So I get to do some fun stuff at work at times, one of the most fun projects I’ve been given was creating a cashiers system which had me interfacing with card payment terminals and receipts printers.
We recently got new printers, which is where the nightmare begins. The new ones are Epson, but since Epson has a patent on the POS format (the ‘language’ used ot send commands to them), the previous brand had some minor alterations.
No problem I figured, simple fix, let’s just change things up and be on our merry way, how hard could that be (famous last words, anyone?)!
Everything worked perfectly, I chucked out receipts and everything worked fine! The benefit to this new printer was the inclusion of NV Ram space, this allows you to store images directly to the printer for use later on by just issuing two letters to represent which image you want printed. I loved this idea, as printing images from local storage involves some added overhead and longer print times.
So I happily send a print command …. aaaaaaaaaand nothing. Huh, how odd… let’s try another approach…nope!
So I do the sensible thing, I take to the internet, and a couple hours of troubleshooting later we’ve deducted that a lot of commands that use the same command format are silently failing.
In my mind, this points towards a firmware fault, so I decide to check in with Epson support to confirm it or get some clarification on why my commands are failing silently.
So, you drop by the Epson website, you pick your region and you push on!
Once on your regional site your obvious next step is to click “Support” in the main menu, which takes you to a “find your product” page, now since my product is a Point Of Sale related one, it’s not in this list, I have to follow a link to a site on a completely different domain.
This site is not as obvious, you here have to drop down the TM-INTELLIGENT menu and pick Contact Us (The Support option is of no use, as it’s just some FAQs and how to download their manuals).
So I pick my area again and look at the list of countries, in my area half the countries have no contact options at all (including my country, figures!), but the layout of the site leads me to believe that Sweden is the country I want to be contacting for all my support inquiries. *clicks Contact Us*, and I’m forwarded to ANOTHER domain, now I’m on epson.eu, with a new list to find my contact information in. Here’s the kicker, this list is missing my country (as expected), and is also missing Sweden, the contact point I had to go by!
So I figure that’s a lost cause and take to Google, after quite some time I come across a forum for Epson developers. This seems like a great fit to get some help in determining what’s going on, so I sign up and get hit with a “You must be manually approved” message. That’s fine, I wait for a day and get my response by email, just to be dumbstruck by idiocy.
I am not allowed to sign up for the Epson developers forum, because it’s exclusively restricted to their North American customers.
Great, let’s try some more then, I start looking for chat options for some real time support, and find an official support chat with them on the UK site. I queue up for a session and am greeted by an incredibly helpful young man, he explains that he can’t help me with my problem because it’s way out of his league. I can respect that, he’s honest, he told me he can’t help, I can see that. He informs me that I can get 2nd line support which do callbacks who are able to help me if I just leave my phone number. I provide my number and get informed that because I am not a UK citizen I can’t receive their callbacks. I’m starting to get frustrated, and I suspect he understood that, as he provided me with an email address to their 2nd line instead so I could get the support I require.
I thank him for his help, so far he’s been the most helpful part of Epson as a whole, and I’ve bounced around a fair bit of their system now.
So I send off my email, and get a reply incredibly swiftly (ticketing system you may be thinking).
Yup, it bounced, the e-mail address is only for internal use to move tickets up a level.
So I go about some more, I find a support contact form, also on the UK site (the UK site sure has a lot of contact options the others are lacking).
I start filling it in, and keep getting informed that I must provide a postal code, seems they verify it’s a proper one, so I borrow someones UK details and chuck it along (yes, I played the system here, but what can you do, they’re not making it easy on me!).
I had great fun showing everyone the confirmation text form the form submission, informing me I will receive a reply immediately.
After 5 minutes I got my reply, it was a ticketing system confirmation that they’ve received my form.
Again, we play the waiting game…
A week later, I receive my response, they are sorry to hear that I am struggling, but unfortunately they see that I am not from the UK and are thus unable to provide me with any support.
So that’s where I am at right now, no support, no working logo prints… and a seething hatred for the way Epson treats their customers.
I know it isn’t the support reps fault, they’re following the guidelines and regulations enforced by the company. But perhaps it’s time Epson started re-thinking their support routines?