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We can get bad service for a lot less, can't we?

I had breakfast with an old friend who asked if I could recommend a Windows support firm to him. Unfortunately, I can't.

His problem is that people he had recommended have let him down. Missed appointments, unreturned calls and even worse: incorrect setup of system software. All too typical, unfortunately, which is why I can't recommend anyone any better. The only thing I could offer is reflected in the title of this post: if all we can get is bad service, I do know people who can do that for less money.

It's incompetence that rankles me the most. I've said this over and over: I am NOT a Windows person. I don't know an awful lot about it and am really not qualified to offer support. Yes, at one time I did attain a Microsoft MCSE certification, but that was a long time ago and I haven't kept up with it. So if I see some supposed Windows "expert" befuddled by something that *I* know how to fix, my opinion of their expertise goes down dramatically. If you know less than I do about Windows, you have no business representing yourself as even competent, never mind "expert". Unfortunately, I've run into that all too often.

The other stuff (cancelled appointments, not bothering to return calls) is just incomprehensible. You'd think that this would be most common among sole proprietors, but my friend reminded me that he use to work for IBM and that the same crap would happen there. Apparently there are damn few of us who care to exhibit decent manners, never mind good business sense.

I know what the reason often is: overbooking. People trying to squeeze every dime out of every day. Something new comes in that fills in better and that's what they'll do. Or they just run out of time because they haven't scheduled realistically. That's a lousy way to run your business and a lousy way to treat your customers. Oh, I hear the excuses, but that's all they are: lousy excuses for bad business practice.

Yes, sometimes real emergencies come up and appointments have to be cancelled. If those circumstances aren't very rare, once again I have to wonder about your competence: why do you have so many "emergencies"? A good support person arranges things so that big problems are unlikely and mitigation procedures are in place. True, you can't control everything and sometimes you end up owning a basket of rotten fruit you never planted or picked. But those should be highly unusual circumstances, not something that happens over and over again.

Not returning calls? Yes, I've been in dead cell phone areas just like everyone else, and pay phones can be hard to find today. I've also sometimes been tied up so intensely with a nasty issue that I really can't break away. Again, those things happen, but they should be very, very rare. If I can't return a call within a few hours, I'm upset. I'll be asking strangers to borrow their cell phone if it hits three hours and if I'm really stuck on something I'll at least try to make a quick "I can't talk right now" response. Never mind being good business - that's just common human courtesy!

So, we had our breakfast and our coffee, chatted about politics a bit and then went our separate ways. As we were getting in our cars in the parking lot, he said "If you do think of anyone...".

Sadly, that's not likely. I'm not saying there are no good people out there; of course there are. I just don't know them.



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Wed Jan 20 05:53:14 2010: 7930   SanfordSmith

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I've recently discovered your site and I'm enjoying the content.

About supporting Microsoft - at one time I supported Novell, today I support Microsoft. Small businesses today still need file and print and usually some form of accounting or database software. Not all that much has changed in 20 years.

One trend I see a lot of is extending the life of old servers by virtualizing them. Set up an old SCO 5.0.7 server on Vmware and there's really no reason why that installation shouldn't run for another 5-10 years.







Wed Jan 20 12:17:28 2010: 7931   TonyLawrence

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Yes, I agree. I have been a little hesitant on SCO 5.0.7v because of the licensing - I'm not convinced that they'll be around to renew any licenses - but it certainly is an option when migrating to Linux is difficult.

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