How often has this happened to you? You have a computer program, or an electronic gadget, or something on the Internet that isn’t working quite the way it should. So, you go to the company’s web site to send a question, but you find there’s no way to send any messages to the company. It appears that many companies would prefer not to be bothered once you have purchased whatever it is that they are selling.
My latest experience was with the company that markets the computer game Bicycle Gin Rummy. While my wife loves playing solitaire on the computer, my card game of choice is gin rummy. It was really difficult to find a good computer gin rummy game. I settled on Bicycle Gin Rummy because it was the most functional, had the best graphics, and was only $9.99. It’s not perfect, but for slightly less than $10, I guess it’ll do.
There are 3 things I don’t like about this particular program. The program really causes my computer’s processor to work overtime. The processor’s cooling fan rarely comes on, unless I’m looking at street level views on Google Earth. Well, the processor cooling fan starts running the minute I start playing gin rummy. I have other programs that have good graphics, but don’t they use the processing power that this game requires.
Another mark in the negative column is how the game allows you (or doesn’t allow you) to sort cards. You are limited to sorting by rank or by suit. Forget trying to group your melds together, so it requires a little more concentration than when playing with real cards.
And, finally, there are the rules of the game. Anyone familiar with gin rummy knows that you can go out or knock with 10 points or less of what is called deadwood. That’s how this program works, if you’re the human player. The computer player does not have to play by the same rules. While the computer player can knock with more than 10 points, the knock button is disabled for the human player until the deadwood count is 10 or less.
So, I thought I would send a message to the company that markets this program. Good luck with that idea. The company, Encore Inc., sells Bicycle games, Hoyle games, software under the Broderbund label, some home design programs and CAD programs. Their Contact Us link takes you to a page with some 800 telephone numbers and links to support. The support links run you around in circles, providing some generic information, such as how to load a program. But nowhere is there any place that allows you to send a message to the company.
Making the customer search hard for an e-mail support link probably saves them a lot of time by not having to answer everyone’s concerns. You would think a company that sells to the public would want to have the best possible image from the consumers’ point of view. What was I thinking?