The Joy of Tech Support

You know what’s fun?

Not calling tech support, that’s for sure.

I have coincidentally ended up calling tech support much more often than usual the last few days. It is bad enough to do it once, but after having it done several times, I see the same pattern over and over again. It goes something like this:


Hey, support person. You know, your product just doesn’t work very well at all, it really is quite a shame. And, sadly, I need you to help me fix it, because the problem is on your end.

Hello, my name is Rajesh. I will be your customer success advocate today. How can I help you?

(sorry people named Rajesh who are helpful)

Um… well, I just told you what was wrong.

I need to verify your account. Can you tell me what the email address associated with your account is?

But… that doesn’t have anything to do with the problem…

Sorry sir, I cannot help you until I know what your account is.


Ok, that checks out. So, what is your problem today?

I… I already told you…

Ok, let me see… so you are having problems using your dishwasher?

What? No, I am having trouble using your product.

Are you sure? Dishwashers are usually the problem, you know. How about you check and see if your dishwasher is the problem, and call back if it still isn’t working?

Listen, support person. My dishwasher has nothing to do this. The problem is your product. Can you help me with it?

Ok, I understand. Have you tried restarting your dishwasher? We recommend trying that first, it fixes a lot of problems.

You know, I hadn’t bothered, because it will not fix the problem. But I will do it, just for you… ok, I restarted my dishwasher, your product still doesn’t work.

So what you are saying is the dishwasher isn’t the problem?

Yes, the dishwasher isn’t the problem.

Ok. My department only handles dishwashers. You have to call the other department to get help with that product.


(so I call the other department)

Hi, my name is Jimmy. I will be your customer success advocate today. What is the problem?

Well, your product doesn’t work.

I will get right to that, but first I need to verify your account. What is the email address associated with your account?

Ok, you are verified. What can I help you with today?

I am having trouble getting your product to work. I do steps A, B, and C like your guide tells me to, and it doesn’t work.

Have you checked your dishwasher yet? Dishwashers usually cause this problem.

I was just on the phone with the dishwasher department. We decided the dishwasher wasn’t the problem.

Ok then. Was the product on? Did you do steps A, B, and C from the guide?

Yes, I did A, B, and C exactly like the guide said.

Did you chant while you did A, B, and C? You better check and see if that fixes it.

I don’t think chanting is going to fix the problem here, because it isn’t related to the problem.

I think that is the problem, you didn’t do the chanting. Try doing the chanting quick and see if it fixes the problem.

(double check usage of product for the tenth time)

Ok, so I did A, B, and C, chanted, sacrificed 12 fruits, microwaved a fork, and spun around 3 times. It still isn’t working.

Oh… this seems like a difficult problem. How about you leave me your email address, and I will have an expert contact you?

How long will that take? I need to fix this problem today.

It depends, but they will definitely be able to help you.

Why can’t you help me? I just want to make the product work.

Let me look into it. I am going to put you on hold for a minute, ok?

Sigh… I suppose so…


(ten minutes of bad music later)

Hello? Can you hear me? I think the connection may have disconnected. If I don’t hear back in the next ten seconds, I will hang up.

I am still here. Did you find the fix?

I cannot fix it for you, but I am going to transfer you to Dave. Dave will be able to find the answer for you.

Are you sure? Can we really trust a guy named Dave?

Oh yes, Dave knows it all. I am transferring you now…


Hi, my name is Dave. What can I help you with today?

Did Jimmy fill you in on the problem?

He said something about the product not working, and that he thought it might be related to your dishwasher. Have you tried restarting your dishwasher?

No, no, no… we did all of that already, the dishwasher is fine. I did A, B, and C, and it didn’t work.

What about A.2.1.2?

What step is that? I don’t see it?

Oh, the website hasn’t been updated yet. When you get one of our new products, you have to do A, A.2.1.2, B, and C, and then it will work. Want to try that?

Sure. Let me try that…. well, that fixed it. It took quite a while to find the right answer. Thanks for your help.

Glad that fixed it for you. Have a good day.


Every. Single. Time. A process that should take a few minutes can take hours.

The example above was generic, but here is a real problem I have dealt with recently. On this particular occasion, I needed tech support to correctly configure a website host. And anytime you are dealing with websites, domains, or registrars, you hear this every single time:

Oh, you made a DNS change. You know, those can take up to 48 hours. You will have to wait and see if that fixes it.

Here is the problem. I know DNS can take that long to propagate. I also know how to tell when it does (in this particular circumstance, it was half an hour after the change), and most importantly, I ensure DNS isn’t the problem on my machine. Flushing the DNS cache is a thing, not that any technical support can understand that. By the time I call tech support, I have ruled out DNS as the problem.

Somebody at a higher level will eventually get you the answer, but getting your way to the right person takes quite a while.

The problem with tech support is really an infrastructure problem. When you outsource support, and play the numbers game a little too much – quotas here, quotas there – you incentivize certain kinds of behaviors. And those behaviors almost certainly will result in the fix taking 5 times as long as it has too.

Oh well. At least we ruled out the dishwasher.



Jacob Clarity


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