Where’s the actual support in technical support?

FI-Log-On-With-Larry-SchneiderDear Larry,

I’ve had it with technical support. First, you have to locate the phone number, which is hidden so well most people give up right away. Then, after making the call, you have to wade through a menu that’s been designed to be extra complicated just to get you to hang up. Then you get to wait on hold for an interminable amount of time listening to horrific Muzak and repeated messages reminding you how important your call is. Yeah, right. Tell me there’s a way out of this morass.

A. G.


Dear A. G.,

I can only say you’re preaching to the choir here. And dare I add how sad it is that my business is booming thanks to this mess.

The trouble is that it all comes down to economics. Profit margins in the computer industry remain extremely tight, and customer support is an easy target for lowering expenses. Did you know it costs American companies 75% less to outsource their support calls to places like India while, at the same time, an Indian citizen working in such a facility earns far more than other laborers?

As for the quality of technical support, I ask, What technical support?

There’s no way anyone can truly be trained to come up with educated answers to your questions unless they’ve been in the computer business for a long time. In virtually all cases, when you’re asked to wait on hold while your technician checks his resources, what he is in fact doing is looking up your question in his scripted response book.

It reminds me of the old “Eliza” system I worked on back in college in the 70s whereby a computer masqueraded as a psychoanalyst by responding to requests for help with scripted and programmed responses that made it appear it understood and empathized with you (look at En.wikipedia.org/wiki/eliza for more).

While there’s no solution to the problem, there are some steps you can take to help mitigate your frustration. To locate support numbers, try going to the company’s website and looking for a “Contact Us” link. Or try Googling <Company Name> Technical Support Telephone Number (but beware of scammers masquerading as real companies like Microsoft or Intuit).

To bypass a bad interactive voice response system, try interrupting the recorded voice by pressing 0, optionally preceded or followed by “#” or “*.” Or when it’s your turn to talk, try mumbling or say “get human,” “agent,” or “representative.” As a last resort, pretend you’re using an old rotary phone and just hold.

You might also request sales or the collections department; you can be sure they won’t keep you waiting. For more help getting to a real human being faster, visit Gethuman.com/us.

Last but not least, for real technical support, call someone like me. And realize that the sad truth in life is, you get what you pay for.

This is Larry Schneider, logging off.


Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm now in its 15th year of business catering to individuals, businesses and professional offices. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database, and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit Accentoncomputers.com, or send email to [email protected]

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