Part of my job is to open support tickets, issues, cases, etc. to get help with hardware or software problems. The quality level varies. Here is my satisfaction level depending on the vendor (alphabetical order, with the products I've created tickets for in parenthesis):
BSD Perimeter (pfSense): Excellent. Very knowledgeable and their support contract is an hourly rate, so they don't mind working for you and they'll help as much as they can. Always provided suggestions or solutions up to now.
- APC (UPS): Well, when you discover that your UPS needs a replacement under warranty and they only promise that they will ship it tomorrow (it took about 5 days to reach our office), you don't really care about how good the support may be. At least they do make good products.
- Dell/Compellent (Storage Array): Very good. Good knowledge base, helpfull techs, quality products as well (meaning we don't need to call them except for firmware updates, for which they do all the checks for you before enabling the updates).
- EMC (Networker): Medium. Complex product, complex problems, sometimes very long to get to a solution, and sometimes they forget you or close the case without providing a solution.
- Fort Systems Limited (Anti-spam/virus products): Of course they're good, I've been part of their support team in the past :). And their product rock (very good catch rate with almost no hardware requirements, even for very-high volume sites).
- Godaddy (SSL Certificates): No e-mail support, but phone support is available 24/7. Very kind and helpful people. Always provided solutions, and very quickly.
- Hewlett-Packard (Servers, switches, interconnects, enclosures, tape libraries, desktops, laptops, printers): If the hardware is definitely broken, they'll fix it. If it freezes once in a while, it may be longer. Problem with hardware-provided software (OS agents, firmware updates, etc.)? It may be more difficult and a lot longer. Their web site(s) are really not the best. Often slow or unresponsive, and it is often difficult to find the info you're looking for.
- Oracle (Storage Array): Bad. Break'n'fix only and it takes about 5 e-mails for the tech support rep to understand your question or problem, or they'll blindly send you irrelevant links to their knowledge base. I've been told that it is similar for their flagship product, Oracle Database, and in many case, they don't help you solve your problem but tell you to buy this or that other product that they sell that would solve your problem. Deserves to be hated.
- Red Hat (Red Hat Enterprise Linux): Excellent, maybe the best. They support every single package in the distribution and help even if it is not broken: best practices or general advice. A tech support rep even provided a script to rescan all the disks of a specific SAN only. I always said that opening support tickets with Red Hat helps me learn new things (and fix my issues). Their knowledge base is very complete and includes stuff that is very specific (like how to access their package distribution servers when doing strict egress packet filtering).
- Talend (ETL product): Fair. Their product is not top quality and tech support reps are not always able to hide it. Solutions are often not very decent (oh, you'd better upgrade to the latest version, the bug is probably fixed... oh yeah, I must also say that you'd better do a fresh install of the latest version, upgrades don't work very well (sigh...)
- VMWare: Very good. Very good knowledge base, tech support agents are knowledgeable and will help you even if it is not broken (best practices, advice specific to your configuration and environment).
- Zend (Zend server): Ok, nothing exceptionnal there. Product is refining but had many problems at the beginning. Do they have a knowledge base? Not sure.
Feel free to comment with your own support experiences.