Tuesday, 2 September 2014

MS Office 365 – A “Boon” or a “Kaboom”

Contributed by Haresh Karamchandani

Flashback: August 2013 – A mining company client calls NATC tech support, knowing our reputation that we offer only Genuine software, to check if we could offer them MS Office software for 5 laptops.
We immediately put forth the following proposal:
MS Office 2013: The latest version from Microsoft consisting of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access. Perpetual licensing. Price US$350.00 each.
MS Office 365: Exactly the same as MS Office 2013. One year license. Price US$20.00 each. (US$99.99 for 5 users per annum).
We advised that the MS Office 365 would be a much better bet as MS would keep upgrading the software from time to time, and when it is time for renewal the next year we would just have to pay US$99.99 and get the latest version. Whereas the MS Office 2013 would get outdated in a few years’ time. (I know of some clients that are stuck with MS Office 2007 till today!) The client took our advice, and we delivered.
License was bought in the USA, by our US Office and the product key was emailed to us for activation and installation on the client computers right here in Liberia. Everything worked smoothly.
Current day: August 2014 – The client is roaming in India and calls  and says that the license is expiring and needs to be renewed. We assured them that it would be done promptly as usual. We got down to the job immediately and called up MS Sales to purchase a renewal armed with our US credit card details.
To our utter shock and dismay, the MS Sales declined to renew the license saying that it is being used in a different region other than the US and therefore we would have to use a payment method from Liberia in order to get the license renewed! We called the client and advised that they get the license renewed from India using their company card. They call back the next day to say that it was declined as well. Then we try using another UK VISA card. Declined again!
Finally, after being on the telephone for 4 grueling hours (the line would get disconnected after about an hour on the phone and MS would not call back, and we would have to call back and start the troubleshooting from the beginning), finally MS Tech support “understood” our problem that we do not have any payment method (Credit Card system) in Liberia and agreed to accept our US card as payment. A new order number was generated and a new product key was emailed to our email account.
We “thought”, phew, that should be it. We emailed the client the new product key and instructions on how to get their software activated and went to sleep late in the night. We were awakened early the next morning with a call from India. The client complained that the software was not getting activated. They were getting a “Region” error! As long as the software was not renewed/activated they would not be able to produce new work as the license had expired.
We assured the client that we will do whatever it takes to resolve the problem.
We again called MS Tech support for Office 365 products, I now know the number by heart, and explained to them our predicament. Again the same rigmarole. We kept getting disconnected and they would not call back! After another 4 grueling hours of troubleshooting the best MS could offer was that we should create a brand new email account on a computer in the USA and use the product key to activate the license on that computer! We had to do a conference call to our US office along with MS Tech Support and finally the problem was resolved. We cannot use the original email account though, but we have a new account with US details and the client can use this new account to have their respective software activated.
What did we learn from this? MS Tech Support sucks!