Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Another post related to my father's death, and to music.

My father was a user of the Finale software package, which is published by MakeMusic, Inc. On February 26 he had a support question on the software, which he submitted via MakeMusic's automated customer support system. As it turns out, this is the ONLY way in which you can contact MakeMusic customer support. On the surface it seems like a reasonable way to do business, since 99.9% of all people who use the Finale software have Internet and e-mail access.

My father traded questions and answers with a MakeMusic representative, but his problem wasn't getting solved despite MakeMusic's attempts. One afternoon in early March my father sent an e-mail to the customer representative. The representative followed up with an e-mail message a few minutes later, and another the next day.

The representative, however, had no way of knowing that my father was unable to answer the messages.

Several days later, MakeMusic sent another e-mail to my father's e-mail address. This was the message that I saw when I accessed my late father's e-mail account. I forwarded this message to my own personal e-mail account and wrote a reply to MakeMusic (following MakeMusic's instructions to paste my reply between the two "Please enter your reply below this line" and "Please enter your reply above this line" messages). My reply basically stated that my father had died, that no one in my family would use the Finale software any longer, that this support ticket could be closed, and that all future correspondence should be directed to my e-mail address, not my father's.

My message was received by MakeMusic's automated customer support system, and I received this reply:

Your recent incident update was from an email address not associated with the incident. In an effort to maintain the security of information, we cannot update the incident using this email address. If you are the incident owner and your email address has changed, or you want to be able to update the incident using this email account, please update your contact information using the following link, then resubmit your update.

Again, there's probably a really good reason for MakeMusic to impose this level of security on customer support communications. You don't want someone sending spurious customer support reports in - for example, you don't want a person from Company X to falsely claim that a support ticket from Competitior Y can be closed.

But it's still disconcerting to find that MakeMusic's automated customer support system allows no exceptions whatsoever.

So I made one. I looked up the name of MakeMusic's COO/CFO and forwarded my original e-mail to her, along with an explanation.

Automated customer support systems are not equipped to handle extraordinary cases, so I am submitting this to you directly.

I'll grant that this case is a very rare case, but it only goes to prove that no single system can be designed that can handle every single possibility.

P.S. If you were a fan of the movies "Ratatouille" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," Finale software was used when working on those films' soundtracks.
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