During a semi-successful commercial website relaunch yesterday, I found myself answering a couple of support calls as the call centre was overrun for the first couple of hours after the switch was flicked. One particular woman rang in rather upset she was now unable to log into her account (the previous site incarnation had no user accounts, so painstaking efforts were made by other members of my team to migrate the data fully while maintaining a basically non-existent link between posted items and their original authors – inevitably, some mistakes were going to be made).
So of course, I entertained the possibility this could be a bug. She had her confirmation email in front of her, with her randomly generated password, yet she was still unable to log in. I asked what error she was seeing:
It says I’m invalid. It won’t let me in.
Invalid? I hadn’t seen that error before. I asked her to try again, same response.
The passwords were generated on the fly in xxxx-xxxx99 format, emailed out, then MD5 encrypted so I couldn’t check to see if the password was wrong in the database. I checked to confirm she was looking at the right email and it seemed she was… even though she confused me by telling me it “says something about Leeds” (I still haven’t worked out what she meant).
She then went into a rant about the password, pointing out how confusing they are…
Its got a dash in it. The last guy kept asking if I had the right dash, I don’t know! Theres, like, so many different dashes.
Really? I would have thought seeing it printed in an email would give away what sort of dash we were looking for… not to mention the fact that there is, in fact, only one dash on a keyboard. And don’t even get me *started* on copy and paste… 😉
So, after checking through some code for her error message (or any relevant error with the word “valid”) I was running short of ideas, and having tried generating her new password reminder emails with no luck I asked to read her email and password out to me. I try to login, and get the following error:
You are not yet verified. Please check your email.
Ummmm. What? So I ask her – does it say something on your screen about not being verified?
Yeah, valid, verified, whatever
Whatever?? You sit there shouting the wrong error message at me for 20 minutes when its on the screen in front of you, and… whatever??? Frustrated wasn’t the word – I was more pissed about the fact that she’d wasted 20 minutes of my “bug fix” day on a non existent problem. Incidently, I left the office at around 10pm last night. Grrrrr.
Ahhh, maybe I’m just naive in thinking that when you’re using calling a low-cost phone number to call customer support for a website provided free of charge expecting technical support, the least you could do is make the effort to not waste my time!
But the real kicker is that while I was on the phone to her, I realised exactly why when you ring up a major company’s customer support line with a technical problem, they talk to you like an idiot and do everything they can to stop you speaking to someone technical. People like this are the reason why when I ring AOL I get filtered through 3 different departments before I get the guy who knows what TCP/IP is.
And… deep breath.
I’ll trade you “time wasters from rocket scientists” anytime!
We’re a listing site, not program authors, & we only list *Windows* programs. Here’s a couple of my top picks from my email:
“I can’t get this program to run on my Mac, it says it can’t open it. Please help!”
“I looked all over your site but I can’t find a licence code for Windows XP. I just bought a used computer with an XP CD but the people said they didn’t have the code for it. Where can I get the code?”
What *I* want to know is how did they manage to contact me, send a problem report or post into our forums when they so obviously must have had help just to turn on their computer!?!?
hahaha pure genius!
I think if I was as cynical as some of the techies I know, she’d have got a sarcy comment or 2 her way! Thankfully, I worked in customer services through school and part of uni, so I’ve learnt to keep my opinions to myself and just bang my head off the desk to release the anger 😉
I run a small family company that does computers and networks. Every single day we get people who are not our customers calling about products they did not buy from us looking for free technical support.
Most of them do not have a clue what they are talking about, have not read the error message or are trying to get an electric can opener to send email via a provider the ceased contract with last month over an ethernet connection to their telephone socket without a modem shortly after stopping their phone line contract and going totally mobile.
I too bang my head on the desk regularly whilst keeping my opinions to myself.
Sadly the question it raises is: are we as a nation running full tilt in to the information age with a popultation that are as computer literate as the average cave man was good at differntial calculus and nuclear physics?
As almost every help desk in this and other continents will tell you this is a global phenomenon, the question that raises is: what is going to happen to the baby boomers who retire in the next 2 years when the government demands they pick up their pension checks from the internet because the closed the local post offices?
Its a damn good point – baring my mind my dad is only 55 and he wouldn’t know the Internet if it slapped him round the face… it makes me wonder how many years before the population is tech-savvy enough to be able to say to someone “Right, close the window” and be confident they’re not literally going to head into their kitchen and shut all their windows.