RogerBW's Blog

Tales from Tech Support 28 April 2014

My first tech job was doing tech support by phone for a certain large ISP. (It's still around, but it's just a brand name now.)

This was in the modem age, and while the Internet was beginning to get popular it was still thought of as mostly for enthusiasts. Some of our customers… weren't terribly enthusiastic.

On the other hand we weren't restricted to a script; we were trained to do our best actually to solve a customer's problem. So it wasn't a bad job. Mostly.

"You know this CD you sent me? Does it have the Internet on it?"

While the cup holder story never happened to me, i would certainly believe it after my time there.

Many of the problems took the form of the modem dialling but not connecting or logging in (failure to train). This was sometimes the software's fault, but usually swapping in a new modem would fix it; it was the analogue side that was going wrong, since the electronics were prone to go slightly adrift. Modems were considered expensive, and the customer didn't want to hear that. One chap explained that he hadn't changed anything (this was a usual mantra that we learned to ignore), but eventually admitted that actually he'd recently installed a new serial port card in his computer. Could that be causing the problem?

Me: "Well, probably not, but can you try putting the old one back in to see if it makes a difference?"

Him: "Oh, the computer was struck by lightning last week, and it melted the old serial card."

Me: "Was anything connected to it except the modem?"

Him (light beginning to dawn) "No…"

Me: "Then that's probably how the lightning got to your computer. I'm afraid it's new modem time."

He took it quite well.

Tags: anecdote

See also:
More tales from Tech Support
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