A Tale of Atrocious Office 365 Customer Support

Friday, February 1, 2013 12:03 PM

I’m a big believer of customer testimonials and ratings in how it helps other customers make great decisions and also how it hopefully can help make a better service. A few weeks back I blogged about my experience migrating to Office 365 and how much it was going to save me on the monthly expenses. I’m still very happy with Office 365 & the service I’m receiving & would highly recommend it to others (in fact I’m migrating a company over tonight). However I had a very frustrating experience recently with a support ticket and how it was handled.

One of the services I’ve signed up for with Office 365 is an E4 plan in order to get the Lync-to-Phone. After I signed up for Office 365 & Jajah to virtualize my business line (as I outlined here), I put in a request to port my work number to Jajah. This is a slow process but finally, late last week I got the email that the number had been ported. Following the instructions I changed the Office Number field in my user profile in Office 365… but I quickly hit an error. On the user management page in my Office 365 tenant admin, I saw this error for my account:

Lync: The value of the Office phone field in your Office 365 directory conflicts with another user. Lync Online features will work except for Lync-to-phone calls. To resolve the conflict, correct the Office phone value in Office 365, in the user’s Details section, under Additional Details. If the error persists, please contact Microsoft support for assistance.

Strange… I quickly checked all my users on my tenant and didn’t find a single one that had a phone number field filled in… but the error persisted. I wondered to myself “could some other user account in Office 365 in some other tenant have the number in it?” That is scary in an of itself because it could likely mean someone else could kill your phone number with just a simple trial account!

So I opened a support case through the Office 365 admin site & explain in detail what was going on and my theory above. I clearly explained the error, what I was doing, what I saw and what the problem was. With no activity on it for quite a while, I finally get an email from a support engineer who said he had been trying to CALL me on the number that was not working. OK, two issues with this:

  • Why phone/email & not activity on a ticket? Office 365 has a ticket system. Why in the world would you call or email and not have any activity on the ticket? Every support system sends email notifications for activity on a ticket, but using the phone removes any accountability or tracking on the ticket.
  • Why call the number that is dead and clearly stated as such in the ticket?!?! Sheer incompetence if you ask me.

Finally I connect with the guy after two days via email yet he asks me to explain the problem… which is a complete repeat of what is already in the ticket. Yet I’m still patient. Then he schedules a follow up call for the next day. I change my schedule and wait for his call but no call comes. Then, two hours after the call he emails me saying he tried to call but couldn’t get through. The idiot was still calling the non-working phone number that’s clearly spelled out now in the service request & in email!

I vent over email and get him to transfer me to another engineer. I connect with this engineer (yet again, he calls… there is still no update to the ticket in Office 365… I’m the only one updating it). He asks me to share my screen so he can see the problem… and all we do for the next 20 minutes is SHOW him exactly what I’ve already sent in the ticket & over email and now explained over the phone. He’s convinced there’s nothing wrong with Office 365 and the issue is with Jajah. So he gets someone from Jajah on the phone (who had a horrible connection & you could barely understand) who asks for all the same information and to see the same issue. I’ve now explained the problem 3 times in the service request & over email, twice over the phone and now twice via screen sharing. Finally, still unresolved, they say they’ll create a ticket with Jajah and let their engineers investigate it.

Now I’m on Day 4 of my work line being out of service. I’m now pissed & start venting on Twitter hoping someone will notice (here, here & here… and a few older ones here and here). The Office 365 twitter account asks for the service request number so they can investigate. I hear nothing from them after 24hrs so I ping them… finally get a dismissive response 30+hours later (read from the bottom up… my three messages to them are indented in the middle):

Jajah finally gets back to me and has me go through the same provisioning process… but when that doesn’t work they just escalate it again… no activity for 24 hours again. At this point, I’m fuming. I start reaching out to contacts at Microsoft to see if someone can help. Thankfully someone helps out and personally escalates the case to the Lync customer support.

Finally… the engineer that got the personally escalated case actually read the case details and my theory and did a query against all users in Office 365. They found another user that did in fact have the same number in the Office number field! Guess what… it was an old test tenant I created in Office 365 Preview. I had lost that login and had no way to get back in and edit it. Once they gave me the login name, I was able to get in, delete all the user’s contact info and suddenly my phone started working. I even said in one of the emails that I had multiple tenants I had created under temp/trial/preview accounts and I wouldn’t be surprised if my Office number wasn’t listed in one of them. All in all, the investigation & resolution took maybe 2-3 hours tops and most of it was waiting for someone to check their email (mainly me).

This whole experience took 6-7 days… there were 4 support “engineers” (two from Office 365, two from Jajah) that apparently never looked at the ticket and actually read my theory, but even worse they never read the error message because it clearly stated the problem!

By far this is the worst customer service experience I’ve ever had with an online service. There is so much to be learned from this experience for the Office 365 team… and one thing is damn scary:

  • I still can’t fathom why the service request was never updated where the customer could see the status or communicate with the customer & case worker. Phone calls? Seriously? It’s a technical case… you jump on the phone as a last resort. EVERY company does this… it provides tracking and accountability for both sides.
  • The Office 365 support engineers were utterly worthless aside from clocking in to get their paycheck. They obviously didn’t read the case, they didn’t listen to me, and they didn’t read my emails. They just ignored what I was telling them. Jajah wasn’t helpful either in this case, but I doubt they would even have access to the root of the problem.
  • And what’s scary? How can someone else in Office 365, in a different tenant none-the-less, have the ability to kill another user’s phone number blocking them from making & receiving calls and even killing their voicemail? I’ve asked that question… hopefully there is some check & balance going on that somehow I slipped through. At any rate, this seems like a potential massive security hole. Imagine if it was that easy to kill someone else’s email!

My reason for posting this: I hope someone on the Office 365 side takes notice and can address the problems. I’m more than happy to have a dialog, but this experience was just horrible.

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