The high cost of no feedback

Businesses need to understand how expensive it is to ship mistakes to customers

My computer was 10 years old, so it was high time I bought a new one. I had intended to buy a Windows 8 machine, but they were too buggy. Windows 10 has great reviews, so I waited a bit for Microsoft to get the bugs out.

I had a great laptop, a 3.4-pound wonder that plugged into a docking station for the big-screen monitor and everything else. No plugging in cables; you just pop it in and press one button to release it. It works so well, I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t have one. Unfortunately, that’s probably what makes it so expensive. The original setup was almost $5,000. Thankfully, the price has dropped considerably.

I called the company, one of the billion-dollar biggies, from which I had bought the original. I told the sales guy what I had, and said I wanted the same thing. He said, “You can even use your old docking station!”

At that point, he had made a sale, but it took a couple of weeks to work out the details.

I hate buying computers. It takes so long to transfer all the files, buy the new software, learn how to use it, etc., etc., etc. My philosophy is to buy as much horsepower and storage as you can get. Each new software update slows the machine down a bit. It gets pretty slow quickly, if you haven’t started with a rocket.

So, I get the best and fastest processor available, load the system with all the memory it will accept and get the biggest hard drive. And yes, the drive must be solid state -— that is much lighter with no moving parts making it more reliable.

We spec’d it out over the phone, and he emailed me a quote with all the details. I reviewed it, found all the errors, and called him back to straighten them out.

These weren’t little errors. For instance, I specified Windows 10; he wanted to give me Windows 7 with a license for 10. I told him about all of them, and he sent me a new quote.

I’ll spare you the agonizing details, but after a number of renditions, he finally got it right, and I placed the order.

The system arrived. Nothing happened as he said it would. The system was all messed up. I paid for Microsoft Office. It wasn’t preloaded as it should have been, because he made it a separate line item. He also entered it with a misspelled email address. It took them four days to straighten that out. And my docking station didn’t work, as they had changed the size of the connector.

So I called this venerable sales guy a number of times, and he never returned my calls. I had paid for “ProSupport,” which entitled me to U.S. technical support. Yet, when I called the number he gave me, I was talking to India, then the Philippines, then El Salvador. Nothing against these countries, but it’s hard to solve problems talking to people you can hardly understand.

I finally got to a guy in Austin, Texas; Ashton helped me fix the problems over several weeks and gave me a new docking station because of what they had put me through.

What I find truly amazing is there is no feedback system to sales and manufacturing! Think about this for a minute. It would have cost pennies for this sales guy to do it right. It cost them a fortune to have Ashton fix it, and that doesn’t even count the customer dissatisfaction.

Instead, they decide technical support is getting too expensive and move it offshore, unless you pay extra. If they fed information on the problems back into the process and fixed the most frequently occurring ones first, they would find their support costs dropping.

No doubt some support is for customers who need hand-holding, but an awful lot is caused by errors made in sales and manufacturing. Those are all within the company’s control, and fixing and eliminating the causes is much cheaper than repeatedly solving the same problems over and over again at the customer’s site.

Why can’t they understand this?

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or