Fun with Microsoft Customer Service

I share my adventures with getting what I thought was a simple, non technical question answered at the Microsoft Store on line.


A couple of days ago I decided it was time to stop stalling and buy the software I needed to start overhauling my web site, since the software I started with has been obsolete for a couple of years, at least.  I’m not a programmer, so back in 1996 I built my site with FrontPage. It has since been superseded by Expression Web, so I went on line to the Microsoft Store to buy it. I just wasn’t sure if my owning FrontPage 2002 qualified me to buy the upgrade version instead of the full version. This was what was on their web site:

“You must be a licensed user of one of the following products to be
eligible for this upgrade version:
* Any Microsoft Expression product
* Any Adobe Creative Suite
* Any Microsoft Office product”

As best I knew, by 2002 FrontPage was considered part of Office, though I had bought my copy separately. When I installed it, it went into the Office folder by default, and the label on my installation disk said “The Microsoft Office Web Site Creation and Management Solution.” That was good enough for me, but I always like to double check before assuming anything will work on a computer unless it’s spelled out. I didn’t want to spend $80 and then discover I should have bought the full version. So before making the purchase, I called the Microsoft Store to ask the person answering the phone there to confirm having FrontPage installed qualified me for the upgrade version. I told her what I just told you. She didn’t know. She put me on hold to ask someone, and they didn’t know either, so I was transferred to another number. She was very kind and stayed on the line with me until the person at that number picked up.

The person at the call routing Department connected me to yet another number, and the person at that number said the department that could answer my question was closed until the next day. So yesterday I called the number he had given me, and the person there referred me to another number, who then referred me back to someone at the department I had  just talked to who then transferred me back to the Microsoft Store. The person who answered there, different that the person who originally sent me chasing wild geese, didn’t know off the top of her head, either, so she put me on hold. When she came back she said the product qualified and she took my order. She said she had searched Bing for the answer and found it.

When I got the usual customer service survey from Microsoft, I filled it out and added quite a bit in the comments section and got an email back requesting more information. I suggested that if they had spelled out what the qualifying Office products were on the web site in the first place, it would have saved a lot of people a lot of time. It never occurred to me that I had asked a difficult question. I had assumed that those in the store would have known enough about Microsoft Products to have the answer in their heads. At least two people had told me they didn’t think the product qualified. Perhaps no one wanted to be held accountable for the answer they gave me. But it did make me wonder if all the people who man phones in various customer service departments are lost when there is no script to follow. Perhaps each department’s focus is so narrow or the personnel so new that they can’t remember products that have not been supported for three years enough to know that they were once a part of one of Microsoft’s most popular and used products.