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Tuesday, February 26 12:01 AM EST

Nolan Curtis' Idiot Ranch
A Guide To Tech Support Callers

By Nolan Curtis

Type: Allimus Righticus - Caller believes in the phrase "The Customer is Always Right" even if they are wrong. They think it's an irrefutable law of nature and not a business practice. This is the guy that wants twenty workstations shipped to Antarctica overnight. This is the guy that demands our software be backwards compatible for his Tandy Model IV. The guy that wants a credit for the last year of billing cause our fonts were too small on his 14" monitor. If you see this guy on the street, feel free to go Tanya Harding on his ass and tell him Nolan sent you.

Hit Points

Righteous Indignation

Highly Doubtful

Type: System Sidestepper - The caller's mantra is "Let me talk to your supervisor!". The tactic is to talk to someone so far out of your department that the supervisor of your boss's manager no longer has a clue about what they're talking about. At that point, the supervisor will agree to anything. How do you think they got to be a supervisor? The danger here is that the Sidestepper may evolve into the Fireyou. Try to avoid this. My tactic is to change my voice as many times as necessary and say, "This is the supervisor. How may I placate you?"

Hit Points

End Around

Highly Doubtful

Type: Fireyou - Once scorned, the Fireyou will do whatever it takes to get you fired. Generally it will pacify them to be *told* you have been fired, but some of them will call back several times a day just to verify that you have, in fact, been canned. You can always change your name, but I've found the legal system only lets you do that six times a year. In order to deal with this caller, you must make yourself more valuable to the company than the caller. A quick way to do this is to copy your boss's Temporary Internet Files folder and blackmail him/her with it.

Hit Points

Flame Thrower

Highly Doubtful

Type: Babelfish - The Babelfish cannot be clearly understood. This may be due to a language barrier, accent, lisp, cleft lip, or the fact that the caller eats lunch on the phone. It is almost guaranteed that either you or the caller will be forced to say "What did you say?" at least six times every 8 seconds. Asking them to not chew into the phone would be rude. Feel free to ask. If you don't make any headway, cheerfully say "Okay. That should do it!" and hang up. Annoyance factor will only increase if Babelfish evolves into Helloer.

Hit Points

Cone of Confusion

Might be high, who can tell?

Type: Helloer - This caller will fall into a dead silence for long periods at a time. Typically immediately after you have asked them a question. After several minutes of uncomfortable quiet, they will suddenly say "Hello?" very loudly, either to make sure you are still there, or to reassure themselves that they are. Be careful not to respond with your own "Hello?" as this may go on for hours or even months. If you are feeling particularly helpful, stay quiet until they hang up on you. This will give you more time to work on your web page.

Hit Points

Scepter of Silence

Left at home

Type: Igotitz - After 45 minutes on the phone, evolving and devolving several times, the Igotitz will grow frustrated or will have surrendered to your patronizing tone. They will clearly tell you "Okay. I got it." and end the call whether or not they truly have gotten "it". In most cases, they haven't. In most cases, they never will.

Hit Points

Frustration Ray

Highly Doubtful

Type: Prevaricator Pathologicus - A very dangerous species of idiot, the Prevaricator lies - about everything. He'll tell you he's using Windows NT when he's on Unix. He'll tell you he's already tried that three times when he has no plans of trying at all. He'll tell you someone else usually does this and he's filling in. When you finally are able to get a straight answer out of this guy and can fix his problem, he'll tell you it didn't work, but he was able to fix it in the meantime. All you can do is hang up and hope the Prevaricator falls into an open volcano.

Hit Points

Cone of Deception

Very High

Type: I.T.Departmentus - This caller is the master, but only the master of evil, Darth. For years after this call (or maybe just seconds) you'll ask yourself how this caller got a job in the Information Technology Department of a Fortune 500 company making sixty three times more than you make, when he can't even tell you what operating system he's using. This caller is especially dangerous because he's more likely to mess things up worse since "He Knows What He's Doing". If your phone has a button marked "Electrocute Caller", NOW is the time to use it.

Hit Points

Wand of Unwarranted Superiority


Type: Digitalis Illiterati - This species of idiot is not indigenous to tech support and still roams free on the plains of corporate America. This caller is more likely to mispronounce their own name than any other species of idiot. This caller will paraphrase error messages because they are unable or unwilling to read it from the screen. The paraphrase will have nothing remotely to do with the real problem. For example "Error 680: No dial tone" will translate to "I can't get open my Netscape" no matter how many times you ask them to read you the *exact* error message. You know how when you go to a restaurant and ask for the check, but the waiter just keeps bringing you more coffee? This is that guy after a promotion.

Hit Points

Stupid Bombs


More Nolan Curtis

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