That’s Not A Bug, It’s a Feature (But We’ll Charge You To “Fix” It)

So the trials and tribulations [and costs] of being a Microsoft customer continue unabated…

Having now purchased my second copy of Office, [quick recap: purchased a copy of 2013 Professional from Amazon last October, turned out the seller illegally copied the license key and re-used it; license got revoked, yours truly left £235 out of pocket] which cost me the delightful sum of £389 in download-only form from the Microsoft store, plus the £199 cost of the Windows 10 OS to run it on, my recent tech expenditure (with Microsoft alone) now sits at the not unimpressive total of £825, give or take.

And we’re off…

Err, no. In looking for help with a technical issue, I stumble across the fact that Office 2016 is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The latter runs faster, handles larger files than the former. A quick check and I establish that I’ve been given the 32-bit version, even though I’m running the 64-bit OS. Duh? I call Microsoft Support and spend 30 minutes discussing the issue with the Help Desk person, pointing out that the on-line store does not give me any choice between which version to download. I’m asked to link into a chat window, at which point the technician shares a link with me [that could have been sent via email] to a 64-bit downloader. I’m instructed to un-installed the previous edition, then re-install using the new downloader. OK, having overcome that…

I try and load in an Access database that was stored on my NAS box. Except I get a new error message, “SECURITY WARNING – Some active content has been disabled. Click for more details.” And, on digging further, I discover that a new feature of Office 2016, the “Trust Centre” basically treats any file not on the actual hard drives of the actual computer on which office is running – to be hostile. So if – like me – you have a small personal NAS box that grants a network share that a Windows computer can map to… well, you’re sh1t out of luck, sunshine. I resort to Google and various web pages. Like this one. Now, if you follow that link, you will see that it takes you to a Microsoft-hosted help page for Office 2016, explaining how to set up “Trust Locations”.

Brilliant, sorted…

Err, no. You see, none of that information actually works. It does absolutely nothing. Nor do any of the other pages Microsoft host, nor the 20 or so pages from various third parties that I explored in search of a fix. Um… So, back on to Microsoft’s support line. I explained that something that used to work perfectly with an earlier version of Office has stopped working. I explained that I had followed all of the on-line Microsoft advice [because this is the 21st century and Microsoft don’t ship manuals any more, not even PDF copies. Oh no, if you want a *book* you can buy that separately]. I got put on to a technician, who had me spend an hour trying various solutions. Nope. So the person offered to get back to me. I subsequently received an email with a link to a page I’d already found, tried and discounted. Microsoft sent me a “Did we fix your problem?” survey form. I gave a polite reply, to “Liz”. Received an email in response, and sent a much more detailed explanation of the issue. Today, I received a call from “Liz”, wanting to put me through to a “Tier 2” support person. So I was handed across to “Catrina”, who was desperate to help fix my issue. For two minutes.

At that point Catrina announced that this was a “complex issue” and “not covered” by the basic help desk. But I should worry not, because she would be only too pleased to walk me through a process of getting Tier 3 help from a product specialist. Wait, what? You mean *you’re not* a product specialist? Apparently not. Her job, it seems, was to listen to my fault description, tell me it was complicated, then direct me to a web page from which I could *buy more Professional Support* from Microsoft. Wait, what?

Let’s get this straight…

1. I want to load an Access Database from a network drive. I’ve been doing this for years, and it has worked for years, without any issues.
2. I upgrade to Office 2016, and now the process of loading a network-hosted file generates a warning/error message.
3. I follow *all* the on-line Microsoft documentation, but the problem is not resolved. [In other words, the documentation is defective].
4. I call in for help, asking why this “upgrade” has broken something that used to work, and if someone can please tell me how to configure the new product to not throw up this error…
5. I am told that Microsoft will be happy to help me, but *at a cost for professional services support*.

Um. Let’s get this right. I had an Office Product that worked. I upgraded to a later edition, which broke normally acceptable practices, (like loading a ####ing file) and now I have to *pay you* to fix this?

How do you spell shake-down? Why does this feel like the digital equivalent of having a “visit” from a couple of extremely large gentlemen who want me to buy their insurance policy so that “something bad” doesn’t happen? With us entering the world of “automatic updates” [that can no longer be disabled or tested], there is nothing stopping an unscrupulous vendor from using this to extort money from clients by randomly “breaking things” and then charging to fix them?

Absolutely ####ing disgusting.

£825 of Microsoft product spend in the last 2 months, and they want me to spend more money to fix a problem they caused, and for which their own published documentation simply doesn’t work? Why, how very convenient.

Does anyone know when “negligence” and “incompetence” stop and “extortion” begins?