The Senior Macintosh Center – My Mac Magazine #44, Dec. ’98

Well, hello there! As you may recall, in the September article I went into a fitful, detailed commentary about the policies of several companies that offer Technical Support for their products. Whether hardware or software, it seems there is no quick solution to the problem of overpriced (yes, that is what I said) and sometimes useless (yes, I said that too!) information from the Technical Support staff at these places of business. To coin a phrase from one of my readers, “it’s like there is a feeding frenzy and we’re stuck in the water.”

To quickly review, for those of you who weren’t able to read that article, I have to contact the Technical Support Departments of different hardware and software companies on occasion to help my clients with their computer problems. My credit card is needed just about every single time I call these places and they want anywhere from $25.00 to $30.00 a whack! They term it “per incident.” I say they’re nuts! I asked for reader response and, sure enough, I got it. Mostly, I received horror stories from the readers about the way they were treated even after running their credit cards through. Some were made to feel like idiots because they didn’t change this setting or that preference (hey, guys, how are these people supposed to know that when it’s not in the sacred pages of your manuals!). One company (whose name shall not be mentioned here but they are a leading printer manufacturer whose initials are E-P-S-O-N) actually had one of my customers near tears because she didn’t understand what the Technical Support person was saying. She had just bought a brand new printer and was having problems setting it up to work with her iMac and she was made to feel like an absolute moron. No, I can tell you who the moron was!!

One of my readers listed an idea that I actually have seen. He suggested that there be an automatic response mechanism that will search through an email for keywords and phrases and then send a reply back with a list of “possible solutions” that relate to the original problem. If these solutions aren’t the answer, then it can be escalated to the next level and eventually get to someone with a pulse. Like I said, I have seen that before. This kind of policy would at least build goodwill throughout the customer base and most likely bring customers back when it comes time to purchase new products. Always look for good service after the sale!

Another reader agreed with me on my idea of the first 5 minutes FREE to get a brief description of the problem and maybe give an easy answer. It makes sense that there be a “front-line”, first-level person to answer the easy questions, not just give out access codes so you can take a number and wait your turn! Oh yes, and please have your credit card ready! Bah!

Okay, here’s my tip to you on what to do to get technical support. It’s not the best, but it has worked more often than not. Find out the email address for the Technical Support staff of the company you need to contact and… yes, send an email. Give them a day or two to respond. Usually, they send a confirmation that it was received (here’s where that list of “Possible Solutions” would come in handy). If you don’t hear from them within a week, send it again and this time follow up with a phone call to their Main Office. Always be nice and do your best to keep your temper (I know it’s hard to do at times) and you’ll be surprised at how much quicker you get a positive response. If that doesn’t work then… uh… go get your credit card. What a world!

I am, as always, Da Mac Man!

Catcha L8r, Eddie

PS: Everyone, Bob says ?Hi!?

Ed Tobey

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