I am not a happy camper. I've about had it with tech support employees who do not speak clear, unaccented English. Conversely, they don't often understand me, either. I am sick of repeating and repeating myself, and sick of dealing with tech support people who are so unqualified you can hear them
turning the pages of the manual even over transpacific telephone.
It all started sometime last summer when my UPS wasn't sending info to the computer. It bothered me that the icon in the systray always had a red flag around it. So I called tech support, and after doing all kinds of diagnostic things, the lady in India presumed there was something wrong with the unit, and they sent me a new one. This is no big. When the new unit failed later on because it wasn't big enough for my system, (which included at the time the old Gateway 800 box, the monitor, and a printer) eventually a guy in
New Jersey informed me how badly I was screwed. My modem was also fried, and it took longer than I ever expected to get the part and be up and running again.
Then I got a new system from Dell. You always have questions setting up a new system, but I more than once came away with the feeling I'd been talking to somebody who had no clue whatsoever what I was talking about. I've got a background in social services, where you're trained to deal with "a wide variety of people from all walks of life." I developed a routine where if I didn't understand what the offshore employee was saying, I'd say, "Oh, pardon me, there's someone at the door!" so I could hang up on them
gracefully and try again and try for somebody who could communicate in American English. After far more calls than I needed to make, I eventually gave up on phoning them and sought my own solutions.
There once was a time when you could phone a company like Gateway, and even if the gal or guy on the other end wasn't experienced enough to diagnose your problem, you could at least confirm what you already knew. They knew the names of things, such as the software you might be running. You could
say, "IE5" or Win98 and they'd understand. You didn't have to spend 75% of the phone call saying,"Pardon me?" or repeating yourself in sometimes wildly creative ways, hoping to somehow make your problem clear. Even if they couldn't help you, you were confident you were at least a step along the way.
Last time I phoned my ISP was only a few months ago. At the time they had ladies in the South and/or New York fielding calls. That was nice -- they knew what I was talking about from the git-go, despite their accents. It was fun to talk to these support people in other areas of the country. So it wasn't any stretch to phone up Earthlink after their Total Access software rendered my IE6 handicapped.
I'd taken out (yes, using correct procedure, dammit!) TA after it had insinuated itself into my OE and tried to make me use a password every time I wanted to send e-mail. All I wanted was to test drive this thing and use what they called the Spyware Blocker. I should have recognized the signs of trouble, as I've had problems test-driving browsers before, but I didn't. Now what I've got is a mess. I can no longer click on links in OE to access any websites. I can only click on some links in IE6, and no, I haven't kept
a record of those links. I have a History function, but it doesn't tell me how I got there.
I really did think that after many years of using Earthlink, they could at least understand I was one of their bona fide customers. Nope. The lady in India did not understand my pronunciation of my e-mail. She did not know what IE6 was, or OE. I could have given more explanation, but it seemed the more I talked, the less she unserstoond. I didn't dare try to bring up the fact that I can post to my Type Pad blogs, but not delete comments or that my Blog-City blog seems unaffected. She kept telling me to call Microsoft,
but by golly it's that TA that screwed everything up! The question remains: How do I fix this?
After explaining to this woman very carefully that she didn't understand what I was trying to tell her and asking for a more knowledagable person, I was given over to a guy with not much more information. Guess I need to reinstall IE6, even thoug h he was positive if I re-installed TA all my problems would be solved. Yeah, right.
At the risk of seeming bigoted, I will say that somebody like my brother Gordon, who just barely understands how to send e-mail, would come away from an encounter with these people not only with no solution, but seriously confused and unable to function online on top of it. What could Gordon do to
find practical help? I kept thinking about that as I was put on hold five or six times during my 28 minute conversation with Earthlink Tech support.
Their actual first solution was to tell me to phone Microsoft, and dump over the problem, because that's what's in the manual.
Uh-- it costs money to talk to Microsoft, guys, and it really was your Total Access software that caused the problem.
They were astounded by these revelations. They did not know Microsoft charged for tech support, and they not did not know Total Access could cause any kind of problem whatsover. "Put it back, missus," was what the guy supervisor who finally came on the phone said. My question actually would have been, if there was somebody on the other end with any clue, "Why did TA screw up my browser and HOW CAN I FIX THIS!!!"
(I'd appreciate anybody who can tell me what to do. I'm a kick-ass blogger, but not much good when it comes to basics like mucking about in the registry of da 'puter. THX!!)
I'm wondering how long companies who employ tech support reps without the ability to communicate with the customers can survive. These support people in India cannot provide technical support to American customers in any practical way. They don't know enough American English to talk to customers, and figure out what problem needs to be solved. In my experience, they don't have enough knowledge of computers and technical things generally to be helpful, either.
My message to companies that provide computers and really anything else would be to say: Keep your helpdesk home!!!
I can phone the seller of a cake mix, cheese, or deodorant and find a rep who not only speaks my language, but has used the product. I wonder if the sellers of tech products simply discount their customers and have no interest in their needs. Sure, it's easy to hire cheap foreign help, but do those people do the job???
Why else would Earthlink give me this runaround?