With Halloween coming next week and everyone needing a good fright, we bring you Tales from Tech Support. I spent five years working over the phone tech support, most of it with Comcast in Baltimore. Oh, the stories I can tell…

I took a lot of calls during my time at Comcast, probably around 40,000 to 50,000 of them. While many of them were Comcast related some were people who were just calling to get free tech support. You may have called Dell, Apple, or any other computer manufacturer and were told you need to pay for tech support. Those are you OEMs or Original Equipment Manufacturers. Your thought at that point was why do I need to pay for tech support so you hang up. For many people there next call was to Comcast or their ISP knowing that they won’t charge for support. At Comcast we actually did get people who called for issues with Macs since they knew there were Mac trained reps.

There was always a gray area when giving support especially if the internet service was not working. There were things we could have the customer do like trying to ping a website to make sure there was connectivity and if that worked either reboot the computer into Safe Mode and see if it worked there (guess what, it did most of the time) or use the Internet Explorer (No add-ons) option on the newer computers. By Comcast’s definition, once we found that the internet service was indeed working we were to refer the customer to their OEM or to their anti-virus provider to clean the computer off. Why? If you’ve cleaned your computer of all that junk and did a virus scan you know how long it takes. An agent can’t sit on the phone with you while you do it and hundreds of calls continue to pile up. Plus that agent is not trained to remove viruses, and guess what, Norton or McAfee is. We won’t even touch the fellow who called and said his mouse was broken and demanded that Comcast fix it.

The problem is that people want as much as they can get for free. I always told customers that if you have a car problem you have no problem paying a mechanic to fix it so why is your computer any different? There are people who fix this stuff for a living, many of them being one or two person local operations. Support them if you don’t want to pay the big boys!

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