If you’ve ever had to call for technical support for your computer repeatedly because none of the ‘experts’ seem capable of solving your problem then the following snippit from an article at Slashdot may strike a chord with you.
Ken is standing in the aisle, tethered to his cube by the spiraled umbilical of his headset, holding an unlit cigarette, and yelling. Ken is always yelling, and that’s why we love him. Lots of us jot down Ken’s more memorable tirades and compare notes on our breaks. Now, standing near my cube, screaming in the urgent and gravelly tones of a mid-40s chain smoker trapped in a non-smoking building, Ken tells a customer, “Quit whining and go get a damn screwdriver. I don’t have time for this bullshit.”
None of us is sure how he gets away with it, especially considering that Ken saves his real anger for dealing with management. His conversations with the higher-ups all end with Ken screaming, “This is bullshit! Total bullshit!” and hanging up.
We all understand why Ken is angry. We’ve been tech-support representatives for six weeks and already a third of our training class has left. A new crop of techs hit the floor last week, and two of them are already gone. It might be tempting to believe that the customers are driving the techs away, that they just can’t take the stress of dealing with endless complaints and callers driven to near madness by interminable holds. But the callers just want answers. Ken, and those of us who are left, are angry because for the most part we don’t have them.
The story it tells is all too common and my own experiences with tech support at Compaq back in 1996 has pretty much ensured I’ll avoid their products like the plague for ever more. Course it helps that I build my own PCs these days and can fix most of the problems that come along that don’t require re-writing crappy drivers myself.
Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered why the help-line you just called seems so… helpless, then you may want to go read that article. It’d be funny as hell if it weren’t so true.