and for your excellent personal appraisal of the shortcomings and strengths of the Mesh customer service set up. Mesh as a company has tried hard to address this aspect of its business this year, and from where we stand here, in the forum, they've moved forward. I don't want to make mine a specifically Mesh response - what I have to say applies to all companies who supply computers and computer related goods to consumers.
I agree completely with your point about the computer only being a part of the equation, and of course if all companies recognised and acted on this fact there would be no need of a Consumerwatch forum. Perfect worlds don't exist however, and a few weeks spent monitoring these threads is sufficient to make one realise the extent to which some suppliers fail to grasp the single most important factor in a successful supplier/cutomer relationship........communication.
All suppliers are going to have the kind of problems you've experienced - computers that are dead on arrival, or shortly afterwards - and all of them have to find a way of dealing with the resulting calls from disgruntled consumers. There are few things as frustrating as a computer that doesn't compute; normally calm people become agitated and impatient in this context, and suppliers need to understand this. It isn't at all surprising that an anxious customer becomes an angry one when confronted with a 30 or 45 minute wait, simply to speak to someone about a computer problem. In the cut-throat market that is the retail computer industry few companies can afford the luxury of a customer service desk with an agent for each incoming call - there has to be a stacking system. What I can't understand is why companies don't offer the call-back system, whereby the customer leaves a brief message and a call-back number. That at least would go some way towards alleciating the stress. Calls would have to be returned of course, and therein lies the rub - if more call-backs than can be handled in a working day are logged it means that things spill over to the next day, and then another day's worth of calls comes in, and so on. It's a real problem, and with margins being cut to the bone there's little slack to play with.
If I knew the answer to all this I would be making a fortune teaching companies what to do, but it's more complex than many people realise. The obstacle is money - there probably isn't enough in the gross margin on the average computer sale to finance the kind of customer service operation that most consumers want. Added to this is the fact that lots of home users start tweaking and tuning, and adding all kinds of hardware and sofware to their new computers, and then wonder why the machine doesn't want to play ball. It's a minefield, and the only way to keep things on an even keel is to establish a dialogue. Most people will happily wait for a short time if they feel that they aren't being ignored, and if they have some hope of an eventual solution. Not all consumers are right, but all consumers are at least entitled to be dealt with in a timely and courteous fashion.