Posted tagged ‘Genius Bar’

The End of Free Consumer Support? Finally.

December 15, 2008

I am on vacation this week, but couldn’t resist a final pre-Christmas post to rile things up for the holidays. I just read a Washing Post article “The Bangalore Backlash: Call Centers Return to U.S.” which hits on enough controversies to keep me blogging for a month.  Let’s start with this one: Dell’s new “Your Tech Team” service, which provides a US-based support engineer and a wait time of 2 minutes or less for $13 a month or $99 a year. Add to that Apple’s successful in-store Genius Bar and Best Buy’s in your face Geek Squad, I suspect that 2009 will be the year consumers are finally forced to admit that technical support for increasingly complex and inter-dependent consumer software, computer equipment and intelligent devices offers immense value and they are willing to pay for it.  In other words, Value-Added Support has crossed from enterprise to consumer support.  And it is about time.

Judging from the multiple inquiries I’ve received from consumer technology makers in the last few months, many companies are re-evaluating their current policies about free vs. fee support. Some companies still offer free consumer support with no service contract, and as some of them will tell you, even a single support incident from a customer may eliminate any profit from the sale of the product.  And as the economic recession forces even more discounting this holiday season, these very narrow profit margins are been squeezed even further. To paraphrase a cloying line from the holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Every time the telephone rings, an angel gets…the quality of support they are willing to pay for.