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LinuxPlanet: Editor's Note: The Customer's Always Wronged

Jul 31, 2001, 06:23 (52 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

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 target."

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