The Blame Game

When I called my voice mail, I heard the stressed voice of my client, Larry. His message said, "Geoff, please help. I'm in Best Buy trying to choose a computer network card and I don't know which to select. Call me back ASAP."

Larry was shopping for some internal computer hardware that would have been difficult for him to replace by himself. His computer wouldn't connect to the Internet and he was trying to resolve the problem without bothering me on the weekend. After spending hours with phone tech-support, he was told him the problem could be his network card and that he should replace it. I'm glad he opted to "bother" me because I was suspicious of that diagnosis.

"Larry, don't buy a thing. Meet me at your home in a half hour. I'll bring a spare network card and we'll resolve this problem." I assured him.

"Thank you so much." Larry sounded relieved.

A quick check of Larry's computer showed a problem with his Internet connection settings which were easily resolved. Apparently, Larry or another family member had inadvertently changed them. Before I intervened, Larry spoke with a software manufacturer, his computer's hardware manufacturer and finally, a technician from his Internet service provider. None of them was successful in resolving this problem and each wanted to blame the other.

I should buy a black robe to wear on my computer support calls. I could tuck a matching gavel in my tool case. Too frequently, I am summoned by a distraught client who has suffered hours of phone "support" on a tech problem for which no one will take responsibility. Hardware vendors, software vendors and Internet service providers each blame the other. Meanwhile, the non-technically inclined consumer is the one to suffer.

Here are some tips for getting to the root of a problem and preventing the blame game:

  1. Take careful notes on the instructions of each phone support person. Tell the next what you've already done and why the first has been ruled out as a problem.
  2. Ask to speak to the next level of technical support. It is possible you might break through several levels of purely-scripted technical support personnel to immediately reach someone who can actually help you.
  3. Call your more technical friend or family member to report what the support people are saying so far. Someone who is more technically inclined may be able to identify the problem's culprit more accurately -if not fix the problem for you.

Good luck, and just remember that there is a solution to end whatever technical problem faces you.

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