Michael Hall revisits the state of technical and customer
support one last time, recounting his struggle with the DSL people
and some reader responses to his mandatory Linux removal. The bad
news: tech support is universally bad regardless of what OS you're
running. The good news: there's a quiet Linux underground in the
support pits you might stumble across if you're lucky:
"My most recent tribulations involved my Dell Inspiron
laptop and the forced removal of Linux as part of what should have
been a routine hardware troubleshoot. Once again, people wrote back
either commisserating with the pain of being treated like second
class computer citizens or, more interestingly, general reports
that it doesn't matter what you're running. One reader confided
that he had a Dell laptop with hardware problems and a non-factory
Windows 2000 install. It didn't matter that his OS was at least a
cousin to WinME: off it had to come before the call could progress.
Another reader noted (from personal experience working at one) that
many support outfits are contracted by the companies they claim to
be part of over the phone, and the workers there are likely less
familiar with the product they're "supporting" than even the least
proficient user. They have scripts and flowcharts, and any
deviation from those can spell disaster. They're also under
horrible pressure to move calls along as quickly as possible, since
they're paid by the call: the quicker you're off the phone, the
faster they can get to the next little bundle of money from the
company they're contracted to.
Readers also pointed out that demanding escalation is always
good if a given support person isn't being very supportive, which
is a trick I've since tried to reasonable effect. In some cases,
there's someone on the line in short order, in others they promise
a return call in a "few days."
So I had a chance to approach the support issue once more this
past week with the installation of DSL in a new home. I'm now
convinced that it will take a supreme act of will to keep from
braying like a donkey if someone ever says "broadband revolution"
with a straight face in my presence. It's still a bit away. I've
also come to realize that another group of readers who've written
over the past few weeks are right: customer service and tech
support are universally terrible no matter what, and it's a
disservice to imply to readers that my use of Linux made me a
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