I was thinking about this service process, in which Dell and other computer makers make us suffer through service with them. They take some S&M glee in making us wait on hold and talk to their people for hours (costing them money, by the way).
But with computers, we are expected to suffer through the process; we aren’t allowed to say, “Just fix it: The machine you made is broken so fix it and make sure it’s fixed.”
Why the hell do we tolerate this?
Computer people used to be electronics experts and software experts. They were totally able to take care of this stuff themselves. Now we have the average person who isn’t a computer or software expert and actually doesn’t like fixing computers themselves.
This is an artifact from the early days of computing, and I think we’re slowly moving away from that, but computers are still in their infancy. Think cars in the very early 20th century. They weren’t for any old consumer. If you had a car, you were probably a mechanical hobbyist and enjoyed tearing apart your car and putting it back together again.
Same thing with computers. The industry started out with people who liked to mess with electronics and software, and knew their way around a computer. Tech support by phone was a way to get the darned thing fixed without having to send it in, and that was considered a good thing by computer users of the day.
That mindset is still in the institutions and I think it won’t change quickly.