My heart sank when my partner decided to buy a new laptop: I foresaw a stint of duty at the IT helpdesk. I am no expert but, in the land of the clueless, he who has an iota of knowledge is in demand. Since our household is fully committed to Microsoft (i.e. ensnared in its systems and afraid of the complications of disentanglement) the migration from old to new laptop involved "upgrading" from Windows 7 to 8 and, to give an idea of the complications involved, one entire morning (mine) was spent persuading our printer to cooperate with this undertaking.
This pales to insignificance when compared with the week-long saga involving Vodafone and its no-longer-compatible dongle. Communicating with big tech companies is notoriously difficult for those who favour the old fashioned pick-up-the-phone approach. While I concede that finding a Microsoft phone help-line is unlikely, some of the companies closer to home, such as the inappropriately named TalkTalk, do have phone numbers buried deep in their contact information. But the thing to remember is that, although you might very much want to talk to them, they are not inclined to talk to you. They have more cost-effective systems.
The first thing they advise you to do is trawl through a list of FAQs that do not touch on your problem; then you are urged to follow threads in user-forums frequented by desperate, pleading technophobes; after that there are long-winded articles published on "knowledge bases"(who has time to become an expert in all this stuff?); or there is live-chat (email) with people who may or may not be able to resolve your problem but for whom I feel sorry, doomed as they are to spend their days dealing with frustrated customers attempting to vent their spleen via a keyboard when all they really want to do is shout.
After all this what do you get? A Satisfaction Survey - Did our operator today solve your problem? Yes or No. (There is no provision to answer "I'm not sure yet since I have to reboot my system and start all over again".) On a scale of 0-10 how likely are you to recommend TechEmpire to a friend? (I would really like to answer "my friends are very dear to me").
In any case recommending anything to anyone should be done only if hedged around with provisos. The Albanian Scouser who fitted my new ceiling was a very skilled and efficient worker who did a good job. He was also a charmingly well-mannered person with a lively and enquiring mind. Would I recommend him to someone else? Yes, but: that someone else might have different expectations, standards, peccadilloes etc. - and they might not be able to understand a word he said. Let's just say that I would feel comfortable making an introduction. Recommendations can so easily rebound.
Last evening my friend was in town and we met up to do some of our favourite things: wine, beer, food and jazz. Being the home-town host I was confident of being able to deliver the best possible experience in each commodity, but it was not to be. The wine bar, chosen for its unusually comprehensive list, was closed to customers because of a private event. The restaurant, which had received a rave review in the national press, was underwhelming. The jazz gig had its moments but they were too few-and-far-between to persuade us to stay to the end. If it weren't for the plentiful choice of good beers - and bars which stock them - our satisfaction score-card might have looked zero-heavy.
Which reminds me: my partner hasn't yet returned the Satisfaction Survey I emailed her.