What I Hate about Tech Support


I have worked in the tech support industry for almost five years now, three years for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1 year for Brigham Young University, and now the last four months for a cable company here in Columbus, Ohio.  I generally enjoy what I do, I like helping people, I like solving problems and fixing things for people.  But, occasionally, there are things about tech support that do annoy me.  Most of these are, unfortunately, things that customers say.  Let me state upfront that I do not hate our customers, I do not think they are all idiots, nor do I mind if they are not very tech savvy. That’s okay. That’s what I’m here for.  It’s like internal medicine, for me. I do not know much about internal medicine, but that’s okay because I have a doctor and I pay him to know that for me.  That’s how I see tech support.  Our customers don’t need to know much about computers or anything, that’s what I’m here for.

What bothers me isn’t their lack of knowledge when it comes to technology, I can explain things well enough to any old lady, it’s the rude way they sometimes insinuate that I am causing issues with their services on purpose.  They don’t come right out and accuse me personally (most of the time), they will usually just badmouth the company or the equipment that we use.  But sometimes, with the things they say, customers seem to believe that I, personally, hate them and want to cause them as much misery as I can, just because I can.
Here are my top three least favorite things that customer regularly say to me:

1. “It was working fine this morning”
Okay, so it was working fine this morning.  But it’s not working now.  I am really curious, do they say the same thing to their mechanic when their tire blows?  “Well, the tire was working fine just a mile ago” – Well, it has a huge hole in it now.  Maybe, though, that is why they complain so much at technology, because it isn’t often obvious that there is an issue. There isn’t usually anything physically wrong with the equipment when it stops working, it just stops working.  And so the customer does not see a reason for it to not be working which makes them more upset.  I saw this recently when we had a major storm come through Ohio causing massive power outages and knocking trees and poles over.  A lot of people were without power and also without cable.  The ones calling in saying that they had a line that was severed, or a tree branch on their line were the most reasonable, they could plainly see why they had no service – the line was damaged.  But, those who did not have any physical damage, but were still without service because the line was damaged somewhere else, were sometimes less than reasonable. They saw no actual reason why they should be affected, and so they called in and were pretty upset.

2. “But, it shouldn’t be broken”
No, it shouldn’t be, but it is. I’m sorry about that. Let’s not focus on what should and should not be, and instead let me help you get things working again, okay? This one probably bothers me more than the last one, because this one implies that I did something that broke their equipment or disrupted their services.  A lot of things shouldn’t be, but they are.  And I don’t like to point fingers or pinpoint blame, I just want to get things working again as quickly as I can.  I find myself repeating a few phrases with different customers, one of the most common phrases I use is “For whatever reason …”  I don’t always know why something went wrong, but I can generally get it fixed and working again.  Especially when it comes to internet connectivity.  There are a thousand reasons why a particular device may not be able to to connect to the network, and many of them can be resolved by resetting the modem and the router and the device, just to refresh everything and have all of the pieces of the network communicating to each other again.  People will often ask, “Why did this go down?”, and most of the time they are looking for something that they can do in the future to prevent it from happening again, I get that. But, I don’t always have the answers.  That’s just the nature of electronic equipment, it just needs to be restarted sometimes, and other times it just needs to be replaced.  It shouldn’t be broken, no, but sometimes it is and we just need to work together to get it working again.

3. “You don’t have a sooner appointment time? But, I see your trucks driving around all the time!”
As I mentioned earlier, I now work for a cable company, and there are some issues that I cannot fix over the phone, remotely for a customer.  There are times when I need to schedule an appointment for a technician to come out and physically, on-site, in-person fix some issues.  And we don’t always have appointments available as soon as customers would like.  So, when I tell them that the soonest appointment I have is three or four days out, they almost inevitably ask, “Isn’t there anything sooner?”  I am tempted to reply, “Oh, yes, because when I said the soonest appointment I have available is three days from now, I was using an archaic meaning of the word soonest that means there are appointments available sooner, but only if you ask for it specifically.”  No, I don’t have anything sooner, I was telling you the soonest available appointment.  And then they will respond with, “But, I see your trucks driving around my neighborhood all the time” as if that implies that our technicians must have some availability.  Nope. Because, when you see our trucks driving around that’s our technicians driving from one job to the next, these are appointments that were scheduled several days ago, these are customers, who, like you, have been waiting a couple of days to get things resolved. Regardless of what you may believe, we don’t just send our technicians to aimlessly drive around your neighborhood to taunt you, and to be honest, I really do want to get you the soonest possible appointment, I want your services restored as soon as possible, if for no other reason than it will stop you yelling at me.  When I look at my schedule and tell you the soonest appointment I have available is three days out, I’m telling you the truth – that’s the soonest appointment I have available to me.  I don’t purposely schedule you three and four days out because I don’t like you, that’s ridiculous, and, as I mentioned earlier, only going to make you yell at me, something I try to avoid at all costs.

Tech support is a satisfying job.  I do enjoy it.  I don’t want to be doing this for the rest of my life, but only because my passion and my dream is to teach German.  I am only working tech support now because it’s a good job that allows me to provide for my family while I am still trying to get the education I need to get my dream job.  And it allows me to do something that I’m good at, and something I generally enjoy – helping people and solving problems.  But, please, next time you call tech support try to understand that the agent you are speaking with probably wants to solve your problem as much as you want him to.  We’re nerds like that, we like taking things that aren’t working and fix them so that they are.  But, the ruder you are to us the quicker our desire to help you fades.  Just sayin’.


3 thoughts on “What I Hate about Tech Support

  1. One bonus comment I’ve heard recently, “I’m not smart enough to break it. I don’t understand how windows can be changed when I don’t know enough to do something like that.” Then wonders why a computer tech support company would have to charge him to fix a problem because they were the ones who built his machine and he couldn’t have done anything wrong based on his limited knowledge. Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

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