Bits and Bytes

Help Desk Rant

I tried to help my parents update their Norton anti-virus software over the weekend. I spent a lot of time last Friday evening trying to get my Dad to download and install the new software. (Exciting single life, I know BUT I did redeem some social dignity at the English Beat concert the next night.)

He would download, install, update, whatever. But the Norton never worked. It kept telling him to check the subscription status. I’d already renewed his subscription. I kept asking him to read me every option on screen and then I would select the one I thought might work.

Regardless. I think we tried on and off for three days (I’m tenacious). I finally said they needed to call the help desk and get help from Norton themselves.

My Dad called (but was going to on hold for over thirty minutes). He’s not that patient of a man. The next day, my mum called–same thing: on hold for over thirty minutes. I got online and tried to schedule an appointment for a member of the help desk team to call them back. AND I got a number that I could call and enter another number in order not to have to wait so long. A priority number.

So I call. I put the phone on speaker and continue away on the computer so I don’t really know how long I wait. Eventually some guy says:

“Hello.”
“Hello.” I say. I have the phone on speaker and maybe I’m a bit loud when I start talking.
“May I have your name please?”
“Jennifer.”
“Can you spell that, please?”
“J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R”
“And your last name, please?”
“Burke, B-U-R-K-E.”
“Ok, Jennifer. Thank you for calling Norton Support. Can I have your email address please?”

I’m used to going through these help desk preliminaries and I know the email address that I used to purchase the Norton software. I say it, then I start to spell it out because I know they won’t get the Yukon bit. “Jen at YukonJen dot com. J-E-N at Y-U-K-O-N-J-E-N dot com.”

“Ok. J-A-N at…”
“No, no,” I say. “J-E-N, as in the Jen part of Jennifer.”
“Oh. Ok.” He starts to spell it out himself, slowly and painfully. “J-E-N @ Y-U-K-O-N-J-E-N dot com.”
“Yes. That’s right.”
“Ok Jennifer. And now your phone number.” And I start to ask why does he need all of this information. By now, we’ve spent at least five minutes on the phone (plus the time I’ve spent on hold). He says, “I need your number in case we are disconnected and I have to call you back.” ALL I really want is for them to call my parents in the Yukon and help my Dad install the new software.

“707.”He says after I’ve repeated my phone number. “You’re calling from California. How can I help you today?”

“Well,” I say. “I’d like somebody from the Norton Help Desk to call my Dad in the Yukon and help him install Norton software.” And I explain (and I will be the first to admit that I’m not all that friendly about it) that I’ve been trying on and off for two or three days to help him. And it’s not working. And my frustration is more than starting to express itself. Frustration at all the waiting and getting through formalities and NOT being able to help my Dad myself.

“Oh. Why didn’t your Dad call the help line?” And I try to explain about the waiting and that my parents thought the wait time was a waste of time. And that they are as impatient as I am becoming with the whole conversation.

I repeat, “I would like somebody to call my Dad and help him install Norton.”

“We can’t do that. Your dad has to call us.”

I ask how come I can schedule time on the internet for an attendant to call, but we can’t do it over the phone right now? And I realized I should have just got my parents to do that, but I didn’t really know how that worked and–well–we’re connected now. So all he has to do is call my parents and help them.

No. No. That won’t work. The external calls are made from another department. “Here,” he says, “Take this number and have your parents call and use it as the priority number and they won’t have to wait in the phone queue.”

Wait a minute. “You want me to write down a number and give it to my parents and have them call AND have them WAIT LONGER?”

“Yes.” He’s calm. “It’s the only logical option. Do you have a pen and paper?”

“I just spent five minutes giving you my email address. How about you email it to me and I’ll email it to my parents.” I’m thinking about how many digits will get lost in the phone to paper to email to my Mum calling and talking to another person and I’ll bet there’s a foreign accent involved too. Better we just email the same number instead of copying it.

“I can’t email it to you.”

“Well. I’m not writing it down. I just spent all that time giving you my email address. You email it to me.” I am more than frustrated and am starting to get belligerent and stubborn.

The poor help desk guy. I insist he email the the number. He insists I write it down.

Ok. He says. Now have your parents call. And I am so frustrated at life the universe and everything that is NOT happening to help my Dad get Norton installed on his computer. I say. You call him. His name is Ken Burke. His number is this. And I say my Dad’s number.

The help desk guy says, Hold on a sec. I have to get my manager’s permission to call.

I wait. It wasn’t long. But still more waiting.

He’s back on the phone. Ok. My manager says I can call. Where is your Dad?

In the Yukon. (AND NOBODY OUTSIDE THE YUKON REALLY KNOWS WHERE THE YUKON IS). So I clarify by saying. It’s in Canada. It’s the Canadian part of Alaska (AND THE WORLD NOW KNOWS EXACTLY where Alaska is–so it’s not a problem except most people retain the geo-region and name: Alaska) and forever reference Alaska instead of the Yukon which is a complete affront to any Yukonian–but now I’m digressing.)

Ok. What is his name? We start the whole entire painful process again. The names. The numbers. The spelling. The repeat spelling.

I think. This is too much. TOO MUCH. I interrupt and say. “I’m just going to call my Dad. I’ll conference you in.” I don’t even give him an option. “Hang on.”

I dial my parent’s number.
My Dad answers.
I conference in the Help Desk guy from India.
My Dad turns his computer on.
The Help Desk guy uses some new-fangled browsing technology to gain access to my parent’s desktop.
My Dad and I chat.
Occasionally, the guy from India pipes in to ask my Dad to click or restart.
THEN. It’s done.
In 15 minutes or less.

The world is a happier place.

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Comments (3)

  1. You were being a jerk. Created an issue out of nothing. All that you gotta do was to ask your parents to call and keep the phone on speaker and wait till somebody answers the call.

    Why do you have to insist on sending an email when you could have noted the # down? Now you want the poor chap to get email rights and I bet when those rights are given people like you will be harping about how insecure it is to give credit card and other #’s just cuz these people would send it to somebody else

  2. I am being a jerk?

    I like to think I can think outside the box when it comes to customer service.

    Also, honestly, why am I giving them that information IF THEY CAN’T SEND ME the information I’m requesting.

    So they can send me spam? As if I need more spam.