Beware the perils of offshore tech support

An Adobe customer looks for an Audition expert and finds frustration in what may be yet another disturbing tech support trend

Tommy wrote to the Gripe Line after hitting a wall trying to get Adobe Audition to run correctly on Windows 7: "I sent an email to find out why I couldn't seem to control my input signal in multi-track mode and received a quick response in the form of a .pdf file. Cool. But that solution was something I'd already tried several times."

So Tommy called technical support hoping to find an expert who could walk him through what was obviously a more complex problem. "After spending more than five minutes getting the tech to understand that my name is 'Tommy' not 'Tammy,' he sent me to a specialist for the more difficult matter of resolving my issue with Audition."

[ Beware the painful lessons from IT outsourcing and offshoring gone bad. | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

An hour later, still on the phone, Tommy was no closer to finding someone who could help.

"I'm sure India has some very talented workers," he says. "I'm very sure the folks of India work for pennies a day. But after I was transferred several times to get to an expert who could help, after explaining this problem slowly three times, the expert's best suggestion was to try undocking or to maximize the level meter."

Though this solution might work if he was having a problem with the level meter, he wasn't. It had nothing to do with his signal input problem, giving Tommy cause to once again doubt this tech's "expert" status. Before Tommy could explain again, though, he was disconnected. Now he was not only frustrated but angry.

"I like Adobe products," he says. "But just like the rest of America, we're failing economically here in California. For a San Jose, California, company to send jobs to India while our unemployment is in the double digits is wrong. I've wasted my time, still don't have a resolution to my issue, and I'm very disappointed."

I can't do anything about the jobless rate in California and the rest of the United States or the fact that so much tech support is outsourced to India, but I can say that this is a complaint I've been hearing frequently lately. What's more, offshoring appears to be on the rise, with India still adding IT jobs despite the recession.

I contacted Adobe to see whether someone could get Tommy's copy of Audition working without subjecting him to another round of transferred calls, butchered names, and suspect advice. The next day I got a note from Tommy saying things were looking up.

"Your action really got things rolling for me," he says. "Right away, I received an email and a phone call from Adobe."

This week, Adobe told me that a support team resolved Tommy's problem, though the fault turned out not to be with Adobe's product.

"It is Adobe's goal to provide our customers with the highest-quality service and provide quick, effective assistance," says Adobe's Customer Support team. "We regret this was not Tommy's experience. We've since worked directly with him and resolved the issue. We determined the problem was with his sound card, not Audition. We appreciate Tommy's patience and understanding and will be using his feedback to help improve our processes going forward. In order to provide enhanced technical support and service to our valued customers, any customer with an escalated or urgent issue can contact Adobe at adbecare@adobe.com and their issue will be resolved by a team of Customer Care experts."

Tommy is satisfied with the way things turned out.

"A tremendously helpful and supportive Adobe tech spent 45 minutes on the phone with me working through the possibilities," he says. "It turned out that my Lexicon Omega DAW sound card wasn't supporting Windows 7. As usual, Microsoft was in such a hurry to get its product on the market that other companies have a hard time keeping up with the driver updates. I contacted Lexicon, and they don't have updated drivers for Windows 7 and don't know when one will be available." Tommy is shopping for a new sound card, but he and Adobe are back on speaking terms.

"In the end," he says, "though Adobe's tech support was initially lacking in this case -- even from their perspective -- Audition was functioning as it was supposed to."

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

This story, "Beware the perils of offshore tech support," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Christina Tynan-Wood's Gripe Line blog at InfoWorld.com.

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