Fun with MS Support

Published by rich on Saturday, March 29, 2008 - 17:01:19

In addition to my now full-time career writing, supporting and selling email filter software, I still do a little system administration for extra cash and fun.

I had a user report a strange problem on an Exchange server I manage. When accessing his schedule on his mobile device (via Outlook Mobile Access or “OMA”), all the appointments were off by an hour.

Turns out this OMA scheduling problem has been acknowledged by Microsoft, and there is a hotfix for it.

So let me re-summarize that article in English:

- If you made the mistake of installing all recent patches, a significant selling point of our very expensive email server will be broken to the point of being unusable. Outlook web and mobile access along with the built-in anti-spam filter were some of the most substantial new features introduced into Exchange 2003.

- There have been reports of this bug for at least a year.

- We’ve had a fix for at least six months, but we’re not going to distribute it the same way we did the patches that broke your server. The patch is “supported,” but we don’t recommend installing it quite yet.

- We don’t have any work-arounds for the problem short of installing the patch.

- If you’d like the patch, you can contact us via the form below.

Ok, I’m game - I’d like to get OMA working right - assuming it can be done without serious pain.

I filled out the form and received the following letter a few hours after:

Thank you for contacting Microsoft Customer Service.

I understand that you would like to obtain hotfix from Microsoft.

I am unable to locate the hotfix article ID you have provided.

I recommend contacting Microsoft Support Professional at (800) 936-4900 for further assistance. The working hours are Monday - Friday 5:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M. Pacific time, Saturday - Sunday 6:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M. Pacific time.
I hope the issue is resolved soon and appreciate your patience in this regard.

Thank you,
Microsoft Customer Service Representative

If you have any feedback about your Customer Service experience, please send them to my manager, (removed) at (removed). Please do not forget to indicate the name of my manager in the subject field.

Couldn’t find the patch??? There wasn’t even a place on the form to indicate which patch I wanted.

I tried filling out the form again. This time I got some strange error indicating I needed to provide a different contact method. This is odd - as the only contact method given was providing an email address.

The next morning I again filled out the form. This time it seemed to submit properly at least. A few hours later - I got an email from Microsoft containing a link to the patch. Success!

Now I just need to deploy the patch. Hopefully I won’t find out why MS isn’t distributing it widely just yet.