As connectivity has become more ubiquitous (and more of a constant necessity), I’ve learned new ways to stay connected. I’ve told you about how my netbook computer—an Acer netbook computer—makes it easy to keep going; this little thing was inexpensive, is light and small, works for eight hours on a single battery charge, and acts as my constant conduit to the Internet.

Or it did. This weekend, approximately nine months after I bought it, My Acer Netbook just … died.

As an old computer geek this struck me as amazing, simply because my experience is that computers either die almost immediately after you start using them, or they work until new software outpaces old hardware and they become too slow to be useful. But this weekend my Acer netbook just stopped working. There’s not a POST boot-up error; my netbook simply won’t turn on.

My netbook is nine months old. It’s in warranty. I had to work a bit to confirm those facts to Acer, but I jumped through the hoops and Acer acknowledged that my computer needed to be fixed and that they had the responsibility of fixing it at their expense.

And then, customer service ineptitude broke loose.

After Acer acknowledged their responsibility for fixing my netbook, I found myself needing a few details in order to get things moving. So I followed the link in the e-mail Acer had sent me, and found that my support ticket had been closed. Since the Acer netbook was not fixed and there were details missing, the ticket shouldn’t have been closed out, but I didn’t know what to do to re-open it and Acer’s web site isn’t exactly user-friendly. So I opened a live chat with a representative, hoping to cut through things before a customer service mess broke out.

Bad move.

Acer’s customer service representative asked me questions that I had already answered, both in the original support case and in my dealings with him. And then, despite my computer being nine months old (the warranty is a year), despite him having that information, and despite me having pointed out that I had already received confirmation that my Acer netbook was still in warranty, this customer service person told me I was out of warranty.

Here’s the transcript of that chat:

Apologies for my snarky tone at the end of the transcript, by the way.

The problem is this:

When there are multiple ways to contact you on a page at your web site, and when they lead to two different areas of the company that don’t have access to the same information (really, Acer??!!??), you’ve done your customers service efforts a disservice, you’ve done your customers a disservice, and frankly, you’ve done your employees a disservice.

And by the way: following Acer’s directions, I spent nearly forty dollars to ship the netbook to them. Maybe someone at Acer will read this and do the right thing, but … I kind of doubt it.

If we had named it the Answer Guy Customer Disservice Wall of Shame, that’s where we’d be inducting Acer today. This will have to do:

Welcome to The Answer Guy’s Customer Service Wall of Shame, Acer.

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