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Technical support going downhill

Technical support going downhill

Technical support going downhill

I'm curious what other people are finding in the technical support of engineering software. As for me, I think it's going down the crapper. I sent a bug report to a FEA software company reporting problems with their automatic mesh refinement. First I got an email saying that maybe, if I was lucky, someone from the community would help me. The next day I got a very helpful email (tongue firmly in cheek) from someone in technical support with links to wonderful articles about singularities, mesh refinement, and determining the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.

What I've noticed is the first response of tech support these days is to try and solve your problem with zero effort on their part. Another example: I've been having problems with a certain program crashing repeatedly. I called up tech support (different company) and the guy at the other end of the line confidently told me to delete a certain temp folder and all my problems would go away. Yep, you guessed it. They went away for about half a day then the random crashes started again. When I asked when the problem was going to be fixed they said they are working hard on it, which of course begs the question why didn't you just admit there is a problem in the first place?

I feel like Jim Carrey's character, Fletcher, in "Liar, Liar" where the guy scratches his car and Fletcher has to admit that he will do nothing about it because the system is stacked against him.

RE: Technical support going downhill

Was tech support EVER better than what you describe in the last 40+ years??

RE: Technical support going downhill

Of course it has degraded. It's an almost impossible task. Human-staffed, rapid-response Tech Support is horrifically expensive and companies have gotten away from it. Some companies won't answer your inquiry unless you have a paid annual account with them. The more progressive companies have figured out how to meet the need via support communities and technology:
  • Set up online Discussion Forums (I have found solutions to deep problems with those because I am not the first and only person who seen a specific glitch, but it takes time)
  • online FAQ lists
  • so-called Knowledge Bases and other types of figure-it-out-for-yourself documentation
  • botware that will auto-respond to a structured or unstructured inquiry email with a bunch of links and other useless stuff
Then again, good companies will probably respond to valid, documented, and repeatable bug reports. Other companies...not so much.
Artificial Intelligence methods show promise for a solution to this problem...but it'll take time.

Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering

RE: Technical support going downhill

But, it's not the same environment. OS' are Ginormous; my CPM80 operating system was 4 kB, but it was all command line and even simpler than DOS. W10 can be up to 100 GB, depending on how much software you've installed. Likewise, Turbo Pascal was 35 kB running under CPM80; Anaconda Python occupies 10 GB. On top of all that, programs are substantially more complicated and more capable, but humans are still the same.

So, the old support script that starts off with "Please reboot your machine" is now much more complicated and the support people understand even less about proper troubleshooting.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Technical support going downhill

you have to realize that most companies use customer support and service as a revenue stream. If your complaints are not contributing to the revenue then you will be ignored. Would you as a company help a person for free?

RE: Technical support going downhill

Some software support can be very responsive. I have found Eaton, SEL, and ASPEN One-Liner to be very fast and responsive. SEL provides great support on everything. Their products all are in my opinion top tier but if they weren't I would probably still just go with them for the support. I don't know. I don't think it has gotten worse.

Non-engineering software has gotten much worse. Especially with video games. An official release is often what a beta used to be. Nintendo used to require a license on their 8-bit console to restrict crappy games from being released on their system We different agencies for rating all kinds of things. Consumer Reports, Moody's ect. There should be something for software. I know someone is going to say ISO whatever should cover that but it doesn't.

RE: Technical support going downhill


I have not used tech support a lot. I have taken computer courses, and I have found that the $250 courses are not much use, and that the $2000 courses are very good. There must be an explanation for this.


RE: Technical support going downhill

I find that the smaller companies get back to you within a reasonable time frame. The bigger companies are usually awful.

Last month, my wife tried to get help with AutoCAD recognizing the new annual license information. For some reason their server wasn't recognizing her credentials. She tried to get help through her PAID AutoCAD technical support program and they refused to recognize those credentials as well... leaving her stranded until the sales rep somehow fixed it.

I don't buy the "its too many users/lines of code/ect. and not enough human tech support argument" if you have to pay extra for support and/or are paying a yearly license.

RE: Technical support going downhill

MTNClimber, I agree. About 15 years ago I used to call for support on a structural analysis program of a fairly small company (compared to Autodesk) and I could talk to one of the programmers directly.

I also dislike the "there are millions of lines of code so it's very complicated argument". I understand that. I even sympathize. But if something is broken you ought to roll up your sleeves and fix it instead of bitchin' and moaning to your customer.

Controlsdude, I have helped people on this and other sites for free many times, although I have to admit not so much anymore because I would take time to create models, give illustrations, try to explain things and then never hear back. I decided if people don't care anymore than that why should I bother? But that's not the point anyway. As Greg said, these are companies that we pay yearly fees to not just for software updates but for support so they are certainly not free.

RE: Technical support going downhill

My recent attempt to convert a pile of CATIA V4 drawings* into a usable modern format provides a variety of customer support stories.

I tried doing converting the files with Solidworks first. The online documentation says it will do this but it does not:

Then I contacted my reseller (Hawkridge) but my point of contact guy was away. I was referred to the general help desk. I explained what I needed, and they sent me a how-to document from 2013 on how to open CATIA V5 models. I plumbed through the knowledge base - it did not help. Eventually my contact came back from vacation - and ignored me after that.

I was already looking for 3rd party software to convert the files by then.
I first tried TransMagic. They were very supportive, but their software was unable to extract drawings from the files.

Next I tried Onshape. They got very excited to see a prospective aerospace project - then very confused with the tortuous legacy files. They gave up. I don't blame them.

Then I tried Spinfire. The software was much more capable. Their customer support was also excellent, and their salesperson put me in touch with the software developers. They took a stab at the data extraction and they were able to get some data out of the corrupt V4 files.

The level of support I received was not proportional to the price I paid for each option I tried.

*CATIA used to be CADAM in the 1990's. It was used by aerospace companies but in many places the designers were trained on paper and didn't trust 3D models yet. So they used CATIA like Autocad. CATIA V4 has not been supported by Dassault for decades. At the time, the fundamental concepts used in 3D CAD were not as well defined as they are today. CADAM forced all related components into a single file with a single format and common extension. You have no idea what kind of file it is until you open it. Even then it may not be clear. Is it an empty part because there are no features or an empty assembly because it can't find any part files? No way to tell.


RE: Technical support going downhill

I miss the original RISA. Amber was always there for me. Bigger is not better.

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