When trusted personal technology bites you

Federal agencies strive for online service that matches the private sector, but sometimes private-sector service stinks.

We remodeled the master bathroom in our house nearly 20 years ago. Last month the shower stopped serving up hot water. Brrr! I recalled the Kohler fixture came with a lifetime warranty.

I decided to test the durability of that warranty.  First I snapped a picture of the control. Then I went to the Kohler website. Three clicks later, I was in a chat with Mitchell of customer service.  I slid the photo into the chat box. Thirty seconds later, Mitchell informed me a new cartridge would ship immediately. Total time elapsed: about three minutes. A few more minutes later, I received a confirmation email.

I still have to shell out for a plumber to install it. I plumbed a darkroom many years ago. That was enough plumbing to last me a lifetime (Rule #1: Don’t try to solder a pipe filled with water).

Here’s another case of customer service. My personal email has been Verizon.net for 15 years. Or had been. Verizon email was bulletproof. Verizon help was excellent on the rare occasions I needed it. Naturally, it couldn’t last. Verizon acquired then dumped its email service on AOL. This required a big effort by customers to preserve their existing email addresses. I didn’t want a dorky AOL address.

I was surprised there still was an AOL. Good lord, what a hassle it’s been. The AOL email site is more ad and news trivia server than a decent email client. So I use my native Mac email client. Then comes a barrage of emails from AOL to update the settings. The emails look like evil phishing. The other day, I decided to bite the bullet and devote precious time to dealing with the email client. Oy vey. I won’t go into the technical details.

I sought help. AOL had shut down its chat line. It also halted email help queries. The site explained AOL was getting overwhelmed with email support requests. Phone help? Just try and find a number.

Verizon, AOL or whoever it is, is no Kohler when it comes to online service.

Have you updated your iPhone to iOS 11? I did, and now my iPhone 6 runs like cold molasses. Applications take 10 seconds or more to load. That includes the actual telephone app. Battery life has withered. Apps crash for no apparent reason. Sometimes, I get a white screen of death.  Aaaarghhhh! I never thought I would hate my iPhone.

Who ya gonna call?

Federal CIOs and program people often talk about offering online service that matches what people get from the private sector. A word to the wise: Sometimes private-sector service stinks.

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