Go ahead an wrap your mouse wire around your neck and tighten till you see lights!

I have heard Go ahead and this and Go ahead and that waaaay too much this afternoon. Long pauses while the hampster wheel spins…etc…etc…

For those who work at a help desk…please…for the love of the universe…Evaluate your customer just slightly in the first few seconds…see if they have any computer acumen at all. If so do not continue to treat them like a complete Idiot!

Story: My wife and I bought a very nice computer a few months ago, it is by far the most complex machine I have ever worked with. Gargantuine memory, extremely fast and very fun to work with. It also allows me to work with my new architecture software quite nicely and easily.

Those are the pros.

The cons are I am not hardware savvy at all, all my knowledge is software based. I am having a very difficult time with the company I bought the computer from, they seem to ahve a wonderful product, but a help department from somewhere near outer mongolia. Two separate people have treated me the exact same way on the phone…

“Is your computer on sir?”


  • Go ahead and click the start button in the lower left of your screen and then click ‘setting’ and then ‘conrol panel’ *

:smack: Why didn’t you just tell me to go to my control panel :confused: **

  • I mean no disrespect to those wonderful help desk personnel on these boards who do not treat people on the other end of their phone like they are on copious amounts of haldol. I’m just pissed I spent nearly 4k on a machine I am having so many difficulties with. ERRRRRR!!! :mad:

When a tech support rep tells me something like that I usually respond with “Oh, you mean open up the control panel?” After a little while they see that I’m condensing their instructions into a more “computer-savy” speak and they start talking normally.

I build my own computers and am a self-professed computer geek. I used to get pissed off about this also until my ex-wife started working at an AOL help desk call center. You wouldn’t beleive how stupid the majority of the population is when it comes to findong the Control Panel. Help desk support is just dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Us braniacs will just have to deal with it.

One of the best tech support calls I ever made ended up with the (Microsoft!) tech being able to do nothing for me. (My computer was REALLY effed up.) What made it a great call was that he caught on right away that I am not a doofus, and was quite familiar with my machine, standard procedures and terminology, etc. It was a pleasure to talk with him (for three hours while we did all kinds of troubleshooting); he even refunded my $35 pay-per-incident fee.

Quite different from the guy who not only kept giving me the wrong strings to enter in my autoexec.bat file, but (because we had to keep going in to fix his goobers) kept repeatedly SPELLING “autoexec.bat” for me (“A as in apple . . .”) even though I always pronounced it back to him (“OK, I’ve opened autoexec dot bat now”) in a futile attempt to show him that I knew what it was and HOW TO SPELL IT!

I had to do a fair amount of unofficial tech support when I worked in the bakery at Shaw’s. They tried to automate all our forecasting and ordering with this piece of crap software and so everyone in the department had to learn to use the computer.

Unfortunately many of them had never seen a computer before and so I had to explain things like:

What a mouse is.
Magnets do not belong stuck to the case.
That when your monitor dies you do not have to reinstall the entire PC.

Then I would be the one recruited to call tech support. There was always a problem with PC anywhere and I would have to reconfigure settings. I’d be in the control panel waiting for them to go through their instructions. It was not worth the effort to tell them I had a clue because if you derailed them from the script they were reading to you then you lengthened your call by about half an hour.

When in doubt the tech support person would helpfully tell me to press the green button. I always replied ‘Wouldn’t it be better if I just rebooted it from the start menu?’ Their response ‘Um’

So maybe you just got someone relocated from Shaws’ old IT department?


Eight or nine years ago I did computer tech support for Peachtree software. I did a lot of phone service and the occassional onsite training call. The program came with 6 floppies and the call was from a person that was stuck on installing the second one. The prompts for installation not being clear enough and (you guessed it) he didn’t remove the first floppy, assuming it was eaten, before jamming the second one in. I’d like to think that customers are a bit more computer savvy now, but I’m not going back to that kind of job to find out.:wink:

Sorry, but an unimaginably large number of people with computers would press a key on the key board if you told them to click on the control panel. After all the keyboard is the ‘control panel’ of the computer.

I remember hearing a story once about a guy who called tech support complaining that his cupholder was broken. Turns out he was opening the CD-ROM and setting his drink in that!

My mom’s husband has been working with computers in various capacities for years, including working help desks on occasion. Unfortunately, the reason they talk to people like they’re idiots is because they get calls from surprising numbers of people that ARE idiots. Some are just ignorant, and actually learn something about their computer once they get help with whatever is going on with it. Some never do. The idiots are the ones who never do.

I knew the difference between a monitor and the CPU when I was in second grade, and that was about 1983. It amazes me that there are still people who don’t.

Lord Ashtar, one of the funniest things I ever heard on the radio was on a local public radio call-in talk show with a couple computer gurus. Calls about which is better, Mac or PC; calls about whether Microsoft Office Professional is worth it over Office Standard; that sort of thing.

Near the end of the program, they get a call from a guy with an obviously fake southern accent ('sokay, it’s here in North Carolina) saying, “Listen, I wanna get me one a them computers with a cup-holder on it, and I’m wondering whether it’s worth it to get the bigger forty-eight ex cupholder or is the twenty-four ex cupholder big enough?”

Without missing a beat (although there were a couple snickers) the guru said, “How large is your coffee cup?”

The caller answered, “It’s just a normal-sized cup.”

“The twenty-four ex should be big enough for you,” the guru said. The caller thanked him, and they moved on to the next call.

I was dying. Urban legend comes to life!


Re talking down to stupid callers:

I have no problem with tech people assuming at the beginning that they may be working with a barefaced moron. What cranks me is when I’m making it clear that I am a tad above the level of not knowing the difference between right and left clicking, that I know how to access the control panel and the device manager, that I understand the whys and hows of Ctrl-Alt-Del, I know what a TSR is, etc., and they’re still talking to me like I’m an idjit.

My wish, like the OP, is that techs LISTEN and perhaps adjust their instructions accordingly. By all means, they should go ahead and use little words for the airheads, if they need it. But some of us can actually make their calls FASTER – imagine that! Talking down to people who don’t need it can only waste everyone’s time.

Yeah. This is very important. My friend, who used to work for a call center, recounted a very trying ordeal where he handled a call from a customer who had some problem with her modem. When my friend instructed her to move the mouse, she said that she was moving the mouse and it’s not working.

So after 2 hours of guiding her using shortcut keys and whatnot, my friend finally realized that the customer was moving the entire thing on top of her hands, instead of rolling it on the mouse pad. :smack:

The problem with that approach is that when people call tech support, most of them think they know a lot about computers. There are some total newbies who know they’re total newbies, and that’s pretty refreshing; those ones are easy to deal with. The ones who are a nightmare are the ones who’ve heard their nephew use a few computer terms here and there, who’ve maybe taken a class in community college, who know where the control panel is, but who think they know everything because of that.

It’s a whole lot easier to do a whole call assuming a bare minimum of knowledge about computers than it is to realize, halfway through a call, that the user has been faking their way through your instructions. Then you’ve got to clean up the mess.

I always appreciated the people who showed a level of technical competence when they called in. But in a job that involves giving very precise, very detailed instructions over the phone to someone you can’t see, and whose skill level you can’t verify, when the instructions could be potentially harmful to a thousand-dollar appliance that you’re responsible for, you make absolutely certain that every instruction that you give is perfectly clear.

Even if it seems condescending at the time.

I’ve had callers who sound halfway intelligent and PC literate that I have adjusted instructions for who will ask “left click or right click” when I ask them to double click an icon, so we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

My last call today was from a site that was having problems with their dial up settings. I was able to walk the caller through creating a new dial up connection, but just as I was about to have him test it, he handed me off to a colleague (I think they had a customer or something). I gave this guy their log in ID and the password. He was speaking the letters as he typed the password, “c-h-a-p-i-o-n”, so I (politely) corrected him “actually sir, there’s an m in there”. “Oh, you mean c-h-a-p-i-o-m?” :smack:

“no sir, in the middle” and I spelled it out for him. He typed it wrong again! and said “It tells me invalid username or password”. So once again I spelled it out for him, this time giving him an example “as in Champion Homes”. Did I mention that they were a retailer for Champion Manufactured Homes? I figured if I told him that, even if he still didn’t know how to spell it, he could at least look at SOMETHING in the office and figure it out. Perhaps maybe, their computer’s background which is set to the Champion logo. “c-h-a-p-i-o-n”. :rolleyes:

“No sir, actually, you mi…” “It told me invalid password again”. So once again, I spelled it out for him (slower, this time) and gave him the same example. I hear it dial and make the handshake and then “nope, invalid password”. At this point, I’m thinking that he can’t have spelled it wrong THIS many times, maybe the spreadsheet is outdated. I ask him to hold on while I try to sign on with their credentials on our machine here. Nope! connected immediately. He’s just a dumbass. At this point we are now 20 minutes past my normal log out time. I come back to the phone and luckily the first user is back on. I give him the login information, and he is able to connect on the first shot.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the original caller who actually had a clue is generally the exception rather than the rule.


And after posting, I see that **Mr. Visible{/b] has said pretty much the same thing that I did, only much gooder.


Well, at least one guy I talked to managed to adjust. I guess he raised my hopes to an unacceptable level. :frowning:

I don’t mind Tech support people who do the “my computer->control panel bit.”

What gripes me all to hell are the tech support people that are truly dumber than a bag of hammers.
Several years ago I worked in a remote office on dial up. Between the shitty phone line, CompuServe’s servers, and my companies firewall, I would sometimes have page load speeds that looked like SDMB hamsters on Valium.
So I call IT (the idiots playing with Technology) department.
Me: Say I am having problems loading web pages, here. I am getting transfer rates below 1Kb per second, and sometimes as low as 250 bytes per second.
Idiot: What’s a byte? I don’t know what you are talking about.
Me: <Whimper> Give me the 2nd level guy then
2nd level idiot: The transfer rate is CompuServe not us.
Me: Well we pay them, and I don’t think we are getting our money’s worth, do you? Don’t you think we should get what we pay for?
2nd LI Well I don’t know what to do.
Me: <whimper>

I love tech support professionals. I cannot abide amateurs.

I’m fairly patient with the hand holding step by step instructions I assume some people really really need that in order to do anything on the comp.

However one time I was having a video driver problem. At this point in my life I didn’t know too much about drivers though I’d say I was way more savvy then the average computer user. This guy I got was a condescending ass the whole conversation. And after he tried two small things he wanted me to reformat. This had been the third time I had called tech support in the year I had had the comp and every time I called they wanted me to reformat. This time I told him no he was going to stay on the phone with me until this got fixed I was not reformatting again. We tried a few more things then a really weird thing happened. If I increased the resolution the screen would turn the popup boxes about 4 times their normal size tile them across the screen and make them transparent. If I reduced the size it would scrunch the screen into the top 1/4 of my screen with a bunch of colored lines below it. When I asked what was going on his response? “Reach out and adjust the controls on the monitor”. I said “I don’t think that will help with what’s going on.” His voice instantly turned all pissed “REACH OUT AND ADJUST THE CONTROLS ON THE MONITOR” heh. I did didn’t help for some reason.

Then he gave me the site to download a new video driver with the file number I was supposed to D/L. So I got on the net found the site. Guess what? No file number matched what he gave me. I had to call back and got a different tech support she asked if I wanted to talk to the person I had already talked to. I said NO thank you. She gave me the right driver number I went and found it and my problem was solved.

In a strange way I’m grateful to that guy. After that I said to myself ‘this is stupid I can figure out ways to fix my comp without having to deal with being on hold for an hour only to have some idiot jerk me around for another 2 hours.’ Now I build my own. It’s cheaper and I always know when somethinggoes wrong how to fix it.

I don’t know from computers, but I’m pretty familiar with the wonderful world of helping people figure out their wireless phones.

Adjusting yourself to the level of the customer is an important part of the process, and it does cut your call time. I tend to start in the middle, and move up if the caller seems more savvy and move down when they can’t find the “Send” button.

It is a learning curve, though. I’ve recently begun teaching people fresh out of training how to handle calls, and they seem to start out assuming everybody they talk to has just been through the same course they have and ought to be able to rattle off their model number, ESN and MSID/MIN. After a few days and some yelling on my part the newbs realize that for most people a cell phone is just their phone. It’s a black box.

I tell them not to ask the customer questions they can answer themselves, I show them how to find the answers, and they start to get cocky. After your thirteenth customer who can’t figure out how to get the battery off the back of the phone it’s easy to become cynical.

That’s where they leave me, and go onto the production floor. Most of them eventually get good enough at doing what they do to be able to pay attention to nuance and accept with thanks the guy who has the phone programmed before they can start giving him instructions and with patience the guy who just can’t quite seem to find his power button.

I used to work on an internal help desk. The reps would call us when they had a problem they couldn’t handle. I assumed a level of competence in the rep, but whenever they called me about a customer unable to access her voicemail I always made sure to check first if the customer had voicemail. It wasn’t a wasted effort.

Call back and ask for the same rep in a year. If he’s still there, it will probably be a much smoother process.

It is difficult to support people on the telephone, but I agree, the tech should be savvy enough to tailor the level of his advice after a minute or two, provided that the caller is responsive enough to make this possible.

I do a fair bit of telephone support (especially when I go on holiday), but I know most of the folks who will be calling for advice, so I can pretty much tailor my instructions straight away.
There are people to whom you can say “Right-click the ‘Network’ icon in the control panel” and there are people for whom you have to say “See your mouse has two buttons - one on the left and another on the right…”