These tales of woebegone consumers calling tech support have been frequently shared by many a patient (though frustrated) tech-support representative who no doubt marvel at the ability of the computer to instill such fear and intimidation in the average new user. Some of these stories are now urban legends, so much so that the website Technical Support Inc. (tsishow.com) is a comedy program that spoofs a tech-support division at a fictional company and stars real-life tech-support reps.
“Hello? Is this the Internet?”
Rob McDonald, a program director who previously worked as a tech-support rep, recalls a few such conversations he and his colleagues had with users calling the call center:
One of the most typical calls tech support specialists receive is the one from the panicked husband or kids: “How do I delete all these websites from my computer? Please hurry! My wife (or parents) will be home any minute!”
There is also the incident of the customer who claimed that he had signed up with the Internet service provider and that “You took my credit card and you won’t give it back.” It took the call-center rep a while to figure out that the guy had inserted his credit card into the 3.5-inch floppy disk drive on his computer where it had become stuck.
The Wall Street Journal also reported the case of two Dell customers: One user, in an effort to clean his keyboard, had run a bath and soaked the keyboard in soap and water. Another had been using the mouse as a foot pedal.
Another caller -- who didn’t own a computer and had no interest in signing up online -- called McDonald about “the Internet mall.” She had purchased a packet for $100 that provided information on how to get rich on the Web. The caller assumed that she had contacted said mall: “It says right here, ‘Sell your product on the Internet mall’….That’s you, right? That’s who I’m calling -- the Internet?” No Virginia, “the Internet” does not have a phone number or street address.
How to approach Tech Support
Even for savvy computer users who may run their own personal websites or fix minor system glitches, it’s best to approach tech support intelligently. When your system crashes, or you are forced to deal with a glitch that doesn’t make sense, simply describe your exact actions that led to the failure. Sometimes system messages can be difficult to decipher, and it’s best to ask an expert who can guide you through it. The New York Times for example, reports the case of a user who received the message “Error Type 11” and repeatedly typed 11 on his keyboard, thinking that this would fix his computer.
An ounce of prevention
There are certain preventive measures you can take to boost your computer’s health, so to speak. If your system has slowed down to a snail’s pace or keeps crashing, it’s time for a tune-up. Delete old documents, photos, music files, and so on, clear your web cache, and refrain from clicking on suspicious links. Programs like System Mechanic and PefectSpeed also help repair various problems, clear up unwanted clutter on your PC and boost Internet speed. If your computer starts making strange noises, call a tech rep or show it to a professional who can then figure out whether the hard drive has been damaged beyond repair.
There are times when glitches will inevitably occur, but at least you can attempt to fix them and not end up like the user whose monitor started emanating smoke and was eventually referred to 911 by the tech-support rep.