Given the number of questions about basic/intermediary usage of Esri products on this site and in a lot of other mail lists, I became curious to know why people don't ask them to the technical support.

So, for registered ArcGIS platform users:

How does Esri technical support work i.e. what kind of questions does it answer?

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    ESRI (UK) They take 3 days to place a support ticket - then it goes to Redlands US then 3 weeks later there is an email saying cannot recreate the issue please supply more details - once proved not operator error it becomes a ticket for the next service pack... FME (safe software) reply in less than 3 hours and keep you updated throughout the day/week until the ticket is resolved or a submitted into nightly builds! – Mapperz Apr 27 '11 at 17:31
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    @Mapperz - That is one of the reasons ESRI's BP tend to get a huge business; because they tend to know what the client companies are doing and work hand in hand. As a former BP, I have seen this first hand. – D.E.Wright Apr 27 '11 at 18:23
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    My experience of Esri UK is very bad, I have never had any support solved by Esri UK. Only get the response "we have passed this onto Esri Inc..." blah blah blah. And then it takes ages to get a reply. It seems Esri Inc. treat US customers as priority before overseas customers (maybe correctly so). You can never talk to them directly and Esri UK play piggy in the middle and just get in the way. This is especially so on development support. I just use the forums now, I have stopped using Esri UK. – Rob Clark Apr 28 '11 at 10:19

I became curious to know why people don't ask them to the technical support.

Many do also. When you have a issue or question, it can often be a good idea to request Tech Support (ie, ask Esri), and post to the ArcGIS discussion forum (ie, ask the Esri user community), and perhaps even also post here to GIS.SE. Doesn't have to be a this or that. Different perspectives, more ideas.

How the ESRI technical support works and what kind of questions does it answer?

Specific questions and issues are best. Think of it as a helpdesk or call center. You're stuck... help me now, type of thing. It's not a good resource to get trained from A-Z over the phone nor for more in-depth consulting. There are other services for that. But for specific problems, advice to get from one step to the next, helping finding more information or resources, troubleshooting, Esri Tech Support is really good. (disclaimer: I work for Esri)

  • Hi Jim! Welcome, even though it looks like you've been around for a couple months. – Derek Swingley Apr 28 '11 at 3:06

I have contacted ESRI support several times in the last few years. You have to have your customer number, and alot of times end users in a large company do not have access to that number. My queries to them were usually about issues with ArcSDE that we HAD to figure out ASAP or extremely odd behaviors with ArcGIS Server. I find the email support to be quite good, and if you send them something in the morning, you should hear back by afternoon, otherwise it might be the next day; but always within 24 hours.

  • This is very true, as long as you have access to the customer ID the support is quite good. Every once in awhile I will have a question related to sde or server, and it is usually resolved by next business day. – badkins Apr 27 '11 at 18:04

Also outside of the US we get local "Esri" support which is not always very good (sometimes never!). These forums allow us to tap into audiences in the US.

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    That's a good point, Esri support only covers people in the US. If you're outside the states you have to go through your local distributor. If the distributor can't solve your problem, then some will ask for help from Esri support but the distributor is the one who still works directly with the customer/user. – Derek Swingley Apr 27 '11 at 16:16

Much like Chad, I've had to contact tech support several times about ArcSDE. I think the only other reason I've had to call is for licensing issues.

They have always gotten back to me within a reasonable amount of time. In most cases, they have been able to fix my issue on the first call, however there have been other times where I have had to be rerouted to other technicians.

I'm sure there are a lot of calls to tech support which could be avoided if ESRI offered better troubleshooting solutions through their support sites. For example, if you have an ArcSDE service which won't start, it would take you step-by-step through all the common causes before instructing you to contact tech support.

The support site they have for ArcSDE is definitely helpful, but I think it would be to their advantage to have more of a decision tree format to go over all of the common causes for various issues.

  • Honestly, though, I don't know if I'd use automated systems. It's sort of like the troubleshooting tree I have to go through with the cable company. I know that I will eventually need to talk to a tech to solve my problem, so I just hit 0 to bypass the nonsense. – Michael Todd Apr 27 '11 at 16:41
  • @Michael - I agree. But if you know the technician is going to take you through the exact same steps, I would rather get them out of the way before I call. – Britt Wescott Apr 27 '11 at 16:42

As an ex-ESRI support analyst, I must say that we generally are very good at answering any questions that you might throw at us about any of the ESRI products. With the improved UDT service, you should get an analyst on your first call, if you call within work hours. And generally you will find that unless your question is about one of the more obscure products, you will get a knowledgeable analyst quickly. Old timers will agree that this is in great contrast to the state of affairs just a few years back, when the queue stretched on for months.

P.S. This is applicable only if you are in the US.


Ill put my hand up here and admit working (and love working) for an Esri distributors Support team. We aim to get a 1st response to clients within 3hrs, and also aim to make that 1st response the solution (pending the details given in initial problem description). If we have to get Esri involved in the mix, they usually get back to us by the next day.

I have a passion for GIS and helping people and would say that all analysts in our team share these traits.

We have to constantly keep on top of what Esri are pushing out.
If you look back at the last year, there are so many Esri supported platforms now which has meant we have had to fill skills gaps quickly to keep up with the demand from clients.
e.g. Flex Viewer, iPhone API, Silverlight, let alone the new stuff thats looming for 10.1

IMO, this is the best part of working a Support role for a vendor like Esri. Having the chance to learn all these new technologies first, and then when talking to clients, share experiences with how these new platforms might help benefit their workflows. - Admittedly, sometimes I do think that I know a little bit about everything but not enough about something, but for now, thats fine.

I can't speak for all distributors, but speaking from my opinions (i.e. not from a distributor standpoint) I would encourage individuals that are not happy with the level of support they are getting, to get in touch with their account managers or the Support Manager to discuss further.
Ask for clarification on what is under the scope of technical support, and if you feel that your not getting it, tell them.


For those who have experienced support from Esri UK, we always appreciate your feedback and would welcome the opportunity of discussing your experience more directly with you. We would be grateful if you could contact Esri UK directly at support@esriuk.com to discuss Regards Rachel Mustill Technical Support Manager Esri UK

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    +1 Thanks for responding. Whoever downvoted this, please explain why. – Kirk Kuykendall May 9 '11 at 17:14

ESRI Developer support is $2000 dollars for a 10 pack. I accidently got some free ones due to a computer glitch and it was pretty helpful. My number one complaint is that the examples on the SDK are only about 80% complete. You have to figure out about 20% of them.

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    I agree, almost all ESRI ArcObjects samples are old snippets that have lost their context, maybe during the migration from VB6 to .Net/Java. Many times different samples solves the same problem in totally different ways. – MathiasWestin May 1 '11 at 12:32

The main issues, as far as I know, is that ESRI only exists in the US and that anywhere else, they act, effectively, as a franchise. This limits their ability to solve issues, as all they can do is replicate them, and then send them on to the States to fix. I don't think it is an ESRI problem, per se, more a business model issue; we aren't customers of ESRI. If you took away the name ESRI UK and replaced it with ACME GIS LTD, it would be the same thing; they just have a license to sell ESRI products and consultancy on the ESRI banner.

I have had to wortk alongside ESRI folk all through my professsional freelance career and, imo, they only want to sell the client more, than solve the existing problems they have. I currently have 2 open bugs with them, which you would hope they will solve in SP2, but one thing you can never guarantee is that they'll fix them...

  • Id disagree with this. By being an official distributor, the support team get access to a lot of additional visibility into Esri resources that a separate company would. Esri Inc also push for distributors to avoid asking rookie Qs, and expect a higher level of knowledge from distributors and act more as a third level of support. – Simon May 9 '11 at 10:49
  • Really sorry to hear that. Id recommend contacting your account mgr or directly contact the Esri distributor Support Manager to voice ur concerns. U mention ur freelance, perhaps this restricts the level of support you can get if your not a maintenance client? - Would you like me to chase up the status of the 2 NIMs you have? – Simon May 9 '11 at 13:13

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