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January 26, 2005
Top-Notch Customer Service

A few years ago, I used to do telephone tech support for a Major Silicon Valley Technology Company. We strove to provide the best service any customer could have the right to expect, and in my ever-so-humble opinion (and that of, oh, just about every rating organization in the country) we succeeded.

Our products were more expensive then the competition, the software had more than its share of problems, but the after-sale support we provided was second to none, and it brought customers back to us over and over again.

Having been "the guy on the phone" for literally thousands of customers calling with broken networks over the years, I really began to take notice of high quality technical support when I was on the "caller" end of a support situation. Good support is rare enough that it deserves recognition.

With that in mind, I'm here to praise the folks at Epson.

Just under a year ago, I bought an Epson all-in-one printer/copier/scanner. I used to prefer having multiple stand-alone devices, but my old devices were, well, old, and I didn't have a copier... so an inexpensive (very inexpensive) replacement for them seemed just the thing.

Last week, with less than a month remaining on the warranty, the printer ceased printing. No, that's not quite right. It printed colors just fine; it merely stopped printing anything black. And before you ask, yes, there was a fresh ink cartridge in it.

After doing all the testing and diagnosing I could think to do, I was up against a wall. I could neither resolve the problem nor even determine what the problem actually was. At that point I called Epson's customer support.

The guy on the phone was fantastic. Once I explained that I had been a professional tech troubleshooter, we got through his mandatory "have you tried this?" spiel in less than two minutes, and he recommended replacement of the whole unit with a new one. I wasn't about to argue or complain.

Today, the new one arrived via UPS. But it wasn't the same model — it was the new model. Apparently the old one had been discontinued, so rather than shipping me a returned-and-repaired machine, I was the beneficiary of a free upgrade. New features (the printing from memory card capability looks pretty darn cool — I hope it's the same card my camera uses), better performance — hard to beat.

In the past, when I had to arrange a hardware replacement for a customer with a problem, it was not at all unusual to give the customer, at no cost, a newer piece of equipment that had the same or better capabilities. But after the tech business went through the shakeup of 2000/2001, such free replacement practices have become fairly rare.

I'm very pleased with Epson. Their exemplary service has earned them my future business.

[And yes, I know that the printers themselves are not the "profit center" of the industry; the ink cartridges are. Which makes the fact that Epson shipped me new cartridges just that much more praiseworthy.]

Posted by Russ at 08:42 PM, January 26, 2005 in Geekery

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