Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Open Letter to Symantec's Tech Support Manager

Dear Manager,

I have recently purchased your Norton Antivirus for Mac (version 10.0.1 (3)) for my MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.4.11 on Intel processor. After installing it and using LiveUpdate I wanted to complete an initial full scan. Each time I started the manual scan of the entire hard drive (over 110 GB) the program immediately reported having completed the scan and found nothing.

You can appreciate my scepticism in this case. So I checked all the console, system, and crash logs for any signs of problems with your application. None was found. So I moved to searching your web support pages for some indications. I selected the product and version and got a list of the top asked questions, which of course did not include anything close to my problem. It did, however, include an invitation to contact a support person by chat. I was thrilled that you offered such immediate and free support and clicked on the link and guess what I got?

I can see your anticipating smile while you're reading this. The page I got informed me that I have to use a Microsoft IE 5.5 browser or higher to chat with your agent. Now I know that you are very busy and not able to follow up on browser news, but at least your web developers should know that Mac machines have long stopped using IE in favor of Safari or Firefox.

OK. So what to do now? I resigned myself to establishing contact through an older laptop that runs Windows XP and has your cherished IE. I filled in patiently your form and clicked to finally get someone to solve my problem, but your support application insisted that it must download it's auto-diagnostic application to my Windows machine, eventhough this is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. What a wonderful logical design you have!

Now curious as to how bad it could get, I allowed the installation of your remote diagnostic. It opened then the chat interface in the default position "Full Control" of my Windows machine. There were 2 other options available: "Disable" and "View Only", but if you try to select either you get a warning that this will terminate your current support session.So much for customer choice and respect of privacy.

This was about an hour ago. Since then I have been waiting for your "analyst" to join me in the chat room and address my issue. The only things displayed is a periodic message in red saying "We are experiencing higher than usual service times. Please wait and an analyst will be with you shortly". I have now 6 of those wonderfully informative messages on the interface.

Well the time invested in Symantec support is not fully wasted. I have written this blog while waiting and I just wanted to share my lovely experience with you. Oh! Wait, here comes the analyst.

First action is to direct my Mac browser to a Symantec page and give me a PIN to access a similar remote support application to the one I had to endure on my Windows laptop. Once connected he asked and got control of my Mac. He repaired some file permissions using the disk utility, then uninstalled and reinstalled the anti-virus application (I could have told him that I already tried that). The result was obviously the same! He tried to reboot my Mac remotely, but the iChat session prevented him from doing so. I had to do it manually, which meant I lost the remote session to Symantec and had to contact you again via the Windows laptop to get a new PIN for reconnecting the Mac. The second run consisted of downloading through FTP a patch for the Stuffit component in NAV for Mac V.10 (My version is 11 and it's unclear to me why the installation files of my version didn't have the right Stuffit version in the first place). Another reboot and reconnection episode and the end result was still the same.

I had spent at that point over 2 hours on this and was running late for an appointment. So we concluded this session with a case number for me to reconnect with support.

I was not able to reconnect until 48 hours later. Believe it or not we do have a few things to do that are more important than spending hours with your online support. Back into the WinXP session. This time I only waited about half an hour to get an "analyst". He is now reviewing the case and I am wondering how long this is going to take again.

Would you be surprised if I told you that I am not a fan of Symantec any more based on my user experience? I recommend you get out of your shell and experience yourself what your customers are going through. It helps a lot!


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