Chain based technical support
I just watched an amusing little video I found over on Digg. The link is titled “Geek Squad Put to Test” and the short version is that a TV news station puts Best Buy, Circuit City and MicroCenter (??) tech support to the test. The test was to change a single setting in the BIOS causing it to read “Operating System Not Found” (probably disabled the SATA/IDE port). Surprisingly enough one of the 3 actually finds and fixes the problem.
The reason I bring this up is because it makes a very good point about how chain based technical support SUCKS. I have personal experience with this, from Dell. Now I’m not talking about some minion with a script over the phone. We’ve got business warranties on our machines that get us “Dell Certified” techs to come to our office. I, as the IT guy, only use the techs when I’m not around or its laptop hardware replacement. Long story short, a Dell tech came out to replace the motherboard/CPU of a key developer’s desktop — and after he was done the computer refused to boot into Windows probably. It would boot up partially, but then crash. The Dell tech spent _hours_ trying to figure out the problem, then just reassigned the ticket to a failed hard drive (odd, it worked BEFORE they touched it) and ordered another tech to come out the next day with a new drive. I didn’t let them swap hard drives, and the new tech also spent a while unable to fix the machine. I was _PISSED_ (I have an anger management issue ^_^) with Dell. I reamed them over the phone repeatedly. I came back to the office a few days later and fixed the problem within 5 minutes — the BIOS was set for RAID when there was only a single hard drive. I WAS EVEN MORE PISSED for all the time they wasted.
It just goes to show that the only good IT person, is one who isn’t from a chain. Now I’m sure there are some skilled IT people that work for chains because of the job market — but it’ll take a miracle for you to actually get one. All chains are a rip off. Its cheaper to throw away your computer every time it breaks than deal with them. Or, for those who want a cheaper solution — ask someone to install Linux on your machine and you’ll never have a problem again.