What do computer virus attacks have to do with customer-centricity and customer experience? Not much. To the jerks that just launched the so-called “Softmetalgroup” virus -which locks down your whole computer – “customers” are victims. No customer-centricity required to lock down your machine while dangling in front of you non-stop offers to “let you out of jail” if you’ll just buy their virus removal program, and then download pornography if you refuse their “offer.” Hell of a customer experience, though.
Double bad luck
You expect that from hackers and other computer miscreants. But in the title I said “Alert X 2.” Technically, “X 2” isn’t another virus alert, but an antivirus alert. While you don’t expect hackers to have an ounce of concern for the havoc they wreak, you do expect your anti-virus company – the one that failed to detect the malicious Trojan horse that triggered to whole sorry affair – to give a rip. But I had the misfortune to be using Spyware Doctor + Anti-Virus from PC Tools, which apparently doesn’t. At least not a big rip.
Infected on a Monday
My computer didn’t cough or sneeze beforehand. About 10:00 a.m. this past Monday morning it just seized up. Tried to activate Spyware Doctor, but the virus had disabled it. Tried to get on the web, but the virus blocked access. Then I tried rebooting in Safe Mode. Still couldn’t run Spyware Doctor but could get to the web. So I uninstalled Spyware Doctor and ran it off the web onto my computer for a two hour plus full scan. Didn’t find a thing. So I Googled the virus and discovered various people near the end of their rope trying to get rid of it. Checked several sites claiming to offer instructions on how to get rid of it. Funny, they were all PC Tools sites, actually. Hmmmm. Can’t stop it from infecting. Can’t detect after infection. But still trying to sell software to get rid of it (you know, free scan but you pay for the software before it will disinfect you). But if it doesn’t find anything, how’s it gonna get you to buy it…? Oh, and I found another site that listed the primary malware files with instructions about how to remove it manually. It was brain surgery in the registry, and I have trouble taking out a sliver with tweezers, so I passed.
Frustrated by a Tuesday
So I went on PC Tools’ website, logged in, and filed a support ticket. No response. Filed again. No response, except to say I already had a ticket number. While waiting, I downloaded client files onto my laptop so I could get at least some work done, while waiting…and waiting.
Finally, I went back on the site looking for an alternative method of contact. I’d seen “Live chat” before but couldn’t find it again. Then I lucked out. I found Live Chat by not signing in but proceeding as if I was still a free trial user. But you can’t use Live Chat unless you are a registered user. Very cagey, showing Live Chat to trial users to get them to pay, but hiding it from people who have already paid. So I got on live chat.
Request after request from them to do stuff you can’t do from Safe Mode, the only place I could do anything. A couple of dropped connections later, the day slipped into Tuesday. They kept trying to send me a “findmalware.exe” file or some-such that embedded Windows protection kept rejecting. Then we remembered FTP, and I was able to import and execute the program, which found pages of infected files. I sent the report to them, and they said I’d hear back from the engineers who were going to evaluate the mess in 24 – 48 hours. Sorta like an ambulance crew driving to an accident and stopping for coffee every 50 feet.
Disillusioned by a Wednesday
I tried to get a status report late Tuesday, but the “chatters” were in the Philippines and the engineers here in the U.S., so all I could get was, “they received your file.” Another technology company that doesn’t know how to use technology, at least not for customers.
Tried for a status again midday Wednesday, after not hearing from them. “They received your file…” I had a sinking feeling my work station wasn’t going to get fixed, at least not by PC Tools, and I had video conferences scheduled for which I needed it. So I threw in the towel and followed a recommendation from Bob Thompson, who runs this here site, and went up on MalwareBytes.com. Cute name. Neat anti-virus stuff, too. Downloaded it, ran it, and was infection-free in 20 minutes.
But I was still honked and pressured a “chatter” to actually call engineering for a real update. “They’ll be e-mailing you shortly.” Can’t wait. And I actually did receive an e-mail a couple hours later. Guess what? My computer was infected. Yup. And they reeled off a long list of files they wanted me to track down and send them for evaluation. How nice. But the file names looked familiar. Guess what. Same file names, at least some of them, from the list of files for the manual removal routine I read back on Monday. And this from a company actively promoting its ability to disinfect computers of the “softmetalgroup” virus. Smelled like dead fish. Or rotten eggs.
Now who treats customers worse? The hackers or PC Tools? And remember before you answer, I didn’t have to pay the hackers.