Find the most elusive contacts at the companies you need to reach. Even if they're hiding.
Thanks to the Internet, it's supposedly easy to reach the CEO of a company that's jerking you around or get in contact with tech support people you need to get back up and running.
The only trouble is -- they don't want to hear from you!
I've noticed a nasty trend on the Web lately. Sites are starting to hide email addresses, phone numbers and, even, the real names of people. At Maxthon, they've got the MaxthonGuy. What's his real name? Who knows.
This is particularly true when it comes to tech support. A lot of organizations consider employee phone time to be just too expensive. Their solution: Eliminate incoming phone calls.
By hiding email addresses, websites are making the situation even worse. Some will accept email, but only if you send it via a special form on the site that requires you to fill out more information about yourself than you will ever learn about them.
The sheer amount of information some companies ask for before I can email them is so overwhelming, I usually just give up and forget about it. Of course, that is exactly what they're hoping for. That's another pesky customer they don't have to deal with.
Luckily, they won't get away with this behavior for long. Here are a bunch of websites you can turn to for help. The first one comes courtesy of the feds. Head to the Consumer Action Handbook.
It includes a huge listing of companies, their actual addresses, real email addresses and, best of all, phone numbers. Yes, I said phone numbers! What a concept.
I also found another alternative. For more detailed information, with names and sometimes, photos, of top execs, do a search at The Consumerist . The site isn't exhaustive, but the information is really valuable in case you really get pissed off.
It's particularly helpful for contacting companies I particularly have trouble reaching -- like DirectTV, eBay and PayPal.
For tech support, check out techsupportforum or techguy.org. I don't know what the gimmick is -- both sites give free help -- but I like it. I don't know why anyone would do anything for free, though.
I wouldn't. In other words, I love BYTE and all, but I'm not here to help you fix your freaking computer. If you want to tell me who you do find to fix yours, email me at ron@BYTE.com.
Want my phone number? No way!
Based in San Antonio, Ron White is a technologist at BYTE. His phone number is unlisted. Email him with ideas and comments -- but no tech support questions -- at Ron@BYTE.com.
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