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Miller@cam.nist.gov brought up several good points about Symbolics'
service and logical levels from the customer's perspective.  I have the
expensive support level but only because I want the ability to send bug
reports and a few other EMail things to Symbolics.  Sometimes the
problems I am having are my misunderstanding.  Often when they are my
misunderstanding, it is because something is not documented well or
(even with the wonderful examiner) I can't find it.  For example, my
recent question about appending to a tape backup.  Sometimes, however,
the problem is Symbolics's.  For example, a recent problem I had with
the document examiner in which the ECO's assumed that everyone had
Concordia and therefore wouldn't load.  Of course, I needed something
from the examiner that an ECO was supposed to fix but didn't because
they didn't correctly load.

OK, so what's the point?  It seems to me that in well over 3/4 of the
cases, solving my problem can help many people and can improve the
product.  I think both of the above examples show this potential.  In
one case, Symbolics needs to improve the documentation and perhaps
change the menus in the tape backup facility.  In the other case,
Symbolics needed (and did) to change the ECO to differentiate ECOs for
Concordia from ECOs for the Examiner.

What I would rather not pay for (except for the first few months that I
had the machine) is the ability to call Symbolics.  As Miller said, they
are seldom helpful.  Additionally, I don't need that level of service.
I don't want to pay for someone who can tell me what CAR is or can read
the documentation to me (is this contradictory with my admission of
sometimes not finding things in the documentation?).

In Symbolics's favor, however, I would like to say that they've always
tried to be helpful (even the few times that I was definitely the
culprit).  For EMail transactions, they've always been fast and usually
correct.  In fact, I would urge everyone to use EMail rather than the
telephone whenever possible.  It's like using a letter, the recipient
can't as easily forget the communicated details and is reminded of their
obligation each time they see the message.

I guess to me the best support would be a utopic one in which I would be
billed for all the time I spent bothering Symbolics on a problem that I
created.  Symbolics would swallow all of the cost for problems they
created.  And otherwise, some magical unbiased wizard would apportion
responsibility and bill me appropriately.  :-)  (I would also like a
self-correcting operating system, a ...)