The term "Support" can be used as a noun or a verb.  To the right is the definition we found on Google.

Support 1

The one I am referring to is a verb and #2...particularly give assistance to, and enable to function or act.  In today's internet so much support is provided by phone, by email, or even by chat.  Truthfully these options make life much easier for all of us, as long as one thing is true:  that support is provided.  When it isn't, or when it is really poor, it reflect badly on several things:

  • The ongoing training of support personnel
  • The ongoing review of support processes and actions
  • The commitment to top notch customer satisfaction
  • The overall company attitude towards customers

Too often, companies scrimp in this area, and the excuses list is long.  Retaining people, language barriers, changes in product/operation, new/unexpected issues, and the list goes on and on.  Yet all these are excuses that do not provide any support.

All of this said, I want to focus this blog on a horrible example of support, and point out along the way the critical, monumental, and epic fails.  

A little background.  Bluehost (www.bluehost.com) has been our hosting company for our web sites for so many years I have lost track.  Up until this event, I had always been relatively pleased with their support, though over the past two years, with the web sites becomming more complex, their level of knowledge has flatlined.  What I mean is that they used to be able to help with 'scripts' like Joomla and Wordpress and many others, whereas today they focus primarily on email, server, and environment issues.  I really don't have a problem with that evolution but I think they could make a lot more money helping in those areas.  That said, I had been having a problem getting a Joomla server (not at Bluehost) to sucessfully send email through the mail server that Bluehost provides us.  The first round involved Bluehost basically pointing at the server.  So we introduced a middle man - Mailgun (www.mailgun.com) - to confirm that the Joola Server would properly connect to a mail server, which it did, and we had a monitoring point to confirm emails were being sent to Bluehost.

With that background - I decided to "chat" with Bluehost support to verify they were seeing the emails and explain why the emails were not being processed.

Note:  I captured the entire chat session, but I am carving it up here - unedited - but if anyone wants the entire thing, perhaps doubting I have edited it, by all means let me know.

Here is how things started:

Support 2

All this looks entirely normal, polite, and I felt ready to start.  I did remove the 4 characters below for this article and replaved them with asterisks.  This is the only edit I have made.

Continuing:

Support 3

The request for the URL is really strange because a) I have not said I am having an issue with logging in, and b) I provide the mail server link in my comment.  At this point I am confused and honestly felt that the support person was also.

Continuing:

Support 4

Ok fine, sounds like the support person is back on track with me, but why I must hold for 6-7 minutes is a mystery.  Perhaps they are loggin into my mail server to examine something, so I patiently wait for about 8 minutes.  Then I start typing:

Support 5

The support person literally replied right away!  But then puts me on "hold" again - this time for 8-10 minutes!!!  After about 12 minutes, the support person then replied with the "sorry for the inconvenience" line.  So there is a line being drawn that this must be a Joomla problem and it is not their responsibility.  But I want to verify the configuration:

Support 6

Fair enough, but here is the jaw dropping response:

Support 7

Huh?  Say What?  The support person wants to bail.  But I am having none of it.  Here is what I said next:

Support 8

You can see the support person tried to ignore me (I say "hello?").

Then I am placed on hold for another 5 minutes (it was actually longer).  Finally they re-engage.  I ask the question about the port number and I am back on hold!!!!  

I disregard and keep typing:

Support 9

The support person has stopped answering my question and simply refers my to some web page of how to set up emails (which I checked and the link is bad!).  Plus the log entry they refer to should not have hapenned because I actually have to saved my configuration yet:

Support 10

So, I check the new and proper link and it works, this is good, but it does not specifically answer my question.  But I am ready to take a guess and get on with the test:

Support 11

The wrong password was a typo on my part in the config, and I fixed it.  Then tried again.  The final statement from the support person made me throw my hands in the air.  My response:

Support 12

And they DISCONNECTED!!!!!!

Wow!

I immediately copied the support session for this blog.

I hope it is as clear to the reader as it was and is to me that this experience was how support should not happen.  I think we can say the following:

  • The support person was not at all knowledgeable and had to keep seeking assistance (all the holds).
  • The support person tried to get out of helping multiple times and finally ran away - this is something that should never be done.
  • The support person should have escalated this support request to someone who actually did know how to watch the server email logs.  I have talked to several admins and none of us know any 1 hour log access issues.
  • The support person ended up lying and no customer deserves that treatment.

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