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Unbelievably incompetent phone activation customer service installing Vista Upgrade RRS feed

  • General discussion

  •      I'd heard the sad stories of others trying to get help from Microsoft's overseas call centers. My first experience calling XP Activation phone support was to a woefully under trained person, but with some patience (and my years mentoring callcenter techs) I showed him what he needed to do.

         So I got conned into helping my neighbor: her nosmoke.sys was the wrong version for her motherboard. Her friend gave her Vista Premium Upgrade for her birthday because everyone knows that upgrading your operating system fixes computer hardware problems. After removing the riveted in SOYO motherboard that the major retailer had installed in her throwaway computer (and noting to use insulating washers where the rivets shorted the previous motherboard), I tested the remaining components. Cheapest MB for the CPU had only one IDE, picked up cheap closeout 150GB SATA drive. Put it back together and, because originally had XPsp0,  installed Vista and had the neighbor call Activation telephone number. She told me that blown off in 2 short calls. (Call quality based on call time?)

          Well the third call, one that I made, was no sympathy for "recovery disk" system and Vista upgrade doesn't verify with XP CD anyway. Nice. Put old hard drive on ide cable with CD now slave. Install Vista from CD boot, still won't Activate. Call four to Activation support.  "Vista only Activates when installed from XP"(so why boot from CD?). XP sp0 won't work with >137GB drives. Find sp2, install. (Note: neighbors' XP did not ask for re-Activation due to hardware changes). Installed Vista from XP to SATA drive. Vista still won't activate. Call five to phone support, "Fred" from India says "Windows XP has to be on same hard drive partition"!?!? OK, copied XP from old 40GB drive to SATA. Boot ide, to XP,  install Vista, Activates, are done?, no (hint: using int 13 booting to Vista using boot.ini). Disconnect old drive, CD to master ide. No boot. Different noboot message. I've repaired Vista before, simply needs to fix boot partition, right? No, the original Vista CD install had detected EFI support and set up BCD area (doesn't use boot.ini). SIX times 20 minute Vista CD boots plus 15 minute repair attempts untill fixes boot partition.  According to KB, Vista can't boot from BIOS after EFI install, guess I was lucky.  Computer has been working perfectly since.

         Microsoft makes the claim that Activation is not designed to punish consumers, only to catch systembuilders. When I did phone support, benefit of the doubt went to the customer. If the customer called and had reasonable media access or hardware (instance of Dell or Gateway where machine service ID or serial number verified preinstalled OS) issues, we would pass customer back to Customer Service to get a bypass key. Now, with one activation per PID, tolerance of hardware issues is very unlikely to lose Microsoft a sale.  

         Supposedly Indian graduates have better math and science scores than Americans, yet inability to comprehend computer hardware and lack of problem solving skills make me wonder if the only reason to put a call center there is the cultural tradition of being able to say YES!(I can't help you) in a hundred different ways.

         Disclaimer: in my professional life I usually don't deal with retail software upgrades. My Small Business customers have had an upgrade cycle of 5-8 years i.e. "when it breaks". Lack of Microsoft support for older hardware, plus the appeal of cheap white boxes drives the "upgrade".

    Sunday, January 6, 2008 11:14 AM