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In my outsourced technical support company, support boundary was the term to describe to techs what they could and could not advise customers on. Although other technical support companies may have a different term, the concept itself is probably universal in such companies.

The idea of a support boundary is very natural, and usually very helpful, although to a desperate customer that needs their windows task bar placed back at the bottom of the screen, it may not always seem so. The idea of a support boundary is that the technical support line is only responsible for the product they are supporting, and any operating system changes that may be neccesary in line with this. That a ISP tech should not be installing a printer is fair for three reasons:

  1. It is unfair for the other paying customers of ISP that their money is going to pay for other people's miscelaneos computer issues, especially when some of those users may be in the queue to get support on more relevant issues.
  2. Technicians may not know what they are doing. Or worse, they may wamt to try some experiments on a customer's computer. If you are getting your cable modem reconfigured, do you really want some teenager souping up your graphics card witha recipe he read on Ask Slashdot this morning?
  3. Even if a technician does have a competent knowledge in a field, and some free time on their hands, getting into involved discussions with a customer about third party products can set up false expectations about what the technical support line is there for, and customers may call back expecting every technician there to explain to them exactly what a .dll file is.

So while it is possible that "that is outside our support boundaries" may be an excuse to get you off the phone, it is more likely that the technician is honestly telling the caller that asking about various computer problems is probably not a constructive way to use either of their time.

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