Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.net.
Last week I posted an article detailing my experience calling Microsoft customer support in order to activate my copy of Windows XP Home.
Besides the usual anti-Microsoft comments, the pro-Mac and Linux comments and comments from people who've had similar experiences, there were a couple of folks who took me to task for even bothering.
Their reasoning went like this: there are workarounds and hacks to activation - why should we bother wasting any time if a problem arises? If it doesn't work right away, hack it.
And, I gotta say, it's tempting. Any technology that gets in the way of otherwise legal and legitimate users is bound to push some of them over into more legally questionable approaches. Any form of obtrusive DRM can have that effect.
But this wasn't my goal. Left to my own, I probably would have "just made it work". I certainly have the technical expertise to either know, or know how to find the non-obvious fixes and work-arounds, legal or otherwise, that would've allowed me to solve my problem.
But I'm not normal.
And that was my goal in calling customer support - to take the road that the majority of non-technical, "normal" people would have to take in that situation - to take the road that I so often advise.
And in this case the results were extremely disappointing.
Yes, some, though not all, of the customer service representatives were clearly located in India. I don't consider that a problem in and of itself. I've had excellent customer service through other companies where it was clear the individual I was speaking to was on the other side of the planet. What matters is: can they get the job done? Can they resolve my issue? The answer here was clearly no. I did have trouble understanding them at times, and clearly they had no clue as to what was wrong in my situation.
And that's bad no mater where they were located.
So what do normal people do?
Yes, yes, some might leave the platform, moving to Mac or Linux I suppose, but while activation might be considered uniquely Microsoft (even though it's not), shaky customer support isn't just a Microsoft problem, it's an industry problem, and no platform is immune.
So what, normal people just hope for the best? Have techie friends. Learn enough to use Google to find any of the hundreds of support sites like Ask Leo! and know enough to interpret what they find?
What do you think? What would you advise the "average" non-technical computer user to do in the face of situations like the one I've described?
I'm not sure.
I'd love to hear what you think. Visit askleo.net and enter 12297 in the go to article number box to access the show notes, the transcript and to leave me a comment. While you're there, browse the hundreds of technical questions and answers on the site.
Till next time, I'm Leo Notenboom, for askleo.net.
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