What happened to tech support?

For the sake of keeping my job i will leave out manufacturer & product names.

I am out at a project where 2 products (that we are dealers for) are installed. One of the products was installed by someone else, i found a problem that wasn’t my responsibility but since our systems are integrated i decided to resolve it while on site. I call up tech support and explain my situation very clearly, i get transferred to someone who can help. As my boss begins to explain the situation to the tech he is cut off mid sentence with “thats a physical issue i cant help you with that”. Then my boss says “let me finish my sentence and you will see that it is not a physical issue”.

After the tech shuts up and listens his first troubleshooting tip is to climb into the attic with a multimeter to check for power, even after we explain that the product is functioning normally. (I would love to get a hold of the guy who decided to mount the interface product in the attic.. but that’s another story :). Anyhow.. at this point my boss hangs up on the guy because he realizes we have ourselves another card reading moron. The problem was that the product could not be controlled via the keypad but it functioned manually so we knew that the hardware was OK. It was obviously a setting or communications issue. As i said before we are dealers for the product but i don’t have much experience dealing with the specific product. There was a flashing red light. I assumed we could tell the tech about the flashing red light and get a simple answer but no.. he first wanted me to crawl into the attic with a multimeter.My boss calls up the company that installed the product. 2 minutes later the problem is resolved. No insulation, no drywall dust, no spiders or their webs. I was able to resolve the issue with a paper clip and a step ladder.

While at the same job i had a user interface lock up during a firmware upgrade attempt. Tech growls at me for trying to update firmware wirelessly. Tells me how i should “NEVER EVER DO THAT”. Ok.. so if i should never ever do it.. why is it possible to do it that way? How come i was able to load the other 3 that way? Oh and the other 3 or 4 hundred i have installed over the last 2 years? I sure wish they would include a cheat sheet of REAL instructions with each product so i know what i should NEVER EVER do. After tech growls at me he asks me how i want the item shipped back and stars giving me an RMA number.

I had stopped trying to force the firmware for fear of screwing up the interface but now that it has to go in for service anyway i figured more trying couldn’t hurt. About 10 minutes later i have the panel working again. I still wasn’t able to get the firmware to load but at least its working and i have time to get a loaner for the client. So now the conversation is “it needs to go in for service but its working for now” instead of “remember the upgrade i told you about? the one that would solve the minor issues you are having? looks like it made things worse and now you have to spend a week without it”.

So.. what the hell has happened to tech support? It’s hit or miss with them these days. You either get a guy who knows what hes doing or a complete total moron. I understand that idiots can sometimes slip thru the cracks and end up in jobs that cant do but i would say i get an idiot on the phone 50% of the time now. There new troubleshooting tool is called “RMA number”. I guess its perfectly reasonable for my client to not be able to use the system in his master bedroom for a week or more… or maybe its perfectly reasonable that we eat the cost of loaner hardware for everyone. At some point people are going to start including company names and specific details in their blog rants.

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