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Use Twitter to get real-time customer service updates and info

Can't connect to a company's Web site? Wondering if there's a known issue with software or service? Twitter may provide the answers.

Yesterday, digital-comic-book reseller Comixology held a promotion offering a whopping 700 free comics--first issues of old and new series ranging from The Avengers to The Fantastic Four to Spider-Man.

For a total cost of $0, you could read these gems on the Web or your PC, tablet, or smartphone.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the giveaway was so popular, it turned into Kryptonite for Comixology's servers. I tried all day to create an account and grab some free comics, but simply couldn't connect.

Twitter to the rescue! Well, sort of. Seeking information about the situation, and hoping to find out when it might get resolved, I headed to Twitter and searched for Comixology. Two results: one feed for the company itself (@comixology) and another for support (@cmxsupport)! And, sure enough, the latter had all kinds of info and updates regarding the outage.

Unfortunately, the company ended up suspending the promotion until further notice. But the takeaway here is that when you're looking for real-time information about a company or service, look to Twitter.

For example, companies ranging from Comcast to HP to Verizon have Twitter feeds that blast out regular updates, very often with information about service issues. (Comcast, for example, offers news and troubleshooting help via @comcastcares.)

Likewise, if you're dealing with a technical issue and can't get help through the usual channels, you might have luck using Twitter for tech support.

You might think that checking a company's blog is the best way to get current information, but these days, you'll probably have better luck checking Twitter. It's a fast and effective way for companies to communicate with customers, so take advantage of it when you can.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at [email protected], or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PCWorld Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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