I've found that a vast majority of people are massively devoid of clue on this particular topic, so without further ado, here is my little guide on how to talk to tech support.

  • Speak, don't bark.
  • Don't expect us to remember your name just because we talked to you last week.
  • Try and present us with a question instead of a statement. 'My web page is not working' does not tell me what your problem is.
  • Be as concise as possible. There're few things more frustrating than hearing someone's problem and knowing how to fix it right away, but being forced to listen to 5 minutes of inapplicable stuff.
  • If you are indeed one of the few with clue who call, don't be an arrogant ass. If you're so damn smart, why are you calling?
  • We do not give a rat's ass about your MCSE.
  • We know your email is important. You do not have to describe its contents.
  • Try not to whine. We know it's hard not to, but please try.
  • We're not a support group. We don't care to hear about your problems with your kids, co-wokers, other providers, ISP, phone company, vehicle, Network Solutions, etc.
  • The error message is usually correct. Disputing it will only frustrate you.
  • Contrary to popular belief, we are actually correct a large percentage of the time.
  • NEVER call tech support for someone else. Have them call. If they are 'too busy' to 'waste time' talking to us, then so are we.
Once again, that's it. Any additions, complaints, etc? Scroll down and node that puppy!
For ShadowNode: If you just need something specific, and ask for it, then you're not being an arrogant ass. And yes, a lot of tech support people are merely screen readers, and justifiably so. I just work at a small webhosting company and am thus getting to play tech support AND sysadmin. Joy.
A couple additions:

Please don't say any of the following:
"I'm so stupid"
"I'm computer illiterate"
"You must hate talking to stupid people like me"

Unless you want a truthful answer. There's nothing I hate more than coddling your ego while I try to fix your computer problems.

Also, don't lie. Trust me, I'll figure it out pretty soon anyway, and it's just going to make it more painful for both of us.

Only call when you are at your computer, it is on, and you have enough time to talk. Calls on your cell phone from the car on your way to work are not likely to be productive.

And always remember this, once you call tech support you forfeit your rights to being the smart guy. If we tell you to do something, don't question it. In addition to this, don't tell us what your computer savvy friend thinks the problem is. He's probably an idiot and we frankly don't care.

In addition to the rest

If you get an error on the screen, note it down or better yet get a screen shot if you know how. There is nothing worse than being told "It was error 12 something or other I think, do you know that one?"

Try to remember exactly what else was running and what steps you took to get to the point of the error, it can help a lot.

If you have recently installed some new piece of software that you maybe shouldn't have don't try to hide the fact. Let us know so that we can determine where the problem really lies

Don't say "The whole office has this problem" unless you know for a fact that they do. Just because you and the person you sit beside happen to have a similar issue doesn't mean the entire site is down.

Try and be sensible about the priority of your call. Is there some other piece of work you could be doing whilst this is being fixed, or are you at a complete stand-still? Remember there is a whole company full of people calling with issues and some ARE more important than yours

When did the error start, and I mean really start? Don't just say it happens all the time. If that was the case then why have you been suffering it for so long? If we know when the problem started we may be able to relate it to a recent update made to something.

Have you ever actually used this piece of software or this panel on the application before? I mean really? If it's the first time you have tried it it may just be a configuration issue so it's important to know. We won't try and judge you just because you were meant to be using it before.

When your friend who works for another company sends you an email he got from someone else telling all about a new virus please don't forward it to everyone in the company. Send it to us first, we can determine whether it is real and applicable to everyone before issuing an alert.

Finally, we are on your side, we are not a deliberate conspiracy to mess up your day. We will do whatever is possible but there are some things we are just not allowed to do.

If you happen to have purchased a computer from a large manufacturer like Dell or Gateway, please inform us when you've made upgrades. We have a monitor in front of us (usually) that has a list of what's in your computer. If I waste more than 20 minutes trying to fix a video card that you don't have, and you won't tell me about, don't be shocked when I hang up. Warranty or not, misleading me isn't going to help your cause.

If you call and ask for a supervisor immediately, humor me and let me try to help you first. If you can't give me ten minutes to try to make headway on your problems, then you don't have the time to pursue any of the options my supervisor is going to give you.

Just because tech support at XYZ, Inc. spent ten minutes on the phone with you and told you the problem was with my equipment, doesn't make it true. I'm going to try everything I can to fix your problem, but if you're on the phone with me for 2 hours and I finally tell you it's their problem, just fucking believe me.

At some point, I too have to listen to my hold music. You don't have to tell me how shitty it is. Also, don't complain when I cut into your favorite 80's power ballad to take your phone call. I'm almost certain to hang up.

When we have you format a 20Gig IDE hard drive, and actually stay on the line with you, we fully intend to take a break. If I put you on hold for ten minutes, it's probably because I needed a caffeine fix or needed to take a dump. Don't be offended. You've probably caught me 5 hours into a 9 hour shift, and I bet I'm not in the mood for your crap.

I've never seen your computer. I can't tell you if it's any good or not.

Seriously, threatening to sue the company isn't going to get your new Winmodem sent out any faster. Also, get used to the idea that I'm not going to give you my full name. I have an employee number for a good reason.

I don't care if you have to hog-tie and gag them, I don't want to hear your children screaming in the background when you call. Focus all your attention on me, because the third or fourth time I have to repeat instructions to be heard over your crotchlings, I'm gonna go nuts.

Yeah, I think that about does it for me.

My experience is with smallish companies, so my perspective is slightly different from your large company or in-house support staff. All the previous still applies, but keep in mind:

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