Microsoft Needs Some Work in the Customer Service Area

I hate calling computer people. I feel stupid and intimidated before the call is even connected. They ask questions about versions and models and upgrades that I have no idea how to answer. But I needed my e-mail problem fixed and Microsoft's lines closed at 6 PM, so I sucked up my courage yesterday at 5:40 and called.

First there was the litany of "press this button" options. I don't have as big as problem with that as some people do. If a problem can be handled by pressing a 1, 3, 9 combination, fine by me. But I could just barely decipher the initial offerings. I listened twice and finally figured out I was supposed to press "1."

Then I got a second list of options, depending if I was a home or commercial account, if I wanted installation or upgrade information. At no point ever did any semblance of words such as "for questions on Outlook, press '5,' come across the line.  I randomly pressed another button and was taken to a third level list. By this time I'd been on the phone about 2 minutes. Now they were giving me instructions that if I wanted to talk to a rep, I should have my version and model numbers accessible and informed me I could likely access this information by opening the program and clicking on "About." Wonder of wonders, it worked.

I was then very excited to hear a live female voice on the phone. Without asking why I was calling, she asked me to spell my first and last name. Then I gave her my zip code and e-mail. Then she asked what program I was calling about. "Outlook," I said proudly.

"Which version?"

"Outlook Express 6," I said, sure she would be impressed with my following instructions. Then we went through who the product was registered to, I read her the 20 (not making that up--20) digit version code.  Then she asked me what type computer I had only she didn't phrase it like that. It was more like, "And what system is the program operating on?" I finally figured out that she needed to hear "Sony."

Then and only then did she ask the reason for my call. "I'm having problems sending attachments," I said. 

"You have three options," she said. "You may request to be connected to one of our technicians at a minimal charge of $59 for consultation. You may access our website and our help FAQ page to determine the problem yourself. Or you may..."

I don't remember what the third option was. I was too incensed about the $59 charge. I know what I wanted to tell her my third option to her should be though.

That's it. I told her fine, I'd go to the website. "Is there any other issue you would like to bring to our attention today?" she intoned.

Other than the fact that your company is a customer relations nightmare and I'd like to stick that script you're reading up your a--, no, thanks. Nothing comes to mind.

I talked to a computer guy in my leads group today who shed some light on the subject. Road Runner, as Blair discovered, won't allow you to send an -mail containing over 2 MB attachment. When I asked why zipping the file didn't work, he said while Word documents have "fluff" inside them and can be compacted, pdf files can typically be only minimally reduced. I wish I had called Rob to start with.

I've never been one to bash Microsoft. I don't keep up with technology enough to know if they're innovative, evil, or what the deal is.  But one thing I know for sure. Their customer service skills are sorely, sorely lacking.