Hi - I'd just like to relate how frustrated I am with the overall poor quality of technical support coming from your front line engineers, specifically the India Support Center. The last few tickets I have placed with Novell Support have presented the following issues:

1. Total lack of followup - for example, re: the current ticket I have open, I heard absolutely nothing during the first 24 hours. Not even an e-mail from the engineer with his contact information saying that the ticket had been assigned to his queue and he was working on it. I had to ask for an update through the web interface since I had no contact info, then when I got no response for 3 hours, I had to push the engineer into a chat session to get him engaged in the problem, where he blew me off again for an hour and a half, supposedly to speak with a back line engineer. All he did during that time was post the chat transcript as a ticket update 90 minutes later. In nearly three days, he has asked to remote into my machine to look at something totally unrelated to the problem, and has asked for a snippet of one log file, then told me it was working fine in his lab. I haven't heard from him since. Real helpful. I'm not buying that he spoke to anyone in back line support when this is all that's been done. This isn't the only ticket in recent memory that has been treated in this manner.

2. Lack of knowledge - you know things are bad when the engineer wants to remote into your machine and can't even correctly name the tab in ConsoleOne that he wants to look at. That isn't encouraging, and just makes me reluctant to turn over admin control to a production system to someone who doesn't even know what he's looking for. On other occasions I've had to demand the ticket be transferred to a more knowledgeable engineer within the US for that reason alone. When I did it in this case, my request was ignored. I expect when I open a ticket, that at least the engineer assigned knows SOMETHING about the product he/she is supporting, otherwise, they shouldn't be asking for remote access in the first place.

3. Front Line Engineers won't go off their script to troubleshoot - The party line with your front line engineers seems to be patch everything en masse or we won't talk to you. I'm sorry, but if I have a system that is basically working and has a minor problem that needs to be resolved, I shouldn't have to apply 200 peripheral patches that have nothing to do with the problem to get support, especially if the server is only a couple of months old. I understand the philosophy that everyone should be at the latest gen level of code, but if you do want me to apply a patch of some kind, I need to know that it applies to the problem at hand before applying it to a production system. That's just basic common sense - you might be introducing more instability into the system, and if the patch is unrelated to the problem, you're more than likely going to break something else that I'm going to have to open another incident for. Not everyone has the need to be at the bleeding edge of code in order for a problem to be fixed. Your engineers need to know that customers can't always take a system down (especially GroupWise) to immediately apply a support pack - that's something you plan for a maintenance window and only after extensive testing is done. I can't tell you how many times I've been told to apply a patch, and when I look at the readme file associated with it, it has nothing at all to do with solving the issue I'm dealing with. "Patch first and cross your fingers" isn't a good way to troubleshoot at all.

4. Time Zone issues - When a ticket is placed, it shouldn't automatically go to India - it would make sense to at least have it somewhat close to the time zone you are in so there isn't a 12-24 hour lag time between responses, especially on critical issues. Your company has stated in its press releases that technical support hasn't been outsourced to India, yet every ticket I have placed in recent memory goes to your ISC first, which is what I think is giving everyone the impression that it has been outsourced there.

5. Escalation issues - It shouldn't take a call to speak to a manager or an act of God to get an issue transferred to an engineer within my own country that knows the product. If I have been working with an engineer overseas that isn't doing his job I expect the ticket to be escalated to someone who is knowledgeable within a reasonable amount of time. Please don't transfer me to another front line engineer within the same support center who has the same lack of skills in the product I need help with - that's just bad business. That's straight out of the playbook that other vendors use (CA, Dell, Microsoft all come to mind here) and the internet is rife with complaints about how they handle their customers. Novell should know better if they want to compete.

That's just a sampling of what I've dealt with, and if I've seen this more than once, I'd be willing to bet that others are having the same issues with your support model. Sorry if this seems like a rant, but dealing with Novell support lately has been incredibly frustrating and these have been my major pet peeves with the support services we are paying for.

Craige Lukowicz