PC PRIMER # 612
By R.L. Creighton
This column is being reprinted by request
I did a little testing for the past three months. I sacrificed my free time for
the benefit of understanding something related to the computer industry. I accepted
a position as the telephone support for a well known (And well respected) computer
What did I learn? Well, I will be more cautious when talking to Software
companies, I mean, no-one will ever talk me into this again. I also learned, that by
and large, callers are rude, crude and socially unacceptable. Not surprising, the
degree of rudeness appeared to be directly proportional to the stupidity of the caller.
Let me put it this way, I spent twenty three years in the Navy, spent five years as a
sergeant in the prison system, and in three months of customer support I learned
new words, phrases and combinations of words mixed with other words. On top of
that, several of the suggestions and recommendations of what I could do with the
product were either physically impossible, personally abhorrent or morally
I did feel better knowing that the callers had no idea who I was. I convinced
myself that this was not a personal attack, just the acts of a few isolated uneducated
imbeciles. The occasional rational caller made the job almost acceptable. It was a
good feeling to answer a well though out question, from a person who had at least
made some attempt to understand the basics of the computer. Or help a confused
customer that really had a problem.
Most of the callers should have had their "license to compute", revoked. If I
were in the position to pass laws, I would require people buying a computer to sign
a form acknowledging that they will assume at least a fair share of the burden of
learning how to use the system that they are buying. The form would have to come
from the Manufacturer of the system under consideration. The caveat that would be
explained by the manufacturer to the potential customer that computers require a
working knowledge to be effective. They, (the customer) would be made to
understand that product support would be dependent upon their being able to pass a
test regarding the problem at hand.
Some of you think I am being overly critical, and I felt the same way until I
picked up the phone. "Your %$^#%%$ program is no good. I can't get it to print
anything." This complaint most frequently came from a new user that had not
configured their printer for use with windows. There were more than one who
didn't check to see that the cable was connected (On Both Ends). Or even that the
printer was turned on. Most of the time when a call started off with an Irate caller,
the problem was related to 1.) No understanding of computing at all. 2.) The
Attitude that this was supposed to be easy, why do I have to read those books. 3.)
An attitude that "I bought this because you offered support and you will have to
read me the book and solve my problems".
Granted the computer industry has to take some of the responsibility for this
attitude. They wanted to sell computers to everyone and made it seem that there
were nothing to it. Well, there is something to it. Computers can make life easier
but, there is the responsibility to learn how to use the computer properly. You
wouldn't buy a car from general Motors and then expect them to teach you how to
drive. You would simply learn before you went out. If you couldn't learn without a
car, then you would go to someone who did have a car, and take lessons.
Why are people afraid to take lessons on the use of the computer?
Lets lighten up out there, and give the people answering the phone a break.
They are just poor working stiffs like you and I, there is no need to pile your
complaints on them, Be nice to them and they will try to help you. Failing to be nice
should result in your being told to do something to your computer that would render
it useless for 72 hours or more. Think about it and try to be nicer or you might
spend your next life as a computer customer support rep.
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