Monday 9 October 2006

There is something special about the battle of wits between the consumer and the incompetent member of technical support staff.

This verbal dogfight happened to me because I’ve had a box of bits which to all visual intent is a nice new computer, but which seemed unable to run for more than a few minutes without hanging. A little bit of research suggested to me that it would probably be necessary to run the RAM at 2.2V rather than the conventional 1.8V…all I needed was the advice of a tech support person from the motherboard company, the RAM company or the supplier such that I could point the finger firmly at them when my RAM exploded in an unspectacular but rather expensive fireball.

From the motherboard maker, the rather useless “Mickey” eventually confessed that, if my assumptions were correct, it was the right thing to do. Not really liability-transferring advice since its premise was the validity of my own investigations.

I turned to the supplier who, having taken over a week of telling me that my parts would arrive in “1–2 days” to deliver them, told me that they were unable to offer “pre-sales advice”. Having explained to them that I’d already bought the product in question, they were “unable” even to confirm that the RAM on their website was the same RAM that was on the manufacturer’s website. When asked why not, my chat assistant “Debra” (whose icon is a beautiful lady in order to encourage the computer-buying populace that whatever sweaty, underpaid, pimply and, in all probability, male school drop-out you are talking to is capable of answering queries) recommended that I e-mail someone who might be competent. Evidently whoever it is isn’t competent enough to rapidly reply to e-mails.

The RAM manufacturer, meanwhile, whose website states that one of the reasons to buy their memory is their excellent customer support, hasn’t got back to me for the first time yet.

A shame indeed that the World is so filled with bungling, excessively subordinate, slow-responding incompetents. A greater pity that I am chief amongst them for being unable to assemble a working computer without resorting to contacting technical support.

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