JUST THE other day, my son Danny wanted to play against other people on his DS using its wireless connection. So my better half tried to set it up on our home broadband without any luck. This prompted her to visit Nintendo's website for advice and found that they recommend she should disable our firewall. Shocked, she got it working by herself without doing that.
The next day I was looking at various makes of DVD re-writers to order for shop stock and found that they either come with no software, or utilities only for disk writing. Intrigued, I checked the basic drives and found they come without any software at all. My research came after some customers complained that their new drives don't allow them to play DVD films as there is no supplied software.
Then someone brought in a brand new laptop because the built-in webcam won't work without a driver update that won't install. Naturally the widely derided multiple outlet that they bought it from won't help and I referred them on to Acer.
Next came a cheap webcam purchased from a certain high street catalogue shop because it had no sound output. There were no instructions and the shop has zero tech support.
What all these incidents have in common is that the manufacturers are causing problems that should have already been thought out and dealt with properly. Computer products are no longer the realm of the tech-savvy, but end users are simply left to fend for themselves.
Often, this can mean that they turn up on our welcome mat whether they bought from us originally or not. This can be a mixed blessing depending on how it is handled. Here is a person who is disappointed through no fault of the seller yet they expect the seller to resolve the issue for them. If the seller has already refused or failed to do that, they are now even more upset.
Now we have to decide what we can do and what we can charge for doing it. Some of these jobs do end up as freebies and we hope the resultant good will persuade people to come to us for future purchases. We might end up being seen as free support instead of a place to buy,yet it is a risk worth taking and they can always be referred back to the seller if they really make a habit of it.
The bottom line is that we will try to help if we can, an attitude that seems to go against the grain with a lot of business people. So if I have done nothing more than get you thinking about it, I am happy for that. But if you are a manufacturer, please make sure your product is properly finished for retail.