Monday, June 14, 2010

It must really suck to work for Xbox support

I don’t even know where to begin.

This might come out all jumbled because it was one of the most frustrating experiences with customer service I have ever experienced; and I have experienced them from both the customer side and the support provider side many times in my life (more so on the provider side)

As mentioned in previous blog entries, my Xbox Elite died and I sent it off to be repaired or replaced. It wasn’t a warranty repair, so I paid about $123 Cdn for the “service”.

Much to my surprise, once I finally sent it off, I received it back today. Amazing four business day turn-around. I was happy.

Until I opened the box.

There sat a nice, plastic-wrapped, refurbished Xbox Elite with a 30-day Xbox Live Gold card taped to it to add onto my existing account (for my troubles, I assume)… and no power supply brick.

Now, before anyone says “WTF? You sent the power supply too? You’re not supposed to send accessories!”, let me explain something.

In a brief chat with @XboxSupport on Twitter, I specifically asked if I should send the power supply with the Xbox console.

XboxQuestion

To which they replied…

XboxReply

I am well aware of the “no accessories” rule, but the reason I asked was because my Xbox did absolutely nothing when turned on. No power at all. By sending the power supply, I was hoping to ward off any bad experiences with a refurb Xbox and a faulty power supply.

So much for that idea.

So, I decided I would call up Xbox support and have a chat. Surely this can be resolved quickly, and to my satisfaction.

First off, their support line seemed to throw me into a loop. I guess it detected my phone number, saw I had a repair incident and decided I should need to know the status.

Ok, thanks, but I want to talk to someone.

For some reason, it kept telling me that for repairs, visit support.xbox.com online and submit the repair request and then just left me hanging to go back to the main menu. It may very well have been my own mistake, but I couldn’t seem to find an option to speak with a real human being.

I hung up and swore a few times.

I called back. I decided I would try Tech Support. If anything, I’m sure they could tell me who I should speak with.

I lucked out and got through to an option to speak with a person.

I really don’t recall his name, but the guy was polite and had a slight accent. It’s nothing personal, but I rarely listen to names. Bad habit. My mind is so preoccupied with what I want to say, that it goes in one ear and out the other.

So I explained what the problem was. After a few misunderstandings, he asked if he could place me on hold to look for my power supply. Yep, look for my power supply.

He came back, thanked me for holding, and proceeded to explain that it would be 9-12 days for it to be returned to me.

Umm… wait a minute… 9-12 days???

I asked him how this was possible. It took 4-5 days for my dead console to be shipped to them, be replaced, and shipped back to me… yet it’s going to take 9-12 days for them to return a power supply to me?

He actually interrupted me and began to explain that for “accidentally returned” accessories, this was the norm.

I then proceeded to clarify that this was not an “accidentally returned” accessory. (Never mind the fact that I don’t consider a crucial part for the operation of an Xbox, like a power supply, to be an accessory) I told him that had asked @XboxSupport if I should send the power supply with the console and I was told yes (or “yeah” as the case may be)

This is where we got stuck in a loop. The support rep stuck with the corporate policy of 9-12 … me explaining that this was not my mistake… him giving more apologies… me poking and prodding for some kind of compensation… more apologies… more corporate policy… and then me thanking him for his help, assuring him that I appreciated his help, and then asking to speak with a manager.

When I worked in support, I hated that. But it happens, and you comply with the customer’s request.

I got some resistance, as expected. It was explained to me that the manager would tell me the same thing. I thanked him and insisted. He asked if he could put me on hold while he found a manager. I thanked him.

{Insert annoying hold music here}

I don’t know how long I waited… 2 or 3 minutes perhaps?

He came back and explained that he was still looking for a manager. I thanked him. He thanked me again for holding.

{Insert same annoying hold song here}

More waiting.

He came back again and explained that he was still looking for a manager. I thanked him again. He thanked me again for holding.

Repeat that once or twice more. I actually thought that maybe they were hoping I’d just hang up.

Supper was ready. I was getting hungry.

Finally, he returned to say that a manager was found and told me his name. Again… bad with names. See above. He let me go and left me with the “manager” who asked me how he could help me.

He seemed a little uncertain of what to expect from me. Nervous perhaps. I know that feeling well. I asked him if he was aware of what the problem was, and so it began.

More of the same corporate policy, and apologies (a little more apologetic actually), and now it seems that it was going to be 5-10 days. In fact, my power supply might arrived tomorrow since it has already been 4-5 days since I sent it to them(???)

I explained that 5-10 days was unacceptable, especially considering that it only took 4-5 days for the entire exchange of dead Xbox for a refurbished Xbox. How could it possibly take 5-10 days to send me a simple power supply?

From what I gather, I’m lucky that it was an exchange, because that’s fast. Had it required a repair, I could be waiting 2-3 weeks and my power supply would arrive before my Xbox.

Again, it was implied that I made the error in sending them the “accessory”. Again, I corrected him.

And then something shocking happened. He asked me for more information about @XboxSupport on Twitter. He paused. He then began to explain that corporate policy forbids employees from using Twitter in any official capacity.

I told him that it is indeed official support. He repeated the policy. This went on back and forth for a few minutes. I said “So you’re telling me that there is no official Xbox support on Twitter?” He said he stood by his comments.

I had to laugh. And I did. Sorry, but it was funny.

I went on to explain that Xbox Live’s own “Major Nelson” recommends @XboxSupport on Twitter and that the Twitter account is even listed the Xbox.com support page. He asked me where. I frantically searched for the page. I had seen it earlier, but now I couldn’t find it.

In the meantime he assured me that he was well aware of the support available in their department. I told him that I believed him, but that he was obviously unaware of the support available outside of his department.

I then found the link. I read it out to him and he went there. There was silence. I asked him if he could see it.

He then tried to tell me that they don’t do hardware support. (I was later assured by @XboxSupport, during a rather humerous exchange when I told them they don’t exist, that they do indeed do hardware support) I also explained to him that I never went looking for help from @XboxSupport in the first place. They asked ME how they could help after I made a comment about waiting for a box. I then asked them about the power supply.

I told him that he should be upset that they are not made aware of their support offerings. I sure as hell would be. I’d be pissed if I just finished debating with a customer, and betting the farm that I was right, only to have them prove me wrong.

When then got stuck, once again, in the loop of apologies, corporate policy of 5-10 days, etc. I’ll give the guy credit, he sure was stubborn.

I had enough. I thanked him for his help and then asked to speak to someone higher up.

He kindly explained that there is nobody higher. Everyone higher doesn’t take calls. I then got a little sarcastic. I said “Surely they have a phone, and surely they speak to people on a daily basis!” I used to hate when customers did that to me. He said they don’t speak with customers.

I said “So they aren’t customer focused people… they don’t care about customer service?” I then went onto explain that when I was in support, there was always someone higher to speak with. If I, as a manager, couldn’t make a customer happy, there was my boss… or his boss… or the CEO. SOMEONE in the company had the power to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. It was rare that someone would not go away happy and it was very rare that they had to go above me.

I told him flat out that I was looking for some form of compensation for what was not my error… anything… 30-days of Xbox Live Gold… anything.

He didn’t budge. They don’t have that power, unlike the refurb centre and their 30-day Xbox Live Gold cards.

I explained that’s why I would like to speak with someone higher.

Again with the “they don’t accept calls” stuff… more apologies… and so on.

I interrupted him and politely asked him when I would receive my power supply. 5-10 days was the response. I said “Fine, thanks for the help, and be sure to let your boss know that I will be calling them… or someone else there, because I am not finished” and then I hung up.

This actually seems much shorter than our conversations, believe it or not. There was far more repetition from him, and me.

I really do feel sorry for the guy, in a way. To be kept out of the loop like that… that’s embarrassing and a shining example of how not to run a support department (or any department for that matter).

But then again, he’s probably working for peanuts at an outsource centre. The corporate mother ship doesn’t really care about them. Do your job and nothing more. You can be replaced.

So now what? I don’t know. Yet. I’ll figure something out.

In the meantime, if you’re a Microsoft / Xbox employee and you have any power in you to make even a half-assed attempt at making me happy, feel free to give ‘er a go. You certainly can’t do any worse than your hand-cuffed, out-of-the-loop support people. I really feel sorry for them.

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