Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tech Support - WHAT Tech Support?

Whenever I call or email tech support, I'm really nice.  It's because I know they have a terrible job and I've been there myself.  Although I no longer do helpdesk work, I do work closely with them during my hours of toiling.

In the past two weeks, I have had two horrible experiences with tech support.  At this point one issue has been resolved and I have only recently stopped scraping pieces of my cranium off the ceiling long enough to type this out for my friends in hilarity..... Suffice it to say, if my department at work performed this way, we'd all be out looking for jobs.

Apparently this is not the case everywhere.

The Case of the Bad Display

I recently got an HP Elitebook laptop at work.  It is roughly the weight of a medium size car and has a seventeen inch display.  It is manly and magnificent.  We have purchased rather a lot of HP laptops and desktops at work as a result of transitioning from Dell Hell.  Sadly, one day I turned the laptop on and got only a gray display.

HP phone support was very helpful.  We diagnosed a bad display and they said a tech would be in touch to schedule a time to come out and fix it.

A week later, I called HP, wondering where my personal tech was.   They told me there was an issue with getting the parts and he would be calling tomorrow.

Another few days later, I called HP again.  The rep read the log and asked me what he could help me with.  Well, if he read the log, he'd realize no one had called or come out to fix my laptop's errant display.  I politely let him know there was no movement from last time.  He said to excuse him for a moment.

Did you ever wonder where tech support goes when they ask you to hold on?  Do they switch displays and continue watching whatever kind of porn tech support enjoys?  Are they writing a few additional chapters of their autobiography?  Pee-pee break?  I sure as hell don't know.

Tech Support Guy comes back and informs me that Repair Guy called last Friday.

No he didn't.  The phone didn't ring all day Friday and no one left me voicemail.

In any case, Tech Support Guy was going to phone Repair Guy personally and have him get back to me within thirty minutes.  That was kinda nice, actually.

Shortly thereafter, Repair Guy calls and says he's an hour out and would be happy to drop by to fix the problem.

More surprisingly, Repair Guy made it within the alloted time and found the building.  I work in the Twilight Zone, which is supposed to appear on Google Maps but doesn't really.  To find our building, you have to possess at least a few working brain cells, which rules out most of the people who try.

Repair Guy was very competent, personal and professional.   I have to admit that I hate working on laptops.. too many tiny parts that tend to become airborne and land in the carpet, where they rest in peace forever.  This guy tore the entire laptop down in no time, screwed in the new display and powered up the laptop.

Have you ever seen a broken laptop display?  It looks a little like fractals on acid.  I hesitated to point this out because we were apparently looking at a display that was broken right out of the box.  As it turned out, I didn't have to say anything because Repair Guy said it for me.

My company purchases a warranty for next day service because we can't have machines down.  Here we are, a week and a half out, and I still don't have a functional laptop display.  I hate to say this but we didn't have this problem with Dell (we had lots of other problems).

Repair Guy apologizes profusely and says he'll get another display overnighted.  Of course, overnighted refers only to shipping, not whether the warehouse has the part in stock.  So he might be back the following day and he might not.

Two days later, Repair Guy returns, pops in the new display and all is well in the world.  Total time: two weeks.

I'm loving the service, HP.
My coworkers inform me that you have honored your promises on every other repair.  Although I'm not surprised the glitch affects only my computer, I'm still saddened by it.

The Case of the Errant Security Cameras

Work purchased an eight channel security camera system with DVR to keep watch over the place.  The reviews on Amazon were very favorable and I felt comfortable going forth.

In spite of not knowing a thing about security cameras or DVRs, the system went up without a hitch.  And when I say without a hitch, I mean eight hours of hurling wires above a drop ceiling and falling off ladders.

Once everything got plugged in, it worked perfectly.
And when I say perfectly, I mean that all eight cameras worked and I got the whole thing configured, mostly without consulting the manual.  It was a minor shock to all present.

One of the neatest features of the system is that you can plug it into your network and monitor the cameras remotely, like on your phone.  Everyone was excited.

And when I say everyone was excited, I mean right up until I tried plugging the thing into the network. I gave it an IP address (like a house address for the network) and it completely failed to show up on the network.  I gave it a different IP address, which also failed to show up on the network.   I even tried giving it a third IP address and screaming, all for naught.  It's funny - screaming is a necessary technique employed by anyone who has ever worked on computers (or possibly cars).

After mucking about with this device way too long, I decided to email tech support.  I received an email response in record time, uplifting my spirits.  When I say my spirits were uplifted, I mean right up until reading the email, which was the equivalent of a long wait on the phone: "We're sorry but we're really busy.  Your email is very important to us.  Because of higher than normal email volumes, we will answer this email within one to five days.  You are cordially invited to hold your breath until then.  Remember, your email is very important to us."

One solid week later without a response to my very important email made me weary, in a very large and existential way.

Things were getting grim so I had to bite the bullet and get on Support Chat with them.  The cute little box informed me that I would have to wait up to three minutes.  Two minutes.  Then one minute or less.  Funny how time flies when you're waiting for someone to answer.  It was like watching a Microsoft Copy Dialog Box, which tells you that you have four seconds to go but it really means forty minutes.

Eight minutes later, Support Chat Guy hops on chat.  I explain the issue to him.  He tells me I need to plug the device into a router.  I am working on a huge business network with hundreds of computers and he wants me to plug the DVR into the business router, as if I were a home user.

I shook my head and explained to Support Chat Guy that this was a business and there was no way to plug the DVR into the router.  He said we might not be able to get the unit working then.


I told the fellow that I gave the box an IP address and it's not coming up on the network.  He spends thirty chat minutes (175 minutes in dog chat) trying to get me to plug the DVR into the router.  I keep telling him the router is not a concern if the device isn't showing up.


As I mentioned, I don't want to be rude but I do want my problem solved expeditiously, which isn't going to happen if this guy can't think outside of the box of Home User.  It is apparent that he does not understand networking and I don't wish to spend the time to school him.  I suggest the next level of support and he suggests I call on the phone.


So I call on the phone.  The noise in the background sounds worse than the noise in the background of my workplace, which has been described as `slightly louder than a soccer riot'.  Phone Support Guy reads over my case and immediately asks me to plug the DVR into my router.

This is like deja vu all over again.

I try explaining networking to this nice person, who apparently realizes that he is over his head much faster than his colleague.  He suggests having a higher level support tech call me back.  Unfortunately due to the time difference (I didn't ask but I'm guessing Estonia, Moldavia, or Eastern Bumfuct - the English side) they can only reach me between three and four o'clock so it might not be today.

Two days later there is a voicemail from the camera company, stating that he has tried to reach me two times.



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