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Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other? 253

An anonymous reader writes "Has anyone else noticed the trend towards 'community forums' where customers are basically being recruited to solve the issues of other customers while the companies selling the products causing the issues sit back and take a passive role in the process? Granted, sometimes the companies' employees play an active part in the forums and provide some value-add by contributing crucial, and often undocumented, knowledge that solves the problem in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, and this leaves customers with no visibility into whether or not their problems are being addressed, and, if they are, when they might expect to receive assistance. This is bad enough when dealing with consumer electronics that cost up to a couple of hundred of dollars, but it's completely unacceptable when dealing with proprietary design tool vendors that are charging several thousand dollars for software licenses for tools that are the only option if a customer doesn't want to drop an order of magnitude more money to go with 3rd party tools (e.g., Synopsys). Who do you think are the worst offenders of this downloading of support onto the backs of the customers themselves, and what can be done about it?"
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Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other?

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  • by ikhider ( 2837593 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @12:28PM (#47083183)
    Adobe is filled with issues, among them when I am compelled to sign in to verify I am an authentic user each time I use the software. This does not bode well when I am in transit and have no access to wifi. I used the forums and asked about this issue but receive a robotic response that you do not need to sign in each time you use the product. My experience proved the contrary. I call Adobe tech support, who asks to log onto my computer, and over several days it feels like half of India is lgging onto my computer to try to repair this issue. I figure a reinstall would do the trick, several reinstalls later, no change. India still needs to get on my machine to try to figure out what the hell is going on and the engineers over at Adobe are laughing because they tell their outsourced labour nothing. You get the forums and get little help or call in and get no help either. Adobe has the largest market share in their industry, so they do not care. Only when an upstart gives them a run for their money will you see Adobe shake a leg.
  • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @12:29PM (#47083187)

    And generally, the number of a tool's users with a problem at any given day SHOULD be << the number of developers or support staff.

  • Re:I'm Okay With It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nethead ( 1563 ) <> on Saturday May 24, 2014 @01:36PM (#47083501) Homepage Journal

    I love on-line support chats. HP is really good at this (okay, I'm a business customer with a few hundred desktops and a rack of servers, YMMV.) Chat allows me to cut-n-paste serial numbers or diag info directly to them. It allows me to get other work done while support is processing the request, and I'm sure it allows support to work other cases when I have to dig for info.

    The main thing is that I don't have to work through understanding the accent of a non-native speaker. The support folks are often bright and knowledgeable but my internal wiring doesn't always make the translation the first try. This gets old quickly for both ends of the conversation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2014 @02:23PM (#47083725)

    Try following Google support forms. Very often you have a serious problem like all your Google sites determinedly dumping you onto the wrong language and will simply find months of customer discussions of "it's still not fixed". It's even funnier when it turns out that there is a work around but it's in a different thread started some time after the first but with completely unassociated keywords and an explanation which, while correct is clearly incomprehensible to most of their customers.

    And don't get me on to Microsoft's "if you aren't a corporate we don't give a shit" support. Or for that matter (though it's the best of the bunch so far) Ubuntu's "there is an answer but it's two versions old and nobody bothers to link to the new one" forums.

    community support can be great; look at StackExchange and ServerFault or Linux Questions; but you need someone professional to put the effort into curating it.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell