Unsupportive support

Have you seen this trick?

When using a website to report a problem (in my case, there was a new feature in Blogger that wasn’t working properly), you are asked to enter all your information (name, email, system used, description of problem), and then will receive an automated email almost immediately.

Sometimes those emails are simply acknowledgements. We’ve got your request; it’s in our system, a real person will get back to you ASAP once we’ve had a chance to look at it. Have you looked at our FAQ? But more often I’m seeing a little phrase stuck in at that bottom warning casually that if you STILL need help you have to do something (click on a link, hit reply, etc.). It’s very easy to skip over that warning since it’s buried and not part of the standard dialogue, in which case your request for help will be discarded.

I went through that with Blogger (or “Google” as they are also known) and many days later they posted on their status page that the problem was fixed (in fact, the problem had been in existence for several days but this hadn’t appeared on their status page, the fix announcement referred to the issue appearing briefly which was rather optimistic of ’em). Several days after that, they send me a generic email in response to my support request, suggesting that the problem may be fixed, or it may be solved by a fix listed at a website they point me to (not relevant to my problem), and if it’s still a problem, I should just submit a help request again!

Wow. I mean, really the problem has been solved and that’s great, but to suggest I start all over again when it feels like I have to jump through so many hoops to get them to even acknowledge my request – yikes. Talk about frustration.

I acknowledge that Blogger is free for most, and there are some millions of blogger pages, and when a piece of the service goes down they are likely to get an incredible number of support requests, and so the logistics of actually providing support are tremendously demanding for them. Fair enough. But – just looking at the customer side of it, the chipper tone in the email doesn’t really help when it doesn’t feel like they are listening to me.

For Blogger support, I’ve mostly been using a third-party site – a community of Blogger users and experts and enthusiasts called BloggerForum – if nothing else, this allowed me to determine that my problem was widespread enough that others were experiencing it, and that eased my concerns significantly – I figured they are probably working fixing it if it’s a bigger problem than just me. But I couldn’t get that reassurance from Blogger (though if they had posted the problem on their status page immediately and not 3 days later, that could have helped), and that’s too bad.


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