Inglorious Bloggers

Ask any technical support staffer and they’ll tell you that a vast majority of the problems they encounter are caused by incorrect fitting, application or setup, in other words – user error.

Now you would be quite correct in pointing out the fact that such an error would most likely be caused by incorrect manufacturer’s instructions. That could indeed be the case, had the user actually read the aforementioned instructions. The truth is, hardly anyone bothers reading, what could possibly be, the most important bit of information related to the product.

Any respectable manufacturer (and this is another good reason to always buy reputable brand products) will spend a considerable amount of time writing, testing, proofing and checking the instructions manual. It is, after all, in the manufacturer’s best interest that these be easy to understand, succinct, precise and most importantly accurate. All those manufacturers would be terrified to find out that these instructions are usually tossed away in favour of an opinion of a friend’s cousin who has seen someone fit one of these to his friend’s car once…

Similar, although even more disturbing trend is developing online. Concerned manufacturers, seeing the futility of supplying written instructions with each product have set up online help sites or tech support sections on popular forums, and yet the nature of the questions coming into the Tech Support has not changed. Rather than seeking advice on the manufacturer’s website or forum, the users, it seems, first look for advice from fellow enthusiasts online.

Now I certainly don’t want to put all forum users in the same category, there are many technically savvy, experienced enthusiasts online who can offer valuable advice, unfortunately for every one of those there are twenty or more whose technical knowledge could best be described as questionable.

It’s an important, yet often overlooked fact that product A fitted in a certain way to car B might work perfectly, yet fitted in the same way to car C will cause serious problems. Yet, for some reason that doesn’t seem to deter people from trying exactly that.

Scanning a few popular forums shows up several reasons why people prefer taking advice of strangers over those of the manufacturer. I would like to take a minute here to address them.

1. Manufacturers are biased towards their products. They’ll never admit there’s something wrong with their product.
Okay, manufacturers ARE biased towards their products – after all they design and make them, that doesn’t mean they won’t admit to a problem. Had that been the case there would be no Tech Support lines.
Marketing 101: “If people like dealing with the company they will buy more products from that company.” It makes good business sense to offer people as much help as possible so they are happy with their products.

2. Manufacturers Tech Support always starts by saying “have you read the instructions?”
Well, have you? Which is easier and safer; reading the manufacturer’s instructions or doing what your online buddy thinks is best?

3. I might have made a stupid mistake and I’m embarrassed to speak to Tech Support.
Believe me, Tech Support deals with stupid mistakes every day. It’s better to swallow your pride and call Tech Support than continue with your work and blow up your motor. Remember, the manufacturer knows the product inside and out, they also have a duty of care, which means they will never advise you to do anything that can potentially endanger your motor or your well-being. Can your online buddy offer you the same guarantee?

4. Manufacturer will always claim it’s my fault.
Statistically over 90% of tech support calls are user errors. Most of those can be fixed over the phone or online. If there is a genuine problem with a product, it is in the manufacturer’s best interest to replace it – remember they want you to buy lots of their products not just the one. Manufacturers are acutely aware of the fact that if you are dissatisfied with the service you receive you’ll walk away from the brand.

Now before I get accused of forum-bashing, let me say that this is not the aim of this article. The forums are a great way to connect and network with like-minded individuals, and they do make the automotive community better as a whole. The objective of this article is simply to point out that not all sources of online information are equal, and when accuracy and correctness of the information is important, make sure it comes from a legitimate source.



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