back to article Rufus fights back

Our recent piece on battling tech support operative Rufus, who called one customer a "pain in the butt", provoked a heated debate as to whether he should be put up against the wall and shot or appointed head of the United Nations. Well, Rufus himself was eventually moved to offer his two bits' worth, which we reproduce here in …


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  1. Louis


    As this characters name doesn't seem to want to go away, and he's not entirely sure who 'Rufus' actually is.. I recommend we start a Rufus of The Week (RoTW) as I get the feeling this may go on for a while!!

  2. volsano

    download link

    Rufus: why is the download link still not working?

  3. Andy

    Definately A rufus...

    Of course you forfeit your right to be rude to the customer when you are getting paid for giving tech support!

    If you are rude to the customer then you are very likely to loose his business. Which puts you out of a job, you ... rufus.

  4. Chris Collins

    World's smallest violin

    Etc. I have tried to give a shit about Rufus's suffering; sadly I have failed.

  5. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Buzby's dead

    My dear old Mum used to be a telephone operator in the 80's. For the youngsters here that means that when you dialled '100' (in the UK) you actually got to speak to a real life human being who knew stuff !

    Anyway, BT's marketting stuff at the time included this bird (a bit like big-bird but smaller) called Buzby.

    Kids used to ring up all the time asking to speak to 'Buzby' and they always had to say stuff like he's gone on holiday etc. and wasn't available. After a few years of this I guess the operators were getting a bit fed up of this becuase they fought for the right to (every x amount of calls) to tell the kid that 'Buzby was dead'. Heartless? perhaps. Funny? you bet :P

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    share and share alike...

    Does gadspot have a policy on publicly disclosing emails sent to it's customer service department, complete with the senders name? I wonder if he even read the disclaimers before passing the contents on to the public? "Public dissemination is strictly prohibited" anyone?

    If this is what they do with emails sent to customer service I'd be very concerned indeed had I ever bought something from them using a credit/debit card.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He has a point

    All service/support people are expected to be pleasant and helpful to anyone who contacts them, but there's no expectation that the customer should afford some level of civility to the support person. This is one reason why I do my utter best to stay away from front line support - I'd be telling the customer/user what to do all too frequently.

    Those of you who work on front line support: You are braver & stronger people than I.

    In shops, stations,etc. you are starting to see more and more signs saying "don't verbally abuse our staff" Why can't support services start saying the same AND THEN BACK IT UP with talking to customer and telling them that they were rude.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give the guy a break...

    I've worked on hell-desks for the last few years and I've had people get incredibly personal with their swearing because, despite the fact that I have explained it in non-technical words of one syllable or less, they constantly continue to completely misunderstand what I have asked them to do.

    One of the conversations a few years back was along the lines of:

    Me: Click on ths "Start" button

    Him: Where's that?

    Me: you know, the one that you click on to see the programs that you have installed?

    Him: OK, I've got internet explorer running now...

    Me: OK, if you minimise that and then move your mouse to the bottom left hand corner of your screen you should find a button which has the word "start" on it...

    Him: OK, I've found it, now what do you want me to do?

    Me: Click on it, then click on control-panel (etc, etc, etc)

    After a while of me trying to talk him through installing a printer and getting increasingly frustrated (but not showing it), he then tried to claim that the printer was defective and that it was a "f$$king piece of s$$t that wasn't worth the f$$king money he'd paid for it in the first f$$king place..." when I requested that he did not use language like that, he started on me. I won't repeat what he said, suffice to say that I advised that I did not get paid enough to tolerate language like that and that I would hang up on him. He didn't stop, so I hung up.

    I then got a B*ll*cking from my boss for being rude to customers!

    Rufus - you have my full understanding and support!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Understand, but cuts no ice.

    We all have a right to get pissed off, but not to take it out on the caller. Especially when the caller is pointing out a problem that the company may wish to be aware of. It's part of the job as a CS agent to be the company's contact with the customer, it's not a personal thing, as an agent you ARE the company. And since the chances are the customer has called because the company has treated them badly, then of course part of the job is dealing with irate customers tactfully.

    Yes there will be some unreasonable customers but it's not part of the job description to insult them.

    And yes haven't we all heard CS agents, on occasion, making obviously incorrect statements. Especially when giving soothing words about how they'll sort it out (like they didn't last time and the time before and the time before that). As for accents, well of course that it is an additional irritation to have to try harder to understand the agent when one is already annoyed at a company: but one does try harder, and can then find that the agent doesn't even understand common English phrases. It can be as if they have a set of scripts and can only repeat that already discussed and dismissed as inappropriate.

    And sometimes all this is after having to hang on waiting in a queue for 45 minutes, plus the 30 minutes previously when they mysteriously suddenly cut you off.

    If one can't stand the heat, one shouldn't have taken the job.

  10. Rich Bryant

    A safe place?

    Isn't that what the Scary Devil Monastery used to be?

    (and shame on any Reg staffer who doesn't know what that is).

  11. Lee Staniforth

    Re: RoTW

    I thought that might stand for "Rise of the Workers" or something till I actually looked...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what about dar?

    Doing a rufus ?

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. MooToTheMax

    Re: Give the guy a break...

    To quote:

    "Me: Click on ths "Start" button

    Him: Where's that?

    Me: you know, the one that you click on to see the programs that you have installed?"

    Wow, yeah, you're right - it's a *total* surprise that the customer gets wound up with responses like that...

    I think that a lot of the complaints tech support workers have are self-inflicted, although probably only due to a lack of training. For example, the above exchange is simply not acceptable. With the customer's response you should instantly realise that you're going to have to use a specific sort of language and adapt appropriately. Perhaps something more useful would have been:

    "It's in the bottom-left-hand corner of the screen and has Start across it. Click on that. A list pops up, and is Settings fifth up from the bottom. Click on that and another list appears to the right - do you see that? What's the option at the top? Ok, click on Control Panel... " etc. etc.

    Now that you're giving simple driving directions (ie Left, Right, 3rd one down, click), you now have EVERY right to get upset if the customer has issues ;-)

  15. Will Leamon

    Don't let'em drag you down

    When I was in customer service and had to deal with a Texan (by far the rudest most condescending illiterates you'll ever have the misfortune of dealing with) I always upped my proffessional-sounding voice the madder and more rude they got.

    Because at the end of the day I wasn't going to let those bastards take me down with them.

    But I worked at a call center whose policy said if they used profanity you were to politely hang up. 'I'm sorry mam but but company policy says I can't continue an abusive conversation' - click.

    My topmost sympathies to anyone who works for any kind of bastard who makes you put up with that. Is abusive language not considered a form of violence in England. I thought ya'll were pretty stuffy about words.

  16. Robin

    It always makes me laugh...

    To hear service people cry about rude customers. It's called "career research" guys. If you are the type who can't deal with people being rude to you, then it's a career path you might want to avoid.

    I will agree, however, that profanity or personal attacks are off limits.

    The other one that makes me laugh are the tech support people who cry about idiot customers. It's worth remembering that if everyone knew how to work this stuff, you'd be out of a job.... :)

  17. Greg Williams

    Sense and sensibility...

    To Mr. Will Leamon... the truth is that I will be much more irritated if you use 'ya'll' in a whiney, nasal voice than if you call me a syphilitic donkey molester... but maybe that's just me :)

    Regarding rude customers... been there, done that. Can't say I've ever cried about it, but I damn well reserve the right when off the phone to hurl some choice insults at their (very far away) back. It's called a release valve... if you don't open it from time to time the results will not be pretty.

    Somebody mentioned above about putting an even more professional air when the customer gets rude. I concur. Why sink to their level? Some have said that people have the right to get annoyed and they're not surprised etc... I have had some shameful experiences with vendors, service providers etc. in the past, and yet whilst calling THEM, I have not once questioned their IQ and sexual orientation, nor have I implied that they were in any way born outside of a legally recognised marriage.

    Just my $0.02c, which isn't even worth that.

  18. Steve

    Sorry, but no

    It is not, ever, OK to be rude to a customer. Even if they are rude to you. That's virtually gospel.

    Secondly, and more importantly, it is not OK to label users as a pain in the ass if they don;t know stuff. Users don't get paid to know about technology. Support people do.

    I've done plenty of first line support over the years, and whiners like Rufus and co really boil my piss.

    Get these two simple facts through your thick skulls you whining maggots :

    1) Joe User does not know a lot about hic computer, he expects it to 'just work', as it has been sold to him on this basis. He may ask questions that make him seem entirely ignorant of the most fundam,ental basics of computing, and that's because he is. It is not his job know these things. It's yours.

    2) It is your job to support and help him, that is the only reason your post exists, it is not your perogative to ridicule him for his lack of knowledge. , or patronise him rigid every he gets stuck. It is your job to politely help him through his difficulties.

    If you can't manage these things, fuck off and do an easier job. People like you give IT a bad name, and I for one hate you very much.

  19. Brian

    Where to start

    Ok first of all all of us are idiots. If you get into a discussion with an someone from a different discipline, you will soon find out that A) you know very little about something, and B) the guy you are talking to doesn't know much about your specialty. I was in tech support ,yea verily and once upon a time in fast food as well.

    "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you cant please all of the people all of the time."

    All of that in mind, if you can't keep your temper under control, you don't belong in tech support.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Posted anonymously to avoid workplace retribution.

    It sounds like Rufus could just be the victim (or one of the victims) of a prank by one of his co-workers. I can see this happening. Just about everyone who's worked on a help desk has wished they could say something like this to a customer at least once.

    But this has raised a valid question. How much shit are we supposed to take? I've been working on help desks off and on for nearly 10 years and I've had every possible type of problem customer. Morons, assholes, know-it-alls, self-important pricks, etc. I've never resorted to directly insulting a customer, but shouldn't customers have a responsibility to be civil to us? A customer shouldn't feel they're entitled to treat their tech support like shit just because they're frustrated, or even because the last person they talked to was clueless (usually the cause of pissed off callers).

    The customer's original email wasn't so bad, but considering the fact that the customer assumed it was some idiot web designer who didn't know that you should have a Download link on the front page, and it turned out that he's the idiot who .doesn't know how to click "Find" and type "Download", and the accusatory and provocative tone of the email, yeah, he's kind of a dick too.

    There's nothing to convince you that people are morons like working on a help desk. You should hear what we say about you when we put you on hold. And you should know, if the help desk puts you on "hold" but you don't hear music, you're just on mute and we can hear you bitching about how stupid we are.

    And by the way, fuck Apple for sending my job to India to save money with inferior support. There go your all-important C-Sat (customer satisfaction survey) ratings.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To all those who say it comes with the job

    Verbal abuse should NOT be part of the job. That you people say it's ok IS part of the problem. I have worked for a long time as a HD agent and let me tell you, some people think the world is owned by them and everyone should do everything for them. If you are too stupid to follow very simple instructions, then what right can you claim that I am a f**ing moron? And yes, I have had people get that personal.

    It would be high time that companies that have tech support agents institute a policy of NOT tolerating verbal abuse from clients. This would go a VERY long way in reducing the number of burnouts you get in the industry.

  22. Geoff

    Not to plug, but..

    I'm a member of a decent Web community of IT folks on both sides of the pond.. Rufus, check out, plenty of entertaining stories, message board, chat, etc.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Angry - Yes, Upset - Fine, Abusive - Never!

    I've worked in the support area for more years than I want to admit.

    In that time I think I've spoken to just about every kind of user, and on the whole, most people are a bit slow when it comes to computers, and you know what? I'm fine with that, I'm pretty slow when it comes to suing people or taking out appendixes.

    People not knowing about computers keeps me employed so I love them for it. I go out of my way to help them, and as a previous poster commented, you get an idea of the level of the user very early into the conversation and adjust your instructions accordingly.

    If a user is angry, upset or confused that's also fine, hearing what some of them go through, I sympathise with them, however if they get personally abusive to me (This is rare, I like to think I'm good enough at my job that I minimise this) then that's not right, and is not what I'm here for.

    In the UK I believe OFCOM rules allow you to hang up on an abusive caller, in a number of the companys I worked for the rule was you had to warn them first, and if they continued you could hang up, what you can't do is get abusive in return, shout back or insult the customer.

    I now live in the US (Texas) and whoever said all Texans are horrible is making a classic generalisation, as stated I've talked to a lot of people and there are morons and horrible, horrible people from every nation, at every level of society, but you know something else? There are also wonderful kind (all be it in need of some computer lessons) people at every level as well. One of the earliest lessons you learn when dealing with the public, is that people are people, they all want the same thing, that being things to work, their days not to suck, their paychecks not to bounce and their family to survive.

    I would also say that there are people out there who are good with computers, and there are people who are good with people, before you consider a job in support, be honest with yourself, really, really honest, are you both? You have to be, one on it's own won't work.

    Support really is a very specialised area of the computing world, and I think in general it's not treated that way, which is a shame, but oh well.

  24. Daniel Winstone

    It's already Acceptable...

    To politely end the call if a customer is getting personally rude and obusive.

    That said, there's a difference between being rude and being a tad slow on the uptake.

    When it comes down to company/legal limitations as to why you can't help that person I've found the best way is to let them blow off steam for a bit, and hope there's a few key words they use that could be used to get deeper into their issue.

    Being too polite or too understanding can still come across as condescending so there's a line both ways that can be crossed by the unwary.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry but no...

    Having worked in a CS department and currently working on a Hell Desk some of the time I know how tempting it is to say what you think after a particularly trying call. It doesn't mean that I do it but just am tempted on occasion. There's never a good enough excuse not to be professional about it. If you can't then quit, simple.

    However, our policy is that any caller receives one warning regarding abuse and then we hang up if they do not moderate their language. No second chances given. If they call back and take the same approach, the same thing happens again. Eventually they tend to get the message, some take longer than others but it gets through all skulls eventually.

  26. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    Helldesk is called like that for a reason

    While *some* tech support lines are usually involved with stupid users, some are not meant to be like that.

    Those who have worked in ISP helpdesks will definitely know what I am talking about: those call centers are *not* for you to learn how to use Word.

    That said, outsourced tech support is hell for some things: try to get a Hindu to spell a password! (I am still trying to figure out what the leter "bye" is...) Then again, there are customers that automatically switch into "rude" mode when they find out they are calling a non-US call center... vent your feelings alright, but not against the underpaid wage slave!

    Customers should be treated nice, but I do think that abusive customers deserves to get reamed once in a while. Phew! Good thing I am no longer working on that area...

    Anyway, I am sympathetic to Tech Support guys, and I usually try to give them as much info as I can (so they will be able to skip the tedious "click the start button" stuff). At least my previous ISP was happy with that; they had like 3 dudes for tech support as they were a small start-up.

    Be nice to Customer Support guys. They'll apprecieate it. ;)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where's the love?

    BTW, anyone who does Windows support should learn of the joys of the Windows logo key. Need the Start menu? Hit the logo key. Need a run dialog box? Logo + R. Want to open My Computer? Logo+E. Sure-fire protection from the army of serial mouse clickers.

    As for Rufus. If he sent the email he should be fired. If not and is just bitching about his customers here then who cares? Bitching about users is a relaxing and rewarding sport as long as they don't know about it.

  28. Morely Dotes

    From both ends of the Support call...

    I am the entire Support Desk at my day job. I'm also the guy who has to call Dell, HP, Canon, or whatever when we have an issue with their product(s).

    I have users who, when asked what program they need help with (because they have started teh call with "I need help." respond with "Microsoft." While I heartily agree, it's necessary to patiently guide them to find out which program it is (and it's not good telling them "Internet Explorer is not Windows Explorer, nor is it the Internet," because all they know is "I click this little picture, and this is supposed to happen.") I also have users who know that they would rather use Paint.NET than Adobe Photoshop (which is good, considering the price), and can I please help them find the layers control? So there's a bit of a range - in a 100-person world-wide company, I guess we have every possible skill level.

    And when I call Support at one of our vendors because, for example, the HP Web site is so horribly disorganized that I can't find the drivers I want, I don't expect to be told "because that product is out of warranty, I must charge your credit card $25 before I can tell you the URL." Particularly when I explain that it's *their* search engine that fails to produce any useful answers. Furthermore, I don't expect the drone on the other end to repeatedly read his script to me when I try to explain why he's not addressing the problem. I do understand that, for HP support, English is a second language, but if all they're allowed to do is read me a script, why have they even bothered to study English?

    I can still say, "well, given your policy, I'm glad we've become an all-Dell shop," before gently hanging up. Or "please hold while I transfer your call to the Director." He gets paid more than I do - and he can tell them to sod off, since he's Management.

    Meanwhile, I'm getting paid to help - even if the caller is a silly bastard who couldn't tie his own shoes without a 3-week course. So I will help, if he'll let me. And if not, at least I know I tried.

    So, the bottom line is, I never blame the poor sod on the other end of the call - no matter if he called me for help, or I called him. I don't abuse them, and I don't expect abuse from them (and certainly won't accept it). What I do expect is professional behavior. If you called me for help, I have all sorts of ways I can avoid helping you without being directly abusive (it's not for nothing that I have studied the works of Simon Travaglia), and I am sure that's true if I called you for help, as well, so it behooves both of us to be polite and pleasant.

    Besides, I know how to change your password.

  29. Jose Ramirez

    Not all bosses put up with crap

    I worked for a brief time at a call center in California for what was then Cellular One, later to be bought out by AT&T. Our call center was posh. Our bosses treated us like kings and queens because they realized we were what all the marketing in the world couldn't be...the company's REAL identity to a customer. So whenever a caller would start in on us we had a standard, company backed policy: 'Sir/Madam, if you continue to verbally abuse me that way I will hang up'. We'd repeat it once and if the caller continued their abuse we would terminate the call, comment the account and the next time they called in there would be a nice big note saying 'Caller is abusive. Escalate to management.' One time during a side by side with my supervisor, a caller started in on me. My SUPE was the one who discontinued the call. Now that's empowerment :)

    Rufus, it's not your just need a policy that management supports allowing you to be rude. Just don't do it on your own. :P

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Verbal abuse not part of the job

    I'm posting anonymously because I work in a semi-helpdesk position. (I have to support maybe 20 people regularly). Stop whining about being abused as part of the job. When's the last time you heard of a cop whining because he got shot at? Or a soldier? Guess what, they've got it 100 times worse, but they don't bitch, they know what they were getting into, it's part of the job. The reason we have so many tech support people bitching is because tech support (at least where I am) is looked at as an alternative first job to fast food. These people aren't smart enough to go "Dur, I yell at the bastard when I call in, other people will yell at me!"

  31. Mary

    it's the job.

    Working on a helpdesk can be compared to nursing.

    You do the job for the money and to help the people who ask for your help.

    This regularly will involve the unpleasantness of dealing with many different varieties of s**t.

    That's not what your job's about, it's not what you went to college for, but it's an unavoidable part of what you get paid for.

    Therefore, if a patient/customer expects you to deal with their s**t as per your job's remit, you do not have the right to go and s**t on a patient/customer to get your own back.

    If you can't deal with the s**t, you should find a different career!

  32. Joe


    Of course they will, you xenophobe! Capitalists choose workers that are the cheapest for the job, not whose skin colour or accent is most like their own - why would an Indian manager of a company be any different to a European?

    As for rich western businesses outsourcing labour to corrupt totalitarian dictatorships such as China, that's certainly inexcusable!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's just real life

    I work, not as a techie, but in a different area of professional support.

    And I spend my life in and out of client organisations.

    I have to be polite and professional, know my stuff, be reliable, tactful etc. And I can never make a mistake. Or a complaint will land on my boss's desk. And at the end of the year they do an evaluation, on a scale from 1-6.

    They, on the other hand, can forget that I'm coming so that I have to rearrange, forget to allocate working space, conceal or forget essential information, lie about the issue to get extra support they don't have a right to, be rude etc. etc. The list goes on. And there is no comeback for them.

    That's just a fact of life.

  34. Dale Morgan

    Poor Rufus

    I completley understand where he's coming from but providing technical support means talking to complete morons, he obviously hasn't mastered the fine art of technical support.

    I worked in technical support for 2 years on a temporary contract with manpower, working in ntl's technical support department

    I had to deal with the general British public complaining at me about how their broadband wouldn't work with their brand new home LAN, obviously we only provided technical support for the equipment ntl supplied the customer BUT I would always be able to talk them through getting all their equipment online and working within 12 minutes.

    I loved that job

    If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    easy solution to ID10T customers

    As a developer, I often have to field support issues from application users, and yes, some of them are complete cabbages.

    That said, I don't give them abuse. I simply point them gently in the right direction (no matter how unfriendly they are), show them (in a kind way) why they're being daft and reassure them that's what we're here for and not to worry about it.

    Then I put the phone down, scream "WANKER!" at it/them and write down their name on the "WWF" (WetWare Failure) list.

    Result? Customer is happy. I'm happy. It's a win win scenario.

  36. tim chubb

    no sympathy

    have about as much sympathy for tech support who get 'abused' by the customers, as bar staff who complain and act shocked that people smoke in a pub and its bad for there health.

    news flash, u dont have to take the job, office cleaning pays as well as bar work and tech support and given the quality of most tech suports ive dealt with (scripted drones, who unlike automated systems cant be speeded up by knowing the right sequence to navigate a menu) office cleaning is a far more suited profession for them

    as for people with accents, it seems like 1 in 10 people you speak to in a call center has an understandable grasp of the spoken language. some seem to have a good grasp but very limited vocabulary, making it very difficult to communicate effectivly. the rest well, sub dog intelligence.

    [i am pissed off with tech support, after 19 phone calls, 3 hang ups, 17 promises of emails, and the same bloody script over and over, just to try and get (still isnt working) http uploads working on a web server, (one of the drones, decided my problem must lie with ftp access, despite me telling him repeatedly, that it was nothing to do with FTP, and that the FTP worked fine]

    grrr, sure there must be a few hell desk peons worth there wage, but im yet to come across any

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I had a customer once, who wanted to change their screen resolution - I told him to right-click on the desktop and select Properties from the menu that popped up. After a few seconds, it was still quiet at the other end, so I asked what was happening. He said he couldn't see the menu, and he had been through all the menus he could find.

    Anyway, after another few minutes of interrogation, it appears he had IE open at the time and had clicked inside that.

    He didn't know what the desktop was, much like many people refer to the background picture as a screensaver.

    You can't legislate for idiots, and it is hard to help some-one when you can't see what they're doing and are inarticulate regarding any kind of software.

    And before you complain that not knowing something doesn't make you an idiot, just remember, a wise man knows that which he does not know, (and takes action to rectify the situation if necessary).

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In agreement with Rufus

    I work for one of the big UK banks in their Online Banking Helpdesk.

    The amount of times we get customers who have typed the wrong security details and locked themselves out, yet are not happy to wait the 3 working days for us to mail them new security details.

    "I know it's my fault, but I'm telling you that you're going to sort it NOW"

    Erm, no. I have limited tools at my disposal and do my best to help customers with what I have available. If I say something cannot be done, then it cannot be done.

    If you want me to give 110% to helping you out then play nice. Sure, you may have just spoke to some complete idiot before being transferred to me, you may be having a bad day but it's not my fault.

    We're supposed to warn customers who use foul/abusive language once and then cut them off if they persist. I don't. I just let them yell and rant, inform them that there's nothing I can do to assist (even if there is something I can do, but is outside of usual procedures) and log the complaint.

    If the customer is nice I usually end up feeling bad for them and I have been known to plead with management to break the rules to allow me to sort things out for the customer.

    So whilst it's not generally accepted for CS/HD staff to have a go back at customers (though I must admit to letting a few members of branch staff have some of their attitude thrown back at them - less likely to get called in the office if it's an "internal" call) it shouldn't be acceptable for customers to insult/abuse staff who are doing their level best to try and help them. If anything, me and my colleagues often find we are less willing to go out of our way to help customers who yell and swear at us.

    Keep that in mind, and remember - us CS/HD staff are only human and can only work with the tools the company has given us.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business world

    Rufus, and many others, have forgotten that the customers are the reason they have jobs, and continue to enjoy the pleasures of eating, paying rent, and ordering online porn.

    Customer service reps, repeat after me: "It's a given that customers don't know what's going on. That's why they called support. Their ineptness is food on my table. Therefore, I should be patient, and encourage them to call often. I get paid the same whether the caller is a genius or an idiot."

  40. John

    arrrghhh I hate tech support.

    I have worked in IT for decades, and it frustrates me on many levels to see this much debate.

    the same pissant CS workers who complain about customers are generally knowledgless when it comes down to it anyway,

    so often they are there to read from a spreadsheet and don't understand anything else.

    I understand they get used to dealing with people who don't understand technology, but they need to realise when people do as well.

    Half the time I end up providing tech support to the CS reps, but I don't mind,

    do I get paid? no. do i get helped much? no.

    do I get rude cs reps who won't listen to me? yes. do I abuse them? no.

    I do however get their names and numbers and send in bad feedback.

    HOWEVER> if I get GOOD customer service, I will also get their names and staff numbers and send in good feedback.

    thats what is missing.

    Customers should be able to remotely taser CS people through the phone.

    However! CS people should be able to taser them right back. that would make everyone a lot nicer to each other.

  41. Spike Ravenscroft

    Simple Solution

    Everyone should have respect for everyone else.

    Everyone should treat everyone else in a polite and friendly manner.

    Everyone should have a bit of patience with everyone else.

    If we all did this, none of these situations would arise.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing that call centres are being moved to India. I think it provides valuable support and development for their infrastructure. What I do think is bad is that poor training can mean that these people come in for more than their fair share of abuse. And that goes for everyone. I don’t like phoning an IT helpdesk to find out that I know more about IT than the person on the other end of the line (I’m not being a know-it-all annoying caller here, it just happened to be true in one job I worked in).

    Be excellent to each other, and I believe partying comes next ;)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another ex-Callcentre Helldesk Supervisor speaks...

    Yes, I've been there... Helldesk for BT Openworld dialup-support (before 150 staff got laid off and the whole operation shipped to India - in order to cut costs *bastards*) and it has to be said that the level of abuse and ignorance presented by the great British public astounded me.

    I know for certain that our product-training couldn't possibly cover all eventualities, so I went outside the loop and offered assistance outside of that training - but always with the caveat that if they (the punter) called back they might not get through to someone with the same knowledge.

    (example : we supported Win98/2k/xp and OS-X but not Win95 / Linux - I'd used 'em all so I helped out where I could)

    At no point in time was I abusive to any of the customers, no matter what crap got thrown my way.

    True, there was one memorable occasion where I spent 15 minutes trying and failing to get an asian-sounding woman to open up the control panel - in the end, I gave up, telling the woman that seeing as she was unable to understand me, I couldn't help her.

    As several folk above have mentioned - we also had a 'one warning, then hang up' system with notes being flagged on the custy account... The thing is, sometimes we got our own back another way.... we kept them on the phone. As we were drilled to say at the start of the call : "This call will be charged at 50p per minute, and will last no longer than 25 minutes....." *evil grin* Abuse a particularly nasty member of staff, that call is gonna cost you the full £12.50 :p

    To be honest - by the time everything was going on with the India move... I was just so sick to death of trying to help people out and being utterly derided at every turn. They were calling ME for help, yet shouting at me down the phone, telling me that "I didnt know what I was talking about..." Who is calling who here? In the end, I left... and got myself another job in a non-public-facing internal IT dept role... and things are much better. At least everyone I have to deal with now are staff-members, and 90% I can talk to face-to-face (with the other 10% being on-the-road salesfolk). The money's better too.... and that kinda helps ;)

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who reads this?

    If you are replying to this and you are a consumer of tech support, shut up! If you haven't given tech support, you don't know what you are talking about.

    No, getting paid doesn't mean you have to take abuse, No, being a tech support person doesn't mean you have to stop being human and having feelings.

    Just last week I (while giving support in person) stood up and told the woman "we are done here" as I walked out on her tirade about everything in the world EXCEPT what I was there for. Yes I lost the customer to my competitors, and YES I am glad. I don’t need that kind of crap from any other human being. Thank God I own my own company and can do that.

    It is not my fault that you haven’t taken time to learn how to use your computer; it isn’t my fault that you bought one anyway. It isn’t my fault that you never learned how to listen to some one that is trying to help you.

    And one more thing, when you call tech support and you finally do get through to a human, remember they are human. Don’t blame them for the company’s poor organization that made you get transferred six times and left you on hold for 45 minutes. Don’t blame them that something doesn’t work the way you thought it would.

    Remember they would like to help you, and if they can it makes them feel good, except when you unload your frustration on them. Then they just want to spit in your ear.

  44. Chris

    Wow - Think about this in any other industry

    I understand being a rude support person isn't right. (Although I have done it in my day...working for a large trading firm, one of our "power users" - the guys who make millions a day for the company decided to scream at me that his printer wasn't working fix it without telling me anything else and then hanging up. Needless to say, I never called him back. Luckily I was an intern at the time.)

    But let's put things in perspective. In what other industry can you buy a product and have absolutely no idea how to use it and call a number and get help? When you buy a book, it doesn't tell you how to read it. When you buy a car, people don't call the company to find out how to make it go and stop. When you buy power tools, you get a little manual that barely tells you how to use the damn things and is more worried about telling you how not to cut your digits off. The same goes for lawnmowers, barbecues, cabinets, wallets, clothing, windows, and anything else not "technology" related. There is no technical support for cosmetics, and lather, rinse, repeat does not come with an 800 number. Support numbers for anything other than computers are used for BROKEN or DEFECTIVE products. But for some reason because companies refuse to print a 1,000 page reference manual (man I miss DOS) these same companies have to be responsible for know-nothings in order to sell product. It's built into the entire technology industry's P&L statements, cost of support. I understand it's the way it is/has to be, but part of me wishes everything could just ship with a giant manual like it did 50 years ago, and if a part on your fridge broke, you either called out the repairman or looked at the assembly diagram went down to the hardware store and bought a replacement and put the new part in.

    Part of me also feels like the priviledge of convienece should have some cost of knowing how this convience is achieved. Maybe that's an elitest or backwards way of thinking, but we talk about technological and intellectual progression and what good is it when the people who actually know how things work are the .0001% of the population that design these "things." I'm not saying everyone should need to know assembly in order to buy a computer, but use someone else's or be prepared to learn yourself. It's a tool - there should be a learning experience in order to use it properly. My grandfather taught himself how to program on an old Commodore late into his years and never bitched at anyone about something not working unless it was actually broken. He took pride in knowing that he tried to solve his problems on his own and not inconvience anyone else until he absolutely had to. Now people expect someone else to help them, make this work for them, hell the cable people even have to program recordings for people purchasing DVRs.


  45. JayB

    re "who reads this"

    "If you are replying to this and you are a consumer of tech support, shut up! If you haven't given tech support, you don't know what you are talking about."

    Been a consumer and giver of technical (although not IT) support - A consumer has the right to complain just as much as you. The fact you fail to understand this might explain why you get wonderfully irate customers and you're the guy who owns the company.

    However, what they DON'T have the right is go and get abusive.

    "No, getting paid doesn't mean you have to take abuse, No, being a tech support person doesn't mean you have to stop being human and having feelings."

    Quite right, you don't have to take it. What you do NOT have the right to do is dish it right back. That's the peril of being in some consumer support role. Deal with it or get the h*ll out because you're clearly not suited to be in the industry.

    "It is not my fault that you haven’t taken time to learn how to use your computer; it isn’t my fault that you bought one anyway. It isn’t my fault that you never learned how to listen to some one that is trying to help you."

    No, it's not your fault, but then the reason you have a job is because people don't all want to become IT experts. People pay you to be the expert because they know they are not (excluding the know it all lunatics who plague this world).

    Communication is a 2 way street - next time someone doesn't understand your instructions, consider that you have pitched the instruction wrong. It's not always their fault so stop flaming assuming it is!!!! Having dealt with both sides of the fence I know how what seems a simple instruction to you, can seem to be gibberish to someone who hasn't a clue what you're talking about!!!!!

    Lastly.. I concur with the "Be excellent to each other" commentary and look forward to seeing everybody at the party!!!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would you buy a car and not take driving lessons?

    Helpdesks are for per incident support, not for people to get a full 2 hour walkthough of how to work the product. RTFM people

    as for the comms issues, everytime i can i use chat help rooms, solves the accent issues and means there CANT be any cheekyness or shouting (and if there as anything bad you have a transcript). Offshore call centers are useless because what is the point if you cant make out what the person is saying, i know ALOT of people who now wont do business with any company that offshores there call centers. There must be more because UK call centers are now a big selling point.

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