This age of technology brings with it lots of frustrations.
Fortunately, there always seems to be a help desk nearby, waiting to provide assistance when you have a problem. Unfortunately, the person manning that desk usually needs more help than you do.
When the television screen looks more like a birthday cake than a picture with meaning, you can expect trouble. When the microwave turntable starts to spin at a faster and faster rate of speed, you better plan for problems ahead. And when the cable company that provides your phone service in their infamous bundle package of programs insists you contact them using the phone that is out of commission, you are ready to scream: “If I could do that, I would not be calling you, dummy.”
The help desk is out there to provide assistance. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that when you finally call the phone number provided for assistance, you wind up talking to someone in Indonesia or South Africa.
Though the responder may speak English well enough, you are suddenly into a conversation that is less help and more frustration. The techie in Uzbekistan may know a little more than you do about the subject in question, but not much more. He or she is on the other end of the line not because of their knowledge but because of their address: A Uzbekistan payroll is a lot cheaper to handle than having to pay an expert in Elkhart, Indiana — and in U.S. dollars.
Some time back, I went through the exercise with a foreign technician and believe me, it wasn’t fun. My computer was sick and started coughing up phlegm. Even though I should have contacted a computer doctor locally, I made the mistake of calling the manufacturer’s help desk.
While I stumbled along, following the rambling instructions of a heavily accented “expert,” it was clear fast that we were getting nowhere. After a number of minutes, I knew we were heading for trouble, especially when I was told to climb under my desk, remove the back of the computer and start disconnecting wires.
Unable to twist myself into a position that allowed me to do that, I cried out for my wife to help. So she came into my office, lay on the floor and handled the wires while I passed along my interpretation of the instructions on what to do next.
Everyone who knows me is aware that my handyman skills do not exist and the most complex implement in my toolbox is a screwdriver, so when I could see we would likely end up with a computer that had several pieces left over when the “fix” was complete, I backed off.
I ended my help call and found a local repair facility to get me up and running. And I have been thrilled with the support I now get.
But I still shudder and shake when I remember my dealings with the help desk in some far off land. On our blood boiling scale, let’s call this issue a 7.
Winslow has written the curmudgeon Report for more than a dozen years. He wonders how rapidly your blood is boiling on this issue? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org.