Our friend Nancy just had a tour of McAfee Anti-Virus hell.  She thought she had a virus but she didn’t. Yet the company told her it would cost $180 for the “Concierge Gold” service to fix her computer over the Internet.

This shocked us. McAfee is one of the leading anti-virus programs and shouldn’t be playing these games. Regardless, after spending two hours on hold with the company,Nancy gave up and called us. Since she is disabled and largely confined to a wheelchair, she was afraid McAfee would ask her to reach behind the computer or do something she couldn’t manage.

Joy spent a half hour on hold because Nancy had already paid $180 and she thought she should get some benefit from it. After being transferred several times and waiting for enough time to watch “Gone With The Wind,” Joy hung up on McAfee’s tech support and decided to analyze the computer herself. There was no virus. The tech support person also told Nancy she should have Adobe Flash Player and they would install it as part of the $180 fee. Adobe Flash Player is free, by the way, and Joy just went to their web site and installed it with two clicks of the mouse.

What interested Bob about this whole experience was the turn-around that had taken place in tech support. Bob recalled that in the early days, tech support was free. Computer execs complained bitterly about that because it cost them money but brought in no revenue. Every company he talked to wanted to end it but was afraid to.

Now curiously, back in those days – around 25 years ago, by far the best tech support was from Dell. They responded immediately and there was never any charge. Sales boomed. Then they dropped that kind of service, and roughly speaking, their market share started the long slide.

Apparently the management attitude of almost every high-tech company now is that technical support should generate revenue. What it’s ultimately going to generate is fewer customers.

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