Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Customer Support: Bangalore Style...

A few months ago, I bought a top of the line Sony Vaio. It's a slick, light, and elegant piece of equipment with some serious power under the hood. I have spent most of my teenage and adult life in the company of computers - starting with my dad's Commodore 64 - and never have I suffered any security breaches or virus infiltrations. This is attributable mostly to good prevention ethics using open source, freeware, and sometimes pirated proprietary software. Anyway, my new Vaio came pre-loaded with McAfee Total Protection Suite free for 30 days with an option to buy. After a lifetime evading actually having to pay for software, I thought what the hell, with the price tag of this computer the least I could do is invest in some real protection. And so I did. I bought a two year license for a couple hundred bucks. The software contains the regular stuff: anti-virus, firewall, parental controls, and the like. Most importantly the software came with a pretty neat feature: a Password Vault. The idea of password vaults is simple. It's a data storage database for sensitive information encrypted in 128 bit encryption and protected by a single master password. And so, I loaded the password vault with the most sensitive of my data - internet banking passwords, credit card passwords, and debit card passwords. That was stupid considering that I am a routine user of TrueCrypt which is an open source encryption software that creates adhoc storage vaults for files and folders and KeePass which is another open source software for storing passwords and both are highly efficient.But hey, I spent a couple hundred bucks on McAfee and I was going to own it for the next 2 years so I'd better make use of it. 

It all worked fine until a few weeks ago when McAfee rolled out an update for its Total Protection Suite. Mine auto-updated. Suddenly it had a completely overhauled interface that I thought was pretty cool. But the problems started when I received my telephone bill and started looking for the Vault in order to send out an electronic transfer. Lo and behold, the Password Vault was nowhere to be found. I quickly Googled the topic and found out that McAfee had just decided to drop the functionality from its package. I agonized for a few minutes thinking all my passwords were lost until I stumbled upon an official support page with instruction on how to retrieve passwords stored in the now scrapped password vault. The instructions were pretty straight forward. Download a small application, run in the command prompt, and the outcome should be a text file with all the stored information. Straightforward it was, but it did not work. 

Back to the McAfee support site. Two options: Paid support or free online assistance. I chose the latter. After waiting for a few minutes I get greeted by a technical support fellow at the other end. I explained my problems and the steps I took and went over the error I was getting (the error has to do with my password that contains an "&" in the middle of it; for some reason the part after the "&" was being interpreted as a command resulting in an error and preventing the program from creating the expected Txt file). And so, Dinesh requests a remote assistance connection which I gladly granted. He goes through the same steps and declares defeat. Dinesh assures me that he will escalate the matter to his Tiers 2 technical support level - which I assumed were the big programming gurus - and will arrange a call back the next morning. True to his word, the next morning I receive a call from one of the big guns; or so I thought. An ignorant moron by the name of Bineh wastes a full hour of my time going through the exact steps albeit this time with my support. Again, he at the end apologizes and explains that the passwords cannot be retrieved. Losing my patience I asked Bineh-dumbass for a local US number to call. He respectfully declines. I ask to talk to his supervisor. His supervisor is unavailable. I insist. He then agrees to have his supervisor call me the next day. 

A new day, a new phone call. No, it's not a supervisor, but another Indian Techie. He starts blabbering about wanting to go over the same steps. I cut him short and ask for his supervisor. His supervisor is unavailable but will definitely call me back in 2 hours. I wait. No call. Three hours and a half later, Mr. Supervisor calls. 

"I'm sorry Sir - I hate being called Sir - I'm calling with regards to your support request No. blablabla... We have escalated the matter to our US headquarters and expect an answer after the weekend. Would you mind if we call you back on Monday morning?"

I reluctantly accepted. 

Monday morning, another techie calls - at this point I stopped keeping tally of the Indian names. Again, the same robotic introduction, a few stupid questions that I have answered 5 times over, and another apology for his total ignorance and incompetence. I request the supervisor who by this time I know is unavailable and receive another call-back promise.

Tuesday morning, yes, you guessed it, another ignorant techie calls. Same story, same answer. "There is no other way to retrieve the passwords, we have gone through all the troubleshooting steps". I am fuming at this point. 

"Where is your supervisor" I shout into my handset.
"He is unavailable at the moment Sir - I hate being called Sir - would you like me to arrange a call-back?"
"What for? I want to talk to someone who can offer solutions not apologize for knowing nothing except follow the instructions written on a support page"
"Can I download the previous version of the program?" I asked. The idea is simple enough; if I roll back to the previous version I would be able to retrieve my passwords and update back to the new version.
"I"m sorry Sir, McAfee updated their servers and it is impossible to download the previous version" Another ignorant and stupid answer. 
"Okay, get me your supervisor"
"I'm sorry Sir, my supervisor is unavailable at this moment but I can arrange for him to call you back. Would you like him to call you back in three hours?"
"Yes, have him call me back in three hours".

And the day passes; no supervisor calls. 

I wonder why these companies even bother having support centers when all they do is populate them with ignorant techies who just have no clue.

Anyway, now I'm gonna have to find a pirated older version, install it and hope it doesn't automatically searche for updates prior to finalizing the installation, and hopefully retrieve my passwords.

Morale: This is the last time I pay for crappy software and even crappier support.

No comments:

Post a Comment