Monday, August 29, 2011

OpenOffice to Microsoft: The Big Switch

As you all know, I’m big on customer service. I don’t believe that the customer is always right, but I do believe that she deserves a little bit of respect. That includes a friendly attitude, prompt service, and a willingness to do whatever is reasonable to resolve a situation.

Due to poor customer service, I stopped using Yahoo! as my primary email source. I took my last trip via Southwest instead of Delta. I moved all of my accounts from Huntington Bank to a local institution. I’m not asking people to break rules for me. I just want fair, honest service.

For years now I’ve been a huge fan of the open source office program With nearly all of the same features as Microsoft Office, OpenOffice provided a free way for people to create all kinds of documents. I used it daily for nearly a decade as my primary word processing program. It worked beautifully … until I started editing.

Though OpenOffice Writer can handle the demands of editing short documents or creating long ones, it failed miserably when I tried to edit a long document. Work on the 250 page manuscript started well, but about half way through it, my computer slowed down. I would make changes and type comments, then wait 10 seconds for the words to appear. It worsened, until it took nearly 30 seconds for the changes to show up.

Thinking it was my computer, I ran my malware and anti-virus programs. I unistalled and reinstalled OpenOffice. I cleaned my hard drive. Defragged. Took the laptop into the shop. There was nothing wrong with my computer.

Desperate, I started working on my husband’s laptop. Things went well, for a while. By the time I got to the last 40 pages of the manuscript, it took me 4-5 hours to finish editing. The problem obviously was not my computer. OpenOffice just couldn’t seem to handle my work.

I went to the OpenOffice website for help, but my problem wasn’t listed in the Frequently Asked Questions portion. I searched the site and tried the forums, but nothing addressed my issue. Finally, I emailed them. Over a week later, no response.

I can’t keep waiting for someone to decide that my problem deserves attention, so yesterday I went out and bought Microsoft Office for my computer. I wasn’t thrilled about spending the money, but thanks to Office Depot’s great rewards program, I bought the software for $35 out of pocket. I’m officially a Word girl now.

I’m truly disappointed at the lack of help that I received from OpenOffice. Though I’ll still recommend them to casual writers, I can’t recommend them to professional writers anymore. When my income depends on using my computer to meet deadlines, I can’t wait over a week for a response. I can’t help but feeling that I got what I paid for – not much.

So this post comes to you from my brand new Word 2010 program. I’m trying out the new ‘Post to Blog’ feature, so hopefully this worked! (It didn't ... I have some things to figure out).


Camille said...

In their defense, Open Office is free. Part of what you pay for when you purchase a product is for the manufacturer to hire someone to sit at a desk and help with problems. When something is free, there isn't the resources for as much help. Now, if a company that you PAID doesn't give good service... that's something else. Glad you got it figured out.

Karin said...

Yeah, that's what I meant. I appreciate that they made it available to me for years, but it's time to get serious.