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Editorial: Health warning

Editorial: Health warning

Does it really have to be this hard?

In my editorial that appeared in ARN two weeks ago (April 7, page 2) I stated that, considering how complex technology is and how ignorant the typical customer is, the vast majority of resellers actually provide quite an amazing level of service. That comment appeared to touch a nerve with many of you and we received a great deal of feedback on the issue (most of which we'll print in the Letters page over the coming weeks).

A recurring theme seemed to be that resellers do go to exceptional lengths to ensure that their customers receive great service and support, but their best efforts are often thwarted by two factors. Firstly, customers have unrealistic expectations. It's impossible to blame the customer for this; after all, everything else they buy, they plug in and it works. That's how it should be. Of course, we know that's not how it works. To bastardise a tired old advertising jingle: this often doesn't go with this. Or that.

That is of course the second factor, which invariably frustrates the reseller, and it is the real problem. Technology, and in particular PC hardware and software, simply do not work together in the way they should. Unfortunately, it's you, the reseller, who has to bear the brunt of dissatisfied customers who can't understand why the Internet connectivity software they have just installed has managed to cause their entire system to cease operating. But back to my original question. Does it really have to be this hard? Of course not.

Neglected reliability

But vendors have clearly neglected reliability and simplicity in favour of jamming as many never-to-be-used features and functions into their latest software. Microsoft and its PC partners in crime have a lot to answer for.

One can only hope that Microsoft learns from the whipping it is getting from 3Com in the Palm Pilot market. The Palm OS has been built around simplicity and hides almost all of its complexity from the user. For example, does the user ever really need to see the multitude of files that are a part of any application? No. They only need to see the icon they click on to launch the application.

More than one reseller has made the comment in ARN that those vendors that choose to deal direct will find the going much tougher than they might have anticipated. Perhaps we should encourage vendors to go direct so that they can discover just how difficult it is to properly support their products.

At the very least, vendors can stop pretending that their products are so easy to use and stop laying the blame on dealers when a problem occurs. Don't they just love to use marketing terms like ease-of-use and plug and play. Perhaps government bodies could force vendors to label their products like cigarette companies have to.

"Warning: this product may damage the health of your PC."

ARN values your comments. E-mail the editor at philip_sim@idg.com.au


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