Why Tech Support Makes Me Feel Stupid

I can’t remember a time when I bought an electronic device, came home, plugged it in and it worked. I don’t think anyone in the history of the world had that happen to them. I can swear that even Philo Farnsworth himself (who is credited with the invention of the television) came across many snowy-like static screens in his day.

That’s why they invented Technical Support. Those guys on the other side of the telephone line who seem to know everything that’s wrong with my household appliances, without even being there. And yes- that makes me feel stupid. If there’s anything that those technical support representatives do well is make you feel like your the biggest idiot on the planet. It’s not their fault, it’s just that most of the times you really are pretty dumb. In that one particular subject, that is.

Costumer service or I.T people are taught to treat you like the stupidest person alive. I’m not saying it doesn’t work – most of the time they just have to start out by feeling you out. They have to get a feeling of who they’re talking to in order to know how to approach them. The first question they usually ask is if I plugged the device in. This is a little insulting, and is the first step towards making me feel like a complete retard. I mean, I know I plugged it in. I’m not Bill Gates, but I do have a little experience dealing with computers. I use them to watch cat videos all the time.

Still, I can’t shake the feeling that I should double check. I look down and see that the device is, in fact, not plugged in. I face-palm myself like never before, plug it in discreetly and lie about it. “Of course it’s plugged in! What do you take me for”?! Then we move on to really trying to fix the problem. And that’s where I tend to get a little frustrated.

As I said, Tech support always try and talk to you as simple and calmly as they can. They have the patience of monks. And that tends to make me involuntarily test said patience. “Do you see a red wire coming out of the back”? They ask softly. “What red wire?? where?? I can’t see! I don’t know what you’re saying! Everything is broken, the world is ending”! Is my proportionate response. I swear to god, I’m not always like that. Please, I.T guy, I don’t know what came over me.

But they do not give up on me. Which makes me feel even more stupid. Would they be so nice to someone in real life who’s acting like this? They must feel so sorry for me that they try and keep being nice. After some attempts to teach me how the wiring works, I completely accept my ignorance, and move on the the second phase of the I.T conversation – the banter.

By this point I gave up on trying to fix the problem. I don’t even want to use this device anymore. I feel so dumb that I don’t even deserve watching the debut of a new HBO series. I won’t understand it anyway. So I decide to play along with the new “stupid me” that was born with this conversation. I start trying to joke around with the tech representative on the other side. “How can I help”? He asks. “Can you fix me up with someone”? I reply. My humor has transformed into my dad’s, when he’s joking around with the waitresses at T.G.I Friday’s.

That’s when they start losing their patience. They understand I’ve given up, and they prefer to move on to the next idiot. To try and lose me for good by stating that the problem must be in some long word named part of the machine. Unbelievably, I know what they mean. They sit back up, regaining strength. They realize I must not be a total moron, and we quickly fix whatever is wrong. I thank them and say goodbye.

It was when they stopped talking down to me that I could actually understand what they were trying to say. It wasn’t that complicated. All it took was two fairly intelligent people. I hang up, understanding that their next caller is probably a 75 year old from Florida, and they have to make sure she plugged it in. Next time I’m gonna try and Google the problem first and save myself the embarrassment. That’s what the smart people probably do.

You can read more from Oren Mendez on his blog.

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