Talking tech since 2003

It’s a task which may be harder then you ever expected, but getting in contact with numerous web companies both small and large can be an extremely daunting if not impossible task.  Ever try and call Google for tech support?  What about Facebook?  Or even Twitter?  Up until recently, Google did not provide phone support for Nexus One customers who required assistance.  If someone is paying you $530 for a phone with your company’s name on it – you should have a place where the customer can call and receive help.  However, this wasn’t always the case.

Now, If you visit the Nexus One contact page you can now find a phone number to call for technical support or to check on existing orders while repairs and returns are handled by HTC even though Google sells the phone directly from their website.  I think Google has now figured out the type of support they previously offered for free services simply doesn’t work when you have people paying money for a product and/or service.

While most of Google’s services are in fact offered for free and fairly straight-forward in terms of usage, Google does make sure there are support documents within their help pages for each and every problem known and documented.  I do applaud them for that.  You can typically find a solution to a problem you are having with a Google product through their help pages, however, there are so many documented problems and solutions sometimes finding the exact one can be the issue at hand.  That is where email comes into play but that can take at least 2-3 days to receive a response.

So what am I getting at?  Well, I’m mostly concerned with the fact that Nexus One support is still all over the place – tech support and order issues are handled by Google, repairs and returns are handled by HTC, and Network issues are T-Mobile (or your carriers problem).  So far, Google has been able to manage to persuade others (HTC, T-Mobile, etc) to handle several layers of the support system for the Nexus One.  This has caused mass confusion for customers as this PC World article points out:

One customer going by the name Roland78 said he was transferred between T-Mobile and HTC four times, spending a total of one-and-a-half hours on the phone with customer service. “T-Mobile also said Google hasn’t provided them with any support documents for the phone. Welcome to direct sales Google!” he wrote.

Another using the name SouthFlGuy was also sent back and forth between HTC and T-Mobile after finding no help from Google. “I guess I was under the wrong impression but I thought Google would handle the service on the phone,” he wrote.

Let’s be fair though, Google isn’t alone here. Facebook is right up there too when it comes to the difficulty of trying to find someone to contact about a particular problem. I previously wrote about the problems with Facebook Pages.  When Facebook revokes a users access to a particular page they do not provide a phone number to call to challenge the removal.  They don’t even provide an email address or a link where you can send a request to regain access.  Why?  Certainly an email address or a contact form (at the very least) could be provided.  I guess I could understand the costs of telephone support when you are offering a free service.

Which leads me to the question, do you think these major web companies/services will be able to hide behind “we offer free services, so we don’t need to provide telephone support” forever?  Do you think we will see some kind of intervention (perhaps government) in the future which requires these companies to have a number you can call?  I understand the costs associated with telephone support but if your web service is serving millions of users every day, I think you owe it to them.

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