Why I Hate Tech Support

I have a degree in computer science, and work as a programmer for a large company (over 500 members of their IT group, if I recall correctly), in addition to working writing custom desktop applications for my clients. I think it would be safe to say that I know a thing or two about computers.

I had a need to call technical support today for an issue with inserting a large number of data records into a remote database. I recieved a fairly generic error each time I tried to run my query, regardless of how I accessed the server. I checked their knowledge base, and found 3 methods for doing exactly what I was attempting, and tried all 3, all of which failed. So I braced myself and sent an e-mail to the server’s tech support asking if there was an internal issue.

This is not the first time I’ve had an issue with this particular provider, and their service has been pretty good to date. This time, too, despite the fact that it was early Sunday morning, I was called back within 30 minutes. They asked me to describe what I was trying to do (this was already sent to them in the e-mail they were responding to). They asked me to try the 3 options from their knowledge base, which I had already told them I had done. They asked me to send them a copy of the data I was inserting, also already attached to the original message.

After examing all this information for a second time, they came to the conclusion I had made before I started working… the problem was on their end, not mine. Note that I was sending them an e-mail because the error message I had received SAID it was an internal error on their end. Four hours later, they resolved the problem (at their end) and we’re back to work.

This incident is fairly typical of dealing with tech support. They assume that you have not read the manual (which in general is probably true, so I don’t hold that against them) and that you did not do any of the things you told them you did. This is why they make you repeat all the steps YOU ALREADY TRIED. And told them you already tried. Even if you call and tell them the error message, they insist that you replicate it for them right now. Never mind the processing time to generate the message is between 15 and 30 minutes. They want it now (although you did send them the exact time you last tried it, so they could check their logs from then).

When I deal with tech support, I generally want them to do the following:

  1. Read my message. I probably explained exactly what I did. And the error I received.
  2. Ask me if I looked in the knowledge base, and if you have a reference to a particular article, send it to me and ask me if I followed those instructions. You don’t have to walk me through them, I can read.
  3. Don’t assume I’m an idiot when it comes to technical issues. I get asked to make tech support calls for family members, and I’m told by friends that this is normal. So even if I’m not the one with the original issue, I am still likely to be computer literate.