Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tech Support

I hate the idea of tech support hotlines. I don't like call centers, help desks, or support tickets. I don't like the idea of a person calling a stranger on the phone for help with a very technical problem as anything other than a last resort. Every time I suspect that people can't possibly get any more stupid and helpless, I am proven wrong.

For some reason, callers not only expect an easy answer to their problem, but they believe they are entitled to know the answer. They always think they are so very special and that they deserve to be told what to do. More often than not, they might have arrived at the answer if they had just tried to resolve it themselves.

The people who call tech support hotlines have the wrong attitude about problem solving. They don't even consider that 1) they might already have the answer and 2) they might be able to find the answer on their own. If it doesn't work right out of the box, they automatically assume it is someone else's responsibility to make it work for them. Never mind that the instructions are right there, these callers cannot be bothered to take a look at them.

Think back for a moment to the frontier days of wagon trains, gold rushes, and westward expansion. People during this time were much more adept at solving problems than people of today. Can you imagine if they had tech support hotlines back then? "Um, yeah, my rifle jammed up and there's a band of horse thieves coming this way. What should I do?" Ah, get the hell out of Dodge for starters!

Just the same, if your printer is not printing black ink, wouldn't your first step be to check the black ink cartridge you just installed? Wouldn't you check to make sure it has paper and that it's connected before calling someone for help with a print error? For some people, this is too much of a stretch for their minds. For whatever reason, tech support callers are not imaginative people. They never ask "What if...?" because if they did, they would not need to call.

In the frontier days, if you didn't figure out how to trade for or hunt for food, you would die of hunger. Simple as that. Being able to "figure it out" without being told the answer is a critical skill for survival. If nobody ever showed you the best way to trap food or hunt, then you had better learn real quick because the price for failure of this task was a hungry death.

Back then, people were willing to do something that people today are extremely reluctant to do: figure it out for themselves. Today, there are no consequences for being ignorant and lazy. You won't die if you are unable to set the clock on your DVD player or install your own printer drivers.

It seems like nobody these days can be bothered to sit down and read the directions. They just want to call someone up and tell them the answer. Most of the time on the phone, the technician is reading from a copy of the same manual that shipped with their equipment.

This "cannot be bothered to" mentality has created a problem in modern society: the people who are too stupid to survive do not die. In fact, they always seem to end up inconveniencing the rest of us by driving 35mph in the high-speed lane on the freeway or bringing a full shopping cart through the express checkout lane. These are the people who cannot send email attachments and blame every computer error message on a virus. Please get a fucking clue, guys. It's not that hard and you really can solve your own problems. Just TRY.

The bottom line with tech support is that it's never smart people with broken equipment who call in. It's always the loudest, dumbest, most irrational hotheads with brand new equipment that works fine who decide to pick up the phone.

I'm not the only one who feels this way: