Sunday, July 19, 2015

Customer Support

            There’s an old saying about the Three Great Lies:
     1.  The government will take care of that.
     2.  The check is in the mail.
     3.  I love you.

A few years ago I updated the list to add a fourth:
     4.  I have read the Terms and Conditions.

And just this month I added a fifth:
     5.  Customer Support           

            I’ll skip the painful but boring specifics of what the problem was, except to say that it involved Adobe Photoshop on Kim’s computer. The folks I spoke with on the phone – seven of them over about a ten-hour stretch – were unfailingly courteous and probably very knowledgeable, though not knowledgeable enough. After trying multiple times to install an Adobe program Kim had bought, Kim and I decided, instead, to remove the expensive Creative Cloud subscription from her computer. Well, they could not do that either, even after taking control of her computer three times. The last guy to try finally managed to remove, along with Creative Cloud, two other programs we had purchased but were unable to put back on her computer. He insisted that he did not do anything wrong, but I knew I was in the clear because I’d watched him move stuff around the computer screen as I prayed he was not a North Korean hacker who would hold Kim’s butterfly photos as hostages, sending back wing fragments if we did not pay up.

            I realize that it doesn’t really matter that the “Customer Support” people were on another continent. For the most part I could understand what they were saying, and the fact that our telephone connection repeatedly broke off could have happened because of solar flares or global warming. But still – I could not help but feel that I’d have more confidence in them if they sounded a little more like the Car Talk guys. I wished I could just take the computer into the Apple Store and hand it over to a Genius. But no – someone on the other side of the planet was working the computer on Kim’s desk! Think of the technology involved! And even more impressive than the technology is the amount of trust I placed in these strangers.
            At the end of the ordeal I felt as if I had won some sort of victory over Adobe’s “Customer Support.” All by myself I figured out how to remove Adobe’s Creative Cloud from Kim’s computer. My self-congratulation is tempered by a few realizations: We never did get our $20 back from the uninstallable program. And we had to re-purchase a program from Adobe to replace what my “Customer Support” person had deleted. And Kim is getting a new computer, in large part because she can start over without all the programs damaged by our combined attempts to fix the problem.

            And upon reflection, I’m glad that the helpers were thousands of miles away. I can now blame them for everything, even totally unrelated computer problems that crop up (Email slow to open? Must be Adobe’s fault . . ..) and they are too far away to retaliate.

            Think so?

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