a common tale among computer users – sitting hours on the phone
waiting for software support and ending up no better off than you
were before you dialed.
not so well known is what nearly a third of people did when it happened
– they cried.
according to a recent Consumer Reports Magazine survey of
more than 10,000 users. In the survey, software makers fell short
in satisfying needs, scoring 63 out of 100 on a customer satisfaction
scale, among the lower scores for services Consumer Reports rated
during the past 10 years. And 30 percent of consumers, when tech
support didn’t fix their software problem, were left crying.
an issue that’s important to plenty of truckers. John Siebert, project
manager for the OOIDA Foundation, said that among drivers who took
part in the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s 2001
Cost of Operation Survey, 57 percent own a computer and 14 percent
have a computer in their truck. Half of the truckers in the survey
use a personal computer for business records – which means plenty
of software packages, and the potential headaches that go with them.
or not any truckers cried isn’t known.
Reports said in its September issue that consumers serve as
conscripts in an unpaid army of testers who identify and report
product flaws to software companies. In the process of calling for
support, consumers help companies fix their own problems.
Reports’ article “When good software goes bad,” points to two
reasons software support so underwhelming – an industry culture
that turns out flawed software coupled with cutbacks in the very
mechanism that’s supposed to help consumers cope with those problems.
Product flaws are so common that software companies routinely post
downloadable remedies for them, known as patches or updates, on
the Web sites.
can you do when the software company doesn’t fix the problem? The
magazine offers this advice:
- Check online
communities. There are title-specific online forums and discussion
groups run by consumers. You can post a problem and other users
can post replies on how to resolve it. Search the Google groups
box at www.google.com or Yahoo groups at http://groups.yahoo.com.
- Pay for
independent support. As manufacturers have begun charging for
support, independent fee-based tech service companies have emerged.
- Ask a tech-smart
friend. Based on our survey results, each year more than 3 million
computer users with a software problem turn to a friend, relative
René Tankersley, feature editor
Tankersley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.