An unguarded sentence from last week to the effect "that Microsoft's products are shoddy and the support worse" drew this response from frequent contributor Erik Engbrecht:
I've recently had the opportunity to work with MS support people, and I'm going to have to disagree with you. Their support is stellar.
Of course, I may need to caveat that with "if you pay for it." But we pay for a lot of support from a lot of companies, and MS seems to be one of the few where it is worth it.
Since that's not exactly been my experience, I thought it might be fun to swap good and bad support stories to see whether any kind of consensus exists on whether Microsoft's support is, or is not, shoddier than their products.
(And yes, I know that "the rats weren't stoop shouldered")
In my own experience the best technical support I've ever seen has come from individuals and small companies making advanced products, and the worst from big companies making volume products. Today that generally means open source providers on the good side with the worst coming from the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, and telcom companies like Telus to whom customer calls are annoyances to be discouraged with IVR, long hold times, and "service" personnel who don't understand English.
Anecdotes don't, of course, establish anything of general applicability -but here's the high level summary of my own experience with technical support:
In fact, I don't think I've ever seen or heard of a Microsoft support call that produced a positive result the user couldn't have gotten to quicker and with less hassle through an internet search.
It's different on software support because only really hard stuff requires a call and most of the people at the lower levels can't deal with those - so it's always frustrating until the right guy gets back to us - and then it usually turns out to be something I should have known but didn't. Slow, frustrating, usually embarrassing in the end, but effective enough because real software emergencies (production down) simply don't come up.
So, over to you: evidence? anecdotes? opinions? what works, what doesn't? and, overall, is Microsoft support better than, comparable to, or worse than their higher volume products?