Tech Support Hell

Man, do I feel sorry for the tech support guy who just dealt with me. I am not exactly a technophobe – I’ve been using computers since the early 1980’s, a few years before I entered high school – but I sure as hell get pissed when something about the computer doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

In this case, the problem was my e-mail. I could get and send e-mail from my home address, but no e-mail was coming through my business address, which is supposed to relay any messages straight to my home address. After digging around for a while with some help from my local web host (Philip, you’re the best!), we came to the conclusion that AT& was blocking his server. The problem was, we couldn’t figure out how to contact AT&T to get them to unblock it. They don’t advertise a contact e-mail for this sort of thing, and we know because we searched. So after several days of trying to figure out whom to talk to, I bit the bullet and phoned their tech support. I got just about what I expected.

First off, the guy who answered my call said his name was “Steve” but he spoke with a distinct Indian accent, which left me wondering if his name was really Steve or if that was just the name he was supposed to use to mask the fact that good ol’ AT&T out sources its tech support to Delhi. Lest I seem ethno phobic or racist, I’m not going to complain about talking to a tech support guy located on the opposite side of the world. Even when tech support used to be located inside the US, I still often found myself talking to someone who learned English as a second language. I believe math and computer science were their first languages…

Anyway, “Steve” answered my call and did his best to step me through the problem. Now, I knew what the problem was, but there was this slight language, or rather accent, barrier. You see, Steve spoke fluent English, but I could barely understand a word he said, so I had a hard time answering his questions. Plus, he started his approach to my problem by eliminating the stupidest, most obvious causes first, which I’m sure he was required to do. I am familiar with the drill, having been a tech support person back when I worked for the Air Force. I always had to make sure the person I was talking to knew how to turn the computer on before we could go any further.

So Steve made sure my computer was on, I could access the internet, my e-mail program was running properly, etc., etc. All of which I understand he has to do, but that didn’t lessen my irritation any. I had already been struggling with this problem for over a week and not getting anywhere, and now I’ve got some dweeb on the line asking me if my computer is turned on? But I grit my teeth and let Steve do his job. Slowly, patiently, I explained again and again that I was not getting any e-mail sent through my business address. In fact, I had sent several test messages myself which had not gone through. They made it as far as my web host’s server, but they couldn’t get any further. Steve asked what error message I was getting when the e-mails didn’t go through. I had to explain several times that I wasn’t getting any error messages, or even any bounced e-mails. My test messages just went to the web host server and sat there, completely blocked. Steve insisted I had to be getting error messages or bounced back mail. No, I said again, not getting anything of the sort. We went through this several times, with me getting louder at each repetition, before I somehow finally said the right combination of words to Steve that made him realize what the problem was. He sent me to a website that had the e-mail address I needed to request my web host be unblocked by AT&T and he explained that all my web host needed to do was send their ISP to that address and the problem should be solved in a day or two. I bookmarked the site, thanked him profusely, and got the hell off the phone.

Again, here is where I feel sorry for Steve. He didn’t ask to play butt-boy to an angry stay-at-home-mom/small-business-owner suffering from e-mail dysfunction. He was just trying to do his job. Unfortunately for him, tech support has always been the kind of sucky job that puts its employees in frequent contact with bad-tempered individuals like yours truly. I know, I had his job once, and I always got yelled at because some dumb-ass couldn’t figure out that the reason his computer didn’t work was because he’d kicked the power cord out of its outlet AGAIN.

About five seconds after I hung up the phone, I started to feel guilty about yelling at this poor guy stuck out in India, just trying to do his job. I was reminded of a similar incident from my “gainfully employed” days. Janice, a truly amazing co-worker of mine, and I were trying to solve a technical problem in the conference room where we worked. The whole conference room was brand new, with several thousands of dollars of audio-visual equipment installed, including new computers, back screen projectors, and video tele-conferencing capabilities. It was a top of the line set up back in 1999, and so complicated it now reminds me of the entertainment center my darling husband has set up in our living room (see my earlier post on that). The guy who sold it to us knew diddly-squat about how to run it, so he sent the technician in to talk to Janice and I. The technician was a fellow named Kim from somewhere in South Korea. Very nice guy, very smart, and of course, his first language was not English, but math and computers and electrical engineering. I also think he might have spoken Korean, but I never asked. So Janice asked him a question about how to display the video-teleconference on one screen while the computer was displayed on another (or some such non-sense; it was important at the time but I forget why), and poor Kim thought she was talking about something else, so he kept giving her the same wrong answer and she kept asking the same question over and over and over again. And each time Janice had to ask her question again, she got louder and louder, just like I did with “Steve” this evening at AT& Just before Janice started screaming loud enough to shatter the conference room windows, I interrupted and said, “Janice, he’s Korean, not deaf.”

Well, Janice calmed down and we eventually got our conference room problem solved and Kim left as quickly as he could. In fact, I don’t think I ever saw him in there again when Janice was at work. And thinking back on that incident, I feel pretty sure I’ll get my current e-mail problem fixed, too. But I’m also pretty sure that Steve out in India is praying as hard as he can that he doesn’t have to deal with anymore calls from me. If he does, I apologize in advance. Being tech support is hell.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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