Tech support tanks -- when we need it most

Users have been empowered to choose their own devices, but when IT isn't in the loop, vendor tech support is critical -- and ain't what it used to be

One thing I already miss about the good old PC era -- this sounds so quaint -- is that PC companies actually used to compete to provide the best tech support.

I haven't conducted any surveys to determine to what degree the struggles of the PC industry have affected support, though I think I can assume a decline (imagine all those Windows 8 users jamming the support lines). But I seriously wonder if it could be as bad as my recent experience trying to get support for my Samsung Android tablet.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 shines bright | Get used to it: The post-PC employee has arrived | Subscribe to InfoWorld's Consumerization of IT newsletter today. ]

See, I happen to be a big fan of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and its S-Note application. I fell in love with the S-Pen -- because the drawing and note-taking felt natural and finally offered something I could do with a tablet that I couldn't do with a laptop (for a review, see "Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 shines bright"). So I went out and bought the Note 10.1.

I loved using it. I spent a lot of effort customizing everything just the way I wanted it. I became attached to the thing.

Bits of trouble

Then a few weeks ago I downloaded and installed Android "Jelly Bean." This was not a seamless process. Back when I bought the tablet, I had had to encrypt the device to use it as an Exchange client for work -- and to install "Jelly Bean," I was forced to decrypt and then encrypt again. Not a huge deal, but it was annoying.

As it turned out, a new version of S-Note had come along for the ride. When I tried to use the S-Pen, resting my hand on the screen spontaneously caused S-Note to zoom in without warning. My favorite app -- a big reason I had bought a $500 device -- had just become unusable.

I immediately started searching user forums to see if others had encountered the problem, and sure enough, they had. There was no way to turn off the zoom; one guy suggested using a fingerless glove as a fix. Although I bike to work and happened to have a biking glove handy, I didn't feel like wearing it to scribble on a tablet.

I tried Samsung's Web-based tech support and started a chat session, which led me nowhere. Then I tried phone support and asked if I could downgrade to the previous version. No way. Did Samsung have a fix? The tech replied curtly: "Samsung updates its software all the time." Then he pulled out a support script for dummies, so I thanked the guy and hung up.

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