Have you ever tried to get help from one of the web-companies we seem to be increasingly dealing with – only to discover the response is totally disconnected from the problem?
It seems to be happening more and more lately. Something goes wrong in their automated systems at the server-side end (their doing), leaving you frustrated and unable to resolve an issue. You get hold of the company, only to get a form-style reply back from a service desk operator which assumes you simply don’t know how their system works, or the fault’s at your end.
I’ve had that a few times with my ISP. I’ve suddenly lost internet connection – boom! Dead! Every time, I’ve got hold of my supplier, and been informed that if the fault is in my home phone wiring, I’ll have to pay some swingeing rate per hour. Then I have to confirm that I’ve done all the troubleshooting routines – cycling the router and computers, and so forth. Finally I’m told that no, there’s nothing wrong at their end. And, every time without exception, the internet’s magically returned some time later, all without my doing anything.
Yup, it appears that my house wiring can develop faults and fix them again, all by itself. The possibility that the fault might be at the supplier end, for example by failed server-switching – and that their help desk doesn’t know what their engineers are doing – isn’t allowed to enter the conversation.
The same thing also happens to internet services. Last year a lot of authors were slammed by a problem with Amazon Kindle’s rather complex ‘marketplace’ system, which left books unavailable in marketplaces they’d been selling into just the day before. Author after author tried to fix it with the available interface, to no avail. But approaches to Amazon merely resulted in a form response outlining how the marketplace system worked.
The message, in short, was that there was nothing wrong; it was the user’s problem. Although it was kind of odd that every user on the planet, suddenly, seemed to be having exactly the same issue, all at once and without doing anything to their own setups. Even more curiously, the whole problem magically disappeared again about 48 hours later, again without a single user actually doing anything themselves. It had to be one of the oddest coincidences ever.
Of course the real issue, to which Amazon finally admitted, was that they’d had a problem with their system. It looked to me like a botched attempt at rolling out a new marketplace model. But who can tell?
Anyway, the point of this example is the disconnect between what was happening for users, and the responses they were getting when trying to get help for it, where the first response is to blame the customer. It seems to be getting all too common in the business.
Have you had such experiences? Let me know in the comments.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2019