What's up with customer support?

I am having an issue with my Drobo, so I open a ticket.

First, the CS rep wants me to repeat information I already provided (model, serial, os, etc). Along with a couple of things that were not. That’s no too bad, but…

Then he gives me this one:

Plug the USB CABLE from the Drobo FS to a port on the BACK of the computer (cannot be connected to any front ports, keyboards, monitors, or hubs)

Uh, FS models don’t have a USB port.

Is this typical? If so, I think I’ve made a mistake!

I do apologize for the inconvenience. This is not typical. Appropriate actions will be taken. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Twice now i have had to call on support - the first time was purely by e-mail, the second time, a year later, almost purely by telephone (and via this forum)

both times they were excellent.

each time i had a big problem (the small problems i can generally fix myself) each time the first tier of support quickly realized thy couldn’t solve my problem so was passed upward to someone who was able to fix it.

I guess you were just unlucky, maybe someone was having an off day

I agree with Docchris - sounds like you just got someone on an off day.

Sony support once told me to unscrew the stylus for my Clie to push the reset button the back… except my model Clie has a stylus that didn’t unscrew (erm, well, not without making a “permanent” change) and the reset button was pushable with the normal stylus tip.

I’ve had a Drobo S for about 8 months and been almost pleased with it, my main dislikes being the slow performance, and lack of control or reporting with regards to the disk scrubbing. But another issue is that it won’t put the drives to sleep when connected via eSATA (though it does over USB).

I saw in the Knowledge-base that the drive-sleep issue is known and that it would be fixed in an upcoming firmware update, but the article was written 18 months ago, and firmware has been updated at least once since then (and a recent firmware for the FS specifically said that it fixed the issue for that model). The last officially released firmware for the S (v2.0.1 from earlier this year) didn’t even have this issue listed in its known issues sections of the release notes. So I opened a support ticket asking if the bug had been forgotten about.

I received a reply after 2 business days (which was OK response time since it was a non-emergency) with a link to the v2.0.3 firmware. However, after going through the minor hassle of installing it I found out that the bug exists in that version as well.

So, why was I sent that firmware? Why make a customer take steps to fix a problem only to find out that it’s not a fix at all? Shouldn’t CS already know that v2.0.3 doesn’t fix the issue? I now feel much less confident in DR’s QC and internal reporting than if they had just replied with “we’re still working on the issue”. Then again, the bug has been there for over a year and a half. I’m very disappointed either way.

Fortunately, competition has almost caught up in some features, and dramatically surpassed in other features (such as being able to do manual disk scrubs/consistency checks (which should always be done before doing any optional drive replacement)). And even more fortunate, resale value of Drobos is still strong.

12-22-2010 Update:

I received an email from another CS rep yesterday about the issue. She said that the eSATA drive spindown issue had been fixed with v2.0.1 of the firmware. I wrote back saying that the release notes for v2.0.1 don’t say anything about that, though it does say that they fixed an issue with storing the spin down timeout value properly. Mine does store the value, as evidenced with how it works with a USB connection. Also, if it was fixed wouldn’t they have said that it was fixed in this KB article: http://support.datarobotics.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/382

That KB article was last updated on 05/20/2010, so if it was fixed with firmware v2.0.1 then wouldn’t the person who updated it have known that it was fixed?

So, either:

  1. The CS rep is wrong, in which case the KB article is correct, the reviewer on 05/20/2010 was correct, and the release notes for v2.0.1 are correct. This would also mean that the drive spin down issue that I’m experiencing is as a result of this bug. Or…

  2. The CS rep is right, in which case the KB article is incorrect, the reviewer on 05/20/2010 was incorrect, and the release notes for v2.0.1 are incorrect. This would also mean that my Drobo S is not operating correctly.

I’m hoping that the CS rep was wrong. As much as I’d like to move to something else I can’t really afford to do so. But given the extensive information I gave about the bug, and particularly the link to the KB article, I would think that the CS rep would’ve verified that the KB article was wrong before letting me know that the issue was fixed.

No matter what, it seems that there is definitely some grinding of gears going on over there. I’m going to install the new firmware that just came out yesterday to see if that accidentally fixes the issue.


Either of the above is possible, I’m afraid. In many tech companies the knowledgebase is handled by a separate group or even division from the phone support information. Not to mention different people not being aware/informed of the same things…

Further update…

I was escalated to 3rd tier support, an engineer who knows his stuff. The eSATA spin-down issue is still an ongoing bug, but is down the list in priority for fixing. So the first 2 CS reps were in error.

While I personally want the bug to be fixed, I’m rather satisfied in merely knowing the current status. If it wasn’t an ongoing bug then it would’ve meant that there was something wrong with my Drobo. So while I don’t like the bug, I really appreciate knowing that it wasn’t a problem just with my Drobo.

So, boo-hiss to the first 2 CS people who gave me incorrect hope/information, but hurrah to the 3rd tier tech who gave me the real scoop.