Encounters with tech support: A short 3 act play with a long prelude


CC Licensing by Tripp @ Flickr.com

[qr-code align=”left” size=”3″ margin=”0″] I always dread calling tech support… Comcast, Dell, etc. It’s a lot like when you buy one of those cheap King Edward cigars at the gas station; it always seems like a good idea at the time, and despite all the facts in front of you that suggest otherwise- the low prices, the cheap wrapper, the mostly full cigar box- you are somehow willing to suspend disbelief and convince yourself that this time things will be different.They never are.

Today’s encounter with my Web Hosting Provider was like that. I mentally prepared myself to assume the submissive role…to be talked to like a third grader who didn't know an Ethernet connection from a USB port. I knew this would mean that I would have to unplug and reboot several times. I knew I'd have to turn off my firewall and deactivate my anti-virus software. I knew that at least once I'd have to clear my cache on my browser. And I knew all of this was going to be to unsuccessful.

But I have learned that arguing with tech support is like arguing with a referee. The power inequity it too great. At any moment he can sever your connection to wherever he is in Tajikistan or India or some other foreign country like Oklahoma and leave you floundering in the vast voiceless silence with no one to turn to but the Online Help Forum; the Help Forum is Sheol for internet users, a dark place full of other tortured customers who have never found relief from their internet woes. So, it's best to listen to the referee/ tech guy, go to the penalty box, let him do his thing, and see if eventually he'll let you in the game. This is how it went down…

First, there were several conversations with a robot "help" menu. I forgot about the robots. Tech support people should know that the only robot I’ve ever loved was Johnny 5. Then eventually a human answered.

Act 1: Much Ado About Nothing

[Me] Hi, yes my web domain is returning a database error and not loading.

[Support] (After giving name, phone number, id, mother's maiden name, secret code, and my birth date on the Mayan calendar, etc) Okay, I see you have WordPress. Have you installed anything lately?

[Me] Yes, a plugin yesterday, but it was working after that.

[Support] That could be it. Let's log in to your account at our domain.

{Then long conversation with no success. Lots of clicking things. Renaming things and other craziness I'll skip for you}

Act 2: Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?

[Support] (After going on and off of hold several times to talk to other ISP gods) Wait, how is your website even loading? You have to have your files in the root directory. I just looked and they aren't there.

[Me] Um, my website isn’t loading. That’s why I called you remember, but no I don't have to do that.

[Support] But, but, but yes you do.

[Me] (Thinking how to say this without being banished to the Online Forum) But it was working yesterday and the day before that and every day since 1996.

[Support] (In his best teacher's voice, and maybe a little miffed about the 1996 comment) I think that's the problem.

[Me](Nervous that I've crossed a line) Hold on….(thinking and opening files)…oh I see now. Look at that index file. {more details you don't care about}.

Act 3: The prince of darkness is a gentleman

[Support] Oh, That's pretty good…(realizing that I am the master of my uhmm….domain) hold on.


{comes back}

Sir it turns out that our database is down. You did everything correct. Sorry about that. It should be up in an hour.

"…You did everything correct. Sorry about that…"

No sweeter words have been uttered by a tech guy anywhere. I know it hurt him to say them, and I take it as a win.

Till the next time and the next tech support encounter. Perhaps, this weekend the cable will go out?