Computers fail. It's happened to everyone in some form or another, from a program that simply won't run to a computer that absolutely refuses to start at all. It's at these trying times that most people turn to the technical support options available to them and rightfully expect a solid attempt at solving their issues Unfortunately, not every technical support solution is created equal.
Telephone technical support, by it's very nature of coming from a remote location with the only form of communication being voice, can be very limited in how well it can troubleshoot and solve issues using the client as the technician's eyes and hands. I know this as someone who has worked in a call center for a national corporation.
However, the problem is made even worse when the parent company that hosts the telephone technical support center decides to cut costs and hire individuals who seem determined to shift any blame away from the company and onto the consumer. For an example of one of the more extreme cases of this phenomenon, take a read through this blog entry entitled "Woe betide my Dell" on just one such service call.
Most of the time I spent with these three techs seemed to be centered on (a) proving that I was not an idiot and (b) trying to convince them that I was not solely responsible for breaking my computer. Every interaction and thing they tried seemed to be aimed at blaming me for the problems.
The blog entry goes on to mention that an on-site technician was dispatched, who was then able to get a better idea of where the trouble was coming from. Unfortunately for the blog author, that technician had to deal with the very same telephone technical support team to order replacement parts.
He actually suggested that she install only one of the four memory modules, close the box, determine quickly if that module was okay, and then leave, telling me to continue installing Windows and call tech support if I had any more problems! He actually suggested to her that she LEAVE OUT 1.5 GB of my memory, memory I paid for, presumably without telling me what had been done.
In my opinion, it is exactly these kinds of everyday interactions with telephone technical support that are driving the growing success of third party in-store and on-site repair solutions such as the Geek Squad , Circuit City's IQ Crew or Staples Easy Mobile Tech service.