Kingston: web support site seems designed to frustrate
I have a new Kingston Solid State Drive (SSD), and I’m not happy with its performance. Naturally, I went to the Kingston website to contact support. It was an exercise in frustration.
Even though the site knows I am in the United States (I’ve been here before, there must be an unused cookie), the first screen is … pick your country! An unnecessary hoop.
Finding the SSD support page wasn’t too difficult, although you can see from the following screenshot that there is no “where am I?” clue in the navigation. Because Chrome shows the page title only in the browser tab, not at the top of the browser pane, this design flaw is more obvious. Of course, I think Chrome has a design flaw because of its limited display of the page title.
I found my drive and clicked on the “email tech support for help” link.
And I found myself back at square one, being asked to pick my country! But this time the page is wrapped in an iframe!
This was my second time on the Kingston support site. The first time, I was not shunted into a 360 loop. But because I needed to obtain a serial number off the drive, I was unable to complete the support request.
Guided by the prior’s day experience, I knew that this was supposed to work, so I tried all three browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Safari. I got the run-around with each one.
And then I didn’t. Sorta.
First, why is Kingston presenting me with a list of SSD models? I picked my drive on the preceding page! I should not have to pick it again!
Second, if this was a good idea (which it’s not), why would you insert a full-featured page (sidebar, header) inside an iframe? I could understand — not agree with, but understand — if the iframe contained the list of drives. But an entire page? And the page had not been “wrapped” on my prior visit.
The list order? I think it is partially reverse chronological and partially numerical. As a result, it is totally confusing. I believe a more user-friendly approach would be to group the drives by bare or bundled (in case someone is having a problem with a bundle component) and then by size (GB), in ascending order. The current order has 64GB and 96GB drives in the list after the 512GB drives! For example:
|64GB SSDNow V+100 SATA 2 2.5
||64GB SSDNow V+100 SATA 2 2.5 Upgrade Bundle Kit
|128GB SSDNow V+100 SATA 2 2.5
||128GB SSDNow V+100 SATA 2 2.5 Upgrade Bundle Kit
I think this revised order would be preferable to the first long list of illustrated drives, a list that appears to be in random order.
I select my drive one more time, and I finally reach the first page of a three-part webmail form. (Note to the copywriters on the website: this is not email.) This should have been my second page; instead, it is the fifth (when the system isn’t in a loop).
On the plus side, the form is pre-populated with my drive model number. On the negative side, this is where you have to stop if you didn’t think to turn off your computer and pull the drive before initiating this process.
Next, basic “who are you and how do we reach you” questions:
Other than trying to keep the form fields visually above the fold, I don’t understand why these separate chunks are necessary. The continue button, located towards the left rather than right side, is oddly placed for those who provide their physical address.
The last page of of the submittal is the most important for the customer: it’s where I get to explain what’s going on.
My first “argh” was discovering that the apostrophe (‘) is a forbidden character. No contractions allowed!
My second “argh” was learning that hard returns are prohibited. This is going to be one long paragraph. I was trying to provide formatted xBench data which showed that my new 128GB drive is slower than my one year old 64GB drive.
My third “argh” was seeing the “you have no characters left” error … so it’s not going to be a long paragraph. But I have no idea where my information has been truncated. And there is no preview.
I click submit, and am faced with my fourth “argh”: a 48 hour turn-around! Given that support knows almost nothing about my problem, because the submittal form doesn’t allow it, asking me to wait 48 hours for a response is annoying. And if it’s 48 hours now, how long will I have to wait after I answer whatever questions are posed?
All in all, this was an extremely painful experience, unnecessarily so.
- If you set a cookie, use it! Kingston knows that I’m in the US, so why is it asking again?
- Make it as easy as possible for customers to find their product and get to the “help me” forms. That means, in this case, streamlining the process.
- Don’t test code on a live site. How else to explain the random wrapping of pages in iframes and the 360 looping?
- Order product information in a way that mirrors how customers think of your products, which is probably not by product number.
- Design text forms so that they work like other text forms on the web. That means hard returns, ‘special characters’ and preview before sending!