Monday, January 18, 2010

Technical "Support"?

God bless the technical support person that has common sense as well as knowledge of their product. I presume they are few and far between, leaving their jobs due to frustration with the multitudes of co-workers that have absolutely no sense at all. These imbeciles can’t find their way through a conversation, much less deal with the average person. Yet, the tone of their canned rhetoric often is demeaning or condescending.
My experience tonight was a carbon copy of prior encounters. The textbook I use to teach a community college course has an instructor’s companion site, and I was having trouble gaining access. To contact tech support online chat, a form must be completed that includes the ISBN for the book, the URL for the site and a statement of the problem.
I stated that I was unable to access the instructor resources at, giving the exact URL.
The conversation is self-explanatory, but I’ve added comments in parentheses:

You are now chatting with robert r
robert r: Thank you for contacting (Name of Company) Tech Support, my name is Robert. How may I help you tonight Iris?
Iris: Hi Robert - I'm trying to go from the url and click on Instructor Resources but am getting an error code Perhaps I need to re-sign in but can't find the sign in screen either
robert r: May I ask what website you are trying to do this on? (What happened to the info I just entered?)
Iris: oh yes - let me get it again I had it on the form to fill out for chat ... just a sec
Iris: http://(complete address) /ins_resources.html (five minutes pass)
robert r: Thank you, just one second please. (another five minutes)
robert r: May I ask what you are trying to access when you get to this page? (And I filled out that stupid form because ...?)
Iris: instructor resources
Iris: the first thing on the center of the page (tick tock tick tock … several more minutes)
robert r: Does it take you to a login page after you click that? (Did I mention that I might need to sign in but there's no sign in prompt???)
Iris: no i get an error message
robert r: What does the error say? (Ok – you asked for it …)
Iris: It says an error has occurred while processing your request. Contact technical support Error details: (I sent about 20 lines of technical lingo)
robert r: Ok, Just one second please. (10 minutes pass)
robert r: Have you cleared your cookies and cash from the computer?
Iris: yes (Stumped again, I suppose … another five minutes)
robert r: May I ask what web browser you are using?
Iris: not sure - IE 7 or 8 (That was in that form, too!)
Iris: I accessed the site earlier today without trouble
robert r: Have you tried to restart your computer since this problem started?
Iris: no
robert r: Ok, go ahead and try to restart it. If it still having the same issue, you can chat back and ask for me and we can go from there.
Iris: ok thanks

It seems rebooting is the universal cure-all. I don’t mind, but did he have to take 30 minutes to figure it out? And would someone please tell me what these folks are doing when the consumer is waiting? I used to give them the benefit of the doubt, thinking they must be juggling several calls at once.
Now, I think they must take coffee breaks, play solitaire, or yell, “Hey Stan … This lady has a problem and I can’t figure it out.” Stan then replies, “Tell her to reboot!” That’s a sure way to make a problem disappear!

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