To protect and serve is not just a slogan for police cars

By Joel Shore, |  Business

I'm on a rant. One with channel implications. Customer service, or rather the lack thereof, has me all worked up. And I'm getting angrier by the keystroke.

We've been in the midst of getting support for some products and services here in the lab. While I could call the vendor's public-relations department and have them put me through to tech support, I do so only rarely. It's simply not a representation of the real world.

In the lab we have computers, printers, networking gear, all manner of software, and other assorted goodies from a variety of vendors. And the same is true for the outside services we purchase, including Web hosting. As for what we're seeing in terms of customer service, well, pretty it ain't.

Let's start with the happier portion of today's program first.

Epson, you earn a gold star.

We recently had occasion to e-mail Epson with two tech support questions about printer models no longer in production. For each question, we received a personalized, lengthy response via e-mail within 24 hours from someone named Mark. The information was accurate, and he even stepped us through the process for correcting our problem, one for which we could find no appropriate answer in the Epson online knowledge base.

GretagMacbeth, you, too, earn a gold star.

This company makes colorimeters, spectrophotometers, and other gear used in the graphics arts industry for color calibration and workflow color management of cameras, monitors, printers, and printing presses. (It's GretagMacbeth hardware that's used when you want Home Depot to mix up a custom paint color to match the necktie you brought in.) We were having some difficulty profiling and color calibrating a new 24-inch widescreen LCD monitor. After sending Gretag a very lengthy e-mail with our questions as well as some friendly, constructive commentary. (If there's one thing we are never short of, it's opinions.)

Again, within 24 hours, we received an e-mail response. Barry answered our questions point by point with detailed explanations -- no pre-fab form-letter response here. Nice work. (Gretag was recently acquired by X-rite; let's hope the superior support continues.)

Let's move on to Dell. Tsk tsk.

We have systems from Apple, Lenovo, HP, and IBM, but on this day, a nine-month-old Dell desktop decided it would no longer recognize the keyboard or its internal dual mirrored hard drives. Three calls to Dell support drove me to fetch the bottle of Tums. The wait was lengthy. The language barrier was intolerable. And the first two calls yielded suggestions that simply did not work. Is it any wonder that the public's annoyance with Dell is on the rise? With me, the disgust-o-meter needle was pinned to the max.

And then there's the dregs of the technology industry. I give you Earthlink.

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