Not every technical support issue is an "ID10T"

Technical support people have a term for user-errors: ID 10 T. Mushed together, it spells out ID10T, or idiot. Sometimes, they're even right. A great many computer problems are resolved by simply rebooting, checking to ensure the monitor is actually attached to the computer, or making sure the thing is even plugged in. I get that. What I don't get is the assumption that every problem is the result of a user-ID10T.

I'm spiraling through the depths of Technical Support hell with Adobe at the moment. This isn't a rant on Adobe per se (I generally really like their products), but it's a great example of how so many companies get it wrong.

First level of technical support hell: brush off the inquiry. I emailed their technical support folks to ask about a problem I had experienced with their web-conferencing program, Connect Pro. The gist of my email was I had followed their directions to the letter to set up a web-conferencing template, but it wasn't working. What should I do now?  The brush off came via a long form email that essentially said, "We're so sorry you are experiencing a problem.  Here is a link to our directions on this topic."  Uh, I'm emailing because the directions DON'T WORK!

Second level of technical support hell: try to prove the ID10T theory. I sent a follow-up email today to ask for additional assistance since their first message missed the mark.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call in response to my follow-up email, but soon grew frustrated. The person on the other end of the phone used unfamiliar idioms that made him very hard to understand. Worse, we spent 30 minutes going through a checklist of trouble-shooting ideas that I had already been through. How many times do I have to tell this guy I've already done that?! Finally, we got to the end of his list and he told me he'd have to do some additional research and get back to me. By now, I'm wishing it really was an ID10T issue so I could get on with it already.

Third level of technical support hell: promise to respond, but don't. I'm sure there is some study that shows if you don't call the customer back, he will just give up.  I was promised a follow-up response within about 30 minutes. That was about three hours ago and I'm still waiting.  I'm not giving up though!

Stop the madness!

Admittedly, these technical issues are sometimes difficult to resolve, but there's got to be a better way to handle them. For starters, the strategy of assuming the customer is an idiot has got to go. Secondly, the strategy of having an inexperienced (and presumably low-wage) person wade through an endless checklist before passing the issue along to someone who is actually competent has also got to go. The whole system smacks of their time is more valuable than mine. Meanwhile, I'm frustrated, I'm blogging about it, and my problem isn't resolved.

I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please let me know if you know a good tech support person at Adobe!