Thursday, May 12, 2011

Technology Troubles & Tradeoffs

When our cell phones and/or PCs malfunction, most freelancers can’t work or get work. Getting them back up to speed is a priority. That’s how dependent we’ve become on modern technology. Last week, I was preparing to upgrade my phone’s software and receive a new PC.

Phone: Loading the latest version of Android on my cell phone went smoothly, as did re-personalizing. But then I saw that somehow my FB contacts had been added to my phone contacts. I like my FB peeps, but don’t need all of their info in my phone because that many contacts makes it more difficult to find info. Despite backing up as instructed by customer service, I had to call again. They said I’d clicked “sync to FB” or something, but I didn’t. (I found it later as a default in setup that had to be unchecked . Hmm.) One by one we went through the contacts I wanted to save. Yet some still didn’t make it to my phone. I asked for some compensation for my time and frustration. They offered a $20 credit.

PC: I ended up having to pick it up @ FedEx. Not happy about that. Setup went smoothly until I turned it on. The first thing I saw on my brand new, state of the art Dell PC was “CPU fan error. Press F1 to continue or F2” blah blah. Who wants their PC to overheat? I pressed F2, but couldn’t see what to do. I pressed F1...everything seemed to work fine. Monday morning I called customer service. A half hour after the guy took control of my PC to investigate, he told me I needed a new part and a technician would call. He’d check back on Wednesday.

No call came. I called back Tuesday afternoon to learn the part was on back order, and if it didn’t arrive, they’d send a new system. Why hadn’t anyone bothered tell me that? No good answer. Then he asked if I’d opened the PC case. I hadn’t. So he walked me through the process. Lo and behold, the instant I got the cover off I saw cables blocking the fan. Probably happened while the thing spent several days rumbling around in FedEx’s truck. All I had to do was tuck the cable out of the way, and voila. No more error message.

If the first guy had told me to check inside, I’d have saved a lot of time and frustration. If they’d clipped the cables in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened. So I asked to speak to a supervisor, who offered up to $100 in Dell products. A credit would’ve been more useful, but…

The moral of the stories:

Vendors, please ensure consistent procedures and provide easy access to information so callers don't have to laboriously repeat themselves. Train your representatives to be good communicators, believably friendly and sympathetic to the value of each caller's time.

Customers, if you’re having technology troubles, consider asking if the vendor will provide some compensation.

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