is lucky to break the $11/h barrier, and as we all know, crapy pay for crapy jobs makes people unhappy.

Because of the horrible horrible stress and anger that the vast majority of calls lead to, combine with lax discipline, you will inevitably get some of the most surley and/or unhelpful technicians ever when you call your call center for any kind of help, even if the issue at hand is genuinely not your fault.

Now, that being said about call centers in general, AOL is by far the worst call center service ever. I worked for Time Warners Road Runner internet call center, and we would constantly get AOL customers transfered to us by AOL technicians, who would tell their clients that "Road Runner had to solve the problem because they're also part of time warner and it is their job to do it", despite no such agreement between Road Runner and AOL. This always lead to angry customers that would shout at us for not doing our job, and the occasional employee shouting back to "Hang up, call AOL, and tell them to do their goddamn job!".
July 17, 2006 10:41:25 AM

Quote:

The main gripe I have with dealing with Dell is that sometimes I have to spend a fair amount of time on the telephone with some jackass explaining that I know I have a failed hard drive. Of course he'll want me to repeat everything I already did to identify the problem and it's a big waste of time for me. This all depends on what technician you get and whether he is cool or not.


I just reread this post, and thought I would address this rather than edit my other post.

This kind of attitude is exactly what makes me want to quote policy more than actually help. First rule of getting good service, is to treat those serving you with some level of respect. Coming at them from the beginning thinking what a "jackass" they are, will get you nowhere. Like anyone with a job, we have rules we have to follow. First rule of troubleshooting, is to actually troubleshoot. When you come at me telling me about your MCSE, CCNA, and 20 years of experience, all I hear is "blah blah blah, im superior"

My friends at work used to call me Mr. Policy. Treat me decent, and I will break my back to help. Treat me like your 15yr old kid, and I will quote policy until the cows come home.

Even better are the people who start cussing you out, cause they know they are right. Nothing irritates a self righteous, holier than thou moron more than killing them with kindness. The angrier you get, the happier I get.

A tip for you Unstable (a poetic name it seems). Maybe you should try Warranty Parts Direct when dealing with Dell. When you call them, they ask for what parts you want and immediately send them without troubleshooting. You should know though, if you happen to be wrong and need more parts, you will have to work with a tech to get more parts. At that point, try treating the tech on the phone like a human being, and you might find us more helpful.

How true, if you read on.

Okay, I'm a home user which plays around with my comp alot. I kinda consider myself an enthusiast. But even then, I call tech support once in awhile to fix some problems, and so far, I've got my own share of good and bad experiences. And I must be one of those rare people who get more good experiences than bad ones.

One of the best experiences were with HP. I bought their PSC1210 (cheapo all-in-one), and found that it doesn't seem to work. So I called up tech support, and being the nice guy I am, just worked with them till they decided that they'll send a replacement unit over.

Within 2 weeks I get the replacement unit. Which again, showed up with the same problems over again. It was a brand new unit, with a new serial (yes I check stuff like that). Again, tech support, here I come. Again, some sweet talk got me yet another unit.

Repeat above paragraph. Exept that now they sent me a brand new 2310 instead. Can't tell you how happy I am.

The best part about this was: after getting the new unit, I actually realised something. Probably the different way they packaged this unit or something, the instructions was right on top of the unit or something, I ended up reading the installation instructions. For the first time. Being an a$$, I never read the instructions and just took it out, plugged it in, and expected it to work. Apparently the instructions there included something (I can't remember what) that I had to do, and that rendered the earlier units inoperable. Either way, from this experience, my family has always been promoting HP, and have bought numerous printers off them. Probably enough to over their losses :p 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another good experience I had was with my broadband company: TPG. Again, a story of my inexperience. I was receiving alot of downtime, and actually cursing TPG for it. I got enough when one day I was down for 4 hours (note, I'm very impatient), I called up their tech support. I sat through them with their troubleshooting (stuff I have actually done before calling, but did it again for their sake). I was nice throughout the whole ordeal, and at the end, I mentioned that I have my internet connected to a network.

BAM! The guy immediately said that tech support will not support networks. I was about to scream at the guy, but decided I might as well get his help to get at least one computer connected. So we sat there and managed to get it connected in 5 mins. I thanked the guy, and as I was about to hang up, he gave me a 10 second solution to change the settings for a network. Works like a charm till today.

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Bottom line, be nice, and they might be nice. Unless of course you get someone who doesn't have a clue about how to fix your problem to start with. Which I've encountered my fair share of, but won't repeat, since there's enough of those around here....
July 17, 2006 2:18:37 PM

Quote:


This kind of attitude is exactly what makes me want to quote policy more than actually help. First rule of getting good service, is to treat those serving you with some level of respect. Coming at them from the beginning thinking what a "jackass" they are, will get you nowhere. Like anyone with a job, we have rules we have to follow. First rule of troubleshooting, is to actually troubleshoot. When you come at me telling me about your MCSE, CCNA, and 20 years of experience, all I hear is "blah blah blah, im superior"


I'm sorry about that, I actually thought I clarified with an earlier post saying:

Quote:

I want it to be known that I don't call up "Company_X" and start mouthing off my certifications and make outrageous demands. I'm a pretty easy-going and humble individual. When I pickup the phone to call technical support, it's the first step in me admitting that the current situation requires assistance...be it a new hard disk or someone telling me to upgrade the bios.

Calling up tech support, treating them like shit and trying to make them feel inferior by blasting them with professional certifications does absolutely nothing to remedy my problems...so I don't want you to get the wrong impression here. I respect the job that tech support folks do. In fact, I have many of the same responsibilities. I deal with my fair share of ignorant people on a daily basis. I hang up the phone after speaking with one of my end-users and I laugh at his or her foolishness.

When I call tech support I'd like to be able to speak tech-to-tech to cut through most of the bullshit. I don't think that's too much to ask.




To reiterate, I do NOT call up tech support and tell them how great I am. When I call tech support it falls into one of the following two categories:

A) I already have spent time troubleshooting the issue. I may have already even replaced the faulty parts (i.e. hard disk, video card) so I am reasonably confident that I know what needs done to fix the issue.

In an "A" scenario, I find it frustrating when a technician doesn't have any faith in me. He doesn't want to talk "tech-to-tech". He would much rather waste my time and HIS walking through troubleshooting screens.

In contrast, I often gets techs who are pretty cool, where I can say "I've done X, Y, Z and I need a new ____________". They'll usually agree and dispatch a part.

We recently had a bunch of GX270's with the faulty capacitors. One of the GX270's held on longer than the others and just the other day started throwing the thermal event. We popped open the case and checked the caps and they were leaking. We called this in and were able to get a replacement motherboard the next day.

Imagine having to deal with a technician who didn't want to take our word that the capacitors were leaking...we'd end up troubleshooting a thermal event...lots of wasted time.

In a "B" scenario, I have absolutely no clue what is happening and I'm taking one on one instruction from the technician. A good example of this is with our APC Symmetra 16KVA backup systems...I don't even pretend to act like any of my experience comes into play on those---so I just play the hands, eyes and ears of the technician on the phone.

In conclusion I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a technician to ADAPT to the customer. I understand they deal with all sorts of people with different experience levels. I feel that efficiency can be realized by working WITH someone who has experience rather than treating them like Joe Average who knows jack shit about computers.
July 17, 2006 3:53:04 PM

Happy to review K/N's notebook. Send me email K/N at barry@tgpublishing.com.
July 17, 2006 3:56:29 PM

I repeat K/N let's see the notebook. We'll review it. It sounds like a screamer, so let's get going here.

Barry
July 17, 2006 3:56:58 PM

Quote:
Quote:

In conclusion I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a technician to ADAPT to the customer. I understand they deal with all sorts of people with different experience levels. I feel that efficiency can be realized by working WITH someone who has experience rather than treating them like Joe Average who knows jack shit about computers.


I'm sure a lot of support techs wouldn't mind adapting to any customer. However, in my experience, it gets hard to adapt to someone who thinks they are right when the technician on the phone has certain steps to go through to make sure they are right.

As for your GX270 issue, yea I would expect the same thing, leaking capacitors, thermal event error, replace the system board. Seems obvious enough. I can't see anyone making you troubleshoot an issue such as that.
July 17, 2006 4:06:02 PM

You folks are great. Thanks so much for taking the time to write our your support experiences in detail. I've also gotten a lot of responses by email. You've provided me with enough great stuff for a book, but I'll just start publishing your stories on MobilityGuru as time permits.

DON'T STOP POSTING OR SENDING YOUR STORIES. THIS IS THE MOST FUN I'VE HAD SINCE DROPPING A TWINHEAD RUGGEDIZED NOTEBOOK FROM A HEIGHT OF 3 FEET TIME AND TIME AGAIN AND THEN POURING WATER ON IT. :twisted:
July 17, 2006 4:20:54 PM

AMEN brother.

That's what they say where I come from after you say a prayer.
July 17, 2006 4:53:22 PM

I have to get into this...

I feel that I've had the chance to be on both sides of the issue. While I don't have dozens of years of experence, I have spent a few on both sides of the issue.

I guess the biggest key that everyone needs to remember is that many of these horror stories from either side are the exception, not the norm. I worked for an outsourced solution for Qwest Wireless, and it was the worst job I've ever had. Almost every bad story told so far fits this job. I have also worked at MPC (formerly Micron Computers). This was the best phone tech job out there. The only techs they employ are located in the same large room. The interview process is through, and the three week training is great. They only employ people that are capable of already troubleshooting a PC. There is no time limit for calls, just resolve the issue on the first call. The average wait time is 3 minutes to talk to a person. Are there still some punters and givers, yes, but they're few, and the other techs don't like that at all. There is no script, it's just a methodical approach to troubleshooting. When people called in ranting that they wanted parts shipped to them, we pointed out that it's their repsonsibility to help troubleshoot. Most callers were great to work with. True, their products cost more, but you're paying for the support. For those wondering about what they buy with *Gold* support, all you get is a higher priority in the queue. You're doing the same troubleshooting with the same people. For the technical people that have done all the steps, all we ask is the information needed to document that the issues was troubleshooted to it's extent. We point out things that may have been missed. It's tough to have someone call: "I need a new HDD", "what seems to be the issue", "It won't work, and I've troubleshot it already, I know it's the HDD", "What was the error code", "it didn't give me one", "It always does, even when it's clean", "oh...<pause> it said bad sectors", "Bad sectors could be caused by a bad controller, cable, power, OS issues, or the HDD...Did you run the 0 fill?", "Why sould I have to? It's broke", "Is it found in BIOS?", "yes", "run the 0 fill, if it fails, we replace, if not, the HDD's fine. Perhaps another issue", "Blah, Blah, Blah..." As someone said before, companies get reports of how many returned items are truly faulty, and the stats are amazing! Some people's bonus are based on 'no defect found' rates. What's great is getting phone techs from MS, AOL, HP, etc. and have them trying to point the finger at us. It's great fun to prove a punter it's his issue with the customer on the line. Or to ask the MS tech who says it's a hardware issue to prove it. Then asking him what MS certs he has to back his guess up and have silence as you point out yours.

I'm glad I'm not on the phones anymore. It sucks when I have to call in (especially Dell, or some other BIG name place), but as long as the person on the other end understands that I'm not some grandma having trouble getting her 'hard drive' to show her email, then I'm a nice guy.
July 17, 2006 5:40:27 PM

You're right, these are more of the extremes, but they are much more fun to talk about. As the saying goes, "Bad news travels faster than good news."

I like a technical support person to not be some random bloke you found on the street, at least someone who knows something about a computer. I like th e idea of having all the tech's in one room. Is that the company's head quarters? Are the supervisors in the same building? It would make life so much easier.

Talking about grandmothers, every single time I call, they seem to think that I am a woman, and I have a slightly deep voice. I have no idea what causes it, and it isn't one company, even the pizza guy thinks I'm a girl...I love to hear the excuses "I'm sorry! We've been having trouble on our lines lately." "Oh, really?" 'Yes, I'm a guy' " Oh, I'm sorry about that. Yeah, can I puut you on hold?" I could already hear him telling his cubicle friends...Life.

~Ibrahim~
July 17, 2006 6:30:25 PM

Quote:
You're right, these are more of the extremes, but they are much more fun to talk about. As the saying goes, "Bad news travels faster than good news."

I like a technical support person to not be some random bloke you found on the street, at least someone who knows something about a computer. I like th e idea of having all the tech's in one room. Is that the company's head quarters? Are the supervisors in the same building? It would make life so much easier.

~Ibrahim~


It's all true. About a 3-4 years ago, they realized that outsourcing was a very PR-poor way of doing things and they brought it all in-house. I was in the same large building that they design, build, sell, and support the machines. They deal mostly government, but they do quite a bit of business with commercial. They have good solutions for SANs and stuff like that too. Too bad the company as a whole is struggling to keep up with the oversized Dell behemoth, and other companies that prize the bottom line far over the customer's happiness. I guess people just aren't willing to pay for quality service, they just want a cheap commodity.
July 17, 2006 6:38:47 PM

That's kinda cool that you worked for Micron, I live in Idaho and was excited when I got to walk through Micron's global HQ based in Boise, Idaho :) 

Is that where you worked from? I wasn't aware of that kind of support they had going there.

The only thing that I noticed was their internal Linux support which was awesome! Bunch of guys sitting in a see through office with posters, pictures, desktops of tux everywhere :) 
July 17, 2006 6:45:32 PM

Small Business's are hard to start off, but if you can get a hold of some market share, you can be huge. I hate small businesses that were amazing at the start, then dwindle away in support and product quality as they get larger. They become more like Dell and hurt the customer satisfaction overall. Dell has good support, but their choice of products is questionable.

That is exactly how I want it. Everything contained in the same building, not someone in Asia. No offense, but is much easier to have everything so organized. One great company that is a growing small business is Overdrive PC. I was traveling about and I had the good fortune of being able to visit their head quarters. It is a small building, and in this small building they make the fastest consumer computers. And I mean the fastest. The prices are not extremely excessive, but you don't pay $20,000 for a Lexus. They are the BMW + Benz + Lexus of computers. Of course the price is high, but the money is worth every penny. The guy who is your support person is the guy who built your computer; or there is a very good chance that is a few feet away. It makes the experience so much more personal. Look at their reviews: It makes them the fastest and the best OEM maker--bar none. They have some of the best support, everything is cross-shipped, and if they can't fully diagnose the problem over the phone or with new parts, they will literally build your system again at their HQ. Let me tell something, the turn around time is 30 Days. So building another one is monumental. They tweak the computer to no end, and gurantee it's speed and reliability. Enough about them, but they have the best support you could ever ask for.

~Ibrahim~
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