Which Company Has The Most Useless Tech Support Staff? Axis Has Gotten Worse And Worse

I hate to say this, but Axis has gotten worse and worse lately. They get my vote. I mean they answer the phone quickly (not a long wait time usually) and their support ticket infrastructure is nice, allowing you to upload images to the technician etc. But for the overall staff knowledge they get a 3/10.

Unless you are calling for an extremely simple question like how do I change my root password they are just useless. And of course being an IP camera integrator the only time I'm phoning them is for a technical issue, so they are never of any help. In most cases I am sure that I know more than the person on the other end of the phone.

I've had so many problems with Axis tech support lately I just had to rant. Has anyone else experienced similar?


You ever call Arecont? :)

Good topic. We do not call Axis tech support so I don't have input on that.

I don't deal with a lot of tech support, especially on the camera side of things. But of the "Big Three" that I deal with (DSC, Honeywell and Keyscan) Honeywell has been the worst. You can tell they are just reading off a script and have very little actual knowledge about the product. Plus, you usually have to wait awhile to speak to them.

Was Axis support ever any good? They're beyond useless now; unfortunately they have some of the cleanest, quickest ways to get to a support agents. Online chats, pretty clean IVR, etc are all great, but ultimately the people you get in contact with are so tied to a step-by-step matrix it doesnt matter how well prepared you are with S/N, firmware versions, sys logs, server reports; they treat you like an illiterate person who found a 2100 series in the trash and are trying to steal trade secrets from them.

To be fair, its been 3 years since I called them, but ONSSI used to have hilariously bad level 1 support. Level 2 - Milestone were usually good though.

exacqvision is quickly slipping into the mediocre. Hold times are outrageous during the day ( hour plus). Even tried early morning with the same ridiculous results. Finally got thru to tier 1 support which told me they are having issues (no shit sherlock) t1 is becoming nothing more then a ticket dispenser for tier two. Another 40 minutes waiting for tier two where now I am invested for 100 minutes. Could not wait any longer. Nightmare.

I realize they just had an obamacare-like release with version 5.1xxx and the latest mobile app. So I am frustrated about all this and I get a marketing email from exacq boasting of their new integration with software house ccure 9000!!

Are we seeing the beginning of the end of exacq? A Tyco products company.

Michael, we first started noting escalated wait times for Exacq about a year ago or maybe even a little longer. In the old days, you would get through in a minute (or a few at tops) and tier 1 people could seemingly answer anything. Then, as you mention, it feels more and more that they know very little and takes forever to get a hold of them.

As such, I don't know if this is a Tyco phenomenon solely.

btw, why is the new release 'obamacare-like'? I don't understand the comparison.

John, I have seen this movie before. Using access control companies as the example, Infographics Corp out of Los Alamitos, CA was an excellent 40-50 employee comany (Much like exacq ). Excellent customer service, tech support, etc. perfect Company? no but getting the president of the co on the phone was doable. They were aquired by GE during their buying spree along with direct competitors Casi and the like. The dissecting of Infograhics took about a year before they were not recognizable...at least in culture.

I fear the same fate for exacq. The writing is on the wall.

The latest release has been a tremendous waste of time for me with half baked info and functions that do not work as advertised or at least as you would expect. Software issues. Hence the obamacare analogy. While certainly not on the same scale or scope, the disappointment feels familiar.

**Disclaimer** I am an exacqvision manufacturer rep.

Hello Michael,

Just an idea but have you ever thought of calling your local rep? They may be able to help you. I know that I have personally solved some small issues for my customers a dozen times and saved them the wait times. Plus, it strengthens my relationship with the customer in many cases which is a win for me as the rep. Give a it a try. My 2 cents.

Disclaimer: When I have very technical Exacq questions, I call Budalich..... ;)

I have heard a few rep firms work to provide extra / advanced technical support. I think it's a good idea because it provides customer's more value and also keeps the rep closer to new business (project expansions, new opportunities, etc.). I do wonder how many rep firms provide this sort of service/support and to what extent.

Michael, to be honest, I never really seriously considered calling a sales rep for tech support. While I know there are some technical sales people out there, in my experience, that is the exception. There main role is to sell. What I do find is that the sales rep can sometimes subvert the hoarding masses and use his/her back line to expedite. That can be very useful.

I do work with a rep firm that does provide advanced tech support (per Johns reply to you below). The relationship began that way because we met at an advanced certification course for a VMS. We are creatures of habit and once a connection is made - A to Z that becomes the default path for sales and service. very smart business model in my opinion.

I will take your two cents....;) Thanks

Unfortunately most of companies that went through Tyco acquisition has significantly deteriorated :(

Here's an interesting and frank comment from a manufacturer, IC Realtime about how they do support:

"IC Realtime officials have devised a question and answer booklet that contains the 30 most asked questions when an integrator calls in with a particular need. Operators are not trained techs, but with the booklet, they can assist many of the callers. If the questions become more detailed, a trained tech takes over to answer questions and resolve issues over the phone."

There you have it. By design, a person who certainly has less surveillance experience that the average integrator is taking calls. What's ironic is that in the same article, IC Realtime goes on and on about how important service and support are.

On the other hand, a number of manufacturers have emphasized to me that the problem is a lot (or most of their support calls) are on really basic things (like what's an IP address or how do I power on my camera, etc.). That pushes them to use lower level personnel to start the call answering process and weed out the obvious simple ones.

A common approach manufacturers take is that when you complete their 'Brand X 101' class, you receive a direct number to 'Tier 2' support.

For example, Milestone (among others) have adopted this approach in the past. The training you take on your own dime qualifies you to a level of tech support that presumes you aren't bogged down in a basic configuration issue.

Calling the 'helpdesk' at any manufacturer and having a legitimate, low-level issue resolved is the exception, not the rule. I'm not defending any manufacturer (not Axis), but having done a few tours doing general IT user support, I cannot even count the number of panicked, show-stopping, desperate phonecalls solved by rebooting a device or resetting a password.

Yes, ExacqVision's tech support has been very slow for the past year. We had to enable the remote viewing feature on their appliance's which is turned off by defult and we don't normally sell. I got two different answers for one question about how to turn it on.

Personally I haven't talked to Axis's tech support but I'm told their first repsonse to every question is update the firmware which is following in the footsteps of Speco's tech support.

Honeywell has never had good tech support on video or on the alarm side. Pretty useless

Lol, most every camera manufacturer's first response is to update the firmware!

It doesn't stop at camera manufacturers. hp Level 1 support is also noted for that, even if a firmware update isn't called for. I can't count the number of times I've called them to get a failed hard drive or power supply replaced only to be hit with the same repair "suggestion".

I can't comment on the Axis telephone support as I don't use it, instead I always log into the Partner Portal and either use Live Chat or (most commonly) create a new case. I can honestly say that over the past 6 years we have been using Axis products, I have found their online service response to be excellent.

Most recent example, I had a camera returned by a customer under warranty, that wouldn't power up, on Dec 17th. I put in the support request at 10:15am, had the auto acknowlledgement at 10:17am and it was handled by an Axis engineer, who created and Advance RMA, at 10:21am. Couple of question I had were similarly addressed within 10 minutes. See screenshot image attached.

That's just one example but it is very typical of my experience with Axis support.

I feel I must reply to one comment, from an unnamed integrator in the thread, who said "Personally I haven't talked to Axis's tech support but I'm told their first response to every question is update the firmware which is following in the footsteps of Speco's tech support. "

Well of course you should! If you've read the release notes which accompany Axis firmware updates you will see many bug fixes listed with each iteration, so it is not unreasonable to expect the integrator to have done that before calling in for service. Why criticize them for suggesting that step? You will get the same response from just about any software company.

Barry,

Did Axis support recommend upgrading the firmware on the camera that wouldn't power up? Not sure about Axis support in that circumstance but I have dealt with Tech Support people who were that stupid or ignorant.

By the way, firmware updates are not always the best first step. Many VMS' will "choke" on new firmware that they haven't incorporated into their drivers. And since camera firmware can rarely be "downgraded", the user could be stuck with an expensive boat anchor until the VMS manufacturer can/will release an update.

No I did that before opening the support case, of course! ;)

This is funny Carl,

I was on the line with tech support for an encoder and no matter how many times I told them that the units seem to fail and "brick", won't power up etc, they kept telling me to update the firmware.

It was annoying at first then became almost fun.

Tech support is really tough, I usually get more out of forums and old fashion research.

First off, I sympathize with companies that need to constantly hand-hold end-users through setting up static IP's and changing passwords. I realize this is why Tier 1 support exists. But making experienced integrators deal with Tier 1 support every time before escalating to Tier 2 is frustrating and a waste of time for both Axis and the integrator.

In the case of Axis, I did the Axis training a few years back (which is multi-day, in another city and not free) and have an Axis partner ID, so I expect better support than this. Like most integrators I have extensive experience configuring and servicing many brands of IP cameras - so I find it more than a little frustrating when I get a tech support rep who knows nothing other than the steps to upgrade firmware. I expect to be able to get through to someone who knows more than me about the product and can actually help troubleshoot a difficult problem.

On a quick side-note RE firmware upgrading : Upgrading the firmware for a camera has *never* fixed a problem for me - although I recognize this is best practice and is probably fixing other bugs - it has never once been the solution to a problem when I've had to call in. In fact, I make sure to upgrade the firmware before calling Axis because I know outdated firmware is the first thing every Axis tech will blame. I get a small sick satisfaction hearing the rep squirm on the phone when I read off latest firmware version to them, thereby eliminating their main scapegoat / get out of jail free card. :)

To Axis's credit, one of the higher-ups did contact me directly via phone after reading this thread on IPVM (congrats IPVM if industry is watching this website!) and they are taking steps to resolve the issue - but the fact remains that I've had to fight and claw my way through untrained Axis Tier 1 support and now Axis management to get anywhere.

Scott, I am glad you are making some progress. I did not talk to anyone at Axis about this thread but lots of manufacturers read IPVM, though, of course, they would never ever admit that publicly ;)

I will say, from past episodes with integrators, Axis does appear to be a company that cares about doing the right thing rather than seeking retribution against those who criticize them.

It is far easier to support a restricted, higher-skilled clientele, if that is all you sell to (like manufacturers who only sell to integrators, for example) than it is to support multiple 'open' sales channels (including, but not limited to, Amazon, Ebay, yard sales, etc).

Axis cameras, all of which can be purchased from multiple outlets, still have to be supported - whether they were sold to a highly-skilled master installer via Anixter or a florist via Amazon, trying to solve the case of the missing rhododendrons.

And IC Real-Time has this problem multiplied 50-fold over Axis, as they actually target the unwashed masses.

IMO:

1. Manufacturers that sell via multiple channels should support these channels separately - though almost nobody ever does this, as it is cost-prohibitive (at least at the line-item cost level that bean-counters focus on).

I completely agree with the exasperated comments above about having to slog through the kindergarten stuff while in possession of a certificate of mastery issued by this very same manufacturer I am calling! grrrrrrrr

I don't even like the use of the word tiers in support. Mainly because 'tiers' (at least to me) indicates priority access only to the proven.... yet almost all use the word tiers, while actually employing a funnel method, forcing everyone through lower 'tiers' before arriving at the appropriate level of support required of the learned. grrrrrrrr

2. "What is the camera firmware?" should always be one of the first questions asked when troubleshooting a camera that isn't dead. Make fun of this all you like... until they invent a mechanism that allows a support person to remotely punch you in the brain after they spend 20 minutes troubleshooting other stuff, only to find out the camera is running firmware with a known issue, you are going to have to answer this question.

Mobotix support is the biggest joke ever in my opinion!

Avigilon is very good.

Kris, can you expand on your experiences with Mobotix support? What specifically were the issues?

Our people have called Avigilon support and found them informative and quick to respond.

I'm curious to see who has the best support

Even though your name is undisclosed I like this approach. Who is the best? I received my first factory training in 1998 from Simplex. Now some 16 years later I have training from many manufacturers and I have called tech support hundreds of times. There are some bad technical support philosophies out there from always starting at level 1 (mentioned above) to extremely long hold times and finally my favorite is hiring a tech support representative that has never run a service call in their life. How is that person going to logically analyze the issue?

The best companies we deal with now are Brivo for Access Control, DMP in the intrusion realm and Avigilon for video. All three of these companies staff their tech support departments appropriately and treat our issues as their issues.

I am fairly new (under two years) to the Samsung IP camera line but their support has been great. They even went out of their way to help me figure out an OnVif solution for a camera that Exacq had listed on their compatibility chart that had functionality issues. I also agree with the downward spiral of Exacqvision support but I remember years ago when Linear bought out IEI, the support was horrible for a while and then (probably due to complaints and declining sales) they got their act together and it is much better these days.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I don't deal with a lot of tech support, but Keyscan for Access COntrol has been the best. I'm not certain if they have leveled support (Tier 1, Tier 2, so on and so forth) but a large majority of my questions have been answered without having to be forwarded to some one else. And a large majority have been answered with one phone call. Now that ranges from the most basic of questions, to more complex problems, but still.

Everyone I talk to seems to know the product inside and out, almost as if they have actually worked on it as well. I really wanted to get their factory training, but can not afford it on my own, unfortunately.

Mobotix will make you fill out a 24 quesion survey before they try to help. Then they want to you to send them bug reports. They like to blame everything but their cameras. I have put in hundreds of mobotix cameras over last few years and the recording to NAS devices has been nothing but ongoing problems, much more than any centralized PC based solution!

Milestone is pretty worthless with its self-help campaign. It seems when they can't figure something out they just reffer you to a KB file and say "Good luck!"

Ryan, can you elaborate? Do you call Milestone's support and they just refer you to a specific KB file or?

Yes, most recently, we had one of our newer Corporate installs going into database repair. Milestone said this was due to a media database overflow. Their first suggestion for the media overflow fix was the reffering me to the KB file. Not even a discussion. I've spent sometime gathering data using Vunetrix (disk queue, data in/out, etc) to prove that my servers are working fine. Tomorrow will mark a week without a response.

While I agree with the implicit general sentiment that tech support is less than desired at most houses, my personal experience is that Axis is still, by far, the 'gold standard' in tech support in our Industry. In fact, their tech support is the principal reason I prefer to vend thier products. I don't use them more than every month or so at this time, but I have seen no appreciable drop off over the last couple of years, even with some new folks coming on board. They do have many long term, highly skilled folks, in my experience.

For me, I test the tech support group vigorously before I ever vend a single item from any company - it gets a 40% weighting in my consideration of tech partners.

Yes, I am an 'Axis certified professional' (took the classes), so having a partner ID certianly gets you to someone quicker, if there's a queue. However, even from the queue, you get the same first tier folks at Axis as a partner does (it appears to me), who are better than tier two+ at most anyone else I've tried.

And, I've only engaged 8-10 vendors in our space, but without 'damning' any of them, none compares to Axis in my experience - attitude (very important, to me), detailed knowledge of thier products, willingness to stick it out until resolution is reached, timely follow-through on tickets.

Having led tech enterprises globally for 30+ years in a former life, I can say that it is extremely difficult to get the appreciation and recognition - and therfore, the resources - that the tech support group needs in any high tech product market. In my experience, it is often the single 'stickiest' characteristic engendering brand loyalty, and the key differentiator of the most successful companies. But, 'bean counters' keep recognizing that it generates no direct revenue, and when they try to turn it into a 'profit center' it almost always does the opposite, and the souring relationship with the end customer soon drives off the best of the tech staff, leading to a death spiral. Can't count how many times I've seen billion dollar, global companies screw this up.

It's easy to carp on this subject, because it is so impactful, but I highly recommend speaking/emailing directly to supervision at any vendor to both praise and 'coach' regarding tech support - this gives them something directly from the customer to 'take upstairs' when they go to battle over budget and attention.

Most of the companies deploy techs to solve common/simple issues which make up about 80% of the total tickets. Rest of the 20% are the difficult ones for support techs, and frustrating to the integrators. I think even when you call a TELCO support line, unless you are asking for a very basic support, you are certain to end up frustrated.

While it is costly to deploy high caliber techs for entire support team, there should be enough numbers of them at a higher level, where frontline techs can escalate to. Some companies don't seem to get the mix right. I've enjoyed better support from Milestone, and Gallagher.

Want an example of killer Tech Support? Try the guys at Video Insight. Those guys are rock stars. No long wait times, no need to open a service ticket, no need to provide a serial number. No BS.

All other manufacturers should take note!

...of the 4 listed, I'll give them a +1 for both 'no long wait times' and no BS (+2 subtotal), but -1 for both 'no ticket needed' and no serial number (-2 subtotal).

It's a wash. :)

How can a support department possibly exist without tracking both hardware serial numbers and customer issues?

Completely agree. If a group deals with a ticket a day... maybe. But then they are still missing out on opportunities to collect data learn a lot (patterns) about their products. What is failing, what works what doesn't, what is confusing people, etc. And then learn from that info. We deal with 10's of thousands of tickets a year (HigherEd IT operation for) and things would implode without proper (but not overdone) ticketing concepts.

And from a customer perspective it is not unreasonable to have to provide a serial and be given a ticket number. Actually I worry a lot more about a support group that doesn't give me a ticket number in most cases. These things are just necessary at scale.

So far Axis has had good support. I was just making side remark about comparing them to Speco and constant "got to update that firmware" response. Speaking of Speco tech support, they emailed me back on a Friday night at 6pm where it took Bosch until 12pm on Monday to get back to me on a technical support question. Looks I have to email Axis a question so I will see how they do.

Every manufacturer has issues with their product along with sometimes useless level 1 techs support. I think this is the case industry wide. If they don't say there aren't issues, they are lying to you. It's how well they handle the issues, determines if we want to do more business with that manufacturer in the future.

Of course the overworked 'update the firmware' instruction can be helpful when

a) You are trying to make a feature work that you haven't used yet

b) Something has changed in the environment, i.e. light levels, which causes the camera to execute logic it never has before

I'm sure that are many other real and hypothetical where one could occasionally benefit from one, but

Has anyone ever actually had a firmware upgrade fix a camera that had been working fine for months before it had a problem?

Like where nothing has changed and one day, no picture? You would think, it can't be the firmware right?

I understand that even if tech support knows it won't work, they need to have you at that level to do their by the numbers tech support. That is why I dread the update the firmware instruction in those situations, it means you are dealing with someone who is unlikely to fix the problem anytime soon...