Why you should never dare to contact customer support

Every once in a while one runs into serious issues with products from big corporations designed for end users. A natural reflex is contacting customer support, but as I will point out on this page this might be in most cases a complete waste of time.

If you are lucky you simply won't get any help. If you are really out of luck you might even become taunted and yelled at by your opponent

Therfore I will give a list of examples with my experiences in contacting big company customer support.

2001 - Microsoft

In the "good" old days -- before I discovered Linux -- I had a Windows98 / Windows2000 dual boot system. Due to some programs and the lack of drivers I had to switch back to Win98.

Once in 2001 when I booted Win98 scandisk was run during the boot and Win98 immediately crashed after scandisk. Afterwards the hard disk was completely wasted.

When I contacted Microsoft via email I got a letter in return saying that I should call a non-free service number. The author of the letter did not even bother to refer to my problem.

2009 - Lenovo

In 2009 I bought my ThinkPad X200. As you can imagine I did not even bother to try the Windows Vista that was shipped with the device. The first I actually did on this nice piece of hardware was to install Linux.

As it had been known at this time that some manufacturers did refund the money for OEM Windows licenses some years earlier [Link] I contacted Lenovo customer support in an attempt of rejecting the Windows license and snatch the money from Microsofts account.

What I did not consider at this point is the fact that customer support guys at Lenovo can be really tough. Some days after my mail I got a phone call at the office. It was from Lenovo an the person at the other end of the line was really disgruntled. After some yelling, which was ment to explain to me that Lenovo would no longer refund Windows OEM licenses as these are just ten bucks each, he did offer me to take back the notebook with the words "Lenovo products have a balanced selection of hrdware and software and are only sold in this bundle. And if I do not want that I am free to give back my device".

I did not say it then, but now I can say "Thanks for nothing, meatbag!".

2010 - ATI,AMD & Asus

In 2010 I had a serious problem with an onboard RAID controller after a disk of the RAID array crashed [Link, Link]. The customer support of the guys building the RAID controller and the board could not tell me how to build an array with two disks: one containing data and a fresh one.

In the end I did set up a software RAID.

2011 - Motorola

Since the release of the Android update for my phone (Motorola Defy) I did not manage to get this update onto my phone. In many attempts to contacting the customer support [Link] they could not tell me how to get the software onto my phone.

As the "official" update tool is only available on Windows and I have Windows running on physical machines at my work place I tried to perform the update at work, but this did never work thanks to the crappy piece of software [Link]. Customer support told me ...

  • to check for OTA (over the air) updates (none found).
  • to unplung and plug in again until the Windows update tool would work (it did never).
  • to send in the phone so that the update would be installed for me (I do not want to send in a rooted phone and wait a week for it to return).

It took me over a year until I found out in a community forum that Retail versions of my phone do not receive updates over the air. The men and women at the customer support did not know that!

In the end I will have to flash an sbf file of dubious origin onto my phone with a inofficial flashing tool.

Thanks for nothing customer support.