On the other side of Support….

Anyone that knows me knows that I work a lot. Arguably too much. Any place that I spend a lot of time I figure out how to get a computer there. At one point I used to have a wireless keyboard “Velcro’d” to the steering wheel of my car. It’s that bad. No Lie. I have since removed it as it drew way too much attention, in a bad way, and I had to convince people that I was not using it while driving.

So last weekend I added another computer to my collection at home. I found another spot where I spent time and I wanted a computer there. So, I went out and got the least expensive computer I could find and bought MS Office™ for it. It was $150 cheaper to buy a “card” as opposed to the version that contained Disks . It  looked like a gift card, and it was supposed to allow me to download the software when I got home.

Now it begins. I am on the other side of software business…

So I go home and assume I am going to just download the software. I know it’s a large download but should be easy enough.

So I open the gift-card-looking- license for MS Office™. I go to the website and it says “Enter the Code off of the card you purchased”. What code? I am expecting one of those huge ugly 50 character alphanumeric things. It’s nowhere to be found on my license card. I look on the receipt. It’s not there.

This is what it’s like to be on the consumer side of software???

I am going out of my mind. Then I accidently notice a large grey area on the card with a scratch through it. Curious. Must have gotten there when I asked my dog for help…clearly humans were not considered when building this system. I scratch some more and OMG there is the  key. Are you kidding? The key is hidden behind a scratch off area? And NO WHERE does it say this large area is a “scratch off area”. Nowhere!  Nowhere on the website. So at least I am done and have the number. Let’s get this done. Should be easy now. I was soooo wrong.

I go to the website and enter the number to get my “key”. I enter the number, stressing out because I don’t want to make a mistake.

Then I get to a screen that asks me to enter the characters from the box? You know these boxes… they give you 5 or 6 characters, written as if they are taken from the visual perception of someone with vertigo. Well my characters look like 6 “U’s” that all share the same edges and are overlapped in such a way that I can’t tell if there are 6 “u’s” or 3 W’s or one “U” one “W” and another “U”… I guess wrong and eventually after several attempts it gives me another hallucinated version of 6 characters that I can read.

This is what it’s like to be on the consumer side of software???

Now, I get to a screen that says “you need to make a MS LIVE account?” Really? I can’t use the software I just bought? I have to make an account I will never use? OK. I will play along but I am not happy. It asks me a series of questions I can’t believe are necessary to open an account including birthday. So I blow by these questions. I think I entered a birthday of 01/01/2012 for example. Then I get to the next screen….

You need parental approval to use this. Enter your parents MS Live account so they can give you permission to use the software.

Are you kidding me? So obviously their system thinks an 8 month old is trying to use MS office™ and needs parental approval?

Well this is particularly complicated because my parents have passed.

So, I tell myself, “Well Smart Guy, you entered a bogus birth date and now you’re in trouble.” OK Microsoft® wins.

This is what it’s like to be on the consumer side of software???

This is Microsoft®. I might expect this if I paid $3 for an application written by some kid between video games. I don’t expect this from Microsoft®.

I go back and start the process over, assuming that if I enter the correct birthday I will be fine.

I enter the key again and then “Boom!”. The key is already registered and still  need my parents to unlock it. Ouch. I can’t even start over.

So here I am sitting on an MS Office™ that I can’t install. Great. An hour has passed.

So I call Microsoft®. I get them on the line. “I have never heard of that error before. I have been here 10 years” he says. He starts to tell me a version of “I can’t recreate it and/or no one has ever had this problem therefore it doesn’t exist.”  Outstanding I think to myself. I am waiting for him to tell me this “works as designed”.

This is what it’s like to be on the consumer side of software???

He does not believe me. Why would I lie? Do I have a software support version of Munchausen? A disease where I am creating software issues for attention?

So I say in a nice way “Don’t believe me? Try it yourself. Here is the key..” He did and got the same thing I did. Now he is speechless. He then asks, “well, can you get your parents to just unlock it for you?” I explain to him they are passed. He must know from my voice that I am old enough to be his father, but he asked me anyway. So then I said to him “Well, you must have a MS Live account, why don’t you just adopt me and unlock it for me? I drink expensive Scotch and like good wine, Dad.” He was not as amused at that statement as I was.

Well I can try that he says. So he does. Then he says “there is a 50 cent charge to do this ‘Parental un-lock’ thing”. He tells me when the software requires parental un-locking the parents have to pay 50 cents. I give him my credit card number.

This is what it’s like to be on the consumer side of software???

So now we are 40 minutes into this process and we got a little farther. Now I am supposed to get a key from code I entered from the MS Office™ card. He is trying to dump me from the phone line. He keeps asking me if I am OK. I say I am not OK until this is installed. We go deeper into the process, he’s trying to dump me every chance he can.

He gives up after an hour on the phone with me and says he needs to transfer me to a different level of support. Oh boy, I think to myself I am getting passed off. I am so afraid I am going to be lost in the phone transfer process I insist he take my cell number and if for any reason I get dropped I expect HIM to call me back. I have his name and everything I need to convince him bad things will happen if I get dropped and he does not call me back.

He does successfully connect me to another support person. This guy is in India. I made him tell me where he was and got all his info in case my call got dropped accidentally or not so accidentally. He gives me a link to click-on and download an application. I enter in the code he gave me and then…

“Bam”… I was not in control.

He took over my mouse and desktop and I watched helplessly while he probed my computer. I don’t know what he was doing. He was checking places I did not even know existed on my computer. He then started the download of MS Office™. While it is downloading he continues to search through my computer. It was brand new and had no personal information on it but I have to admit I did feel violated. I kept telling myself that I am the victim here.

After another 90 minutes he got it installed. I kept him on the phone the entire time. I abandoned watching the download and left my house and went to Starbucks. Got some coffee came home and enjoyed a cigar all the time he thought I was sitting at my computer. He was not too talkative so I did not have to chat with him thank gosh. I just pinged him every 5 or 10 minutes verbally just to make sure he was there.

So after an hour of my frustration, over an hour with the first guy, and 90 minutes with the second guy I got it installed. My ENTIRE morning to do something that should have taken 30 minutes.

This is what it’s like to be on the consumer side of software???

The reason I share this story with you is because I believe there are life-lessons all over the place. This experience was placed in my path in order to remind me not only how important customer support is, but also how important it is to do everything possible not to create a scenario where this kind of support was needed. As we move forward, particularly with ENABLE, I have even more insight into what we have to do to ensure InfoEd  Global does not create the same experiences.

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