The 7 Lies You Shouldn’t Tell Tech Support

The 7 Lies You Shouldn’t Tell Tech Support

When I was but a teeny uni student with a dream, I did tech support. And I saw things. I wasn’t the only one. The people who work tech have heard every excuse and seen every horror your mind can conjure.

Image: Sam Woolley/Gizmodo

Having been a computer help person, I know that we’re an ornery bunch, and that people coming in might feel a little intimidated. To better help you when communicating with your tech support agent, I’ve consulted with fellow survivors of the tech support field, and have carefully cultivated a list of lies you should not tell your tech support agent because it will waste everyone’s time.

1) Don’t say you restarted your computer

Peter Lopez from Brooklyn Tech Guy says that about once a week a person calls with a computer problem, swearing that they have already restarted their computer. They haven’t, because the majority of minor tech support issues are resolved with a restart. It clears out all the minor software hiccups that occur as your computer processes all those millions of lines of code that make it run.

Is that program you just updated constantly crashing? Is your computer slow after running for three months straight? Is the wi-fi inexplicably down when it works on all your other devices? Restart. RESTART! Same goes for routers and modems. They’re just tiny computers sans monitor or input devices. Restarting them will, nine times out of ten, resolve major issues with your internet. This is why that plug that automatically power cycles your internet setup is so popular.

Though Lopez would remind you that “Have you signed out and signed back in?” is a good one too and works nearly as often as a full restart.

2) Don’t say you’ve made sure everything is plugged in

Lopez also gets a lot of calls about devices that are broken — doomed to never work again. He’d just gotten off such a call when he spoke to Gizmodo. “They just didn’t have the printer cartridges in right,” Lopez said. The customer reseated the cartridges and the printer started working.

You might be positive you’ve plugged everything in and are certain there is some other reason you don’t have internet, or your keyboard isn’t working, or your printer isn’t printing. You are wrong. It’s ok. It’s happened to everyone. I spent twenty minutes on a call with my ISP once because I didn’t have an ethernet cable pushed all the way in.

Just tell them you have no idea if all the things are plugged in. This is especially important if you do not know what an ethernet cable, USB cable, or power cable are.

3) Don’t tell them you don’t know how you got that ransomware, virus, or malware on your computer

Do you know how you get malware? You go to sites you shouldn’t go to and click on links you shouldn’t click on and download apps you shouldn’t download. Sometimes you hit an OK button you have no business clicking.

It’s very easy to avoid getting malware in most cases. If a Windows looking OK button appears on your Mac or vice versa — don’t click. If you’re on a free porn site and see a neat ad, if the site promises super expensive software for free, or if it all seems to good to be true — don’t click. And yet people click all the time. People just like you.

According to the technician from Portland, it isn’t just unsavoury sites that are the problem. “Nowadays you can just stumble into the wrong thing by misspelling websites,” he told Gizmodo. So be very careful with the web addresses you enter, and if you’re a bad typist maybe invest in some anti-malware and antivirus software.

4) Don’t tell them your teenage son has been using your computer

“We get that one a lot,” Umer Perez, a technician from Fort Worth says. “When they say that, we know where it’s headed.” Though he’s quick to note that it doesn’t necessarily mean a computer is infected with malware, ransomware, or viruses.

It’s just something people say as they deliver a computer. As if to prep the tech support agent for all the porn they might come across in the course of their repair. But any tech support agent is accustomed to finding porn on a computer. “Because porn happens,” Perez says. Embrace your porn; don’t pawn it off on the teen boys in your life.

5) Don’t tell them your toddler has never ever touched the slot-loading disc player

Tray-style disc players are much less common than they used to be, because slot-loading disc players look cool and take up less space. Unfortunately slot-loading disc players are also just big holes and if you have a person in your home under the age of ten they will, at some point, take it upon themselves to fill it with something that does not belong.

“I’ve found quarters in the SD card reader,” a technician from Portland who preferred to be anonymous told Gizmodo. “I don’t know if its kids though. A lot of stuff makes its way into computers because of the backpack.”

So if you’re disc player isn’t working, it might not just be a tiny person that has fucked up your computer, it could be your own sloppy bag. Putting your laptop in a case, or using a bag with a section specifically for laptops, will cut down on wandering quarters, and a spacious dog crate will help with curious kids who like to stick things in places they shouldn’t go.

More: Don’t Have Kids

6) Don’t tell them you don’t know how the computer got covered in apple schnapps

You know how that computer got covered in apple schnapps. You were making an appletini. You drank that appletini. You made another appletini. You drank that appletini. You made another appletini. You drank that appletini. You made another appletini. You drank that appletini. You made another appletini. You drank that appletini. You made another appletini.

You spilled that appletini.

“It will be obvious the second the tech opens the machine (maybe even beforehand!),” says an Apple Service Tech Provider based out of New York who preferred to be anonymous. “It doesn’t matter who spilled it or if you were present at the time, the liquid residue/corrosion voids your warranty and lying about it is just going to waste everyone’s time.”

7) Don’t tell them it arrived broken

The tech support provider is not an idiot, so trying to con them into giving you a free repair is usually not going to work. They’re like Sherlock Holmes when they hear something like “I opened the box and it was already broken.” They will notice that the keys are shiny from days of use, or the telltale scuff that only comes from the laptop getting tossed in a bag.

An anonymous technician from New York shares a particularly bad story:

This one time we had a customer that brought her new iMac back to us saying she found the display broken after opening it. The unit was getting no video and the glass was broken. She swore it was in this condition since she opened it and threw a fit, demanding a new one. One of our techs had the idea to plug the iMac into a secondary display, and behold — there was the lady’s user and data, proving that she had been using it just fine before she broke it. I guess she assumed that all evidence of her having used the computer was gone because the display was broken.

Never assume you’re smarter than the person fixing your computer. If you were you wouldn’t be talking to them.

This story originally appeared on Gizmodo


    • Very sad when people have to be reminded not to lie. Think how much lower our insurance premiums and welfare bills would be if no-one lied.

  • Yeah, get these all the time working IT support for a corporate business.

    You would be surprised how many people raking in 6 figure salaries are beyond hopeless with tech. Especially when everything they do revolves around it. Had to help one person change font size on more than one occasion…

  • With respect to point 3, it’s actually getting to be a lot easier to end up with malware without knowing where it came from. There have been quite a number of high profile watering hole attacks where legitimate downloads have been tampered with and had a malicious file replace them. Most third party ad providers also don’t do due diligence on the ads they put into their pool and every so often a malicious ad will be displayed on legitimate sites without people realising because why would a trusted site display a malicious ad?

    • I’ve heard that publishers engage middlemen who hire people to put malware in movie torrents, so that people who download illegally get stung. That might be an urban myth though.

      • I don’t think its common but it has certainly happened at least once. I remember reading about it a few years back.

        There is always some company out there who doesn’t recognise the irony in them breaking the law to catch a lawbreaker.

  • Heard every single one of them while working in tech support over the years, but sometimes, it comes back on you.

    Then the day came one of my relatives really DID use my phone to browse the net one night, really DID look up porn. Then I suddenly found myself subscribed, probably via malware, to some site that was charging me something like 7.95 a month or some crap. I rang Optus, explained it, realised I was about to give the ‘*sigh* My (insert family member) used my phone and…”

    And I just said “Listen I’d tell you the truth but lying is easer, so here’s the lie, I did it myself, I looked at porn and now I’m subscribed.” the person sounded confused, laughed and said “Lie?” and I said “Yes, it’s a complete lie, 100%, but it’s easier to go with that”.

    Within 60 seconds, they’d removed it from my account and blocked the function from ever happening again. Good experience but I’d hate to think what was going through that persons head lol.

    • I think as a consumer, you should of yelled at the provider for tricking them into giving you porn.
      That’s the end user way of life.

    • May not have even been from your relative looking at porn.

      Something like this happened to me waaaay back now. I had a nokia and didn’t even have internet capabilities on the thing and some how started receiving multimedia messages (that my phone couldn’t even display) that were costing me money and had text about porn stuff in them. Optus had to change my number to end it. Not a malware thing, just companies selling lists of phone numbers i imagine.

  • I wish I knew about Google Ultron used by NASA and powered by Adobe Reader back then. Would have saved me a world full of hurt back in those days.

  • I remember at an ISP I worked at, we can see when they’ve turned their modems off and on. Often they’d say “oh yes, i definitely have power cycled” and had to bite my tongue from calling them a liar.
    So I just remotely restarted it and 8/10 times the problem was resolved. Fancy that.

    • As someone who works in Tech Support I can see their log in attempts and therefore extrapolate if they have restarted. But I just take them at their word and say “gee, if you’ve already restarted, I’ll have to put it to second level and who knows how long they will take to get out there, they’re really busy this time if year…” usually gets the job done. Gonna fuck with me, imma fuck with you.
      The amount of times its fixed by restarting or logging off/on or closing the program and reopening it or using a dif browser. Damn i have to go to work now. *Napoleon Dynamite sigh*

  • Having worked in IT Suppport myself it gets very frustrating when you tell IT that you’ve turned it off and on again and they don’t believe you.

    I can do what you do, I just choose not to. Saves a lot of headaches.

    • THIS!!!!

      You do the right thing, you go through all the correct steps because “you” know exactly how it feels to be on the receiving end of the call. Power Cycle, check all configurations, check to make sure everything IS plugged in (twice in fact), then Google to see if this is a known fault/any fixes you can try. Okay, nothing on my end, time to call tech support.

      “Did you turn your device off and on” Yes
      “Can you please try again” fine……okay nothing still
      “Can you check to make sure it’s all plugged in”…’s all plugged in
      “Hmm, okay I will have to send a tech out to take a look”…………….*screamsinternally*

      As someone who worked on IT Helpdesk for about a decade (work in BI now), I made it a habit when I got tech calls to just ask what the person had done, and take their word for it. Yes, they may NOT have done X thing, but then when it turns out that X thing was the issue, they never called back about it again, plainly because they were embarrassed that they got caught in a lie. Conversely, if they didn’t lie, then (in almost all cases) my believing them cut right to the actual problem, and saved a lot of stress on the phone.

      You ask, “but how many times did they lie about doing the basics?!” Not that often. You get the occasional twat who would be a smart ass, but most people are aware of the basics at this point. For the instances where the person in question obviously knows nothing about “puters” they usually say so right away and just go with the helpdesk’s directions. During my time on helpdesk, I likely took 100+ calls a day, but likely only had 3-4 calls where the person was a jerk and thought they knew more. Yes, those calls sucked, but generally they only did that once and the next time they called were way more polite.

  • One I’m surprised isn’t on there and one I’ve been guilty of ensuring all cords are working correctly, to be fair I’m sure I had checked it but I didn’t recheck it when asked and a shitty phone cable was the culprit the whole time

  • Hah, the last one isn’t as accurate as it seems, because they may be calling tech support to fix a problem they can’t, but that doesn’t mean tech supports is smarter, they wouldn’t be answering phones if they knew what they were doing…!!! Lol.

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