Some Companies Just Know How To Irritate Customers

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Hey, some companies just know how to irritate customers. A few such as Northwest Airlines and Ford Motor Company are so proficient at it that we should start an annual awards show for them. Honor them with gold, silver and bronze pokers for the best examples of getting under customers’ skins.

While I could tell Northwest Airlines stories until I’m red in the face; instead, I’d like to share with you a particularly irritating incident I just experienced with Laplink software—the stuff that gives you remote control over your office work station or desktop while you’re traveling. I already use Windows XP Professional’s remote desktop, but typical of Microsoft products, it’s a few slices short of a full loaf. So I decided to buy the brand new release of Laplink to drive my workstation over Verizon broadband when traveling.

Now, if you’re a total gearhead, that last sentence might set off some alarm bells. But I’m not, so I bought a copy and installed it on my laptop and office machine. And then I tested it before hitting the road. And guess what? No matter how hard I tried—or how many hours I spent—my laptop wouldn’t recognize my office machine. In order to eliminate possible trouble sources, I linked up over my wired network, and presto, my lap top sees my desktop. But not when using broadband. Fishy.

So I called Laplink, which has a system where you set appointments, and they might call you back at the appointed time, depending how long preceding cases have taken. While they did call me relatively close to the scheduled time, I sure pity whoever was in the queue behind me. This turned into a marathon.

The tech had me try this, then that, then this, and we almost tried prayer. Until finally the frustrated tech asked, “Did you say you’re trying to connect over Verizon broadband?” I answered in the affirmative, which triggered a technical explanation (which I actually followed) of how broadband systems send data in packets, which travel intermittently, whereas wired networks send data continually—with the punch line being that Laplink doesn’t work over broadband because of its data transmission properties.

Now—with the explosion of broadband use, don’t you think Laplink should put a warning on the box? Instead of making me spend hours trying to drive a square peg into a round hole? Fine, they’ve offered to refund the purchase. But what about my time and aggravation? Hey, a bit of honesty on the front end would have spared us both. But I’d guess Laplink is afraid that a cautionary note on the package would discourage sales from innocents like me who might just thrown the damn stuff away without bothering to ask for a refund.

Well, add another name to my ever-growing “do not buy from” list.

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