The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 07 November 2003]

The meaning of unsupported

Reading through the forums on Macintouch, MacFixit, and those sorts of sites, there seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding the meaning of the word “unsupported.” If you call Apple, Microsoft, Dell, or whoever made the product you’re having a problem with, and they tell you that what you’re trying to do is unsupported, that does not necessarily mean that it’s impossible or will not work. All unsupported means is “we’re not going to spend the time to tell you how to do it.” That’s all. Now, what you’re trying to do may actually not be possible. It may not be within the realm of possibility to get your ImageWriter working with your Dell laptop. But that’s not what it means when Dell tells you it’s unsupported. It’s just not a part of what the company feels they need to help you accomplish. Hence, unsupported.

Remember that customer support is a necessary evil for companies. Every dime Dell has to spend on having somebody in a cubicle tell somebody how to install a printer driver is a dime that doesn’t go into the share holders’ pockets. There’s a fine line: Make your tech support to skimpy, and you’ll get a bad name among consumers; make it too extensive, and you’ll bleed money like a stuck pig.

Also bear in mind when you make that tech support call that phone support is the rat-infested, cholera-plagued trench of the tech industry. The perceived helpfulness of the rep you talk to will be influenced by your own attitude. If you’re friendly and respectful, you’ll get a lot further than if you treat the rep like a serf. Trust me on this. You’re probably frustrated when you call, since obviously something isn’t working right, but taking that frustration out on the rep will not help anybody.

Oh, and threatening to never buy the company’s products again will not cut you any ice whatsoever.

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