Customers

What would you do?

Poll

I’m curious what you would choose.  I’ve dealt with having to reprogram and replace products for several years.  Many times people will choose replacement regardless of the product being able to be fixed for free simply so they don’t have to take time out of their day to drive an hour round trip.  I suppose if you really do have a busy life, that’s a good option.  Although, sometimes people choose to cancel service based on the fact their products were found faulty and needed fixing or replacing.  Which would make them have to be without service for several days.  Perhaps even a couple of weeks and likely have to buy new equipment anyway because not everyone includes it with the service.

So let’s say you have a service you pay $30 monthly for.  Such as television, telephone, internet or whatever that is similar.

You purchased your equipment valued at $70 such as a cable box, a fancy home phone, modem or router.

If you had a broken product that could be fixed valued at $70, would you?

  • Drive 30 miles to have it fixed for free. (100%, 2 Votes)
  • Buy a replacement and pay $15 for shipping. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Get frustrated and change companies. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 2

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If you choose to replace it or cancel service, please let me know your reasoning via the comments below or on the linked Facebook post.

Do you work here?

EmployeeI must have one of those faces.  The one that says I’ve made employee of the month many times.  Either that or I carry a look of, “May I help you?”.  Let me explain.

So yesterday I was at one of the self service car washes.  I was on my way to the change machine when a gentleman kept looking at me.  He approached me and asked, “Do you work here?”.  I politely said, “Sorry, no.”.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.  I got to thinking about it and I’ve probably been asked that question hundreds of times over the years.  Generally in places I frequent.  Such as Best Buy, Food Lion, Walmart, K-Mart, Roses, Big Lots, Auto Parts Plus and many more.

Now the local car wash.  I find that I generally do try to help in most cases.  If I’m at a tech store, I offer up advice and answers.  When I’m at the grocery store or department store, I offer to hold open, get from the top shelf and sometimes carry out to the car.  I don’t work at these places, but I’ve offered up some free labor and help.

Dumasaphobia ShirtThe only reason I find it odd is that I don’t have a name tag on that would identify me as an employee.  Nor do I wear any kind of uniform that would match the employees working at these places.  I generally wear t-shirts and jeans or shorts.  Sure I wear a lot of blue or black shirts.  Even so, many have designs on them like swords, shields, dragons, TARDIS designs, my own design or something geek flavored.

I don’t get offended or even mind when folks ask me this.  I just sometimes chuckle to myself and wonder how they even got the impression that I work at these various places.  Though it does feel sort of good that they decided to seek my help and even better when I can help.

Although I think Best Buy owes me some vacation days for the time I’ve donated to their customers 😉

Whatever happened to Workplace Etiquette?

When I first got a job in the 1980’s.  I was also introduced to something known as an Employee Handbook.  This described how the company I decided to work for expected me to look, how they expected me to treat customers and what I was and was not allowed to do when I was earning money from them.  This included, keeping my hair cut, my face shaved or my beard trimmed neatly.  My fingernails properly cut.  Restrictions on jewelry, if any.  Proper attire for what kinds of shirts, pants and shoes I should be wearing while on the clock.  This book also covered things like not using profanity in front of the customers or even in range of customer hearing.  Many times, it included no cursing at the workplace at all.  It even went on to cover things like making personal calls.  In general, while on the clock, you were not allowed to make personal calls.  Unless you got permission from your supervisor first.  Even then, it was to be restricted to urgent family matters or arranging for transportation.

Times have certainly changed.  Not for the better as far as I’m concerned.  Over the past decade or so, no matter where I’ve traveled, I’ve noticed something I find highly disturbing when I frequent places like the grocery store, the local convenience store, restaurants of all kinds (from fast food to chains such as Olive Garden) to doctors offices, repair facilities and more.  There is a huge relax in such policies or perhaps many businesses no longer have such policies in place.  Almost every business I go into, I hear employees cursing and swearing as casual as they like.  Talking about anything from sexual endeavors to using expletives to describe how unhappy they are and telling dirty jokes and it’s as if they don’t even care who hears them.  They don’t make any effort to keep their voices down.

When I go to a check out at a small store, there are many times a clerk is on their cell phone talking or texting and won’t even greet me most of the time.  They simply ring up my order and say the total of my purchase.

Granted, I’m not a huge participant in superficial conversations with strangers at times.  It is however, customary to greet your customer who is supplying the money of which will end up in your paycheck with some sort of pleasantry and to make them feel like they should come back to the business for further transactions.  Hence growing the business and hopefully the employee paycheck for bringing return customers and growing company profits.

If I were a business owner, I know I’d want pleasant employees who don’t offend customers with profanity, who give attention to the customer and gives effort to make them happy.  Perhaps it’s hard to find such employes.  Whatever happened to discipline in the workplace?  Good Etiquette?

It has become so prevalent, that it sometimes makes me wish I could take their smart phones and insert it rectally with incredible force, thus giving these useless constituents a true reason to utilize profanity.  (and it may even improve my own experience at their place of employment)

Note: I love Clerks 2, but it was the best example I could come up with for the point I am making.  Sorry Kevin, please forgive me 🙁

Life’s Little Evil Grins

Sometimes I get just enough satisfaction out of the stupid decisions people make.  Take today’s case.  A customer who has had their website hosted with us for many years, but decided a few years ago they wanted someone else to handle the email.  Due too their lack of making themselves aware of their decisions then, the decision they made today has interrupted their business.   All because they didn’t think through the consequences of their actions.  This is especially satisfying when they send me a snarky email from the domain in which we happen to control.

I’ll try to help explain what happened using a simplified chart (click for larger image), as many of you also don’t know how web hosting works either.  However, I want you to see why my grin is so evil.  See, the customer bought a domain name and got hosting with us some time ago.  A few years ago, they decided they wanted a different company to host their domain email, but keep their website with us.  In order to do this they did the following:

  • First they pointed their domain to our servers.  This makes it so our servers answer for any requests for a website or email.
  • When they wanted to have another company handle their email, they asked us to point all mail to a different server.  This means all email requests come to us, but are redirected to a different server that we don’t control.

Today I get a nasty little email stating they stopped using us nearly a month ago and that they insist we cancel their service.  The email came from their domain.

Doing my job as I do.  I check to see if their domain is still pointed to our servers.  It is.  So once I stop the service, all services will stop as well.  Which means I can’t reply to their email as it won’t work.  Even though their email is with a different company, all requests have to go through us to get to the other company.  So now, none of their email works.  I’m sitting here waiting for the call asking why their email doesn’t work.  When they do, I will simply refer to the nasty email stating that they stopped using us nearly a month ago, and then point out I guess they still were using our services after all.  I’ll also ask if they would like to continue service, or give them the option to go to wherever they got their domain from, and work out the DNS there.  However, that option will take a few hours for it to fix their broken email.  All because they didn’t think before they got snotty with me.

Ah.. Justice 😈

Fine example of Dumasaphobia

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t suffer from Dumasaphobia {dŭm’ăs-ə-fō’bē-ə} The Fear of Stupid People.  Over the years I have noted this continuing decline in our society that is a mix of lowered educational standards and technology making making the general populous lazy.  The craze of texting is also becoming a severe problem in getting people to spell simple words properly.  As well as all the near miss accidents I’ve avoided over the past few years.  Nothing like looking in the rear-view mirror at a stop light just to see someone eyes get really huge as they look up from their “smartphone” to stomp on the brake pedal prior to colliding with the rear end of my car.

Although, continually I’m told that I’m being overly hateful or cynical of the human population.  Yet here is a perfect example.  This is a payment stub I received today from a customer.  They couldn’t even do simple addition.

Click for Larger Image

If they can’t do this, I can’t possibly expect them to answer very simple questions like:

  • What version of Windows or Mac are you using?
  • When you click on the start menu, do you have 1 or 2 columns?  (which is frequently met with “What’s a column?”)
  • What was the error message?

The list goes on.  Things that would normally help me, help the customer.  Now the best part is yet to come.  In 1 month they will get a bill for $5.00.  Call me up and complain to me that they made a 2 month payment and that I should check my records (and become angry with me because my records are wrong in their mind).  This will lead to my asking them for a copy of the canceled check for proof.  Once they have that then I have to show them their mathematical error.  Just so they can say “fine” in a huff and make the payment.  No thank you for finding the mistake, no I’m sorry for putting you through this trouble…

We can’t know everything…

It’s amazing how customers just automatically assume that if they call tech support, that the person they get knows everything about anything dealing with computers or technology.  First of all, customers need to think about who they are calling and what they are calling about.  If they call their Internet Service Provider (ISP), then they need to keep it related to the internet.  Even then, they need to realize if it’s really the internet or if it’s the software they choose to use on the internet.

Just today, I’ve taken two calls asking for help about things that are beyond our control.  Both times I’ve gotten the argument that I’m not being very helpful.  Which is an incorrect statement.  I tried to steer both customers to places that would provide better help than I could.  Thus, helping them help themselves.  But as always, people today are angry unappreciative twats that can’t understand that they should contact the product maker rather than a service provider.  So of course instead of appreciating the help I did give, they just hung up in a huff because I didn’t instantly satisfy them.

The first customer had a problem that when he chose to forward an email in Thunderbird, the address book would come up all wonky with unusual characters.  It’s a problem I’ve never heard of before, and we do not promote Thunderbird as a product for use with our service.  We haven’t done so in years due to the many issues customers have had with it.  I explained I’ve never heard of that before, and perhaps he could go to the software makers website and use their forums and see if there was anyone else with the problem and if so, what their solution was.  Or he could also search the internet for answers by using keywords like “Thunderbird” “Forward” “Address book” “Corrupt” or similar.  Of course, he then argued we promoted Thunderbird, and I said, “We haven’t promoted it in over 5 years and now promote Windows Live Mail.”.  I proceeded to explain that even if we did, we don’t make the product, we have no relationship with any software maker, and that he’d still have to seek support with them for such an unusual case.  If it were a common problem, perhaps we would be able to help.

The second customer, had no problems accessing the internet.  Except if she used Internet Explorer.  She proceeded to explain that it’s required for her to use it as she works from home and whatever she accesses only works via Internet Explorer.  As there is no problem with the internet, the problem is clearly on the computer users side.  Though I offered suggestions to help her out.  I offered that perhaps a security software such as Norton, or McAfee or similar may have stopped giving Internet Explorer access to the internet.  This is done through their program permissions in their own firewall.  I’ve seen this numerous times in the past.  So I suggested she check that.  I also suggested she could contact her work and see if whatever program she uses that utilizes Internet Explorer has somehow made things go wrong.  Perhaps also, she could contact a local PC repair person to take a closer look at the situation.  Perhaps Internet Explorer has been corrupted and needs to be reinstalled.  Of course she asked me to go through her security software, but unfortunately what she was using I have had no experience with.  So I was unable to help her and she got pissy with me about it.  I explained there are hundreds of security software products on the market, and no one in my office has training on anything other than what they, themselves use.  There is no way for us to know all of that, and that she needs to contact the software maker for help.  She hung up angry.

If you need help with specific product, call the product maker.  Not some third party and get pissy with them when they don’t know how to fix it.

And stop calling us about your damned printers!  Just because it’s got wireless, doesn’t mean we’ve been trained to operate your peripherals!!

Macs are not idiot proof…

I just now got proof that Macs are no easier for stupid people than PC’s.  I got a call from a customer just a few minutes ago.  They had lost the Safari Icon from the Dock Bar at the bottom of the screen.

The customer asked, “Is that because the internet is down?”.
I said, “No, it’s just that your Safari has become undocked.”.

The customer then asked, “What does that mean?”, referring to my use of the word “undocked”.

I proceeded to explain that the bottom bar was The Dock, and that they can “dock” icons to it, or removed them from it as they like.  Then I gave to the customer my instructions to put it back on the Dock bar.  The instructions were very clearly to click on Applications (which I had to have them read every icon to find it).  Then find the Safari Icon.  And finally “Click and Drag” the icon to the dock bar, and let it go.

The response I got was “I’m sorry that’s too far over my head.  I don’t speak the language.”  So much for Macs being designed for ease of use.

Come to find out, this customer has had this Mac for a couple of years now.  And still hasn’t figured out what The Dock is.  Or where to find all of their Applications, as the customer has never clicked on that icon before.  This just goes back to my previous post, if you want to do what you want it to do, you need to learn.  Makes me wonder if this customer bothers stopping at red lights as perhaps they’ve never used that pedal on the left before or that it’s called the brake pedal.

Build something to be Idiot Proof, there will undoubtedly be a bigger idiot to use it.

Things I just don’t understand about computer owners…

I wish I knew what it is with these different crowds of computer owners.  There are two groups of them in particular that frustrate me to no end.  The one group that are petrified of their computers.  The other group that refuse to learn anything about their computers but expect help if any tiny thing goes wrong; and then get upset when you ask probing questions so you can better help them.

Of course the first thing I hear is “I’m computer illiterate.” or “I’m not a technical person.”.  I know that, or you wouldn’t be calling me.  That is a given.  However, you aren’t a mechanic either and yet you know to change the oil in your car every 3000 miles right?  You aren’t a food and beverage expert, but you know to keep your food cold to keep it from spoiling…  You know not to heat your cup of coffee in the microwave for 10 minutes or you’ll give yourself third degree burns drinking it.  Am I generally right?  So why is it, you’ve owned a computer for several months, or years, but you can’t tell me the simplest things about it?  Like what version of Windows or Mac you run?  What email program you use?  Why don’t you know to defrag your Windows machine every month?  Why can’t you keep your antivirus up to date?  These things aren’t that hard, you don’t need to be an expert to know any of this.  And what makes some people afraid of their computer?  It’s not going to jump off the desk and beat them up if they do something wrong.  “But I don’t know how!”  You didn’t know how to drive a car at one point, and you learned didn’t you?  You can kill people or yourself in a car, you generally can’t kill people with a computer.  Unless you throw it, or drop it or are an evil genius that uses it to control an army of human killing robots.  However, I’m thinking that’s kind of unlikely.

Then the folks who don’t want to learn.  They crack me up with their “I don’t know or care how it works, I just want it to do what I want it to do!”.  That to me is like owning a T.V. but don’t want to figure out the remote control.  Own a refrigerator but don’t want to know what temperatures to set it too.  Have a washing machine but don’t want to add soap or carry the clothes too and from it.  Own a car but expect it to do all the driving and maintenance.  A.K.A. it’s just not going to happen.  If you want something to do what you want it do to, you need to learn to use it properly.  Otherwise get a butler or maid to do everything for you.

Then of course they call me up, crying about something or other.  Can’t tell me a thing when I ask about “what is the error you are getting”, or “what program are you using to do that with” and so on.  And call me rude for not being able to provide help.  Funny thing, is I only ask three things of any one person when they call me.

It’s the only 3 things I ask of any customer:

  1. Know what you own.
  2. Read to me exactly.
  3. Listen to me.

It’s amazing that I can’t get that out of most folks that call me these days.  I mean, what am I supposed to do if you can’t tell me anything, you have no basic knowledge at all and refuse to even try?  I realize after nearly 20 years of tech support, I’m very well burnt out, but still, as time goes on, this trend seems to get worse and worse.  I remember back in the day walking an elderly woman through replacing a video card in her computer over the phone, and she did wonderfully.   Yet the past 5-10 years, I can’t even get someone to tell what version of Windows they spent their hard earned money on.

But it’s never done that before!?!?!

Customers never want any problem to be something they have to deal with.  As a technician, we diagnose a problem, realize it’s something wrong with the customer’s computer or device that is outside our circle of responsibility, and then the customer proceeds to argue with us or try to reach for any unfathomable reason that it would never be what we say it is.

This is one of the most annoying issues to ever have to deal with.  Because the customer is so obstinate that we are supposed to snap our fingers and whatever reason they called in for, and that it will be fixed just like that.  It’s beyond their thinking to realize that just perhaps, something has changed or broke and it’s not something our side is responsible to fix.

“It’s not an internet connectivity issue sir, it’s your network adapter is broken.  Please contact your local computer repair to have it fixed.”

This is usually met with, “But it worked yesterday?!?”.

Every piece of hardware has a MTTF (Mean Time to Failure).  This means the manufacturer generally expects the product to fail at some point and the MTTF is the average of that time.  Though this isn’t always the case.  It could be software related, a defective product or end user monkeying with things he/she should not.  Though logically speaking, it’s whatever the manufacture’s warranty period is.  If the product breaks after that, it’s likely to be past it’s MTTF.

Every piece of software has flaws.  Bugs as they are called.  For the most part, released software will work without issue.  However, combine it with an operating system, antivirus or just your inability to operate it or you tried to do something it cannot do, and then you have a problem or software conflict.  Or the software has known issues and the customer just happened to find it.

Here’s some of the dumbest responses I’ve ever heard:

Customer: “But it’s brand new!”
Me: “You mean to tell me you’ve never purchased anything defective before and had to return it?”

Customer: “It’s always worked fine before!”
Me: “That’s the funny thing about things breaking, before they broke, they worked fine.”

Customer: “My son’s an IT professional and I know it’s working fine.”
Me: “And when was the last time your son came around to make sure it was working fine?” or “Is he there now?  Can I speak to him?”

Customer: “It worked yesterday.”
Me: “There was a major storm yesterday, it’s possible since you didn’t take precautions and unplug your equipment that it took at hit.”

Customer: “You recommended the software to me, why can’t you fix it?”
Me: “We recommend the software, we don’t write it and are not responsible for any known or unknown issues with it.  Contact the software makers for support.”

The list goes on and on.  It’s your computer folks, take care of it.  If it needs repair and has been determined by a trained, skilled professional that it needs repair, take the responsibility and get it fixed.  I can’t speak for other techs, but I never leave you with “It’s broke.”  I’ll tell you what I think the problem is and I’ll even point you in the direction I think you should go to get it fixed.  Whether it be an online forum (software) or local computer shop or I’ll even give you the tech support number for whatever manufacturer made your computer or device (providing it’s still under warranty).

Product vs Brand

Product vs BrandIn a world of people who can barely speak decent American English. We also have a hugely annoying habit of using a Brand Name when referring to a Product, when they really should not be confused that way.  Many brands can make the same or similar product.  People of course, have own opinions on who makes the best product.  This may or may not concur with other people’s opinion, and that’s just dandy.  This gives us choices.

Though to take a product and start referring to all brands of that product as one brand, is in short, retarded.  (I know, I just know, someone is thinking right now, I’ve messed up and put Soda where Cola should be. Honestly, if you are that anal retentive, please by all means….. Piss off..)

Examples of what I’m talking about:

  • When I order a cola at a restaurant, I shouldn’t get “we only have coke” as a reply.  I know they have some sort of cola, 99% of restaurants do.  Therefor, I’m asking for whatever cola they serve without being brand specific.
  • While Google is most likely the best search engine and certainly the most popular at this time.  It is not the only means of searching the internet.  People should try doing an “Internet Search”, rather than “Googling It”.
  • There are many other brands of Nacho flavored Tortilla Chips than Doritos.
  • Scotch is not the only provider of translucent, see-through or magic tape.
  • Post-it is not the only maker of simple sticky notes.

This list can go on forever.  I’d prefer that it didn’t.  Sadly I have no idea why this trend is.  I do however, find it extremely annoying.  Yes, I prefer Pepsi to Coke, but I’m not going to make a big deal of it, and at times will just drink “Sam’s Choice”, when it’s the only cola available to me.  I’ve never asked my wife to pick up “Coke” or “Pepsi” at the store.  I’ve always asked for whatever cola is on sale.

Certainly we prefer Orville Redenbacher popcorn, and will rarely buy any other brand.  We certainly are not going to start referring to all “Popcorn” as some person’s name.

I know this trend is likely never to stop and only get worse, but it only shows just how much marketing makes us as a society….. Lemmings….

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Dumasaphobia

{dŭm'ăs-ə-fō'bē-ə} The Fear of Stupid People.

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