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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:29 am   

Email problem for past few days
 
I apologize for any problem you might have had getting email from Chiara or Zugg during the past few days. Apparently Comcast changed their SMTP port number without telling anyone. Or, specifically, they have always said they used port 587, but only recently actually disabled port 25.

Of course, the Comcast tech support claims that port 25 has been blocked all along, but they are wrong. I have the email logs to prove it. Idiots. Took me a while to finally get a high-level support person who could understand what I was saying.

But email should be working now, and anything that was sitting in our "retry" queue should have gone out now.
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Fang Xianfu
GURU


Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:10 am   
 
Incidentally, I hate tech support where the people don't know what they're on about. You would not believe how long it took me to get an answer to a simple "Hi, my router's DNS lookup is broken, can you give me the IPs of your DNS servers so I can set them manually please?". Ended up going to the supervisor's supervisor or some balls.
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Rorso
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Joined: 14 Oct 2000
Posts: 1368

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:24 am   
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:
Incidentally, I hate tech support where the people don't know what they're on about. You would not believe how long it took me to get an answer to a simple "Hi, my router's DNS lookup is broken, can you give me the IPs of your DNS servers so I can set them manually please?". Ended up going to the supervisor's supervisor or some balls.

Did you have to pay for their support service?
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Fang Xianfu
GURU


Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:34 pm   
 
The price of a premium-rate phone call, yes. Luckily BT is making it free to call premium-rate numbers (0870 and 0845) some time soon, so that'll be nice.
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Rorso
Wizard


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Posts: 1368

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:25 pm   
 
I see. Well my suspicion was that the main kind of questions they probably get are of the easy kind so it makes sense if they hire cheap personnel to answer such questions. When you think about it, phone support is probably not one of the most enjoyable jobs you could have.
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:43 pm   
 
In my case, I enter the subject of the help request before I get connected to a "live chat" support person at Comcast. My subject was:

"Since Friday, outgoing email fails with the error: Cannot connect to smtp.comcast.net. Using Port 25 with user authentication. No changes have been made locally"

Now, if I got a message with a subject like that, I certainly be sure to give it to a support person who understands what "port 25" and SMTP is. Instead, I go through five minutes of "What version of Windows are you using", "What email client are you using", "Please go into your Outlook account settings and tell me what your outgoing email server is set to" (Uh, *duh* smtp.comcast.net as I said already in my subject). "Please reboot your computer", "Please disconnect your cable modem, wait 30 seconds, and then reconnect it". etc, etc. Stupid stuff that doesn't apply to my original question at all. Obviously the original question subject is being completely ignored.

I'm paying for their support because I'm paying for Comcast Internet service (which, along with Comcast cable TV, is not cheap). But many companies apparently think that support is optional and no longer included with the basic price of a product or service. The only positive is that at least I seemed to get a real person on the other end and didn't have to spend 10 minutes going through an automated phone system (like I did with PayPal last weekend).

But a *knowledgeable* help desk should have immediately seen that I mentioned port 25 in my subject and should have immediately responded with "we no longer use port 25 and have switched the smtp port to 587". That's all that I would have needed. But it took 20 minutes to get to that point. Even a simple "enter the question into your knowledge base" support system should have come up with that answer.

Of course they hire cheap people and of course they need a first-layer of "stupid" support people to deal with the customers who don't know how to turn on their computer. I get email support like that all the time too. I'm not saying that it isn't a thankless job...we deal with customer support for several hours each and every day.

However, Chiara can easily read a support email and immediately know whether it's a simple question that she can answer, or whether it's a technical question that she needs to forward to me (I'm the 2nd-level support). It's really not that hard to determine if the customer is really knowledgeable about what they are talking about.

We see this all the time even in these discussion forums. If I see a post that just says "It doesn't work", then I usually ignore it and let other users and Gurus deal with getting more information. But when I see a post with a detailed procedure for reproducing the problem I pay a lot more attention and usually try the procedure myself and post my results.

Mainly I'm just blowing off steam. So many companies in the U.S. and around the world are having so much financial difficulty and are going out of business. And yet they don't seem to realize that maybe part of the problem is that they've been ignoring customer support for years and think of customer support as an evil "cost" rather than a positive part of building a good reputation for their company and products. So when they start running out of money, they cut their "optional" customer support first (or start charging for it via "premium" contracts). Then they wonder why their company has such a bad reputation with people (see: Comcast, ranked near the bottom of customer satisfaction among all US companies).

In my specific case, customer support is my highest priority. Every day I spend a couple of hours in the morning doing customer support (mostly email, but also these forums). If I have less time in a day, like if I have a dentist appointment, or some other errand, I still do my customer support work. What gets cut is my programming time, not my support time.
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Fang Xianfu
GURU


Joined: 26 Jan 2004
Posts: 5155
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 5:48 pm   
 
Hah, you'd think so, but you have to remember that people only ever phone up when something's wrong, which means they're almost always annoyed :P
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 6:02 pm   
 
That's *definitely* true. We rarely get emails here from "happy" customers. That's what makes it easy to get depressed sometimes. It can also give you a skewed perspective of your product/service since you don't really know what the ratio between happy and annoyed customers really is. In our case, we have been in business long enough to form some metrics about the ratio of support requests to the number of product sales. This allows me to determine if a particular version is better or worse than versions in the past. But if a company doesn't have any metrics, how do they know if their annoyed customer phone calls represents only 1% of customers, or 90% of customers.

It's also important to always remember that for every annoyed customer that calls with a problem, there are probably 100 times as many customers who are having the same problem but just didn't spend the time to call or send an email. I always consider that myself when answering forum problems since I'm sure there are lots of my customers who don't bother getting a forum account so they can post a problem.

I also have to admit that doing *phone* support is probably exponentially worse than doing email support. Given how profane some emails are sometimes, I'd hate to be talking to the person on the phone. Definitely not a fun job.
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ralgith
Sorcerer


Joined: 13 Jan 2006
Posts: 715

PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:07 pm   
 
I feel for ya Zugg. Both from personal experience and from providing Remote Desktop help support. Sometimes just explaining to them how to send the remote desktop request is... not fun. Of course, thats looking at it from the other side as you tried to do in you recent post.

That said, I've also only ever had to get irate with someone in tech support once. Because I already KNEW what the problem was and I just wanted it fixed. I told them, "I've already tried all the stuff in your script and more. I am a computer repair technician, and I've also run several diagnostic programs. This is the problem, can you please send out a tech to fix it." But the dumb woman tried to make me go through her script with her ANYWAYS. As you've stated, a knowledgeable person will have already tried all that simple stuff. Usually a couple times just to make sure. At least in my case. So I ended up telling her to give me her supervisor. Who was just as bad, so I asked for HIS supervisor. He said he didn't HAVE one. So I asked to be transferred to their actual technical department instead of customer service. He says he can't do that. So I hung up on the morons, searched around a little online, and voila, found the direct number to their technical department. Once I got someone there, and told him I already did the whole script and what diagnostics I ran and their results... he made an appointment for a tech t come out and repair the problem with the lines. This was for Yahoo SBC landline telephone btw. All told, my conversation with him was somewhere around 3-5 minutes, whereas I had spent at least 20 on the phone with their call center. 20 minutes of my CELL time since my landline was down.

I'd also like to say that I think you've got a very good way to see how many people appreciate your software as well. Because those of us like the GURUs and then others like myself who hang around and help other people and try to give back to the community are in effect saying that we truly enjoy and appreciate your software. And if I'm wrong on that, then I'll shoot myself in the foot. So you can add that to your metric too ;) I'd HOPE at least that I speak for the majority of us on the forums.

Either way, I feel your pain over the customer support, and I can say at least that I'm a happy customer.
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