We live in an era where Science Fiction has become Science
Fact. Thirty years ago, the idea of being able to carry a phone that would not
only be a phone but a music player AND a place to store pictures AND be a
computer was only something you’d see on an episode of “Star Trek” or some
Sci-Fi movie at the time. But here we are, 30 years later, and all that and
more exists. Gadgets like the personal computer, the cell phone, the smart
phone and Satellite TV have made our lives simpler, easier and more efficient.
The only problem with all this High Tech development is that the brains of some
of the End Users (that’s me and you) haven’t developed at the same pace. For
these folks, the aforementioned articles are not only complicated and confusing;
they may even be a “Creation of Satan”. They’re not sure.
Having spent 30 years working in Customer Service, with a
large portion of that being in Tech Support, I’ve spoken to these confused
souls many, many times. It’s my opinion that these people should not be allowed
to own the high tech toy they’ve just bought until they fully understand what
it can and cannot do. Let me give you a few examples of the calls that I’ve
gotten over the years and maybe you’ll see where I’m coming from.
I worked for 4 years for a cell phone provider. Mainly, my
job was to listen to people scream, yell and complain about their bill being “too
high”. I seriously believe that some of these people thought that I,
personally, went into the system and jacked up their bill. I never got the
chance to tell them that THAT was done by a different department. These folks
had no idea what Price Plan they were on or how many free minutes they had…not
because no one TOLD them…but that they didn’t LISTEN. So when they went 500
minutes over on a plan that only had 500 minutes to begin with, here they’d
come callin’…and have the nerve to be MAD about it. All they saw was “Free
Phone” and heard the words “free activation” and their minds went totally blank
after that. They were so busy playing with their new toy; they paid no
attention to what they were being told. Somehow this was OUR fault….though I
never understood HOW.
Coverage areas were another thing they couldn’t wrap their
minds around. I had a lady call once who said, nay DEMANDED, that we cancel her
service and we’d “better not even THINK about charging her a fee for cancelling”.
When I asked her what was wrong, she said she had been on a cruise ship and was
unable to get service the WHOLE TIME she was on her cruise…despite having an
INTERNATIONAL plan. Biting my tongue almost in half, I asked the lady, “Mrs.
Jones, when you were on your cruise, did you ever go up on deck to watch the
“Oh yes! They were lovely! You should see the pictures I
“Mrs. Jones, when you took those pictures, did you happen to
catch any pictures of CELL TOWERS on platforms in the middle of the Atlantic?”
“Well no, of COURSE not! What does that have to do with
“Mrs. Jones…no cell tower means no signal. No signal means
That woman had no business having a cell phone.
After I left the Cell Phone company, I worked for DirecTV.
Tech support there was pretty straight forward. We had a predetermined “path”
we were to follow depending on what the issue was that the customer was having.
I had several calls that made me want to recommend that the customer box up
their equipment and take it back for a refund because they were, quite frankly,
too dumb to properly use the equipment. But I held my tongue, even when I got
THIS call…a man called in and he was having trouble getting ANYTHING via his
satellite. I went through the troubleshooting steps but I wasn’t getting the
responses I was used to or was expecting. Finally, I asked the customer what
they were seeing on their TV screen. His reply…?
“TV? I don’t have a TV. I bought this equipment so I could
listen to the digital music channels in stereo on my AM/FM receiver!”
“Sir, that won’t work.”
“Because TV frequencies and radio frequencies are two different
frequencies. Even though it’s digital music being played, it’s still being
played on a TV frequency.”
NOW he got mad…and as God is my witness, he said none too
“You mean after I spent all this money on a &$$###!!
SATELLITE SYSTEM, I have to go out and buy a TELEVISION SET!!??”
“Yes sir. After all, this is called ‘DirecTEEVEE’”
That man had no business having a satellite system in his
Another call was even stranger. A lady called in saying that
her remote for her satellite box wouldn’t work. I asked her if the red light
above the Infra Red sensor on the front of the box was on. She said,
“You mean that little red light above the camera? I put a
piece of tape over that so y’all couldn’t SPY on me!”
And she was serious as a heart attack. Someone (Lord knows
who) had convinced her that we could see into her house via the sensor on the
front of the satellite box. That’s crazy, right? Anyone who has ever seen “Romper
Room” KNOWS it’s the TELEVISION SCREEN that does the spying!! “I can see Billy,
and Susie and Freddie….get your finger out of your nose, Freddie…”
I had a guy call in thinking the same thing but he didn’t
have his sensor blocked. He demanded I tell him what he was “doing with his
right hand”. I told him in no uncertain terms not only could I not SEE what he was
doing with his right hand, but that I didn’t CARE or WANT to KNOW.
Again, we have two more cases where people had possession of
something they had no idea how to use or what certain critical parts did. “Mr.
& Mrs. YouCanSeeInMyHouse” should not have been allowed to own satellite TV
After doing this work for 30 years, I have reached the
conclusion that not only is the customer rarely (if ever) right, but that the
average customer has the reasoning capability of a sidewalk….all concrete and
no abstracts. I do have to say, in all fairness, that these people gave me some
unexpected laughs. Yes, they were at the expense of the customer but they sure
made the rest of my shift on those days go by a lot faster and “funner”.
I have many more stories like those I’ve mentioned, but I’ll
save those for a later date. Just remember at Christmas time to take pity on
the Customer Service rep and be sure granny knows how to turn her smart phone
off and on or that grandpa knows not to put his hand carved pig in front of the
IR detector of his new satellite box…and that granny knows the dish outside is
not meant to hang laundry on.