WickedEye's Quotient

12/09/2006 at 16:48

Tech Support

This is another rant, but it's also a set of honest questions I'd really like an answer to. If you or a friend of yours has ever worked in tech support, throw me some information.

I've been engaging in prolonged, meaningless, idiotic wrangling with Verizon's version of tech support over the issue of my nonfunctional DSL line. This has been going on for about 2 weeks. Every time I call, someone wants me to try all the same things I've already tried before before telling me that he (it's almost always a he) "needs to check his documentation". The call inevitably goes downhill from there.

So here are my questions:
1. Are these calls and their results supposed to be logged by individual or account? I have to to start from step 1 with every new guy. When I ask if it's being logged, the answer I get is yes, but then every answer I get is yes, and yet my DSL still keeps emphatically saying no.

2. Are people who work tech support actually required to be knowledgeable when it comes to computers? I've asked questions about IP addresses, DNS identifications, command-line pings, etc. and gotten a blank "I'm sorry?" Less than encouraging when you ask a reasonably basic question and get "I have to look that up" from people who are supposed to be able to fix problems which you yourself cannot.

3. Is there any kind of viable alternative to tech support? -short of grabbing a friend or family member who knows more than you and saying in a rasping, red-eyed, I'm-exhausted-from-exams-and-hopped up-on-cold-medication kind of way, "HELP ME". This is, of course, the question I most want answered. I'm tired of this crap.

Sigh. I'm just tired. Which is perhaps why this rant lacks the venom for which I normally strive in diatribes of this sort.

I'm falling down on the job. Damn. Or- wait- I could be becoming... nicer.

Nah. It must be exhaustion.

Blogger Matt Metcalf said...

1. Are these calls and their results supposed to be logged by individual or account?

A: They're logged by account, but most tech support people do a shoddy job of documenting their questions, a worse job of looking up the documentation of previous incidents, or both.

2. Are people who work tech support actually required to be knowledgeable when it comes to computers?

A: Nope. There's no licensing for tech support, although it feels sometimes like they're should be. I work with computers for a living, and you wouldn't believe how frustrated I get dealing with tech support people. I should point out that the people you talk to on the phone are, almost invariably, tier-one support people, meaning that they are basically receptionists whose job is to try to follow a script and solve your problem. They're not supposed to pass you on to a tier-two support person until they get all the way through their script, and if you try to diverge from their script, they usually don't have enough knowledge about the technical area to improvise.

3. Is there any kind of viable alternative to tech support?

I wish I knew. I've been dealing with a crashing computer for six months now, and since Dell outsourced their tech support to India, it's gone to hell in a handbasket. Not that the problem is with the people in India, so much as the fact that they took support for their products away from people who've been doing it for a decade and gave it to people who've never had to support their products. So now there are a bunch of tier-one support people trying to follow a script that's new to them, and not doing a good job of it. And, for some reason, they can't seem to figure out our time zones, even though I'm in the same time zone (Central) as Dell's corporate headquarters. On the occasions that I actually manage to get a call back from them, it's at like 1:00AM.

In your case, the best answer is to find someone technical on campus who can interface with the support folks for you. And have them request to be put in contact with a tier-two or tier-three support person immediately, without having to go through the same tier-one script again.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...


make sure that your NIC is working first- assuming you have a wintel pc

Ping loopback
Ping localhost or

ipconfig /all
if IP address starts with 169.254.x.y grab ahold of a friend from the physics / electronics lab and borrow a "line tester"

If all else fails pray to the IPU  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have been “dealing “with a crashing computer for six months now- perhaps its time to look into a new line of work??

Or maybe let the techies in India take a look at it? I bet a coconut harvesting monkey from the Philipines could fix a crashing computer in 6 months!!  


Anonymous Calladus said...

Anon #2, there's no need for that sort of condescending crappy attitude.

Scientiae, as Matt pointed out, this is a symptom of the 3 tier support philosophy. Tier one is comprised of cheap, untrained labor that follows a script.

Tier two is usually made of those few tier one people who have actually learned something while on the job. They may have also received training from the company, or went to a technical school.

Tier three are the so called "experts". I say 'so called' because many of them have just been promoted from tier two, and have reached as high as they can go via the 'Peter Principle'. Some of these people really are wizards of understanding because of extensive training, tech school and college. Others are not.

Telephone companies are, in my experience, notoriously bad at tech support. I've dealt with phone companies across the USA as part of my job, and found that most technicians are still in the analog phone line / flat bladed screwdriver mentality. DSL is just a buzzword, as is ADSL. ISDN usually just drew blank stares from 'em all.

The second hardest part of my job was getting to the technician at the inside plant who actually understood what I was talking about.

The hardest part of my job was to get people to actually get out of their chairs and do an endpoint to endpoint throughput test to demonstrate to the techs that yes it was their equipment that was dropping bytes.

If you keep getting crappy service, then vote with your feet - find a new carriers. I did it to Verizon myself, and was happy to unload on them when they asked me why I was quitting them.

Good luck!  


Blogger Aliya dixit said...

I’m really lucky and so glad that after surfing the web for a long time I have found out this information.
Us Technical Support  


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