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article imageDell, HP caught telling customers not to upgrade to Windows 10

By James Walker     Nov 7, 2015 in Technology
PC phone support representatives at HP and Dell have been caught telling customers not to upgrade their computers to Windows 10, apparently contradicting their own marketing messages.
LaptopMag phoned several agents as part of its annual Tech Support Showdown in which it tests the tech support of laptop vendors. The results were surprising, with phone support reps from Dell and HP apparently failing to understand how to use "core features" of Windows 10, leading them to "actively encourage" downgrading back to Windows 8.1 or 7.
A Dell representative by the name of Jalvin was stumped when asked how to change the touchpad scrolling direction on an Inspiron 15 5000 laptop that been upgraded to Windows 10. He said Dell has been receiving many calls from Windows 10 users before recommending the laptop is reverted to Windows 8.1. Another rep later said "there are a lot of glitches in Windows 10." The method to solve the problem is exactly the same in Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 and simply requires clicking the Dell touchpad control icon in the system tray.
Dell acknowledged that its support staff may sometimes tell a user to downgrade their operating system from Windows 10 but did not clarify why its representatives appeared to lack even basic knowledge of using the OS. It said to LaptopMag: "As Windows 10 continues to evolve, we sometimes recommend a customer revert to their previous operating system to troubleshoot a specific issue they're having." It said it is working with Microsoft to "share insight" from customers and help inform updates for Windows 10, claiming "We remain committed to Windows 10 and are ready to help our customers make the transition as easy as possible."
LaptopMag then posed as an owner of the HP Pavilion x360. It contacted the company to ask how to enable HP CoolSense, a software utility for intelligent temperature control. The correct information was not returned even after an hour-long call which resulted in guidance for downgrading to Windows 8.1 and a sales pitch for a $40 recovery key to reinstall the older OS from scratch. The agent, named as Kate, went so far as to say "I really don't recommend customers upgrade to Windows 10."
Mike Nash, HP's vice president of customer experience, told LaptopMag that all its new products are designed for Windows 10 but the company's support team's priority is to leave customers with a working computer. With that in mind, they may suggest a roll-back if they think an OS upgrade has caused an issue, even though the problem is likely unrelated to Windows 10 itself, as with the case reported to Dell.
Lenovo went down a different route. Its representatives never specifically said anything against Windows 10 and neither did they suggest downgrading to an older OS version. Instead, they were completely baffled by its features and apparently had no knowledge of some of its most basic and widely-advertised additions, like Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant.
LaptopMag asked how to enable always-on listening for the "Hey Cortana" voice command that lets users say the phrase to activate Cortana's listening mode without clicking the button. Cherylnn from Lenovo didn't even seem to know what Cortana is, resulting in a 32-minute call in which the site spent "the majority" of its time explaining to two agents what it meant.
Eventually Cherlynn said "Sir, why don't you just set your microphone to always on?" before offering a $19.99 a month support service that would apparently tell them how to change the setting. The only issue: there's no such setting in Windows and there never has been. In any case, it's completely irrelevant to enabling "Hey Cortana," a simple process that is done through the Settings menu of Cortana's Notebook.
The conclusion of the report is the same as it has been for years: never phone a computer manufacturer's tech support. The best way to find a solution to a problem is to search online on enthusiast sites populated by knowledgeable users as anywhere else is likely to lead to considerable delays and generic responses from poorly trained support staff.
The second option is to contact a manufacturer's support online which is generally a much more helpful service. In the case of the "Hey Cortana" query put to Lenovo, the company gave correct instructions on enabling the feature both on Twitter and using its online web-chat facility.
Regarding Windows 10, it's unlikely that problems faced by most consumers are a direct consequence of upgrading to the newer OS, unless it is a very old computer. Solutions to most software issues can be found for free online while any hardware problems can usually be fixed by driver upgrades after installation. Contacting the computer manufacturer over the phone is likely to result in a hugely time-consuming call that only yields incorrect and often irrelevant advice, followed by an attempt at a sale of a premium support service.
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