Parallels guilty of clueless Mac support?

Tech support staff fail to deliver on Parallels Server's promise of Mac compatibility

Tim wrote in to the Gripe Line frustrated by phone support he'd paid for but didn't get. In this case, the lack of helpfulness came from the Parallels tech support staff, whom Tim had called for assistance with installing two Parallels Server 4.0 Bare Metal Edition (for Macintosh) licenses. Tim knew his problem was probably with the software because he had just purchased two brand-new xServers.

"The first time I called support and entered the number of my paid support contract, the tech who answered the phone hung up on me immediately," Tim writes. "The second time, I got through to a tech who told me to hang up, submit an email, and they'd get back to me. The third time, I told the tech I wanted to talk to his supervisor. The supervisor listened as I described my problem. He took all my information down and then told me that I'd get an email from the support tech with an answer. If they needed to talk to me, they'd call me."

[ For a look at where tech support is going, read Christina Tynan-Wood's "The (better) future of tech support." | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

Tim felt as if he was getting the brush-off. "I bought and paid for their gold support package," he explains. "It specifically states that I am entitled to telephone support."

But here he was being punted to email support -- and not very effective email support at that. "They take four hours -- or longer -- to respond to my emails," he complained.

After two weeks of this, he was no closer to having his problem resolved than on the day he made that first call. He called his sales rep, hoping she could fast-track his problem, which she did, but that had no apparent effect either. As he was penning his letter to the Gripe Line, he got an email from the company informing him that it does not support Apple's hardware RAID solution.

This did not improve Tim's mood: "I have brand-new xServes with the xServe RAID card. Parallels markets their products based on Macintosh compatibility."

I forwarded his letter to Parallels and very quickly got a note back from John Uppendahl, senior director of global communications, promising to look into Tim's problem and take care of it. Shortly after that, Uppendahl told me Tim's problem was solved. Indeed it was, confirmed Tim.

"Their solution, after I told them that I either wanted it working or I wanted a refund, was to exchange the license I originally bought -- the Bare Metal version -- for their more traditional license, which runs on OS X," Tim says. "Once they did that, it took less than a day to get everything working."

This is not the first complaint I've heard from a reader who cannot get a straight answer -- or support staff that seem to know the answer -- when problems crop up getting products to run on Apple hardware. Another reader referred to his experience with a different company as "yet another example of clueless Mac support."

Are you, Gripe Line readers, harboring more examples of "clueless Mac support" or products that claim compatibility but turn out not to work out of the box? Let us know in the comments section.

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This story, "Parallels guilty of clueless Mac support?," was originally published at Read more of Christina Tynan-Wood's Gripe Line blog at


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