Vendor support vs. user support

Jon Udell asks the question: “How can high-tech product support be so abysmally bad? And how did we arrive at the point where users, not vendors, provide so much of the useful information?”

What an unusual perspective! I’d been a fan of the PCVENDB forum on CompuServe for support from Fox Software, but far more importantly from the many wonderful “users” — fellow developers and consultants — who taught me Fox software and consulting and so much wisdom. Even after the purchase by Microsoft, support didn’t come from the vendor, but from the forums – CompuServe’s FoxForum and the FoxForum Wiki and Ed Leafe’s ProFox mailing list. The vendor might occasionally post a knowledgebase article confirming what we already knew. But users have always supported software. They have no choice.

I recall seeing a directory on some vendors CDs labeled UNSUPPORTED, with a disclaimer that said the vendor would provide no technical support for the included tools. My question: Unsupported? How can you tell?

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.