Sadly, not just “Everything’s broken and nobody’s upset”

Everything is broken, nobody upsetScott Hanselman caused a stir writing: Everything’s broken and nobody’s upset. He lists key software products bristling with flaws and failing to work as expected.

Hanselman takes no prisoners. He is as scathing about Microsoft, who he works for, as he is about Google and Apple.

The story isn’t just venting. Hanselman says he is complaining because he knows we can do better.

And so we can. Hanselman’s post is brilliant and essential reading for anyone who works with technology or remotely cares about the tools they use.

Worse than Hanselman thinks

Sadly it is not just a case of “everything is broken and nobody’s upset”. There’s also the point that nobody cares, especially not the people making those broken things.

Or, more accurately, few of the companies care enough to bother fixing their products’ flaws and looking after their customers.

Call me naïve if you like, when I find broken software or hardware I look to troubleshoot the problem. This means going to company websites searching FAQs or forums for answers.

My finding answers strike rate is not good. Many software companies and hardware makers barely pay lip service to fixing up the messes they create. I found less than half of the technology complaints and queries I submitted were acknowledged, let alone answered.

Some help forums are like the fake towns built for western movies – there only for show.

Hanselman says he comes away with the impression no-one cares about the problems. That’s my experience too – although not with everyone.

Money doesn’t help

Here’s the oddest thing. They amount of caring is often inversely proportional to the amount of money the company at the other end of the transaction took from me.

Logic says you can’t expect much support from developers of free software, WordPress plug-ins and shareware. Likewise companies selling $2, $5 or $10 apps for iPads or Android phones.

And yet in my experience, I’m MORE likely to get a satisfactory response to my support requests from these people than I am from businesses that have taken hundreds or thousands of dollars from me.

Non-support forums

Here’s a recent example, I’ve got dozens of others I could mention:

I added 4GB of Ram to my desktop computer. Nothing happened. I did all the right things, went though the various forums and troubleshooting routines. This is possibly a motherboard problem. You can see my post at the Asustek forum doesn’t get taken seriously.

I didn’t get ANY response to an emailed query.

The Ram maker did respond, but only to tell me I’m an idiot who doesn’t understand it is not the company’s problem.

What makes this more galling is the Asustek forum and Google in general shows hundreds of other people have exactly the same problem and issues that are very similar. Clearly something is wrong somewhere, I’m not just a muddle-headed ham-fisted idiot who doesn’t understand the technology.

Asustek has my money and it just doesn’t give a toss. I’ll keep this in mind when I buy a new motherboard, yet the sad truth is the alternative suppliers are no better.

Another answer

Hanselman articulates the problem well, but for my money doesn’t offer much of an answer although he is right when he says we need to care and need the collective will to fix the problems.

I’d go further and say we need to jump up and down more. Consumers need to be stroppier. We need more brutal product reviews – which means we need an independent media, but that’s another issue. We need stronger consumer laws and officials willing to tackle big, powerful corporations when they stuff-up.

And most of all, we need to speak out when things aren’t satisfactory and keep on speaking out.

4 thoughts on “Sadly, not just “Everything’s broken and nobody’s upset”

  1. I had a bit of a search and I concur – this is an ongoing and widespread issue for Asus motherboards. Fixes range from incorrect motherboard voltages being dictated by CPU choice, right through to incorrectly seated CPU’s and bad tracks on the motherboard.
    Sadly I think you’re going to have to vote with your wallet on this one.

    • I’m almost OK with that, but once I start thinking about buying and installing a new motherboard, I’m thinking it may be time for a new processor…. and so on.

      What’s more new motherboard is a distressingly disruptive upgrade, it will almost certain mean reinstalling the OS and every other piece of software.

  2. My desktop NAS box gets new firmware issued every month or so. The QNAP forums burst into life every release with a small number of random people whose upgrade fails or completely bricks their box. Yes I have backups but can I spare a week or more of downtime to overcome a dead storage system? No. So mine is resolutely on ancient firmware, because I’m not prepared to risk the outage. This is in complete opposition to the enterprise storage I work with daily, where firmware upgrades are non-disruptive and seamless.

    • You’ve zoomed in on another part of the big problem with tech and support or the lack of it. It takes time – and mental energy – to fix these things. That’s time I could be getting on with something more productive.

      That’s kind of ironic given that we buy these things to make us more productive.

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