technical support

Recently I had to contact several different companies to assist with resolving problems for a client. Dealing with technical support is not new for me but I thought it was interesting the different levels of proficiency each company presented. I will briefly share my impressions with several of the support personnel, in no particular order. All of the interactions took place over the phone, and all were regarding email.

Time Warner Cable, aka Spectrum
First off, calling for someone else is no straight forward task. Their phone system is rather demanding in having you provide a valid phone number associated with your account. The only way I was able to bypass this was to speak the term operator at various points, even though that was not given as an option by their menu system. Once I was in the correct technical support department it was evident I was speaking with a non English speaking person, or rather, English was not their main language. The person on the line was easier to understand than most foreign support personnel, but still a little difficult at times. The answers provided by her were, however, not very helpful and even incorrect at times.

The problem with Spectrum emails is their servers are rather slow, and their interface provides no indication of feedback at times once a selection is made. I tried to convey this to their representative, but she clearly did not understand. At one point I asked if she could just perform the work on her end as it would be faster, to which she replied that she would have to reset the password in order to do so. I refused the password reset only to find out later that they reset the password on me anyway, without doing the work I asked in the first place as well.

Their phone system was easier to work with than most, although the option I needed was under a sub-menu that was not apparent. I only got were I needed to go by my knowledge of the subject and process of how systems work. The representative was an actual employee of the company and talked clear English. He answered my question in under a minute and even offered to assist with another project I mentioned. It’s too bad that other companies don’t work this way – having in-house support that you can speak with. I was off the phone in under five minutes!

This is something I never thought possible without a large corporate account, actually speaking with Microsoft support. The support line for them was found by answering questions on a website. Even though all questions were answered accurately I was told by the representative that it was the wrong department, but the representative didn’t figure this out until several minutes into the conversation. Once I was connected to the correct department the person that answered did seem to be a native English speaking person, however, the answer she provided was the same solution I found online, a solution that did not work. She then stated she would transfer me to another higher level technician. The transfer never took place however. She did come back on the line several times stating she was still trying, but it took so long that I actually found a solution on my own while waiting on the line. She also didn’t seem to want to let me go, and eventually I had to flat out be rude and hang up on her.

Just like Microsoft, I never thought it possible to speak with someone at Google. Their representative was also a native speaker of English. The representative answered my questions quickly and did not have to check with anyone. He was quick to offer services and set up an account, but not calling for myself it was easy to brush off the sales pitch. It’s easy to see how Google is taking over the world though, always pushing the sale.

The most annoying interactions experienced were with Spectrum, mostly because I had to call them back a few times. The reasons I had to keep calling them back were also in part, however, to them providing incorrect information. So we have the most annoying award given to Spectrum. Having never actually reached a helpful person at Microsoft they might as well never have had a support line available. Google and Hostgator were clearly the best in providing information needed, but I’d have to say my favorite was Hostgator, since they weren’t at all pushy in other services.

So if you find yourself calling one of those companies for support remember my experiences and see if you have something similar. If you can’t get anywhere with your support company give me a call. If I can’t figure out the solution on my own I have experience dealing with other support personnel, and can get your issues resolved quicker and without you experiencing a headache trying to navigate their terms and endless navigation systems.