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A few tips will help navigate tech support

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As we progress through the great recession, technology manufacturers are looking for ways to cut costs. This has resulted in an even greater percentage of technical support help desks being moved out of the U.S. While this has resulted in some maddening experiences for most of us, it is a trend that shows no sign of abating. As such, it’s always good to remember these pointers when calling for technical support.

First, be polite and understand who you’re dealing with. Yelling and screaming will do no good. You will probably be talking to an entry-level employee (aka, the "first level of support"), regardless of where that employee is located. While some folks think they can quickly get around these facts, it is typically not worth the effort to do so.

Entry-level personnel, whether in America or not, are usually trained to follow a documented set of procedures, like a flowchart. Believe it or not, the majority of problems are fixable by following this flowchart. It might seem like you’re going nowhere, but if the person receiving your call seems to be following a script, that’s a good thing. Don’t try to jump-start the process by providing information that you think is relevant.

Log all of your calls to the help desk, including time, date and person answering. Every help desk staffer answers with his or her name (which is oftentimes not their real name, but it is what you should use).

The fact of the matter is that complex problems will not be resolved on the first call, necessitating a call back. If this happens to you, ask for a tracking or reference number so that if you have to call back, your information hasn’t been lost.

Ask whether there is an estimated time of resolution. If not, find out how you can get a status update.

If you feel that your problem has not been or will not be addressed satisfactorily, you can always ask to speak to a supervisor. We recommend using this phrase only under limited circumstances. Primary on this list of circumstances is if you feel that you have been treated rudely. Another instance is if you feel that the company is not fulfilling its obligations, such as answering any of the queries described above.

Apparently, many have been abusing the "let me speak to your supervisor" line, resulting in tricks being played. Chief among these is the response that "I am a supervisor." This doesn’t mean there isn’t a manager above this person, just that they have been retitled "supervisor." Simply ask for "the person you report to," and that should get you to the right person.

If your problem has gone on for longer than originally estimated, inquire into the escalation procedure. An escalation procedure defines how high up the chain you go and in what time frame. Theoretically, as your problem goes higher up in an organization, more attention will be paid to it.


John Agsalud is an IT expert with more than 20 years of information technology experience in Hawaii and around the world. He can be reached at

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