When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

07 March 2008

Nearing his Canadian breaking point

Several years ago, I had the chance to visit a tech-support call center for one of the big computer companies. The technician gave me a second pair of headphones so I could listen in on his conversations with the hapless users.

I learned so much that day. I learned that all computer companies outsource tech support to dedicated call-center companies. I learned that the Users can be outrageously rude to these hapless tech-support reps, taking out their built-up frustration on somebody who had nothing to do with causing the problem.

And I learned that when they say, “Your call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes,” that’s only partly true. They also record your calls so they can pass around recordings of the funniest ones.


A Canadian customer was calling to find out if there was a faster way to trigger menu commands than mousing up to the menus.

Agent: Certainly, sir. There are keyboard shortcuts for many of those commands. For example, suppose you want to trigger the Select All command…

Caller: Yes, I use that one all the time! How do I do it?

Agent: Well, you just press Control-A.

Caller (after a pause): Well, that’s not working for me.

Agent: Do you have a text document open in front of you?

Caller: Yes, I sure do.

Agent: OK, now press Control-A.

Caller: I am, but nothing happens.

Agent: The text isn’t highlighted?

Caller: No, there’s no change at all.

Agent: That’s odd. If you press Control-A, the whole document should be highlighted. Try it again. Press Control-A. Tell me exactly what’s happening.

Caller (nearing his Canadian breaking point): Listen. I’m pressing Control, eh? And nothing’s happening, eh?

David Pogue: Tech Support Gets a Reprieve While Users Take a Hit (6 March 2008)

Hat tip: Greg

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