Long I wrote for Giz, 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.
Additional reporting by Christina Warren.