I've had two recent experiences with so-called "customer support" from companies that seem to take the stance "If you can't dazzle them with your footwork, baffle 'em with bulls**t!" First was Verizon, my cable TV provider. One day, I tried to tune to channel 192 and got a screen saying "Channel unavailable, try again later". All other channels were fine, but the problem with channel 192 persisted for several days so I went on-line to "chat" (i.e., text message) with their "technical support". This person was obviously referring to a script and started suggesting some truly ridiculous things to try ... and finally concluded that my problem must be the splitter that distributes signals to both set-top-boxes in my home, even though the problem affected both. I'm an electronics engineer and I know this would be next to impossible, but he was ready to dispatch a truck to come replace my splitter. I told him that I thought this would be a waste of everyone's time. I kept asking if he could contact the folks at the head-end of my system (which is where I thought the problem must be), but he assured me that he had access to all that at his computer. I finally asked where he was located ... he said Mexico. In exasperation, I politely told him his advice was useless. Then I telephoned "tech support" and got a guy who spoke excellent English and didn't seem to be using a script. I described the problem as before and then he put me on hold for a couple of minutes while he "checked something". He then said "Try tuning to channel 1750", which I did and found the "lost" channel. He explained that "they" had moved the channel. I thanked him and asked if, next time I have an issue, I could contact him specifically. He said "unfortunately, no, that's not how things work here." Seems particularly ironic that Verizon is in the communications business, but can't take even the simplest steps to actually communicate with their customers ... via an message in the on-screen channel menu, or via an e-mail notice (they never miss a chance to communicate with me that way if they have some new "deal"). Another was with my on-line banking, which one day started "hanging" right after entering my username at log-in. I even waited 15 minutes for the password screen to appear. I knew they were "tinkering" with the interface to add "small-screen" (smart-phone) support, so I was suspicious of that. Believe it or not, their first piece of advice was to "use another browser!" which I did on a friend's computer ... with the same result. I asked "are you really thinking of not supporting Windows IE Explorer?" ... and she didn't know what to say. Subsequent advice included turning off anti-virus and firewall, which also made no difference. Then, two days later, I called again, and she said "try it now" ... it mysteriously worked. No admission that it was their fault, or apology. Are there no qualified folks in customer support these days or do the "bitheads" that create these problems work in a complete vacuum? I own a small company and I'd rather close my doors if my customer support ever got as bad as what I routinely experience from large companies! Oh, yes, I can't think of any good reason for the plastic "protectors" for AC plug blades ... corrosion, perhaps? But I'm not too surprised that many consumers wouldn't even notice that the "plug" doesn't look normal.
Good question. I partially removed the insulator from the blade so he could see how it was to be done, and included a Post-It Note that basically said, "Remember to remove the insulator from the contacts."
This reminds me of the time when I was working in consumer electronics sales/service at a TV/stereo shop in the small town I grew up in. We got a call from a customer who had just bought a portable TV. They were calling us asking how to plug the cord into the wall outlet. This particular model had a cord with a polarized plug (once very common, now not seen as often today). It seem she hadn't noticed that there was one hole in the outlet that was taller than the other, and kept trying to plug the cord in upside down. While this not something too surprising to have gotten from an older customer who may have never seen a polarized plug before (and I did get these kinds of calls), this person was the wife of the chair of the science department at our local high school!
Your story reminds me of a similar event with SANDISK, the memory card company. I had two 1 GB COMPACT FLASH crds which often failed in my digital cameras. Using Flash cards from other manufactureres NEVER produced in-camera error messages. Since the SANDISK cards were warranted, I called the "800", spoke to a representative in INDIA, who gave me the EXACT address & person's name in the U.S. to ship these defective cards to. And, so I did that. All was well, until a significant time elapsed & I never received the replacement cars. I called the SANDISK line again, re-told my story, nad I was promised that someone would "investigate" this request. We went back & forth for a couple of months until I got replacement cards AND a stern letter of caution from their legal dept. strongly suggesting that I was attempting something fraudulent in my claim. Unfortunately for me, I misplaced the original sheet of paper that I written down all the address info, etc. from the original phone call to India. I was tempted to write a letter to the Attorney General of the state of SANDISK's incorporation to initialize a slander suit against them for sending me this letter. It was their incompetency that led to this debacle in the first place, & I was mad as hell about it. Since then, I've told EVERY frend who owns a digital camera to avoid purchasing SANDISK memory products.
The level of ignorance that some people bring is really offensive. Making things far worse are all of those folks who assert that just because somebody knows absolutely nothing, that is no reason why they should not be able to use the product. Very recently I got a call from a person whose central air conditione was not producing cold air. About my third question was "is the outside unit running, is it making any noise or sound?" They had no concept that a central air system had a part of it outside someplace. They had lived in this house for several years, so they were not new residents. When I arrived for a service call I found that a fuse for the outside unit had failed, and it was not making any sound at all.
How little understanding of things in general do people have these days?
About scripts; I recently made a phone call to customer assistabce in hopes of getting some product information, but evidently the only english that the person could speak was the script that they kept returnng to. So I eventually gave up, understanding that there was no information available at that number. Even a computerized menue tree would have been no less helpful, and probably have wasted less of my time.
Critic; You noticed them, wondered why they were necessary, and then you probably removed them, tossed them in the trash, and used the device. If your boss had handed the device to you with instructions to return it, because it was obviously defective, how would you have explained it to him ?
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In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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