A couple of things have bugged me lately, concerning the public’s opinion on telephone technical support. I have worked in this field and have of course utilized the services of this kind of support, too.
"You’re reading from a script" This complaint bugs me. When I had a job working as technical support for an Internet company, there were a lot of things we had to help with. Email setup, router configurations, browser settings, etc.. Also, we had to be able to support our customers if they were on any of a number of versions of Windows, or on Mac (but not Linux, fuck ‘em.) There was no way we could know all of the information we needed without some kind of reference document.
I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret. All Technical Support personnel (and Customer Care, for that matter) have some kind of reference database at their disposal. It is ignorant to think they wouldn’t have one. You think your mechanic doesn’t have a manual or two in the back of the shop? Lawyers are proud of their vast libraries of legal precedents and you can’t watch a commercial about an ambulance chaser without seeing token representative sitting in front of a wall of books. Why would you think someone who is helping you with your cell phone or Internet sitting in a cube 1000 miles from you with no way to see what you are seeing would be any different?
And as far as scripting goes, there are things that must be said on the calls for legal purposes, so, yes, scripts are used. There are also things that the company wants to have said and they, too, are scripted. Not everyone is good at making them sound like their own words, but trust me, everyone has some scripted content.
"I need my phone fixed NOW, let me speak to your supervisor." One of my personal favorites, let me see if I can explain how this process works. But to do so, you will have to follow me on an analogy.
Imagine you have a factory. The factory makes widgets. The only way the factory generates revenue is to sell these widgets. Most factory workers are hired to build widgets, but there are some who support the widget makers. You have foremen, too, and they probably were widget-makers at one time, but got promoted. How many widgets do you think a foreman makes anymore. Maybe a couple a week, but he doesn’t spend his 40 hour work week making them, not anymore. He’s got a boss, too, and that manager may have also at one point worked on the assembly line, but he never makes widgets anymore. His job is to ensure the line workers get paid, stops other workers from making a hostile environment by threatening others physically or sexually, and coordinates the goals and quotas with his superiors.
So, in our example there, if you want the best widget who do you go to? Some people want to go to the manager, thinking that a higher-up can certainly do a better job, but he doesn’t do it anymore. He might be able to eventually make a widget, but it will take him a long time on account he understands in theory how to do that job, but is far out of practice in doing it. The foreman might be a better choice, he at least gets his hands dirty on occasion, but even his skills will be slowed. Truthfully, the best widgets will be made by the senior line workers, the ones who do it day in and day out.
So, when you call into technical support, and you want your Internet or your cell phone fixed as soon as possible, escalating to a manager is not really the best solution. If you want credit, those guys can do that, but if you want a skilled, knowledgeable technician, stick with the one who answered the phone. If, after he is done, you are dissatisfied with his conduct or ability, at that point talk to his manager. But please don’t expect the manager to be a better tech rep than the tech rep himself.
Managers are usually really good at a few things, one of which is talking pretty and deflecting blame. Its a tool for survival in middle management. If they have done it long enough they devolve and don’t even know when they are spewing BS anymore. Don’t take offense, its evolution, and they usually don’t mean it. But it happens.
Well that’s my rant for today. Hope it helps, and maybe I’ll expand on these concepts at a later date. But remember, be kind to the guys who are there to help you. They probably have the ability to do really nasty things to your account if you make them so mad they no longer want to make another god-damned widget.
“Somewhere in Communist Russia I’ll bet there’s a little boy who has never known anything but censorship and oppression. But maybe he’s heard of America, and he dreams of living in this land of freedom and opportunity! Someday, I’d like to meet that little boy…and tell him the awful TRUTH ABOUT THIS PLACE!!”—Calvin (via calvinnhobbes)
Beware all. apparently there has been an outbreak of Inconsiderate A. Holitis. Those infected with this disease are easily identifiable but highly contagious. And it is spreading fast. It is all over the roads, in stores, even within your own house. Mp3 players, good books, and Captain Morgan are quite effective in avoiding being affected by this epidemic.
One point that keeps being brought up about gun ownership (specifically that in the United States of America) is it was intended by our founding fathers as a defense against our own government going wacko and becoming tyrranical.
There is no doubt the founders were brilliant men. They were able to govern and find solutions without ever invoking Adolph Hitler or the Nazi party in the course of their dialogue. They were also overwhelmingly rich, old, Caucasian slave-owners. That doesn’t detract from their brilliance, but at the time it was acceptable to make a profit from the labors of barely paid workers who, literally, had no options but to work for you.
But the notion that the right to bear arms gives us some kind of defense against tyranny in the 21st century is a bit tired, don’t you think? I doubt there can be a Constitutional argument made for bringing a shotgun into a judge’s chambers because his verdict was disagreeable to you. I’m also pretty sure that if you shoot your congressman because he made a deal to get health care passed that you will be found not guilty on second amendment grounds. A crime committed is still a crime.
Can we please put that to rest, the notion that law-abiding gun owners will rise up and remain law-abiding revolutionaries. All revolutionaries are criminals … until they win, then they are heroes.
Lets just understand the root cause of the far right in clinging adamantly to their guns is the same as the root cause of the far left in wanting to ban them. It manifests from a general distrust in other people. Not necessarily the government, but a fear that someone will want to do them or their families harm. One side thinks its best to be prepared for this attack and meet it head on, the other wishes to avoid the conflict altogether and is afraid their neighbors are stockpiling an arsenal right now.
The current dialogue on gun control is flawed is so many ways, because like many other polarizing issues, the voices heard the loudest are the extremists. It makes all gun control advocates look like frightened pussies and all gun ownership advocates appear as if they want to walk through town with a pistol on their leg every day, just waiting for something to pop off.
I’m interested in opinion on this matter. As for myself, like many things, I lean a bit to the left. I think controls are important and one of my reasons is I have seen that most criminals get their firearms from the home invasions of people who are known to have lots of guns. I used to sell guns, ammo, and all the trappings, including gun safes that could hold upwards of two dozen longarms at a time. I worked closely with law enforcement, providing information to help locate stolen weapons (serial numbers, make and model, finish - stuff owners can forget). Information that wouldn’t have been made available in other states but we had it due to Illinois’ draconian gun control laws.
I also think ownership is important, the right to defend oneself and one’s family is paramount. But there comes a practical limit to how much defense can be used and a point where too many guns becomes dangerous.
Do I think the government is the best body to make these decisions? Local government, maybe. Local city councils are much better suited, as we trust them to regulate animal ownership (no goats in city limits) and look after property taxes. If your ward or town has too strict a limit for you, move elsewhere. The safety concerns in rural Iowa are much different from Manhattan. Let these communities serve as our testbeds. States are best to regulate commercial influx while the Feds are there to make sure there is enough ammunition for the military.
What I’m getting at is there has to be a middle ground somewhere between OK Corral shootouts over traffic stops and a total gun ban. Where is that ground?
It seems that we have a pretty decent general idea of how the universe started, based on among other things, the motions of the heavens and whatnot. But there really isn’t much of a consensus on how the Big Bang became the Big Bang beget the universe. Unless we were formed out of the black hole of another universe…
I think its a good point. Maybe because a phone is not as dangerous as a car that doesn’t brake (in the case of Toyota) but some people would have you believe it was critical to their livelihood.
But, then again, to have a $200 device become the cornerstone of your entire income seems a little risky to me. Million dollar devices (like airplanes) break down, which is why we have pilots, copilots to back them up, checklists to make sure everything is followed correctly, ground crews and air traffic controllers to help. On top of this airplanes have redundant systems, seatbelts, emergency landing procedures, and seats that can float. They also have black boxes for when all those other things fail. Because, yes, sometimes, tragic stuff can go wrong.
I think if anyone is dissatisfied with any product it should be returned. Speak with your wallet.
I just don’t live in an area where it matters. I have yet to experience any sort of notable interference or dropped calls since day 1 of the phone being available. AT&T’s network is of such quality in the places I frequent that there isn’t a single area where I’ve experienced so much as a disruption.
The problem theoretically exists, but I have yet to have it affect me. And to your Toyota point - GM has dangerous recalls cornered. And if Apple is anything like GM we should be ripping off Apple’s bondholders before tossing them a few billion.
Ferrari. Great cars, right? The brand symbolizes fancy, fast Italian engineering at its best. The logo of the bucking horse excites all the right instincts, makes you feel younger and more powerful just looking at them. But Ferrari is a premium brand, and beyond attainable for most people. Ferrari makes racecars and sports cars, and while other brands like Mercedes used to rival Ferrari’s sports lines, they all sold out and have manufactured sedans and even more utilitarian vehicles. Ezio Ferrari, the founder of the namesake company, would speak with disdain how the others have lowered themselves to sell to the baser masses. The red cars with the stallion brand were the outsiders in the automobile world since the 1930’s, always a little out of reach.
Let’s imagine that Ferrari decides to get into the consumer automobile business and designs not a family sedan or even a station wagon, but a minivan. You watch with eager anticipation as the press releases come in. The CEO of Ferrari, the heir to the founder of the company himself, presents the Ferrari Mini to thunderous applause at one of the most prestigious events in the auto industry. The Detroit Auto Show is abuzz about the Ferrari minivan almost a year before it is available. Pre-orders are accepted months in advance and even though it is a little more expensive than other minivans, it is still within reach of you and your budget. Besides, you have always wanted to own a Ferrari.
Finally the day approaches and you stand in line at the dealership to buy the Ferrari Mini. It’s available in only two colors (Ferrari Red and Jet Black, the only ones anybody really wants) and has no performance measure that is above or beyond what other minivans offer. Plus, it’s more expensive and has lower fuel economy. But, it has the shield with the horse on the front. And it looks so sleek and awesome.
That day is a flurry of activity. There are a few hiccups with getting the titles processed because so many people are buying one at the same time it temporarily bogs down the DMV servers, which is a little annoying but more a badge of honor that you are part of this elite group that has such power.
As you get into your new Ferrari Mini, you are told that if you have any trouble within 30 days, bring it back for a refund. This is the icing on the cake, you leave with confidence. As you get out of the dealership you feel great, the leather seats are comfortable, the controls are easy to follow and it drives smooth. The cargo capacity seems a little cramped and the stereo system installed is integrated into the dash in such a way that it cannot be changed. But, you don’t plan on moving a refrigerator and the stereo sounds excellent so it fits the bill nicely.
But before you get home, you figure out that it doesn’t turn left. There is not even a left turn signal. Stumped, you return to the dealership (making a few extra right turns to get there, of course). The salesman acts puzzled. “It’s a Ferrari” he says. While you understand that part, you really thought it would turn both directions, this one must be defective. Unfortunately, they are out of stock, all of the ones on the lot already committed as pre-orders. But he will honor the 30 day return policy and expects some more in a week or so.
So, you take it home, utilizing extra right hand turns to make it there, but hey – you get to see a lot of the neighborhood now. Parked in your driveway it looks beautiful. The neighbors comment “nice Ferrari.” Pride wells in your chest and you start to find reasons to take it out and show off the Mini. You also find out that the headlights have only one setting, and driving out of town at night becomes tricky without high-beams, but who wants to drive there anyway, when nobody can see you. One other annoying feature is that it has no spare tire, but Ferrari covers any tire damage for the first year, and nobody wants to get dirty changing a tire. Plus, you always feel like you are flying, you are able to reach high speeds quickly even though the trip to where you are going never seems to be any shorter (but that just might be the turns.)
Two weeks go by, back to the dealership. By now you have adapted to the inability to turn left. You don’t leave town at night, and have long forgotten about the lack of a spare tire. The new replacement Mini looks every bit as good as the original, and it, too, fails to turn left. You know you have the option of returning it for a refund, and you could always buy another minivan to do the same things for less money. Ah, but then it wouldn’t be a Ferrari. You decide just to keep the one you have and deal with it. Maybe sometime in the future the small problems will be fixed.
Six months go by and folks are still impressed by your ride. But now, the same model is being offered at the dealership for a steep discount. It hurts a little bit and now ownership has become more accessible; you begin to see more and more Ferrari’s on the roadways. They are nice to look at, though, and everyone is sharing the same trouble. Left turn lanes around town are barren wastelands while right lanes are choked with drivers of all types.
Another six months and Ferrari announces improvements. New models offered this year will incorporate a fantastic feature, high-beam headlights. They will also have the ability to signal left turns. The new model will sell for the same price as the one you bought last year, but you can trade yours in and sign a new lease and has a reduced down payment. Again, you get in line and wait for the new Mini 2. You get in and find that even tough it looks exactly like its older cousin, it’s even better than the original (which you have traded in). The controls are even easier to use, the turn signal knob goes down, and there is a switch for the high-beam lights. For awhile you just sit and blink the headlights with childish amusement.
Leaving the dealership, you still cannot turn left. Oh you can signal, but can’t make the wheel turn in the correct direction. By now, though, you know every way to get to anywhere you need to go with just right hand turns; and besides, according to the Ferrari CEO, those turns are better anyway because you can do them on red. Still no spare tire, but the first one never needed a replacement. It is, literally and specifically, everything that was promised.
Following the example from the last year, in six months the Mini 2 becomes cheaper. A free dealer update changes the gauges slightly to optimize the new driving you may be doing at night out of town. Everyone, it seems, loves the Ferrari Mini and it is seen as the new standard of family driving.
On the anniversary of the Mini 2, the new and improved Mini 3 is released, and it adds even more features. Now, the wipers have a variable speed (funny how you had not ever noticed that before) and as a response to the desires of its loyal owners, it is able to turn left. Ferrari announces they will offer an upgrade to Mini 2 owners so they can be modified to turn left, as well, but unfortunately the Original Mini has a chassis design that makes it impossible to ever turn that direction.
You are compelled to get the new one. You sign another lease, place another down payment, and drive off in your Ferrari Mini 3, able to turn left and change the speed of your wipers in the rain. You can now do almost everything other minivans can do (except have a spare tire or change out the proprietary radio to something else, but that’s ok, the Ferrari brand radio is pretty sweet, anyway.)
Predictably, six months goes by and the price drops. Another six months and a new model arrives. The Mini 4 has a new body design that is beautiful, it looks like a racecar had a baby with another racecar and this is its nanny. Tinted windows are stock; the radio (while still unchangeable) has more presets and now can even play compact discs. The lights not only go bright and indicate direction, but also dim when they see traffic is coming. The interior is the epitome of comfort and style, and its five passengers (two less than many other minivans, but all you really need for your family) are afforded a minimum of eighteen beverage holders. The cargo compartment in the back has even been expanded so it is nearly the size of what is found in other vehicles in its class.
Shortly after the release of the Mini 4 to record-shattering scales, Ferrari announces that the speedometer has never been right, and the reported speed all along has been a little too high. But no worries, new gauges that the dealers will install for free will correct the problem. Mini owners everywhere applaud the bravery shown by Ferrari in owning this mistake and correcting it.
What happened? A company that had never built a passenger vehicle before entered the minivan market, offered a model with substandard performance and features at an inflated price, and its only innovation was the emblem on the front. Almost an entire Presidential term has gone by, you are still in a three year lease (because you keep re-signing) and you finally have a vehicle that is almost as good as the ones offered by other companies all along and at this point you could have bought two others. You have found reasons either to ignore or justify the flaws of the minivan, even those that seems suspect (two-speed wipers, Ferrari, one of the speeds is “off”). And you were not alone in overlooking the flaws. Others around the country put up with them, made jokes about them, diverted traffic around them, but ultimately never demanded a change.
How would this have played differently if all the owners of the original Mini had returned it as soon as they found out it was inferior, even dangerous at times being unable to turn left? Would there have ever been a Mini 2, let alone a Mini 3 or Mini 4? How does the brand identity supersede performance and substance?
But this story is just fiction. There is no way anything like this would ever happen for real. Not in this country. Not in the second decade of the 21st century.