Tag Archives: customer-support

Straight to the source

I used to marvel at the fact that when I asked a question on IRC, or a mailing list, I would, as often as not, get a response from the very person who wrote the software I was asking about.

That was a long time ago. The internet has gotten bigger, and, with that, the probability or ease of going straight to the source has diminished. Nowadays, not only are you likely to not be talking to the author, you’re also less likely to be talking to someone who knows anything at all. Often they tell you something that simply isn’t true, or is half-true or misleading. Usually this isn’t out of maliciousness, but just out of ignorance, and the imperfect transfer of knowledge in the form of tutorials written by people who themselves weren’t quite sure.

The same is true in the business world, of course. The larger a company gets, the less informed the tech support tends to be, until you get to a point where the front-line customer support are nothing more than note-takers for the folks who actually know something.

Unfortunately, being the hot-head that I am, this leads me to say unkind things about the entire company, because, to those of us who may our monthly dues and use your product, your customer support is the entire company.

You can have the most marvelous product in the world, but if your customer support reps are ignorant, belligerent, or even have bad grammar, we, your customers, make assumptions about your entire company based on that interaction.

I was very pleased to get a direct response from Jim Wong about my above-referenced posting. It’s fascinating to me that the very best way to get someone’s attention on today’s internet is to make a comment on MY site, or on Twitter, rather than on the site of the person I want to contact. I suppose this shouldn’t be unexpected — it’s much the same in the real world. An letter to the editor of the local newspaper gets more attention than a letter directly to the mayor’s office, when I’m disgruntled about city policy.

Fortunately, my opinion of a company can often be turned around by being contacted by the folks who *do* know something. It means a lot to me that the head of a company is aware of what’s being said about his company, and takes a proactive role in correcting misconceptions. It also helps when his answers make sense, and actually show an understanding of my questions.

Now, while I’m not sure that I feel the answer was the one that I want, I at least think that Jim understood the question, and had thought through the implications of his answer.

Sugarsync Customer Support

It’s amazing how much difference good customer support can make.

SugarSync has a good product. It could be better, but for the most part it’s really good. However, their customer support is rapidly turning me from being a fan to wondering if I made a mistake.

Sugarsync is basically a fancy front-end to rsync. This is what I expected, and wanted. They also have a web front end where you can browse your files. As expected, this interface is accessible only via SSL. So far so good.

However, it also has a feature where it detects that a directory contains images, and creates an album/gallery view of that directory. This content, for some reason, is accessible over http, and can’t be accessed over https.

Now, if you’ve ever been somewhere with an open wireless network (conference, airport, coffee shop) and experimented with a program like Etherpeg, you’ll immediately see the problem with this. Not that my photos are confidential, or blackmail material, or whatever, but they’re my photos. If I wanted them to be public, I’d put them on Flickr. Until I choose to put then on Flickr, I want them treated as though they were confidential.

So I opened a ticket, asking for SSL on the gallery view. I received a response that said that SSL isn’t necessary, because they use cookies for authentication, and so nobody can log in to get my content.

Um … huh?

I wrote back saying that I was well aware of what SSL is, and what cookie auth is. I didn’t wave my HTTPD credentials – perhaps I should have. But you can’t pretend that cookies substitute for SSL with a straight face.

I received a response back saying that my ticket had been closed, because it had been dealt with in a satisfactory manner. I wrote back once more asking that they consider what I had asked for a little more carefully, and that they take a look at Etherpeg.

No response.

Later on, I was trying to manage files on the server. They have this gallery preview, but in that view, you can’t rename or delete files. They have the file browser view, but there you can’t see which photo you’re looking at. I asked if they could either add the filename to the gallery view, so that I could at least know which files to delete, or add a delete option to the gallery view.

I got a rapid response saying “Our product doesn’t have that feature.” And the ticket was closed.

Seriously? That’s the response I get?

So, I guess that the feature set that’s there is the one that I get, and their feature request form on their website isn’t actually treated seriously.

Or, maybe they just use it as the inbox, and they have another issue tracking system behind the curtain somewhere.

One can hope.