Bugs and Consequences

I've been meaning to write about overzealous compilers, and nice geeky things, but I'm going to use this forum to vent a bit. When I make a bug that messes up a customer, I generally have to fix it. I'm fairly often face to face with the customer, and sometimes all I can do is apologize and offer to fix it in the next version. When I've worked in other customer-oriented jobs, like restaurants, if the customer isn't happy, you have to do _something_. Even if it's small, you have to do _something_.

I've been using Toshiba laptops for the last 15 years, and they have generally made good products – we had a few that cooked themselves, but that was a while ago and the one I have now has been humming along for about 3 years. I've tended to recommend them to others. I think this is the 6th one I've had.

So on the day after Thanksgiving (actually 9PM Pacific time), I helped a friend order a laptop at a very good price. Time passes, no laptop. I go and look on the site for order status, nada – the system somehow didn't process my order. I know for a fact that I went all the way through the screens, was told the order was placed. What should have cued me to investigate earlier was that I didn't immediately get a confirmation e-mail.

Finally, today I call them up, and we've got a situation – their system clearly doesn't have the order, and they can't know whether I'm telling the truth or trying to social engineer them. The fact I've ordered from them before ought to tell them something.

I ask them what they can do about this – I'm not expecting them to offer me the original deal, though that would be nice if they did. The first guy isn't authorized to do anything, but the first-line customer support people never are. He gets a manager on the line, and he tells me that he'll do nothing about it. I press him a little – he's got to have _some_ latitude to do _something_. Nope, nada, zip, you're an upset customer who got screwed out of money by our bug, and we don't care.

He then admits that they get hundreds of calls like this, and the policy is to just blow them all off. I think if you get hundreds of bug reports, they're not all people who are trying to rip you off. Some of them might be real customers with a real problem.

I press him a bit more – there's got to be some _small_ thing he can do – throw in some cheap accessory, _something_. Nope, zip, not going to help you. Maybe I've just spoken to the wrong person – this manager clearly has very poor customer service skills, and I'm sure that at this time of year, people are busy and nerves are frayed. Even so, I'm really torn – I hate to do business with a company that won't take care of a problem.

Disclaimer – this is very obviously NOT a statement on behalf of my employer. We buy a zillion laptops every year, we've got reps who handle our account, and I'm sure they're better at customer service than this guy.