on October 19, 2013
I want to start off by saying this isn't the review I wanted to write, it's the one I was forced into writing by the difficult process I ran into.
I've spent countless hours trying to install this. I was so excited to get it! I'm writing a book and my mom heard of this and thought it would be wonderful to dictate aloud to my computer instead of typing. I watched Nuance's youtube video about how it works and thought with what mom suggested and everything else it showed I could do with it it would be amazing. I got it in the mail on a Thursday night and quickly read the instructions, following everything they said to do and started to install it. It took a very long time to install.
I want to start off by saying I'm not someone who is an expert on computers, but I'd say I know a pretty decent amount. Enough to install any other program I've came across correctly. I know how to uninstall unneeded things in the control panel that are bogging down computers. How to check for updates, do a disk clean up, defragment a computer, ect. I even made my mom's new windows 8 computer look like windows 7 so she could use it (because she didn't understand the apps) and knew how to do os updates, manufacturer updates and app updates on that new computer (even though I'd never used windows 8 before) with a little help from a youtube video reviewer who'd had to figure it out themselves. I was able to change all the settings and download an app that was needed to make it usable for her. So I should be able to do this and just install one program, right? Wrong.
The first time I installed it it went through pretty decently, it installed almost all the way. Once it is about to finish it has a little box it automatically check marks to check for updates and says they recommend it. You just click finish, it automatically checks for updates, downloads and applies them and finishes the install on it's own. I thought, "Hey, they saved me a step on having to do that. Great." I even turned off my internet security like it asked while it was installing. (It then asks you to register your product by opening up your default browser, risking a virus for you in the middle of the install, which I didn't really want to do). I did it anyway. The Software Manager that was checking for updates and was going to finish the installation came back and told me I was either not connected to the internet or that their FLEXnet Connect servers were currently unavailable. I thought, "Okay, that's fine, I'll check for updates later." I unchecked the box and finished install without updates. It had me set up a user profile and answer some questions. I chose "Standard" when it asks if you have an accent. I live in the Midwest but I'm in Iowa so the only other option that fit may have been "Northern Great Lakes" but I don't sound like I'm from Wisconsin or Minnesota or anything, so I chose Standard. It had me reading things aloud to "train" Dragon on how I speak. Great.
I chose a section and started reading. It had me going at a snails pace, which I didn't expect and was surprised about but thought was fine. Until it didn't understand me anymore. I literally tried to say the word "You" and "The" and it didn't understand, no matter how I tried to pronounce it. My mom was with me and she was cracking up because I couldn't get it to understand the most simple of words, it would make me do it repeatedly. I told her to stop laughing and it finally thought I'd said "You" when I didn't say anything that sounded like the word "You" and it didn't understand when I did. It was so bad I decided to go back and try chosing the other one, thinking maybe I'd underestimated my "accent" I may have to change it to the Northern Lakes one. Except there was no back button and it refused to let me move forward because it didn't understand what I was saying. I was forced to hit "cancel" as that was the only option it gave me. When I tried to open Dragon again it would never open. There's an orange and green little launch square that stayed there for over ten minutes and would not load or let me close it. I finally ended up force closing it through the task manager and uninstalling it to try again. The second install crashed my computer. That was my bad as it was late and I did have a moment and had my virus protection on and had Google Chrome open showing my mom a youtube video. Most programs I've installed (skype, msn live messenger, google chrome, ect) have never required for absolutely everything to be shut down. So that one was my fault. It made my computer make a shrill noise of the person that was speaking on the video, holding out the note of what they were saying, it froze and I had to do a hard shut down, holding down the power button until it shut off. I then had to uninstall again as it was only partially installed. I tried it again, making sure I followed their directions this time, turning off virus protection, shutting everything down. It did the same thing when it came to updates again. Said I was not connected to the internet, which I was or that the servers were unavailable. This time when I tried to open to train it it got stuck on the launch page again. It has an option in the folder of the Start Menu under Dragon to "Gather files for support". I chose everything Dragon had on the comp, which wasn't much and sent it to tech support . I gave up for the night, went home and went to bed with a massive headache. I was busy yesterday, which was Friday, the only weekday I have off and had several appointments. By the time I got done with them and came home it was after 5pm. I tried installing it again, still not hearing from tech support I'd supposedly contacted. At this point I had Googled online tech support and phone tech support for Dragon so many times my phone was asking if it was the search I wanted to use. I could not find a tech support number, there is none on the box and none anywhere on the paperwork sent with it that I could find. Do they even exist? Only thing I could find was nuance.com/support. I went to the website on my phone and had to create an account, validate the account through my email, and register the product before it ever gave me the phone number for tech support. Why do I have to jump through hoops to find someone to help me install something that should install properly itself? Once I call the number it tells me their hours are 8am-5pm Monday through Friday. You have to be kidding me? I'm a customer service rep, I know how this works. I work for a home phone, internet, and tv provider and our tech support department is open 24/7. Mon-Fri 8-5? I've never heard of that in my life. A billing office maybe, but not tech support. Those hours are when I work, except for Fridays, which didn't work this week for me to call. So I have to wait a week because I called too late on the day I have to fit appointments and other things on? This is such crap. I've never had to work so hard for something I paid for in my life. I've gotten better customer services from my cheapest bill, Netflix, it's only $8 per month and their customer service is wonderful. I don't understand why this process is so difficult. I'm about to send it back. I will wait until next Friday, and I will call within business hours and hopefully they can help me. I've tried this on two different internet networks that work perfectly well with anything else I've ever tried to do or install on either of the networks. Until it's fixed, it gets a 1 star because I'm so disappointed in this process. They advertise it being so convenient, "Naturally speaking" and easy. They make it seem like it makes your life so much easier. I've never had a program give me a bigger headache or more frustration than this and you should see the programs I have at work. And I've ran into problems with installs before at home but I was able to figure it out, or at least get help with it in a timely manner if I needed it. This is the most difficulty I've ever had with installing anything in my life. I've set up Smart tvs, blu ray players, computers, smart phones and way more difficult programs than Dragon before (or so I thought). I would never recommend it to someone who didn't know much about computers because even if the install had gone smoothly the questions it asks, prompts it has and flow it goes through was confusing for myself, let alone someone who may not know how to answer the questions. My mom made a comment during the installation saying she would be so lost. I have a Windows 7 laptop that is wonderful, meets all of Dragons requirements and I spent a good chunk of money on because the more you spend and the better it's made, the longer it'll last you and the better it will work for you. I've never had a problem with an install on this computer before, ever. I truly wish I was writing a different review as I was prepared to completely love Dragon but I can't say that's the case, sadly enough. I'll update this if/when I get any different information or help from Nuance. And I will be contacting them, at their soonest convience.
Following Friday: Nuance customer service is AWFUL. Once I got to tech support, I got a guy named Ryan, after getting to the wrong place initially with their tech support number they give you on their website. I had trouble understanding him at times because he had an accent. I'm usually pretty good at understanding people with accents, but I had a lot of trouble this time. There were lots of awkward silences and times I would ask him a question and have to say, "Hello?" after a few seconds because he wasn't answering and didn't seem to be listening. I could also hear another language being spoken in the background by who I'm assuming are his coworkers, so I'm almost sure he wasn't from the US. If I had to guess, I'd say he was in India. He asked me if I preferred Jenny or Jen and when I said Jenny he proceeded to call me Jen the rest of the call. Which doesn't really matter that much but just points out how much he wasn't listening. When I installed it with him on the phone, Dragon did the same thing. Wouldn't download updates and then got stuck on the launch pad when I tried to open. He said there was a problem with Dragon and my antivirus. I had turned it off during install like they asked and he had me go into "Global exclusions" in the settings and add Nuance to it. It basically excludes Dragon from scans to check for virus', malware, ect. I didn't like that but did what he said. He then had me to go the virus chest and asked if I saw Nuance or Dragon there and to remove it. I told him there was nothing in there. He seemed baffled, was quiet for a few moments and told me to try restarting my computer and opening Dragon again. I did, it got stuck on the launch pad again. Restarting automatically turned on my antivirus so I asked if I should turn it off again before I tried to open it. I didn't think it mattered because it just said to do that during the install but I wanted to be sure I didn't mess it up somehow. He kept acting like he didn't hear what I was saying, or was ignoring it all together. He just answered my question with, "I want you to try and open Dragon." So I asked again... I'm stubborn. Finally he answered and said it didn't matter. So I opened it, it got stuck on launch pad again. He said my antivirus needed updated, and to do that, restart and try and open Dragon. And then if that didn't work to call back. He gave me a reference number and sent me on my way. If I ignored customers like this guy I'd be fired. He did tell me earlier in the call to check for updates in Dragon itself instead of software manager but the problem is I can't open it. I don't know what updating the antivirus is gonna do to solve this. I got the impression he just wanted me off the phone.
I didn't get a chance to call again that day, I called the following Friday, today. I did the update on my internet security to the newest update like they said to. I also did a microsoft update and checked for any update of any other kind. There weren't any others to be installed. I did microsoft update, restarted and did the security update and restarted and did a deep scan where I restarted the computer and scanned every single file to check for viruses, ect before it restarted, wondering if that may be the problem. Virus' can cause all sorts of problems with computers. That scan alone took over a half an hour. So when I was ready to go, I installed Dragon, as they implied when I did that update I shouldn't have any problem once I updated the antivirus. It did the same thing as last time, so I called them. I talked to Micky, he was better than the last rep. Still very quiet and had an accent but was easier to understand. And he didn't call me the wrong name or ignore me when I asked him a question lol. He took me through several steps. I'd tried to install it again after doing those updates and the scan. He had me uninstall and go to the support website nuance.custhelp.com and search 'uninstall dragon 12'. I clicked on the number 1 choice. It was posted back in Feb of 12. It lists three ways to uninstall Dragon 12. The first one being the one that I did, opening Control Panel and uninstalling. He had me chose option 3. I can't remember the name of it but it says 'Click here', you click on it and it downloads some sort of cleaning tool that will give you a fresh install of Dragon. That worked. I'd forgotten that I have a separate firewall, he had me go in and shut that off in addition to my security. I was then able to install it fully. Then it was still having issues, I had to go into the settings and un check mark something, I couldn't even tell you now what it was. Had something to do with how programs start up on my computer. We got it installed, he wanted me to start training it right away but I wanted to get the updates as I'd had trouble training it without the updates because it wouldn't recognize what I was saying. He said that's fine, we downloaded one update, just downloading took almost 25 minutes, but I was happy because it was progress and something I hadn't been able to even do before. Installing it took just over 10 minutes. Then he had me go and check updates again. I thought that was weird. There was another update! This time to 12.5. It said it was gonna take another 25 minutes to download and what I was assuming was another 10 minutes to install. At this point when he went through a summary of what to do from there on and got off the phone I was happy, I thanked him because I truly thought he'd fixed it. I got the update installed and went to train it. It was difficult, taking 5-10 minutes to read the first two sentences of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (they have a list of what you want to read to chose from). Once it was all installed I was so excited to use it! First thing I did to test it was put the headset on and try the on and off commands. There are two for on and two for off. My heart sank because neither of them worked. I tried everything. Putting the microphone 1 inch from my mouth like they suggested, putting it farther away, closer (to the point it was touching my lips). The last one kind of worked if you almost yelled into it.
So I called again, this time I talked to Michael, he was even better than Micky. Michael was predicting what I was about to see and telling me what to do instead of making me walk him through it like the other two had. He had me do a test on the headset. It's plugged into the correct place but still wasn't working, when I talked into the the little tester bar only went up 1 bar out of 15 or so that there are. I realized my laptop has a webcam, so it has a built in microphone. I learned forward to where I know those speakers are and that registered more bars. He had me go in and delete my user profile and start a new one, which is where you chose your location, accent, age group, and train dragon, ect. I tried to train it with him on the phone. I told him the trouble I was having with it make me say one word at a time. He told me to best as I can read the whole sentence or paragraph it's asking, doing it multiple times if I have to instead of choppily with one word at a time (my words, not his). So I did that. And got stuck where it wouldn't recognize the word "Peeping" from Alice in Wonderland whether I read just the word or the sentence. At work I don't typically use scripts, I just talk to customers. It sounds less stiff or fake that way, but there have been times where I had to learn a script. I later modify it to sound less stiff once I memorize the info. So I'm pretty good at taking something, reading aloud and running with it. He had had me read to him the type of audio my computer had by having me go into the properties of my microphone. It's called Realtech. He told me they have known compatibility issues with that audio system. The way this headset works is a jack similar to if you're plugging in headphones. It's the same type of plug in. He told me I'd have to go by a usb plug in..which is like..if you're syncing your ipod, or plugging your phone into your computer to charge it or move files from your phone to your computer. One of those. For 10 or 15 more bucks. He said it would override my system and make Dragon work. Also, the first two reps had the audacity to tell me I'd have to pay for support after the 3 month mark from when I bought it. I've never had a more difficult program/install in my life. And they kept blaming everything on my computer! First it was antivirus, then it was the firewall, now it's the audio system. Be prepared if you buy this to be told it's your fault. I don't see why Dragon has to have all this special treatment. I understand it's a very invasive program, and I get turning off antivirus and firewall because that can stop it, thinking it's a virus. I told the third rep I'd have to decide if I wanted to buy that or send it back. He didn't seem to care. If it were me, I would've apologized again for all the trouble our software has caused and say I hope that they consider getting the usb jack and keeping it. Believe it or not but something like that being said can sometimes change your mind. Letting them know you care, you know? But it has to be sincere. It can be the difference between giving it one more try or sending it back. I've decided I'm sending it back. It's sad. I don't even know how because I've never had trouble with anything I've bought on here to the point of sending it back before. I've spent a good 6 hours on this just today alone, let alone all the others days I've tried for hours. Save your money. I will never buy Dragon again. And I can't stress enough how much I just wanted Dragon to be user friendly and work, but apparently you have to be an IT tech to even get it installed. What a waste. I wish I'd seen a review like this one so I could save myself the hassle of this.
I also wanna say Joella C, the Amazon customer service rep I talked to was very good when I called to find out how to send it back. She sent me a return label, explained what to do/expect and asked why I was sending it back. She apologized for the inconvenience and even empathized, putting herself in my shoes. That is the mark of a great customer service rep. She was better than the three Nuance reps put together.