I’m so sick of customer support answers that assume I have the perceptiveness and IQ of a hibernating mushroom on valium. 

I’ve done a fair bit of customer support in various jobs so far, and I am well familiar with the two annoying types of complaints:

  • The I-don’t-know-anything type: This is the complaint that your software doesn’t work, coming from a person who isn’t actually familiar enough with computers to turn them on and open a file in Notepad, let alone use anything more complicated.
  • The I-can’t-be-bothered-to-describe-my-problem type: This is the complaint that just says “this doesn’t work for me” or something equally laconic and unhelpful. No description of the error, no information on the environment, no steps to reproduce it.

So having had to tackle this myself a few times, I can understand why the first response to any complaint I make is to assume I am stupid and don’t know anything - because this is a big percentage of complaints companies get and it’s best to start with the simple things first (”can you check that your monitor is actually connected to your computer sir?”). So I endure the silly questions, I wait for the “customer support advisor” to go through the first pages of his script and hope they’ll get to something helpful (usually, to refer me to someone else).

I do however draw the line at support staff who clearly haven’t even bothered to read my email. I recently emailed my (online only) credit card company to tell them that the payment method I’ve been using for months is now not working for me, possibly because they included a new security feature (as described in my blog entry about Too much security). I wrote a lengthy descriptive email, pasted the error message and gave enough background information to suggest possible causes. What I got back, was a paragraph copied from the Help section. “Please make sure you are at the payments section and click on the Make Payment link…”. The person did not even read my email. It was really annoying.

Perhaps customer support staff can’t be bothered to pay attention. Perhaps this particular person wasn’t intelligent enough to tell the difference. But this is most definitely not good customer support.

Unless if, as my girlfriend says, when the say “support” they mean emotional support (”oh, your computer isn’t working, there there, all better now…”)