Why does online chat support almost always fail to solve the problem? And take so long? And generally just suck?


I’m on the online chat support with Palm right now trying to figure out how to get my Treo 650 to work in China and collect more information for my  Cell phones in China post.    As with other online help systems I’ve tried – almost always with regrets – I’m finding the online chat experience very frustrating and inefficient and time consuming.    Inefficient enough that I’m able to do this blog post while chatting, and learning that the technician appears to have far less information than I’ve already collected about how to get my Treo to work in China.  You’d think this would be a simple question and they’d have a nice FAQ but no, he’s sticking with me which I sort of appreciate, but so far all I have learned is the the Treo wil work in China but he’s not sure about the Sprint Network.  Unless I’ve missed something he’s missing the whole point here – you need unlocking and a SIM card which you normally purchase in China.

The failure of these chat support systems is really interesting because it seems like it should be a good way for a single support person to handle dozens of questions.  For some they’d know the answer immediately and send people on their merry way, while more complicated questions could be answered by using their databases, FAQs, and internet.    Yet generally I find that a phone call is more effective in drilling down to the issue and even faster unless you are on a very long hold.

OK, after over 30 minutes I have absolutely NO information I did not have before.  A total waste of time again:

LiveAssist Chat
 Status: Analyst Silas is here and your issue status is: working
Problem: Need to use Treo 650 in China

if (g_bContactLater) document.write(laterBttn.Instantiate());User Joe_Hunkins has entered room

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:19:13 PST 2008)>

Hello -  I'm travelling to Shanghai and Beijing and want to take my Sprint Treo 650.    Is this possible?  What is best way to allow me to use the phone in China for about 2 hours calling total?  Will a China Mobile SIM Card work in Sprint Treo 650 in China? How do I "unlock" the phone? THANKS!      


We are experiencing higher than usual service times. Please wait and an analyst will be with you shortly.

We are experiencing higher than usual service times. Please wait and an analyst will be with you shortly.

We are experiencing higher than usual service times. Please wait and an analyst will be with you shortly.

analyst Silas has entered room

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:36:41 PST 2008)>Hello Joe_Hunkins, Thank you for contacting Palm Technical Support. My name is Silas. How may I help you?
Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:36:54 PST 2008)>

Hello.

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:38:26 PST 2008)>

hello

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:38:37 PST 2008)>

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:19:13 PST 2008)>Hello -  I'm travelling to Shanghai and Beijing and want to take my Sprint Treo 650.    Is this possible?  What is best way to allow me to use the phone in China for about 2 hours calling total?  Will a China Mobile SIM Card work in Sprint Treo 650 in China? How do I "unlock" the phone?   

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:38:35 PST 2008)>

I understand that you want to take your phone to china.

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:38:58 PST 2008)>

yes

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:39:43 PST 2008)>

I will assist you with the issue.

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:41:32 PST 2008)>

Treo 650 will work in China. However I am not sure about Sprint carrier network.

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:42:33 PST 2008)>

How do I unlock the phone - that is needed to use a CHina Mobile SIM Card

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:42:53 PST 2008)>

I mean Treo 650 (GSM) will work in China.

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:45:08 PST 2008)>

Can I have 3 minutes to work on the issue?

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:45:19 PST 2008)>

sure...

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:49:05 PST 2008)>

Thank you for staying online.

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:49:07 PST 2008)>

Locking and Un locking deals with the specific carrier. How ever we are not aware of that.

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:49:35 PST 2008)>

I suggest you to contact your Sprint once.

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:49:48 PST 2008)>

OK, thanks...

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:49:59 PST 2008)>

Is there anything else I could assist you with?

Joe_Hunkins(Sun Mar 2 11:50:08 PST 2008)>

Nope..

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:50:10 PST 2008)>

You are welcome.

Silas(Sun Mar 2 11:50:19 PST 2008)>

Thank you for using Palm Technical Support.   We value your inputs, please feel free to fill in the 
customer survey that will pop up once you click on the end session button to close the chat window.   
Have a great day!

Using Cell Phones in China


This post is about how to use your cell phone in China.    I’m having more trouble than I thought finding out the procedure but here’s what I think I know so far:

* You must have a GSM phone:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_System_for_Mobile_Communications  My Treo 650 meets this standard.

* You must have the phone unlocked before the trip.  Usually this is done by your provider.   In my case this is Sprint

* In some cases you can buy an international calling plan from the providers.

* Cheaper service appears to come via SIM cards you can purchase online or in China.  These seem to cost about $30 and include some phone time as well as reductions in per minute costs for international calling.     I’m seeing about .18 per minute China to USA which I think is much cheaper than I’ve had with an International Calling plan.

* China Mobile is the big daddy cellular provider in China

Note – I’ll try to revise this and fix mistakes as I figure this out.