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  • dtoub 6:50 pm on Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 6:50 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: customer service, tech support   

    ever have one of those days… 

    …when you solve your own tech support issue while the IT professional still is trying to figure out what the issue is?

    That’s what happened to me today, and it’s not the first time. Usually it’s a function of how little the IT support person knows about OS X. But in this case, it had nothing really to do with the OS but with browsers in general. I was surprised yesterday to find that upon going to the URL of an ob/gyn journal, I got an error message in Safari indicating that the page would not load. I restarted Safari-same thing. Emptied the cache-no change. I assumed the site was just down, but if I went there via Firefox or the Safari browser on my iPhone, there was no problem.

    I contacted the site’s support team and they were stumped. I indicated that I was running OS 10.6.2 which led to the question “are you using a Macintosh computer?” So I figured that OS X wasn’t necessarily their forte. They thought it might have something to do with an old version of Flash, but I’m running the latest version and besides, if it were a plugin issue, it would also have produced the same behavior in any other browser on my laptop.

    So I had a hunch and deleted all cookies relating to the site in question. That did the trick, and I let the tech support person know what the issue was. Case closed. But this must be the tenth time or more in recent memory where I had to solve my own problem. And as previously, I had the same feeling that had I not figured it out myself, the problem would not have been solved. That happened to me around 2000-there was some network issue at work that resulted in OUtlook 2000 for the Mac no longer working. The IT person was not happy to have been dealing with a Mac issue, and basically I was on my own. After a few days I figured it out and life went on just fine. But had I not persisted and arrived at the solution, no one was going to bail me out. So I’ve always had to be self-sufficient as regards the Mac. Still, it is a shame that the user frequently has to solve the problem.

    Just the other day, Debbie and I noticed that many Web pages would require a refresh to load at all, and some downloads of as little as 100 MB would stall. This was happening on two different computers running either 10.5 or 10.6, and even emptying the DNS cache or using an OpenDNS server wouldn’t resolve the issue. Multiple calls to Verizon tech support failed to solve the issue, since our bandwidth appeared to be just fine. Finally I got someone who told me to restart the DSL modem, something that should have occurred to me, but definitely should have occurred to someone during the 4-5 calls to tech support I had made.

    So it’s nice when tech support can come through. But it’s a challenge. And to be fair, they have a tough job. I don’t envy these folks. But many times tech support people seem to be reciting from a script when they should be listening to the user and formulating possible solutions on the fly. The last person I spoke with at Verizon did just that. Unfortunately, this happens too infrequently.

    • Richard Friedman 9:23 pm on Monday, November 30, 2009, 9:23 pm Permalink

      At least they didn’t ask if your computer was plugged in.

      I had a recent experience with the Kodak Gallery website .. I updated some images and was ordering 11×14 prints, but every time I clicked on 11×14, the image changed to sepia, and it looked as if no matter what I did, the website wanted me to order sepia prints. I tried chatting with their support folks (the only way to get thru was by live chat) and they didn’t quite understand what I was saying. So I gave up and used the new screencast feature in Quicktime to record all the steps that demonstrated how the site jumps to sepia when I order 11×14. I also discovered that if I completed the order form in a different but non-intuitive ordering of steps (like set size first, then the other options) it worked ok. Then I emailed them the .mov file from Quicktime. In a few days I got a reply that I had indeed discovered a bug and they sent me a special discount code to apply to my next order. As they say, a picture (or .mov) is worth a thousand words.

    • Jenn 12:07 pm on Sunday, December 13, 2009, 12:07 pm Permalink

      This happens all the time at {MY_COMPANY?}. The most recent issue was Excel consuming all of my computer’s processor speed whenever I attempted to run even the simplest formula on a medium-sized dataset. Their solution was to reinstall Office and run a repair on Excel. They also ran the RegClean after I told them that a free, CNET-recommended, MS Partner-certified program found 903 errors. Still didn’t work. This back and forth went on for about 3 weeks. On Thursday of last week, I was playing around in the advanced options of Excel (2007) and noticed that the default option for formulas is to use 2 processors. TWO! I changed it to manual and selected 1 processor, unchecked some of the other unnecessary things (like those stupid font tool boxes that show up if you hover too long in one spot). This was at the end of the day, so I found out Friday morning that I had found the magic solution. I may not hate Excel anymore, for it runs quite a bit more smoothly now.

      Of course, I then made sure to send a friendly “hey guess what I found?!” email to tech support and the unfortunately unhelpful folks in infrastructure in case someone else complains of a similar issue.

      (Btw, I found your blog via Kel. He posted a link to your tale about your incident–about which I am very sorry that happened to you–and then I saw you had a tag for “information technology” and kept reading.)

    • dtoub 2:52 pm on Sunday, December 13, 2009, 2:52 pm Permalink

      Thanks for your concern. Kel’s an awesome friend and human being. We’re both lucky to know him.

  • dtoub 3:15 pm on Tuesday, September 16, 2008, 3:15 pm Permalink | Reply
    Tags: customer service   

    great service 

    It’s common for all of us to complain about terrible customer service, and indeed, bad service is all too common. But I had two experiences lately that remind me that good service is still alive, at least somewhere.

    First, Kensington. I’ve been a long-time user of their laptop saddle bag cases, dating back to 1997 or thereabouts. They have a lifetime warranty, and when after many years, the strap on my first saddle bag broke from wear and tear, they shipped out a replacement at no charge and didn’t even want the old one back. That replacement is still in great shape, and I’d continue to use it except that it wasn’t designed to fit a 15.4” MacBook Pro. So I had bought a new one that did fit newer laptops, and aside from some minor differences in storage (the new model doesn’t come with internal dividers and the outside sleeve is much smaller), it was perfect. That is, for about a month or two. I then noticed that a grommet where the handle contacts the top of the laptop bag cafe loose in part, and that part had some sharp teeth exposed. Carrying it between Wyncote and assorted destinations for work (I just reached Platinum status on US Airways this week, so I know I’m flying a lot) was pretty uncomfortable since the grommet kept digging into my skin. So I called Kensington and they replaced it for free. Unfortunately, as soon as I lifted the new saddle bag up with my laptop in it, the same thing happened with one of the grommets, but I let it go and kept traveling. This time, the grommet actually cut a nice gash in my right elbow, so I knew this was an untenable situation. I snapped a photo of my arm and the defective area on the saddle bag and sent them to Kensington’s customer support department over the Web. I then called their support line, mainly to ask them to notify their developers, since this was clearly a defective product and not a fluke. They were very nice, and promised to tell their developers of the defect. I also got sent as a replacement, a backpack laptop case that, while it is different from what I’d been using for many years, is very comfortable and fits everything I schlep with me. While I wish their saddlebag wasn’t defective, since the previous model was a real winner, I’m glad that their customer support team realizes that they’re there to help their customers. I give Kensington a ton of credit for this, and will continue to rave about their products.

    Next, I can’t say enough about Arpeggio Restaurant in Spring House, PA. We’ve been going there for many, many years back when we lived a lot closer in the Montgomery, PA area. Now that we live in Wyncote, we don’t get there that much, but we had a hankering for great Middle Eastern food over the weekend and couldn’t find anything we wanted in the Wyncote area (our favorite Lebanese food place closed recently, unfortunately), so I drove up to Spring House and placed our order. I got it and took it home, a 20-minute drive away, only to find that they didn’t include the pizza for our son. I called them, and without any prompting from me, offered to drive it down to us in Wyncote. Even better, the person who was our delivery person was one of the two owners (I recognized her photo from a news article on the wall of the restaurant), and not only was she apologetic, she brought homemade brownies in addition to the pizza. She remarked that we live quite a ways away from Arpeggio, and I told her the truth, that her food is well worth the drive. I’m sure that made her evening. And the food and brownies made ours. The fact that one of the owners went so far out of her way to please a customer is something I rarely find this day in any industry, and while it must have been very inconvenient, she’s made a customer for life.

    Now if only other businesses understood customer service…

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