December 28th, 2006

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

What's "customer service"?...

Okay, here's the thing. Back in OCTOBER (it's nearly January, how many months is this?) I took out my camera for a spin, with a brand new out-of-the-box 2-gig Lexar Pro memory card in it.

The camera rebelled. It gave me errors left right and centre, it would take a picture, occasionally, but even those it deigned to take would not be saved to the card - the camera would "See" the image and then it would go off into the ether somehwere.

Terrified that my camera was at fault, I took it to a camera shop. The guy behind the counter thought it might have been the camera, too, initially - but then took a closer look and it was discovered that the culprit was the memory card. With a new card, the camera functioned just fine, thank you very much indeed.

So I came home, much relieved, and basically shot off an email to Lexar about how disappoitned I was in their product. I got a response, to the effect of, "we will replace it, of course".

Today I get an email that the original service issue number has been "closed". Go to the website and find such and such a thing and figure out what the matter was. Please note, this is an email from one of those "do-not-reply-to-this" addresses. So I wander off to the website, look around, realise that it's a log-in thing, I no longer have a user ID that I can remember if I ever had one in the first place... so I see there's an option of live chat and I click on that.

I get an Indian guy whose grasp of English grammar, at least in written form, is shaky.

I learn that my original service request has "Been expired" and has therefore been closed - without any resolution whatsoever. I said to the guy, "I BEG your pardon?" He said, we will create a new service issue ID. GO to the website and update your address. I said that the address THEY ALREADY HAVE has not changed. I give him said address. No, he says, you will get a new email and you must go there and update it yourself. UPDATE WHAT??? there is nothign to update, the address is freaking well the same! But he was a broken record on the matter so I close the chat box and went back to email. Sure enough there it was, the new service issue email. I had raised the user ID login thing and he said there would login instructions in the email - there sure are - "go to *this website* and log in". No user ID, no password details.

Gnashing my teeth I go back and try a few generic passwords I use for things like this. I finally hit one that works. Guess what? The address doesn't need to be updated. I wander around the place a bit, find nothing I can do to update anything at all (but do discover that my original issue was logged in OCTOBER !!!) and return to my email - where I have just fired off a missive to Lexar support which is fairly smoking with fury. Their original email said they would respond "within 24-48 hours" - instead, three months later, they close the entire issue without liftign a thumb, and then tell me to waste MORE time going into their website and updating things that require no updating. If their original response to my original problem had been to shrug their shoulders and say, "sorry for your trouble, ma'am, but there is nothing we can do" I would have been annoyed but I would have just DROPPED it. Right now, I'm more than annoyed. I'm furious.

Their options were to replace the faulty card, once they promised that they would do that, or to simply blow me off and tell me that their customer service department is now closed and the mausoleum doors have been permanently locked with a rusty chain and a padlock for which there is no key. Instead, they made me waste my time. The first time, because they allowed a simple problem to simply lapse without stirring their tushies about anything, and now for the second time because I had to spend entirely too much time and nervous energy on this.

Note to companies providing goods and services relating to actual human beings - put the "customer" and "service" back into your company. You might think that farming off your problems to India makes for a bigger profit - but profit depends on people continuing to buy your products and services. I'm not being a snob here - but when there's enough of a language barrier between your customer and your technical representative or customer service person, i.e. when an accent proves to be insurmountable, especially over the phone, or if the company rep's iffy grasp of English grammar makes the customer unsure as to whether their actual problem has been grasped and understood in the first place - well, there comes a point of diminishing profit returns. Why bother buying from a company who only treats its customers as something money can be squeezed out of? If you don't stand behind your products or your services - and many of today's (especially electronics) companies appear not to care about doing so - you WILL lose customers, and therefore profits, and no amount of Indian cheap labour will compensate for it.

Feh. Cross and frustrated. Off to get a cup of calming coffee now.
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Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

I have a funky printer...

I'm used to toner, you know, gradually DYING on me. Things getting fainter and fainter and then you finally cave and change the cartridge and all goes on smoothly like that.

This afternoon my printer, in the midst of a print job stopped. Stopped DEAD. And presented me with the message "TONER LIFE END".

And would not move again, holding the rest of my printout hostage, until I had replaced the toner cartridge.

It's a fine thing when your hardware holds you to ransom.