Well, it seems I can’t avoid a rant and since Jay claims I can’t just rant at an individual on my blog (something about how the rest of you were crinkle your brows and wonder why I went off the anti-psychotics), I’ll try to pick on a topic everyone can relate to – Tier 1 Tech Support.
These guys represent the first roadblock you encounter to getting your problem resolved. They’re usually armed with a script and tend to short-circuit if you attempt to stray from that script. For example, we all know that step number one is: power it down. It doesn’t matter what “it” is (router, cable modem, DVR), “it” just needs to recycle or reboot or rethink why it’s freaking out on you. Turn it off. Turn it on. Easy. Now most of us who are a little ahead of the game do this, because we know the drill and because sometimes waiting for something to reboot can take an agonizing couple of minutes – a couple of minutes that you prefer to do alone without the joy of a phone cradled on your shoulder while listening to your soon-to-be tech nemesis breathing heavily in your ear or blathering to the person next to them. You just made your first mistake. If you call your soon-to-be tech nemesis, it doesn’t matter that you’ve turned whatever “it” is off and back on again 10 times before you made the call, they want you to do it again. Sometimes I oblige, because like many of you, I secretly believe in the magic that can often occur when someone else is watching/listening and I believe it will be a benevolent form of magic (the other occurs when you say “look at me” while attempting to perform some amazing feat and end up eating dirt before a crowd of friends and family), but again, we tend to believe that if the tech nemesis is listening, “it” might work better. OR if you’re not feeling the magic, you just listen to the heavy breather while pretending it’s booting up while making happy reassuring noises or saying things like, “ok… I’m shutting it down now – just a sec… yeah, it’s coming up now… hang on” while you make a grocery list or examine your toe nails.
Now, I’m not saying that this baby-step approach to troubleshooting issues can’t help other people, I’m sure it takes care of 90% of their calls, but I think I should be able to earn some special rating – something that says “ok, she has IT experience, isn’t a moron and she likely turned off the device, reseated all her cables and verified all the lights that should be blinking are in fact blinking”. I want a rating that says “she is beyond our Tier 1 skill level and we need to send her straight to Tier 2 or 3 – the folks with the IQs that are OVER 100 and are capable of independent, unscripted thought.” I’d even be willing to just walk through the steps “yes, I have done x, y, and z” if it would mean that I didn’t have to do it while they were snuffling in my ear waiting for me to scramble around on the floor.
To avoid flipping out on the phone, I occasionally opt to send an email where I can lay out all the steps I’ve taken and succinctly state the issue. Again, this is another huge mistake, because I make the assumption that tech support has basic reading comprehension skills. They don’t. After the first two sentences, you’ve lost them and they’re just going to troubleshoot what is in those two lines. It’s actually gotten so bad that I type and edit and re-type and re-edit in some vane attempt to make my note as clear as possible and the little tech gnomes ALWAYS blow it (and when I say “always” understand that I’m not making a simple generalization, I mean 100% of the time – not 95% of the time, not 99.9% of the time, I mean ONE HUNDRED BLOODY PERCENT OF THE TIME. Thankfully, I’m not bitter about this.)
I could type “my orange tree has a parasite and has not produced fruit, how should I treat it?” and the response would be, “why is it orange? Lemon trees are heartier during full moons when Saturn is in retrograde. We are closing this ticket on the color of your tree because the issue has been addressed. Thank you for contacting tree support. If we can be of further assistance…” And you sit and say “buhhh…? WHAT?”
I wish, if the tech world absolutely refuses to give me some sort of rating that would allow me to skip ahead to Tier 2 support or above, that we could come to some sort of truce – maybe draft an agreement that read something like: We understand and agree that the annoying tech tard (hereafter referred to as You in the document) wrongly believes that I, the angelic tech protagonist (hereafter referred to as I/Me in the document) am stupid with a hint of mean thrown in for spite, and we further agree that I have no doubt that you are actually knuckle-dragging-slope-browed stupid; however, despite your short-comings and lack of complex thoughts you will agree to read ALL of the little words and listen politely so that I don’t turn blue and scream. At the end of all the little confusing wordy bits that seemingly stump you, you will then attempt to troubleshoot my actual problem and not some interesting little shiny word or sentence you’ve latched onto. We also agree that it is a bad thing when I (the aforementioned angelic, ever-right, put-upon protagonist who also happens to have a laid back type B personality) am compelled to “nut up” (thank you, Lynn) on you and that it is our mutual benefit that my blood pressure remains low. Swearing only makes angels, bunnies, ponies and knuckle-dragging tech tards cry and crying will not help us achieve our mutual goals that involve resolving my actual problem, not some made up problem you invented by reading between the lines. To re-establish the lines of trust, you will sign this document in blood (yours) and disclose your address, your home phone and the make/model/license plate of your car for my reference should I find myself dissatisfied with your solution.
I’m eye-balling you, Symantec