Alan Hargreaves's Weblog

Customer Service (?) from Acer Support

Alan Hargreaves
Senior Principal Technical Support Engineer

Updated twice (see end of entry)

After having my Dell notebook die outside of warranty two years ago, I made sure to buy the extended warranty when I replaced it with an Acer Ferrari 4005 in November/December 2005.

About a month ago, (around 2 years after purchase interestingly, just like the Dell), I started having problems with it. I noticed a couple of cracks on the top of the screen and that I had two keys starting to be questionable (they work about 50% of the time). Shortly after that I started seeing windows regularly crash and Solaris hang. A little investigation showed that the video card (on the main board) was starting to play up.

So, obviously I arranged to have it sent back under warranty.

This is where the tragedy of errors begins.

I got the tracking number when DHL picked it up from Gordon at about 9:30.

It looks like the driver drove all day before dropping it into his depot at 8:00pm that evening (end of shift?). It then looks like it went out of the depot for an hour at about 3am before being returned at 4am and was finally delivered to the repair center in Flemington at about 9:15am the next morning. Note the distance between the repair center is about an hours drive, if that.

OK I was called a few days later to be told that the screen would not be replaced under warranty, but if I was willing to pay for it they'd replace it. I declined. My belief at this point was that the main board had been done and it would be shipped back to me shortly, and everything I said communicated this expectation. Nothing was done to correct it.

The following week I had a call stating that they wouldn't be replacing the keyboard as there had been a "liquid spill" on both the keyboard and the disk. I reached over my desk and picked up the disk (which I kept as I did not wish it reformatted) and said "hmmm interesting, I have the disk in my hand and see no such evidence. If there is evidence of a liquid spill on the disk currently installed, it must have happened there", which of course prompted denials. The upshot was that they also were not going to replace the keyboard unless I paid for it. Given I can clean a keyboard myself I declined. Again the expectation thing, in fact I also changed the address for them to return it as I would be working from home the next few days. No correcting of that expectation.

At this point they had had it for a week.

Come Friday, I was concerned that I still hadn't got it. So, yet another call to the support line (and the interminable wait being constantly informed of my position in the queue). At this point I discover (for the first time) that the main board is actually on back-order, and everyone that I had previously spoken to had been aware of this and not passed it on. They would not tell me the expected date of delivery.

Monday I tried again after hours and got probably my first good experience with Acer Customer Service. The guy was very helpful and understanding and did actually tell me that my part was expected on November 29.

I called during the day the next day to speak with some in-hours person about my disappointment in the way that I had been mislead and got the usual platitudes.

OK, come Thursday (Nov 29), I called a bit later in the day to verify that work had either been complete or had at least started. The back-order had slipped to the next day.

Let's try again, Monday December 3. It had slipped to December 5 (the following Wednesday).

At this point I demanded that if it slipped again that I would be called immediately that information was known and received that commitment.

I was on training Tuesday & Wednesday so didn't get to call them until after hours on Wednesday. Again, I got another person who really tried their best (hmm why do I have better experiences with their after hours staff?). Unfortunately the case ticket had not been updated, but they offered to email the technician who was doing the repair so that they would call me first thing this morning.

You guessed it, it didn't happen.

I called up a few minutes ago (and waited on a queue that started at length 20). Gave my case number and Identified myself. I was then told that the part had not arrived and that there was an outstanding query to their supplier about when it would be delivered.

I was livid. Especially at the "I understand why you are upset" platitudes.

Apart from not being called this morning as per commitment, from last night, the delivery had slipped again and no-one thought to get in touch with me.

Acer Support is not a small company, but this kind of behavior makes them look decidedly mickey mouse.

I have demanded to be told the instant that they know the new delivery date, and received yet another commitment to be called this afternoon with the information.

It goes to their management if they drop the ball again, I've had it. I've been without my notebook now for more than three weeks. Maybe I should send them a bill for the time I've wasted on the phone trying to sort this out. That should come close to replacing the screen!

One thing is for sure, much as I liked the machine and the good performance it has given me, I will not be replacing this machine with another from Acer when the time comes.

A suggestion to the folks on the phones at Acer support. Your customers are your reason for existence. Without them, you would not have a job. When you make a commitment, you honor it. A Suppliers support division is one of the main reasons that that they get return custom. Here in the Sun Support office in Gordon, we used to have a poster up that simply said "It can take years to win a customer, and seconds to lose them". Truer words were never uttered. If the first people that I had spoken to had set my expectations correctly from the outset, I would not be as angry as I currently am. A simple "To fix your video card, is a main board replacement. We've had to order this in and they normally take 3-4 weeks" would have done this.

If I had treated a customer with the obvious contempt with which I feel I have been treated by Acer Support, I would expect and deserve a serious ass-kicking from my management.

Update #1

Well, it's just gone 5pm here and I have not received the promised call from Acer. Tomorrow we start talking to call center management. Sigh, I wish it hadn't come to this. Folks, you don't promise a customer something only to get them off the phone so you can forget about it.

Update #2

Just got off a phone call with their escalation department speaking with someone called Frank. Unfortunately the phone system somewhere between us was playing up. I noticed while in the queue that I had extended periods of silence and it looks like one of those occurred while I was speaking with this person.

He agrees that this has taken a long time and told me that there is still no ship date on the back-ordered main board. While I am skeptical about this, he has committed to having the repair folks actually see if the board can be repaired, as apparantly this is one of the things that the Highpoint folks in Flemington do. I am to expect to be called by them early next week.

We shall see.

Just before we got cut off, I was pointing out that there appear to me to be call-centre folks in the support centre who will commit to almost anything to get an upset customer off the phone and then ignore it. Unfortunately I did not get to hear his response to this as that's when the line went silent again and then was disconnected a minute later.

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