Passing The Buck – The Bain of Technical Support


I am constantly amazed at the absolute incompetence and disgusting attitude of most technical “support” people. Usually, these people are little more than human robots that only pick up the phone because they are paid to do so, and have little desire (let alone knowledge) to help you with your problem. They call themselves tech “support,” but these people are not very supportive at all. Matter of fact, when it comes to empathizing or even sympathizing with your problem, they are very UN-supportive.

You’ve gone through the drill. Maybe it’s with a “support” team for your third-party software you use in your business (like your legal software, or your dental or medical practice software). Or maybe the Internet stops responding and you have to call tech “support” for your Internet service provider. Or maybe it’s with your own I.T. person / computer guy that just flat out takes too long to solve problems and looks at you out of a fishy eye every time you call him to help. You get roped into wasting away a minimum of 5 hours of your life allotment for every time you call, and you’re wasting the boss’s money, which I’m sure makes the boss real happy.

These people call themselves “support” without having any clue as to the meaning of the word “support.”

First of all, a “support” person should be doing the following things:

– At least pretend to care about you.

– Listen to the real reason why you called, not just go down a computer screen like you’re some cookie-cutter customer.

– At least try to find some common ground with you.

– Acknowledge that having to call tech support can be frustrating, all by itself.

– Actually provide support.

Here’s where the breakdown happens – there are a lot of variables in your computer situation, even when you call for a “simple” issue. When you call an individual company for support (let’s just say you’re calling Intuit for support with QuickBooks), they have to determine whether the problem you’re having is related to their actual product, or with the computer you’re using, or the kind of hardware that’s attached to it, or some other software running on your system that’s interfering with the operation of that product, etc.

Now comes the fun part – Passing The Buck. The quickest way for a tech “support” person to get you off the phone (which is the real goal of tech “support,” not actually “supporting” you as their name would suggest), is to blame someone else for the problem. Here’s where your dream of a great computing experience ends and the nightmare begins:

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: (after wasting your time for 2 hours) “I’m sorry, ma’am.  It looks like there’s a problem with your actual computer, not with QuickBooks.”

You: (after having wasted 2 hours) “Okay, so what’s the problem with the computer?”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “Intuit can’t be responsible for supporting your computer.”

You: “So what’s the problem so I can call up the computer manufacturer and make them fix it?”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “Your computer might be configured wrong.”

You: “So that’s what I tell them, my computer is ‘configured wrong?’”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “Yes. You may have something wrong with the configuration.”

You: “I ‘may’ or I ‘do’ have something wrong with the configuration?”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “You definitely do.”

You: “Well what’s wrong with it?  Can’t you just fix the configuration and make QuickBooks work?”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “We don’t support issues with the computer itself.”

You: “But if you know what’s wrong with it, why won’t you fix it?

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: (doesn’t want to admit he doesn’t know what’s wrong) “That’s a computer issue, ma’am.  Not a problem with QuickBooks.”

You: “But I have to get payroll out in an hour!”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

You: “No you’re not!  You’re not sorry!”

Intuit ‘Support’ Person: “Ma’am, I don’t like your tone.  Please hold……………….”

You: “AAAARGH!” (slam down phone)

Of course, when you call the computer manufacturer, after sitting on infinity hold, the computer “support” person tells you they don’t “support” 3rd party applications like QuickBooks, and to call Intuit. Wow! They even have Intuit’s old, outdated 800 number for you – they’re 100% ready to pass the buck, right now! Operators are standing by). There goes another 2 hours of your life and the company’s money down the drain. And, oops! No payroll this week, I guess. Great.

This “buck-passing” is a major reason why my industry even exists.  And the worse tech “support” gets the more my business grows.  And tech “support” has only gotten worse and worse over the last 10 years, so I suppose that’s why my business is thriving.  The sad part for you is that I don’t see things with tech “support” getting any better.  So what is an otherwise productive professional like you supposed to do?

I hate to say it, but if your company relies on computers to get business done, then every hour your computer is down is time and money lost.  You need a reliable I.T. service on staff to keep things running smoothly and bridge the gap between you, your computer problems, and these worthless “support” people.

You certainly don’t have to hire my company (although I do believe my company does the best job!), but you definitely need to have someone on staff (or more preferably, outsourced) that is knowledgeable, trustworthy and efficient to resolve these issues for you so you don’t have to hassle with them.

One more bit of advice – if your outsourced I.T. company or computer guy starts in with the same rhetoric and “passing the buck,” you should make an attempt to correct it with your account representative or with the owner if it’s a small company. If it continues to happen, dump them and go with a company that will own the problem and see things through to completion. And if your staff I.T. person starts feeding you lines of bologna like “configure” and “the manufacturer won’t let me” and “I’m just waiting on Intuit,” you have a liar on your hands and that person should be fired immediately.

Photo Copyright Neil Moralee – License