Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Do It Yourself Tech Support

I've read portions of 'The World Is Flat' and watched a videotape of a presentation by Thomas L. Friedman. So, I understand the realities of the globalization of our economy. But like many frustrated consumers, I'm just not convinced that outsourcing customer service or technical support to India actually works. As an update to the post that I wrote yesterday, I did manage to fix my parents' computer, no thanks to Dell's technical support service.

When I logged onto the Dell Customer Service and Support Site, it said 'Chat With Us. Help is at hand.' So, I dutifully entered my service tag number and a brief description of my problem. I was then connected to an individual in India. After half an hour of back and forth questions and responses, I was still nowhere close to understanding how to fix the problem. Instead, the rep sent me a bunch of links to another software vendor's website, none of which really made sense. So, I gave up and logged off. At least he confirmed what I already suspected. The fan was whirring, so it probably wasn't a hardware problem.

A few hours later, I logged onto the Dell site again, hoping against hope that maybe a different rep would be more knowledgable and helpful. No such luck. Even though I gave him the case number from the earlier chat session, he kept asking me additional questions that weren't really relevant to the problem at hand. I kept trying to get him to just point me to a document that would walk me through the process of restoring Windows XP from Safe Mode because I knew that's all I really needed to do. And he, in response, kept asking me for 3 more minutes so he could 'research the issue'. Umm, okay. After half an hour, I again gave up and told him that I would contact him later.

Out of sheer desperation, I finally went to the Microsoft website and did a quick search using the key terms 'restore Windows XP'. And low and behold, what should appear before my eyes but a link to a document entitled 'How to start the System Restore tool at a command prompt in Windows XP'. Okay, now why couldn't the Dell tech support guy in India figure that out? Probably because he doesn't own a personal computer.

Armed with that document, I was able to use the System Restore tool to fix my parents' computer. So, all's well that ends well. But it left me with a less than positive feeling about Dell. What I find sad is the level of (non)support that we've grown accustomed to. Here's hoping that more companies will follow Amazon's lead and customer service call centers back to the U.S.

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