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Tech support

I’ve had a bad two weeks with Amazon.com: First they sent me a defective camera (bad focus) in the mail, which I tried to make work for a few days before sending back and ordering a different model. That second order sat in a warehouse (according to Amazon’s UPS tracking information), ready to ship, for six days, before it was, quite without any discernible reason, “returned” and processed for a refund. Although I’m frustrated at still being new-camera-less, I do want to note that when I finally got sick of reloading status pages and reading semi-automated support emails and dug up the support phone number, I talked with two friendly and helpful representatives who seem to be pretty sure now that things are in order.

So I got to thinking about tech support and started wondering, “Have I become That Guy?” The guy who calls tech support, and then calls back, and then writes letters—letters!—to customer service? Does becoming The Man imply that one is also That Guy? Questions that come with age, I suppose.

All this reminded me of when I did tech support for the college computer labs, when the college web site still linked to Gopher and used WAIS. (Man, we were kings when we first learned how to make animated GIFs. Kings.) The web was pretty fresh at the time, and a young woman came into the lab for help downloading the then-new version of Netscape. I asked all the right questions: Was her network connection okay, was she using the right FTP server, was she selecting the right file, and so on. I was puzzled, as she seemed to be doing everything correctly. And then she said, “Am I supposed to leave my computer on after the download starts?”

“You’re turning it off?” I asked, working hard to make the mustn’t-laugh-face look more like the studied-inquiry face.

“Uh-huh.”

“I think that’s the problem. You should probably just leave it on until it’s done.”


Ultimately I am reassured that there are still levels of That Guy which I have not attained.