My Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 USB mouse died today. Well, it was working on dying for the past three days. At first I thought a hacker had busted into my system, but it turns out that the manufacturing of this mouse is so poor that the cord simply becomes disconnected over time...inside the mouse. This particular mouse is self-contained and sealed - meaning no dust, dirt, grime, etc. can ever get on the optical lense - the downside is that repairs to the mouse (e.g. fixing the cord) are impossible.
I could buy a new one, but from the reviews on Amazon and what-not are not too good - it seems Microsoft has started making shoddy hardware that dies in months or even days of purchase.
So, where did I head for a mouse. You got it - Logitech. I went to their website and started looking at mice. They have a lot of mice. So, I said to myself, "Surely they know their competitor products and can sell me a mouse". So, I hit the link at the bottom that said, "Contact Us" (something no one ever does). I called the 1-800 number and reached a nice Asian-sounding lady named Kim (or something like that). I asked what was perhaps the simplest question anyone could ask: "Hello, my Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 USB mouse died and I would like to know what the closest Logitech product is." She replied, "What company makes that?" My reply, "Microsoft." (Thinking at this point, "uh oh"). She said, "I wouldn't know about that, I only know our product line." At this point, I effectively said I'd go look around the website and ended the conversation. Then I came immediately to this blog, which you are now reading. My reaction should be yours: WHAT THE?!?! Logitech is a direct competitor to Microsoft - the two companies stand side-by-side in product displays at retail outlets everywhere. Their sales people had better not be clueless about ANYTHING Microsoft.
Which brings up an important point about software development. If you develop software, you had better doggone know which companies are your competitors and be doggone sure you know how to combat the many questions your customers _will_ ask. It is not a matter of 'if' but 'when'. If necessary, each sales person should be equipped with a corporate credit card to go and _buy_ one of each item of the competitor's product line and get back to the customer on their question. THAT is what customer service is about. Sheesh.
Now I've _really_ got to go find a new mouse before this one flakes out again. Some people might say that I should just stick my finger in the USB slot as I'm already nerdy enough the computer might not be able to tell the difference. Deep down inside those people are just hoping I get an electrical shock. I used to play with electrical outlets as a child. 'Nuff said.