Monday, April 8, 2013

Tech Support: A Review

There is something that gets little attention in the mainstream video game discussion: customer and technical support. I've recently had to contact both Microsoft and Sony, and I can easily compare the services of the two.

A few weeks ago, I moved into a new house with an existing network owned by my roommate. My PS3 initially connected flawlessly, my 360 refused to connect to Xbox Live.

After about an hour of struggling on my own to connect to Live to no avail, I decided to contact tech support. I called a number and requested a call back. I put my phone down and played a demo on my 3DS while I waited on my call from support.

Roughly 20 minutes later, Don from Microsoft Tech Support called me and we got started working on getting my Xbox online. It took more than two hours. During that time, Don had me going through settings on my Xbox, on my router, and he even used Remote Assistance to connect to my Windows 7 PC to configure my firewall to allow connection to Live.

While we waited on things to reboot, Don would ask me about the games I’m looking forward to and told me about what he had been playing; I felt like I was talking to another human being, a gamer no less. After all the hard work, we found a setting combination that worked. A few minutes later and I was happily connected to Live and killing zombies on Banoi with a friend.

Exactly one week later, my PlayStation stopped connecting to PSN. I couldn't watch Netflix or play any of my PlayStation Plus games.

I reset the network configuration, power cycled my network hardware, spent a half an hour Googling the problem, and nothing worked. I called Sony tech support; a big mistake and bigger waste of time.

I sat on hold, listening to the same ads over and over for 30 long minutes. Eventually a gentleman with a name I couldn't pronounce, who obviously speaks English as a second language, answered my call. He spent maybe 15 minutes with me while I reset my modem, router and PlayStation  He had me clear my network configuration (I had already done this, and told him so) and I could still not connect to the PlayStation Network. He told me that I would need to contact my Internet Service Provider and have them assist me.

He asked if there was anything else he could help me with. and then tried to sell me an extended warranty for my console before I hung up on him. What an infuriating waste of my time.

Then I remembered a few of the things Don from Microsoft had me to do get my Xbox online. The first few things didn't work, but when I set up a DMZ (de-militarized zone) for my PlayStation MAC address, it happily connected within seconds. Thanks for the tip, Don, you fixed my PlayStation as well!

Later that day I received a check-up call from Don. He wanted to make sure that my Xbox was still able to connect and if I had encountered any other problems. I hadn't… Not with my Xbox, at least.

Let's examine the differences between the two experiences:

A Comparison of My Tech Support Experience
Microsoft Tech SupportSony Tech Support
Spent more than 2 hours with me until the issue was resolved.Spent less than half an hour, didn’t even resolve the problem.
Call back feature allowed me to do what I wanted while I waited on an available agent.Sat on hold listening to advertisements for the duration of the wait.
Called back a week later to see if there were any additional problems.Tried to sell me a service over the phone.
Well-spoken and friendly.I had to ask representative to repeat things because I couldn’t understand him through his thick accent.

I would have to say that Microsoft really knows how to treat their customers. If I could have left Don a tip, I would have.

What do you expect from customer and technical support? What do you like and what do you hate about your experiences with support? Does the quality of support affect your attitude toward a company? Please let me know in the comments.


  1. The way customer service service is done makes or breaks whether or not I will buy the next generation console in my opinion.

    1. This was written before the reveal of the Xbox One. While their customer service is certainly better, the features of the PS4 are far more enticing to me. I'll eventually get the XBone, but I'm getting the PS4 on launch day.

  2. I had the exact opposite experience when it came to being able to understand the rep.

    1. Interesting, you had a problem understanding the Microsoft rep?

      I called Sony support about a year before this article and spoke with a native English speaker. She was easy to understand, but was still not very helpful.