Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More

From a guest blogger

I recently got an email from Cox cable telling me that they want me to upgrade my modem. I was good with that because it’s their network, and they know what works best - or at least they should. If they want to replace my original modem for free and it helps streamline their network, why should I complain?

I followed instructions to the letter but it didn’t work. I tried for an hour to make it happen, but because I wasn’t interested in spending another hour on the phone with one of their service people, I emailed them a note saying that if they want me to use the new modem, they will have to send a technician to my house.

I know a lot about computers and networking, but why should I spend my time doing their work?

This is a very common practice among technology companies. They expect users to do their fine tuning. They send a new product to market, software in particular, and wait for comments to come rolling in. They incorporate these fixes and send out patches and updates or even new software.

To thwart this, I always wait a few weeks to upgrade any software or suggested hardware because I know there will be patches or alterations coming along, the result of users bringing problems to the company's attention. I waited the usual several weeks after the modem arrived, didn’t get a follow-up email, and then installed it. My system isn’t fool proof.

From the company’s perspective, it’s free R&D. They get non-employees to do work without pay. I’m tired of this attitude. Get the product right and don’t expect me to troubleshoot it for you. We don’t tolerate this attitude in other consumer products, so why do we tolerate it for computers, software and internet-related services?

(Microsoft wonders why people aren’t flocking to Vista. This is why.)

If I hear from Cox cable, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I put back my old modem and it works fine. It’s their loss, not mine.

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