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Rude Windows Vista Activation Rep Pisses Me Off

20 -unactivated

Last night, after I fixed a hard drive problem by moving my entire PC to a new hard drive, Windows Vista demanded to be re-activated; otherwise I would face a firing squad (or Reduced Functionality Mode, something like that). Now that’s annoying and unnecessary, since a new hard drive isn’t such a significant hardware change that Windows should want re-activation, but I figured, whatever, you gotta deal with it.

21 - what to do

So, I click to activate and it fails, which again, after a system check, it shouldn’t. The computer gives me some options: Buy a new copy of Windows (sure, throw away $280!), find another copy of Windows just sitting around (actually, I could have done that, but it would have been another waste of $280), or contact Microsoft.

Naturally, I’m not sitting on a pile of money, so I take option 3.

22 - enter 54 digit id

Now, in contacting the automated support line, they give you a toll-free number to call and a 54-digit ID number which you must read to a computer. Surprisingly, the voice recognition worked great, failing only once out of the nine groups of six-digit numbers I had to read, but activation still failed after going through all that!

I’m annoyed at this point, having tried to activate several different ways, with no luck, when it shouldn’t have even been necessary. But I push on, knowing they are sending me to a phone representative who will be forced to make this work, since I haven’t been doing anything wrong.

The phone rep comes on and asks me to repeat the first set of numbers, and if I’ve installed this on more than one computer. He keeps dissapearing and re-appearing, leaving me on hold with no music several times, with no way to know if he’s just hung up on me or the call has been dropped. Finally, he reads me a 54-digit ID number to enter into my computer so I can re-activate.


Except, here’s how the conversation goes:

Him: ….981. Windows is now activated thank you and good day.

Me: Wait, lets make sure this worked.

Him: We are done. Windows has now been activated. Goodbye.

Me: No, don’t hang up. The software is still working, and it hasn’t said Windows is activated.

All this time, I’m getting the rotating circle that indicates the software is at work, but this idiot wants so badly to hang up on me.

Him: We are finished.

Me: No, we are not. It isn’t done, and if it doesn’t work, you have to stay on the phone to figure out what went wrong.

Him: We have entered the code to activate Windows.

Me: No, the software is still going, it has not said we are finished. You have to wait.

Finally the slow software says “Activation was successful”.

Me: Okay, its finished.

Him: That is all. Goodbye.

*Hangs up*

23 -Success

I don’t understand what his big rush was. The process wasn’t complete, but I had to beg him to not hang up on me. Where was he headed that he was in such a hurry? Aren’t these people supposed to be trained on some sort of interpersonal skills? I’ve never spoken to a phone representative I actually wanted to strangle before I spoke to this guy.

24 - success 2

All things considered, once you call the phone line, Microsoft has already failed the customer. That means that whoever works the line should be working from an apologetic frame of mind, trying to make this mistake a little easier to deal with. Microsoft should be stocking this line with higher quality phone reps, or at least instruct them to deal a little differently with the dissatisfied customers than they would a normal tech support call.

This was the first time I ever had to call a Microsoft support phone number, and for most customers, this will be the most common number they call. This is the only person-to-person experience many customers will ever have with Microsoft, and they’re really screwing it up.

September 2nd, 2007 Posted by | Corporate, General, Vista, Windows | 14 comments

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  1. [...] You may have to re-activate Windows Vista, and possibly other software (like Adobe’s Creative Suite) that gets freaked out by the new hard drive, thinking you are trying to pull some crap. I’ll cover the “fun” of Windows Vista re-activation in my next article. [...]

    Pingback by Using Windows Vista’s Complete PC Backup - A Guide » InsideMicrosoft » part of the Blog News Channel | September 2, 2007

  2. I have had mixed results with Microsoft’s support. I recently tried to get help from them on MSN premium installation on 32 bit Vista Ulimate. I was told to go to Verizon (my dsl provider) for the issue. My only guess is that they thought it was some kind of connection issue, when I thought I did my best to explain it was an software installation issue.
    So, I created another ticket and never heard back. Just aweful.

    Comment by David | September 2, 2007

  3. Maybe it’s like Windows logon; if you get the loading screen, it’s definately going to login; maybe that was his logic for being done. Nevertheless, you, as a Microsoft customer deserved all the support you need and more, so in that sense, I guess you’re right. So yeah, I’ve always felt like, well if HP doesn’t know what to do, I can always go to Microsoft (and pay those phenomenal fees) if I just can’t get something to work. Yet, there has been an ocasion where not even MS knew what I was talking about, and that’s when I feel really…alone.

    Comment by Albert | September 3, 2007

  4. As a service technician, I have had to reinstall Windows many times using a disc other than the original installation disc. Oftentimes, I will accept the OEM license key, but fails activation. Off to the same people you talked to. My experiences have been the same – every single one of them. As soon as they give you the code, they want to get off the phone, even if activation isn’t completed yet. It comes across as rude, but the less time they spend with you, the more customers they can help.

    And can you imagine having that job? “Read me the numbers.” “Okay, type in these numbers. Ready? In the first box, type 18756. The second…” And your call was how long? Less than five minutes? I hope those people don’t do this 8 hours a day. I’d kill myself! And to your comment about higher quality reps? I’ll disagree and go in favor of Microsoft; these aren’t tech support people. They read numbers off of a screen. They might just be learning English, and all they can say are 0 through 10 and variations of “we are done.” They might even do it in several languages. To me, that job is about the lowest of the low.

    Comment by Civisi | September 3, 2007

  5. Man, AMEN. I had a real bad virus and tried TONS of anti virus crap, paid a Norton Subscription and sh*t. I’m really good with working on computers, I can build them fast, fix broken parts and can do alot of software crap, C++ Programming, ect. In the end I felt lazy and decided to go through the backdoor by RE-installing Vista home basic. So naturally I’m getting the same thing you got except when I called MS Support and went through the automated crap I was put on hold for a representative and the bastard never answered the phone, I was on hold for like an hour then said screw it I’m going to Linux. Ubuntu hasn’t failed me yet :)

    Comment by David | September 3, 2007

  6. Definitely a bad experience. He should have definitely stayed on the line until it had gone through.

    I have only had one instance of phone support from Microsoft. It was actually a series of phone calls (they had to be scheduled … they were like once every week or two). It was for Windows Live OneCare. During it’s routine scan, it simply would not defragment my HD. It always stopped at the same point. In the end, if I recall right, there was no fix. I think he said that the problem would be logged and hopefully could be fixed down the line. I’m able to run the disk defragment in Windows if I need to, so it’s not a big deal. But, still was kind of odd.

    Comment by Patrick | September 3, 2007

  7. As we have many customers which have decided to use OEM versions of XP/Vista/Office, i’ve dealt with the phone support multiple times.

    I live in Switzerland, and the languages we speak here are German/Italian/French. Several times, i haven’t gotten ahold of a Microsoft rep which would be able to speak German. If they could speak German, itwas horrible. And those who could only speak English sounded worse than I do when talking English.

    Reactivation worked fine in almost all cases, though.

    Comment by Lukas Beeler | September 3, 2007

  8. I’ve spent hours trying to activate a legitimate copy of MS Office, finally escalating to a US supervisor of some sort. Multiple phone disconnects when transferring, uninstall/reinstall Office, refusal to escalate, etc. I consider myself lucky if I only have to do what you did. Microsoft is going to have to quit making LEGITIMATE USERS pay the price to prevent piracy of THEIR products. Hell, pirates already know how to get around the activation process, and this crap only hurts legitimate users.

    Comment by Tom Kirkham | September 3, 2007

  9. I’ve had to reactivate Vista Ultimate like three times, each time having to deal with a phone operator. Fun!

    Recently, just reinstalling a soundcard so I could play Bioshock prompted yet another reactivation dialog.

    Comment by Nicholas | September 3, 2007

  10. I’m Chinese.haha..

    Comment by china | September 4, 2007

  11. Why was he in a rush to get you off the phone? My guess is he’s got a quota, and needs to “help” so many people an hour, or he gets in trouble (or doesn’t get his bonus, or whatever).

    I really think this is a short-sighted approach to customer service. The goal should not be to rush people through the queue, the goal should be to solve customers’ problems efficiently and completely the first time they call.

    Rushing a customer out of the queue before ensuring his problem has been completely eliminated is risky: If the customer has to call back, there’s a significant amount of time the call center must spend “coming up to speed” and getting back on the path to solving the problem. Those are wasted call center resources that would be better spent helping other first-time callers.

    Plus, you’ve got a torqued-off customer who thinks your support system is lousy, and will tell all his friends about it.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Comment by Mike | September 9, 2007

  12. I am a jamaican so me not in the mood to write good ok, and me haveing a fucking problem is that me love the new windows vista but it a puck it self now me buy a fucking phone and vista not working whit it.the motorola phone tools not fucking work,why ask just a fuck it self every where me turn,and me still like it but if any one know how to make it work plz send me a email to me really need it to work ok tanks.

    Comment by Adrian | September 20, 2007

  13. its me again the same jamaican can someone tell me why vista have to be so Good in one way, and fuck up in the a get on top a me bloodclat (Nurvs) now. me not even know if that spell know why vista a fuck me up too much now so me not even can spell any more can some one halp me. halp me a get motorola phone tools work on Vista my adress is sent me some thing thet work ok tanks.

    Comment by Adrian | September 20, 2007

  14. its me again the same jamaican can someone tell me why vista have to be so Good in one way, and fuck up in the a get on top a me bloodclat (Nurvs) now. me not even know if that spell know why vista a fuck me up too much now so me not even can spell any more can some one halp me. halp me a get motorola phone tools work on Vista my adress is sent me some thing that work ok tanks.

    Comment by Adrian | September 20, 2007

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