Big Tech Companies Are Anti-Social

Maybe it’s me, but it seems like the only way to talk to most big companies is to sue them. Take Aaron Greenspan with Google for example. He had to sue them for them to answer him on why his Adsense account had been suspended (more on him later). He’s not alone either. Thousands of people have reported similar stories with Google. Look at HP. I nearly had to sue them to get them to repair a poorly made product of mine, and one reader told me that when he complained to HP, they said “If you don’t like it, sue us.” This seems to be all too common.

Aaron Greenspan had a very common story of being suspended from Adsense for no given reason (just see this thread here to see how many people it has happened to) with two major exceptions. He’s an excellent writer, and he has balls. When Google wouldn’t give him a rhyme or reason, he took them to small claims court and won, and when they appealed the decision in superior court, he took them on. He didn’t win, but through articles he published on it (here), he gained notoriety, and he finally learned the answer to why his account was terminated. It took two court cases for Google to answer, but they answered in specifics. Now why couldn’t they have done that the first time? I love Google for their products and their innovation, but I don’t like how little customer service they offer. It’s not bad. It’s just non-existant and they should at least offer some human support. And Google isn’t alone.

When my HP netbook was falling to pieces, I called HP support and was routed to India. It took me several searches to find a US-based HP number. From there I was routed through a series of elevated call centers where they told me simply “nothing can be done”. Why? Because even high-level support people are given no power to override the system. Like Greenspan, I also tried contacting engineers and executives at HP. Here’s their response: “Calling our employees repeatedly is harassment and we will report you if you call anyone other than (given support number) again”. Harassment? I called readily available phone numbers and simply asked for help in navigating the impossibly computerized and outsourced HP support system  . I eventually reached out to an influential tech friend of mine who in turn reached out to his HP contact, and that contact got my device repaired, and an apology for my troubles. Still, others weren’t so lucky.

Peter Odds of the UK recently bought an HP computer. Check out the story he posted on a group I run.

“From the start it suffered from the inability to re-awake after going to ‘sleep’. All you can do is power it off and restart losing all unsaved work in the process. I have spent hours on the telephone with their technicians, at my expense, trying to correct the fault. I asked for my money back and after much argument I accepted a repair, got it back and the same fault quickly showed up again. Following Consumer Direct advice I have now again asked for my money back quoting the relevant UK Consumer Law. HP think they are above UK law and have told me that the only option is another repair or to take them to court!”

Will They Ever Get More Social?

Who knows? Psychologists do plenty of studies on the antisocial effects of technology on teens. Why can’t they do the same studies on customer service? Honestly, I refuse to patronize HP after the issues I, and others have had. Google has so many redeeming qualities that I doubt I’d ever stop using them, but they could certainly work on their customer service. As Mr. Greenspan says, “I would suggest that if the company really must be evil, then in the interest of avoiding additional embarrassment, it could at least try living by a useful, if somewhat less ambitious, motto: Don’t be assholes”. Have you ever had a similar experience?

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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