Microsoft Incident And A Lesson About Customer Service?

I installed Microsoft Office 2007 on a new computer on February 17th.

While installing, I got an error code (surprise)…and didn’t seem to be able to get it fixed on my own (at the time)…so I went to .

Once I logged onto the site, I saw a nice little graphic that said “Chat Right Now Online” or something to that effect.  So I clicked…

And thus begun one hell of a ride.

Apparently, this service required me to pay for support (for an error that wasn’t my fault…go figure).  I needed help (because I’m technically challenged and “old school” in some respects)…so I paid with a credit card $39.00 plus tax ($42.63).  Fair enough I guess (not?).

I downloaded a required diagnostic software program, ran it, and saw a thread show up in my attached MSN email inbox.  I thought I was making progress.

I thought wrong.

I waited 4 hours…no reply…6 hours…nothing… (except the auto-generated stuff form Microsoft Support stating that I successfully completed the diagnostic).

So I gave up, and got help from a friend (thought Microsoft would be quicker). Problem with the software solved.  Error code figured out…on my own.

Now back to that little fee that I paid…

I left a couple of admittedly heated (but not profane or abusive or anything) messages on the thread asking for an update I never received (that day), with the last message in the thread being “I would like a refund, I figured this out on my own”.

And I left the thread alone from there, thinking it would just be “handled”.

This morning, 5 days later, the charge processed, but no refund.  So naturally, I had to check why.  They said it was because I had not responded once they finally responded to the ticket themselves.

I thought a message in that very thread would have delivered the message that I needed a refund.  Again, I thought wrong.

So…to make a long story short…after a long 1.5 hours on the phone with support, then customer service, then support, then finally customer service…they said my refund had been processed (finally).

Why did it take 1.5 hours for an obvious and simple action to take place?

Why didn’t they just read and take action on the last message I left in the thread requesting a refund?

Were they hoping I would just be passive and let the charge happen?

All of this… for a bit of support that was paid for, and never took place.

So the lesson here is simple…if you do offer a paid service…pay close attention to it and deliver as promised, always.

Don’t start another business, project, or idea until you have measures in place to take care of your paying customers.  And, pay attention to the communications sent to you by your customers…and respond appropriately and truthfully.

By the way, I don’t normally go on a “soap box” like this, but I figured this experience would provide some value and insight for you.