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The Tech Rep's Field Guide
By John H. Moore

Step 1: Identifying The Enemy
That's right, the enemy. This is war dammit, and any of you lilly-livered pansies that don't realize that won't last more than 2 weeks out on the battlefield, (i.e. the call floor). So who is the enemy, you ask? The callers are the enemy, that much is obvious. Granted, we can't stop them from calling the first time because those putzs in Marketing insist on putting the Technical Support number on the packaging and in the software.

Because THEY don't have to take the calls from the mentally challenged masses like we do. But just because we can't stop people from calling, here after referred to as bothering or annoying, us, we have a lot of control in determining if they'll bother us again. Some people in management where you work might try to tell you that you're supposed to HELP the person calling with whatever problem they have. HA! If we did that, they'd always be calling back! What's the point in that? No, no...instead of helping them solve their problem, you should make them solve the problem themselves. There are a couple of ways to do this,which leads us to...

Step 2: Dealing With And Destroying The Enemy
Make them feel like an idiot for have bothered you with such a petty problem.

Example A:

Caller: "Do I need a computer to run your software?"
Tech: "No, your toaster should work just fine."

Example B

Caller: "How do I install your program?"
Tech: "Follow the instruction on the package."
Caller: "Where are the instructions?"
Tech: "Can you read? We have interpreters for the illiterate available."
Caller: "Yes, I can read, but I don't understand it."
Tech: "Then there's no way in hell you're gonna get this working. Thanks for calling." (click)

Blatantly Blow Them Off

Example A:

Caller: "My Cardinal 14.4 modem won't connect to your service."
Tech: "That's because it's a piece of crap. Buy a real modem. Thanks for calling."

Example B:

Caller: "The screen says press any key to continue. Where's the 'any' key?"
Tech: "The 'any' key only shows up when you immerse the computer in water.Fill your bathtub with warm water and slowly lower it in. It should become shockingly clear to you."

Example C:

Caller: "I was on line and I picked up a phone in the house and all I heard was this scratching sound! Is this normal?"
Tech: "No, not at all. It means your cat was chewing on the phone line! Quick turn it off before you kill him!!"

Whatever you do, don't start troubleshooting!! Unless you like bashing your head on a brick wall.

Example A:

Tech: "What speed is your modem?"
Caller: "Medium. (pause) What's that bashing sound?"

Example B:

Tech: "Okay, now hit the letter U."
Caller: "Is that the letter Y-O-U? What's that bashing sound?"

Example C:

Tech: "Okay, what's it say on the screen?"
Caller: "It says 'double click to start'. Should I click once or twice?" (Bash Bash Bash!!!!)

Example D:

Tech: "Can I have your area code please?"
Caller: "MY area code?"
Tech: "Oh no, just go ahead and pick one at random."
Caller: "84402." (Bash Bash Bash!!!)

No matter what, you must control the conversation. Let the member who is annoying you know who's in charge!!!!

Example A:

Tech: "Thanks for calling Tech Support, just do as you're told and no one will get hurt."
Caller: "Excuse me? Did I just hear you say...?"
Tech: "We know where you live, we are tracing the call. Please remove the indignant tone from your voice and your two children will return home unharmed."
Caller: "Yes, master."

See how easy that is? While telling the caller to submerse the computer in water may result in legal action against your company, it is more than likely that the idiot, er, caller, in this instance will wind up dead, and the world will be a better place for it.

Now, what do you do when a truly stupid person calls you? Sure, you can just tell them to make sure they have a current Microfleem installed in the Positronic Demodulator in their computer and that if they don't, the program won't work, but where's the fun in that? After the fifth person in a row responds after maximizing their brain power just so they can utter, "Huh?", the humor is lost. No, with the truly stupid, you can cause them so much pain that as soon as they get off the phone with you, they'll be looking to sell that computer as soon as possible.

First off, try to make sure they will never be able to use the computer again.

Example A:

Tech: "What do you mean there's nothing there? Did you type Format C: like I told you?"
Caller: "I...I think so..."
Tech: "You THINK so? Well, apparently you mistyped something, because all the files are gone now. Sorry, there's not much I can do for you until you get everything reinstalled. Give us a call then. Thanks for calling."

Don't try to do too much with them, it can lead to stupid comments like these. It goes without saying that stupid comments require smart alec answers.

Example A:

Tech: "Okay, now click the "Continue" button."
Caller: "The "Continue" button. Say, can you see what I'm doing?"
Tech: "Yes and you'd better stop playing with that thing."
Or... Tech: "Yes, but everything is backwards to me."
Or... Tech: "No, but if you move a little to the left.."

Example B:

Caller: "How do I send E-Mail?"
Tech: "Take the letter you have written and force the paper into the disk drive on your computer. Our program takes care of the rest. After a while, you'll notice that the paper catches on fire. It's normal, don't worry."

Example C:

Caller: "I put your disk in the drive, but it won't run. Well, actually I had to fold the disk over because it was too big to fit in the slot. Now I can't get it out."
Tech: "Gosh, you must have folded it the wrong way. Let me ask you this, do you fold your car in half when a parking place isn't big enough? Moron! Were you born clueless or did you have to work at it? Get off my @$*& phone!"

There are many other ways of dealing with these people, some of which are even legal. If you can somehow get the majority of the people in your office to practice these methods, then your life at work will become not only less stressful, but almost a virtual paradise. Sure, if people stop calling you might lose your job, but there's plenty of other companies that are always looking for experienced technical support people.

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