marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Monday, April 26, 2010

Customer Support is more than internal tracking tools

I've got a customer support horror story, and I'm not afraid to tell it, because it has both a good AND bad side, but it also provides a learning opportunity for Acer and possibly others.

My Acer laptop went on the fritz in January, slowly getting worse to the point of being unusable in March. I updated the drivers, checked bios settings, verified all the connections, and nothing helped. I even documented the original problem here. I contacted Acer support, knowing that warranty would end in less than three weeks, figuring that they could determine the problem, I could ship it, and they could fix it even before warranty ended.

The diagnosis process was less than satisfactory - where the Acer people insisted that I do everything that I had already done - again. They even insisted that I just LOOK at the BIOS - w/o providing any suggestions once I got there. Of course I peaked around the BIOS once I was there, and there was nothing to change except to possibly disable the external monitor, which, btw, did not solve the problem (documented here). After two weeks of back-and-forth communication over their support ticket tool, they decided that I needed to RMA it.

That's when things got interesting. I packed and shipped the product after their determination that there was a hardware problem, making sure to ship it w/receipt while still in warranty. The support team that was on my ticket never acknowledge receiving it, even though UPS had tracked it. My first two attempts where met with "your product is out of warranty" we'll check with the depot. The depot finally acknowledged receipt, but the support team did not have an active record of it. Meanwhile, I asked the support team about why they kept telling me that my laptop was out of warranty and if they would still fix it since it was diagnosed and acknowledged to be defective. No answer. Even after I told them that my video pages (above) had received > 3000 hits, they didn't respond.

I contacted them every week with those questions as the video page views increased. They completely ignoring my questions about the warranty and repair. Finally, someone from the repair depot called to tell me that they couldn't get the parts and they would ship me a replacement the next day. The next day came and went, and there was no notification of the shipment, so I contacted support to find out what went wrong. Acer support told me that the replacement was not longer available, and that they were working on it. That's it. Nearly a week later, no update, so I dug through my call logs to find the inbound number from the Acer repair depot. The person at the depot was again clear and courteous, told me what happened, when another replacement option was available, and asked for a pre-authorization to ship it to me. I granted it of course, but the ship day came and went, and again, no notification. So another contact to support, and they acknowledged that a replacement was being sent. Whew!

What does this all mean? Well here's what I took away from this experience:
  • Acer's support system is designed to track issues only, and does not have the focus on customers that Dell and Apple have shown when I've had repair issues with them.
  • Acer doesn't track blogs or social media venues. All told, my rants on the topic garnered north of 10,000 page views.
  • Persistence is still the order of the day. It seems that support is not a right, but must be earned, at least from Acer. Otherwise, I might still be out of the hardware to this day, over month and a half after reporting the problem.
  • Acer's repair depot and support system have vastly different levels of person skill levels, where the depot people treated me like a human, and the support people treated me like my support issues were not worth their time.
My replacement laptop seems fine, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the support experience. In this day and age, I'm surprised that this level of service could come from a top PC company. and I'm even more surprised that Acer cares so little about it's reputation that it would allow such problems to go so long without resolution.

At least at the time of this writing, my video can be found on the 1st page of Google search results for "acer video flickering" and in the comments for the #1 search result for "acer video problems". Let's hope companies like Acer pay closer attention to their customers because other customers may be listening, and search results may not always show what you want your customers to see.

No comments :

Post a Comment