Dear SDL Trados,
You have created a wonderful product. It makes my life easier, ensures consistency, and increases my translation speed. Sure, there are agencies who try to turn its awesome powers against us translators by using it to lower prices, but that is not your fault and I’m perfectly capable of handling my own rates.
You have also made a lot of money off of this wonderful product; according to the preliminary statement published on your website, revenue for 2016 was 264.7 million, up 10% from 2015. That’s a lot of software. And at its current price of $825 a pop, that comes out to a lot of new users in 2016 alone.
Now most of us are about as proficient with the technical aspect of the software as most drivers are with the mechanics of their car. We know how to use it, not how to fix the rotary camshaft unicorn converter or whatever if it gives out before we drive our new car off the lot.
And out of so many software packages sold, little glitches like that are bound to happen. I’m not going to hold that against you. But is there any reason why you’re not using some of those millions to set up a simple, straightforward support process for when stuff like that happens?
I recently bought the new 2017 Studio upgrade, and shortly thereafter discovered that the software would not open documents for translation in single-file mode. New software, had only used it a few times for projects, had not messed around with any settings. So here’s what I did.
Step 1: click the Help button. Read all remotely relevant sections of the manual in Help Topics. Nothing.
Step 2: Check the online Knowledge Base. It offers four links:
- Knowledge. Promising! Nope, just general info.
- Perhaps Technical Docs. No, more general technical info for all SDL products.
- Support, then; sounds good, I can get someone to help me. I scroll to the right product as instructed, click on the button to create a support ticket and … I am routed right back to the previous page. After wading through many more random pages I finally read somewhere that support tickets are for license and installation issues only. GREAT.
- Okay fine, Community. Click. A labyrinth of information and new options. I finally find a promising group, figure out how to join, and ask my question. Several people do their best to help but alas, the problem is not solved.
So as far as I can tell, your customer support consists of:
- Have customer figure it out herself
- Have customer ask other customers to figure it out
I understand there is an option to buy a support contract, but forgive me if I don’t think I should pay for fixing a bug in a new, expensive piece of software straight out of the box.
And that is the end of the line for Joe customer, because unbelievably, it’s impossible to connect with a live human being. Your website does not list a single phone number. Or e-mail address. If your staff is too busy to deal with constant phone calls, would it kill you to use some of that stash you made last year and pay some high school geniuses to staff a simple customer support line? I’ll even listen to stupid elevator music for however long it takes to be on hold.
Fortunately this story has a happy ending, no thanks to you: a wonderful colleague from Argentina happened to see my question weeks later and e-mailed me out of the blue with a solution she had discovered when she had a similar problem: the document will open if I specify the languages manually, and the source language before the target language instead of the other way around. Random but effective.
I suppose you could say that this actually proves your system works (see customer support step 2). This is true in the same way that United had the right to drag that passenger off the plane last week. Technically justified, but do you really want to be known for “We Do the Bare Minimum to Get You There” or “After You Pay You’re on Your Own”?
I hope not. When I bought my first Trados Studio software years ago I had no problem reaching tech support by phone when I had software problems, and two human beings — paid by you — spent hours helping me fix the issue. What happened to that company?