New Installations and Upgrades-- Whose to Blame!

  spuds 12:33 24 Aug 2003

Reading through the various postings within the PCA forums, we seem to have a continuing debate about support services and providers.The main points seem to stem on who or how these services should be provided and how should they be financed, and to what degree of technical support level should be offered.

How many times have you purchased and installed a product, and then found you have a serious problem to solve. Software that your computer does not reconize, even though the software packaging states that it is compatible.This usually results in trying to get answers from the manufacturer or supplier, with delays and sometimes total confusion, which leads to poorer customer relations.Look at some of the larger software companies, whose products require patches and configurations, because the product was released too early.

Hardware can also have its problems.You purchase something like a printer or scanner device, and then find the drivers supplied are not fully workable, so it is the customers route to download new drivers fron the internet, if they are available, or send lengthy emails, hoping that you will get a prompt reply.Sometimes alternatives have to be found.That is where PCA usually comes into the running, with the great support and advice freely given by knowledgable contributors.

The point that I am trying to make, is surely,if the product and all the advertising that goes with that product states something then that product should do it.Why should the customer have to chase up further sources, so that the product works. This ruling seems to be more acceptable within the computer world than in any other industry, but why should it.

Queries raised--now over to you!.

  [DELETED] 12:56 24 Aug 2003

Bolt an oil pump, that is not made by Jaguar onto a new Jaguar, and try to claim when your engine seizes. It is perfectly acceptable for computer manufacturers to refuse help if someone puts hardware onto their system that is not approved. This is the only way to ensure quality components are used rather than items, which may be potentially lethal, from a bunch of cowboys.

Imagine if printer manufacturers had no terms about using ink cartridges. Gandalf Manuf.Co. sees a business oppotunity to knock out loads o'cartridges at a pound each. Natch, they are utter rubbish and screw up all the printers big time. Why should Canon, Epson et al., pay for someones' attempt to save some money?

If a computer manufacturer has out the wrong drivers on a computer directing a customer to d/l the new ones is not too difficult (esp. with XP). If piece of software royally shafts the registry I fail to see why the compouter manufacturer should become involved.

A lot of this is to do with peoples frvour to get cheaper and cheaper prices. There is a pay-off. You CANNOT pay Vauxhall Nova prices AND expect Rolls-Royce service. It is the customers' responsibility to check ANY service agreement, that they sign for and no one elses' concern. It is also the customers' responsibility to ensure that any servicing calls will meet their requirements. It is the manufacturers responsibilty to ensure that service agreements are clear in their terms.

Computers are notoriously fickle in their operstion and it would help if people had some sort of knowledge before they bought one or at least realised that computers can be quite complicated if you are a complete novice. There are loads of free courses around tha anyone can sign up for.


  Forum Editor 12:58 24 Aug 2003

(for that's what your post is about) is a complex one, and isn't something that is ever going to be completely solved.

In an average week I probably use around a dozen different machines - mainly when I'm visiting clients - and it's rare to find two that 'feel' the same. People fiddle and tweak, and on private machines I find all kinds of obscure software applications - many of them things that people have downloaded from one web site or another.

Imagine that you are writing a driver for say, a scanner that has to work in WindowsXP - what do you do? You write it and test it, both with the operating system and with commonly used applications like Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, Ulead PhotoImpact, and a dozen other applications. All works well, and Microsoft certify the driver. So far so good - your scanner sells well, and everything in the garden is rosy, until one day...........

An email arrives on the customer support desk, saying that the scanner keeps crashing the system - what are you proposing to do about it? When you investigate you discover that the customer in question has downloaded Photo-twiddly 1.0 from, and because the code contains appalling errors it's bringing everything to a screeching halt.

Over to you - what do you do?

Multiply that email by a hundred, and then imagine that the same thing applies to virtually every hardware driver on the planet and you have an idea of the scale of the problem facing manufacturers.

There's always a fix, always a workaround, and always someone who has been there before. That's where forums like this come in, as you say. Things have got a lot better in the past few years, thanks to better and more stable operating systems, and continuous development by manufacturers, but as for a permanent solution - forget about that - it isn't going to happen.

  [DELETED] 13:09 24 Aug 2003

To be fair the design and development of new software is quite a complex business. Although they are tested vigourously there are always bugs that are not picked up.

Also it is almost impossible to tell what configuration of software & hardware that is being used on anyone computer.

Of all the computers used in the uk I doubt if there are many that have the same software and hardware installed.

  [DELETED] 14:03 24 Aug 2003

It's actually literally impossible to test all conditons for any piece of software even on one single hardware configuration. That's just a fact of life.

Large company's have very sophisticated testing and simulation facilities - small companies have less or non. But it doesn't matter how good they are they, testing techniques can never be perfect.

There is always a time in a commercial enterprise when a product has to be gotten "out of the door" - or they would all go broke during the testing phase. And at the end of the day, the only possible final say is when users start using it - and they do things that were never dreamt of - and sometimes put it into situations it was never meant for.

This applies to every product ever made, computers or not - though modern electronics, and computer software have the situation in spades due to their complexity.

Consumers and manufacturers alike just have to learn to live with these facts of life, or have no new products.

The trick is how you go about handling post sales issues, because they'll never be eliminated - and the consumer has to be part of the process, not just an idle stander-by saying "not my problem".

  [DELETED] 14:13 24 Aug 2003

Buyers also have to realise that their supplier is almost never the manufacturer. From HP to Time to Joe Bloggs Computer Shop they buy parts and assemble them into systems. The parts they buy are often made up from chips (sometimes very complex ones, such as graphics processors) sourced from even further down the chain.

say the hard Drive in your HP computer goes wrong. Who is to "blame"

You? - well just possibly, if you done some unaccptable mod tha made it run very hot.

The Carrier who delivered it - maybe, if they dropped it, say - but who would know?

Fred Bloggs - who sold it to you? - well very unlikely, he didn't assemble or manufacture any part of it.

HP - perhaps - they must have tested it - but then it might have been working OK when it was tested

The Disk Drive manufacturer - Possibly - if they designed it or assembled it poorly - but I bet it was working when they tested it

The chip manufacturer whose chip failed on the board in the drive - well maybe if they designed it poorly - or maybe the fabricatuon plant, if they contracted otu fabrication of the chip.

You see the point - blame is useless - understanding that the whole chain is complex, but handling the problem correctly is paramount.

  spuds 19:14 26 Aug 2003

Going to green tick it now. Still open for further discussion though.

  [DELETED] 19:32 26 Aug 2003

This is modified from another post I've made. Although intended for complete PC units, most of what I've written can apply to both hardware and software:

The thing that's missing in most post sales support offers/contracts/warranties/whatever you want to call them is a lack of clarity in what is offered and lack of definition of what is meant by certain words and phrases. Notable amongst the biggest causes of anger and confusion on these pages is "On Site Warranty".

As part of a Sales Contract the After Sales Service should be defined. Not defined in legalese and jargon but in real plain English. These people click here should be able to help if the sellers lawyers have difficulty finding understandable phraseology.

OK, fine, different levels of after sales service may be acceptable but this is of no use at all if customers (and often the Customer Services Operatives) do not understand what the contract means. If you do have these different levels of service, then abide by them.

The After Sales Service Contract (in plain English) of any level of service should be part of the Sales Agreement and legally binding on BOTH sides.


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