Why don’t vendors support their products?

by Maskil on October 26, 2008

In my previous post, I complained about the DataViz Word To Go application not supporting the standard Windows key combinations (when using a Palm Tungsten E and Palm Wireless Keyboard).

As it turned out, the solution was blindingly simple (although not blindingly obvious). Just a matter of disabling the Active Text Field feature in Word To Go by unchecking one box.

To get to that answer, however, I had to scour multiple vendor support sites, go through one the most appalling online registration processes I have ever encountered, then create a message thread and continually update it. It took three weeks to get an answer, and that only because one of the forum’s moderators responded to my criticism of the DataViz support site.

All this in order to fix a problem that an experienced, knowledgeable support desk person could have resolved in under 5 minutes.

What I’m getting to is that, in a nutshell, vendors are simply not supporting the products they sell to us. In the case of DataViz, it’s the knowledgebase or nothing. In the case of Palm, the knowledgebase or the community help forum.

The community or peer support model is sort of OK for free stuff, e.g. just about anything from Google. In this case, however, I paid good money for the product, yet the company that manufactured it expects other customers (often as clueless as I am) to answer my support questions for me. I have a problem with this. If you’re prepared to accept my money for a complex technical product, the least you could do is pay some skilled people to help me when I get stuck!

(As an aside, one of the biggest problems on any community or peer support forum or group is the “serial poster”. These guys appear to have nothing better to do than hang around the forums all day, posting the same (usually irrelevant or unhelpful) responses to any message. Post details of a complicated or obscure issue, and someone is sure to respond with “have you tried reformatting/restarting/clearing the cache?” or something along those lines. Those who might actually have something to contribute will see that the thread has been replied to, and won’t bother going into it any further. There should be a way to rate these responses, and anyone consistently posting unhelpful responses should be disqualified.)

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