I’m back from the summer break, and to quote Max Bygraves, “I wanna tell you a story”.
I have blathered on ad infinitum about documentation and training being two sides of the same coin. But, this fiscal simplification ignores the third leg, without which the chair will not stand up: Support. The written word passes on the information necessary in a dry, impersonal way. Training adds a little bit of humanity into the pot and some tips and tricks that are useful to know but somehow, for whatever reason, never get documented. And support is all human. You get to speak to someone who understands what you want and gives a reply to resolve whatever mind-numbing problem you were afflicted with.
Support use the documentation, and possibly the training, to pass this information across to the user. Often they know tips and tricks that they can pass to you to be included in the documentation and training materials. Support is the all important third leg in the transference of information!
And now to my story, which is about support, or the lack thereof.
Once upon a time, we were happily using HOT cable TV to supply all our recreational viewing needs. One day a wicked salesman from the competition, YES, knocked on our door and convinced us to switch to them. The channels on offer were, indeed in my not so humble opinion, better and the whole package, giving us more than we were getting, was also cheaper. Also, the salesman, always charming, said they would deal with leaving HOT, so we wouldn’t have to experience the unpleasantness of dealing with the HOT “stay with us” sales machine.
So far so good. The YES technicians came to install the various boxes for us and numerous children. Ah, but even at this early date problems started. We had asked for one thing and the technician wanted to install something else. We asked for one mega box (with VOD and recording and streaming), two semi-mega boxes (VOD) and two normal boxes. The technician had recorded all but one of the semi-mega boxes. A call to the ever-so-helpful salesman sorted that out (or so we thought). A misunderstanding and another semi-mega box was going to cost an extra $2.5 a month. What to do? We agreed. My step-daughter was present and signed the form that all was OK. Now my step-daughter, like everyone on this planet, is good at some things, brilliant at other things and lousy at still other things. In this case, she was lousy at verifying that everything was as it should be. The technician had recorded that we wanted four boxes so installed four boxes, even after we increased the number to five with the other ($2.5) semi-mega box. So now one child was left to suffer TV-less. We argued with YES and we talked to the salesman – but his job was done and after some meaningless promises to try and help, pulled out of the picture entirely, telling us that YES support was our only port of call.
We tried and tried with support but were constantly ignored or fed excuses (“but you signed that you were happy”, etc.) and told that to install the extra box was going to cost another $45. We could, if we wanted go for the ($2.5 per month) semi-mega box and only pay $20 installation. We decided to go for this option.
A digression: I received a bill from HOT for the month after we moved. I asked YES and they said it was because the bill was already in the works and it would be sorted out by HOT for the next month. I accepted this but when I received a bill from HOT for the next month, I phoned HOT support to ask what was going on. They were really nice on the phone and explained that they hadn’t received anything from YES and didn’t know anything about me quitting and to check with YES support what was going on. YES support told me I had to speak to HOT personally to disconnect, but they would refund the money paid to HOT (I am still waiting, but at least they are not totally denying responsibility for this).
And back to the main story. Another YES technician came to install the semi-mega box but told us it was a 2-man job and went away. A few days later a two-man team turned up and installed the box. And now the fun really starts. This team damaged a wall, broke the cable of an XBox (that was connected to the TV at the time they came) and did something to the XBox itself, probably dropped it on the floor, to make room for their elbows or something, so it also only works intermittently (which is slightly irrelevant, since the cable to the TV doesn’t work at all so we can’t see the extent of the XBox damage).
YES claimed that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs and the technicians had no choice. I claim that this is ridiculous and he should have fixed the wall and not broken the XBox in the first place. A few days later one of these technicians phones me to say he never touched the XBox or the wiring and caused no damage and wanted to come to see for himself. I suggested the next day, but he couldn’t come until three days later when he would phone me in the morning to arrange a time. Needless to say I am still waiting for the phone call (many days later).
And the semi-mega box? Well it only worked like a regular box. We phoned YES support and they told us to phone a different department (no possibility to transfer the call). Then we are told it is not that department but the people we phoned in the first place. Back to them and they ask a few questions, mainly centering around a router and whether it was plugged in or not. We didn’t have the router, so no wonder the semi-mega bit didn’t work! (Actually the technician who originally installed this box mentioned that the TV couldn’t handle the extra – but he never told us at the time, nor YES, who still claim their pound of flesh for a service apparently we could not receive).
Another technician came knocking on our door (without the 15 minute warning to get back from my workplace, that YES support had promised me). This technician looked at the connection and said it would need replacing since it was badly fitted, able to disconnect at any moment. Within 30 minutes, Edi (named because he deserves the praise, being the only one from a large team we have now met or talked to, who actually has done a good job) had the router in place, redid the connections and checked that the semi-mega box actually worked as it should.
So where does this leave us?
- Owed money for two-plus months paid to Hot that we shouldn’t have paid.
- Owed money for a time when the semi-mega box acted as if it was a normal box – because there was no router.
- Requiring a wall to be fixed.
- Requiring a new XBox cable and possibly XBox itself (or checkup with a licensed XBox repair station).
Support is important. It is the third leg, without which the whole edifice topples over. YES have a deal that if you are not satisfied with them you can get your money back. Unfortunately we are not part of this deal. HOT might not have the better channels, but they have by far the better support. And that is worth every channel in the world.
So what are we going to do? Give YES one last chance to make good, and if they don’t, go to court for damages and then go back to HOT.
Addendum: Yesterday I had a call from YES asking if I was with HOT or YES. I replied that unfortunately I was with YES but because of the disastrous service was thinking seriously of the upheaval of returning to HOT. His reaction? He put the phone down on me!