Thursday, August 14, 2014

Adventures in Tech Support, Ctd.

The software for the AllShareCastHappyJoyousHarmonyFuntime dongle updated itself on my tablet. I therefore assume it's compatible.

Oh, and it's available at several places online for about half of what the manufacturer's website is selling it for. Just saying.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adventures in Tech Support

So I got myself a tablet the other day, a Samsung Tab 4 10", model SM-T530NU. It's a nice tablet. I like it.

I took it to work to see if I could get it to interface with our overhead projectors. It took 2 adapters--mini-USB to HDMI, HDMI to VGA--and got no result. So, *after* trying this, I check the help files on the tablet.

No, as it turns out you can't just redirect the screen out the port, but there's something called Screen Mirroring that works with a separate dongle, sold separately. For about a hundred bucks. (SEE: What the market will bear, charging.) Basically this gizmo plugs into an HDMI device, and the tablet broadcasts wirelessly to this gizmo.

OK, fine. But as I'm looking at the web page for the device in question, I see a link for "list of compatible devices," and double-check, and lo and behold, my tablet isn't on it. Though several earlier Samsung tablets are.

So: The tablet's documentation says to get this gizmo, but the gizmo's documentation says the tablet's not supported. Well, it doesn't explicitly say that my model ISN'T supported, but my tablet isn't on the list of things that ARE supported. A lot of their phones and tablets are, but not this one. Is that significant, or not?

Hmmmm..... That's when I made my mistake and tried the online tech support.

Large companies started using automated text-processing chatbots instead of real people for tech support years ago, to cut costs. They don't do the job very well and tend to be frustrating to use, but they're cheap and don't take vacations or complain about overtime. Since customer support is pretty much pure cost overhead, there's a strong incentive to do it as absolutely cheaply as possible.

And so the comedy of errors and repeating myself began. The first chatbot asked for the model number and then took 3 minutes to determine that it didn't know anything about that model and so it passed me to another one. That meant starting over from the beginning, because of course the reason a call is passed along can't be provided by the system  doing the passing.

This time it only took 3 attempts to get my question--is the AllShareCastHappyFriendlyJoyousHarmony device compatible with this tablet?--across. And a loooong delay, ending in "that device isn't compatible with all tablets, you can find more information here," with a link back to the web page that caused me the question in the first place. It asked for confirmation that I could reach the page, and then switched immediately into "thank you very much my I upsell you into some other things?" mode.

So, I have no idea if:

  • The AllShareCastHappyFriendlyJoyousHarmony device is in fact compatible with my tablet, and they just haven't updated the webpage; 
  • The AllShareCastHappyFriendlyJoyousHarmony device was compatible with earlier models, and they just copied the help files on the tablet without checking to see if they still applied or not (meaning it's a crapshoot and they don't know if their devices work together or not), or 
  • The AllShareCastHappyFriendlyJoyousHarmony device is definitely not compatible with my tablet and the documentation on the tablet itself is just wrong, being carried over incorrectly from an earlier model. 

Now, I'm mighty curious about which of those it might be. But not curious enough to pay a hundred bucks to find out.

And the beat goes on....