Case Studies in Good and Bad Tech Support

As I’ve said before, the best way a company, any company, can take advantage of so-called social media is not to ask people over and over to “Like” their fan page on Facebook, but to increase accessibility for customers when they have a problem.  Unfortunately, I think so many companies are dedicating so much of their resources to increasing their fan count on the various networks that no one is left to mind the support store.

I’ve reached out to three companies recently for tech support.  Two of them I pay money to.  One of them I don’t, but I would if they’d release and support a premium product that works better.

Let’s take a look at three levels of tech support.  Great, trying, and horrible.

Great: Casper

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I have bought and used Future System’s Casper for copying hard drives for years.  It is a great program, and I have recommended it many times.  After my recent experience, these recommendations will keep flowing.

I’ve known for some time that the C: drive in my primary desktop was failing.  I keep most of my data files on another disk, so this wasn’t a huge problem.  I just needed to get a new hard drive, copy my current one, and switch it out.  When I tried doing that, using Casper, I had some problems.  The hard drive wouldn’t copy all the way (and I ruled out a physical disk problem as the cause).  So I emailed Casper support.

Within a day, I had a personal, very detailed response from Jim, with Future Systems’ technical support.  I’m sure there are knowledge bases and templates for troubleshooting inquiries, but the email was detailed and told me several, specific things to do.  In other words it didn’t feel like a canned response.  I tried again, and it worked like a charm.

In the meantime, I had figured out that if I wanted to get rid of the recovery partition that HP had placed on my C: hard drive (which had a separate drive letter), I’d need to do a fresh install of Windows 7 (Casper will copy a letter drive, but if you want the disk to be bootable, you need to copy the entire hard drive, which in this case included the recovery partition I wanted to get rid of).  So I copied my C: drive with Casper to protect my data and then installed a fresh version of Windows 7 on a new C: drive.

Great support.  And now I’m talking about it.

Trying: Disqus

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Everyone knows I like the Disqus commenting system.  It is beautifully designed, and feature-rich.  The problem, of course, is that the Reactions feature (which compiles the mentions of the blog post at Twitter, etc.) just doesn’t work.  At all.  And having all blog posts say “no Reactions” is much worse than not even trying to compile the Reactions.  I’ve been emailing with Disqus for months and months about this.

I get responses.  The emails are nice, but not terribly helpful.  Sometimes a few Reactions will show up.  Then, nothing.  So I email again, and we repeat the process.  Disqus badly needs to create a premium account system so they can make some money and use that money to make the Reactions feature work.  I’d pay for it.  If it worked.

After my most recent email campaign, which I began when I noticed the link to force Disqus to manually rescan for Reactions had disappeared, I got an email assuring me that they were working on it.  Then nothing.  When I followed up, I learned the manual rescan link was back.

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So while Disqus is still not automatically compiling Reactions correctly (or at all), the rescan link seems to work, if you’re willing to do manual scans for your posts.

In other words, at least they are trying to provide support.  And now I’m talking about it.

Horrible: SugarSync

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For a long time, I was on the fence about which remote back up and access service I was going to use for my primary off-site backup.  I looked at all sorts of services, and tried many of them.  While I am a committed Dropbox user for general web storage (you and I get a little free storage if you sign up for a free account via that link), I ultimately decided to use SugarSync for my automatic backup and access services.

I have a lot of music (both that I create and that I buy to listen to), videos and photos, so I need a lot of space.  In fact, I quickly blew right through SugarSync’s $250/year plan and into a larger, more expensive plan.  I’m happy to pay, for the peace of mind and the ability to access my files via my iPhone and iPad.  However, as a premium customer I expect at least pretty good tech support, on the rare occasions when I need it.

When I replaced my C: drive, I decided to go ahead and replace my storage drive with a bigger one.  Once I did this, I made some minor changes to my file storage names and locations.  When I installed SugarSync it showed my reconfigured computer as a new computer (because I renamed it, to preserve my Windows Home Server backups of my prior configuration).  I sent a support request to SugarSync asking how I could make sure that my already uploaded files would be associated with my newly reconfigured computer, without having to re-upload massive amounts of stuff that is already on SugarSync’s servers.

The form promised a response within one business day.  I got some canned link to a page showing me how to download and restore my files to a new computer.  Not my problem, fellers.  My data is here, and there.  Just under different computer names (because my reconfigured computer shows up as a new computer on SugarSync).  I’m trying to avoid having to re-upload hundreds of GBs of data.  It’s been a full business week.

Data is important.  C-notes paid for a service are important.  Add all that up, and I should already know exactly how to address this issue.

Horrible support.  And now I’m talking about it.

Maybe SugarSync should hire Jim.